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    How to Find Scholarships

    By Will Geiger

    Will Geiger is the co-founder of Scholarships360 and has a decade of experience in college admissions and financial aid. He is a former Senior Assistant Director of Admissions at Kenyon College where he personally reviewed 10,000 admissions applications and essays. Will also managed the Kenyon College merit scholarship program and served on the financial aid appeals committee. He has also worked as an Associate Director of College Counseling at a high school in New Haven, Connecticut. Will earned his master’s in education from the University of Pennsylvania and received his undergraduate degree in history from Wake Forest University.

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    Reviewed by Caitlyn Cole

    Caitlyn Cole is a college access professional with a decade of experience in non-profit program and project management for college readiness and access organizations.

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    Edited by Maria Geiger

    Maria Geiger is Director of Content at Scholarships360. She is a former online educational technology instructor and adjunct writing instructor. In addition to education reform, Maria’s interests include viewpoint diversity, blended/flipped learning, digital communication, and integrating media/web tools into the curriculum to better facilitate student engagement. Maria earned both a B.A. and an M.A. in English Literature from Monmouth University, an M. Ed. in Education from Monmouth University, and a Virtual Online Teaching Certificate (VOLT) from the University of Pennsylvania.

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    Updated: May 2nd, 2024
    How to Find Scholarships

    If you are a high school or college student you are probably looking for ways to pay for college. Scholarships are one of the best ways to pay for your education because they are essentially free money that doesn’t need to be repaid. If you are wondering how to find scholarships, you have multiple options available.

    Jump ahead to:

    There are literally millions of dollars awarded each year to students in the form of scholarships. While the start-to-finish process of winning scholarships has many steps, remember that the first, most important step is actually finding and researching scholarships.

    How to find scholarships as a high school student

    If you are a high school student who is looking for scholarships, here are a few ways to get started on your search:

    Scholarship websites

    Scholarship websites and search engines allow you to search for a wide variety of scholarships according to your educational goals, preferences, and personal information (including gender, race, religion, ethnicity, etc.). Your personalized search results will help you identify the best scholarships for you.

    Learn more: Top scholarship websites for students

    These scholarships include awards for students at any grade level in high school. Here are some lists with the top scholarships for students (all organized by grade level):

    Specific college and university scholarships

    Many colleges and universities offer specific scholarships to incoming freshman students. These scholarships can be extremely valuable in terms of the dollar amount (some even range up to full tuition awards).

    However, they are also valuable because most of these opportunities can be renewed for four years (provided a student maintains a specific number of credits and GPA). These colleges and universities offer generous merit scholarships to incoming first year students.

    Need-based financial aid

    However, you shouldn’t forget about need-based financial aid. At most colleges, the majority of financial aid awarded is through need-based scholarships.

    The Net Price Calculator is a great, free tool that allows students to estimate need-based financial aid at any college or university in the United States. If you do wind up applying for need-based financial aid (which most students should do), the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA is a necessary application that you will need to submit!

    Scholarships in your local community

    One of the downsides to well-known scholarship opportunities is that they attract a lot of applications. This means that the competition can be quite fierce. This is why local scholarships can be so valuable–they are meant to support students in the local community (and tend to have less applicants increasing your chances of winning).

    To find local scholarships, the following resources are usually good bets for discovering opportunities:

    • Your school counselor
    • Local Parent Teacher Organization
    • Church, temple, or place of worship
    • Nonprofits and foundations in your community
    • Local newspaper
    • Small and large local businesses

    While these local scholarship opportunities tend to be a smaller dollar amount than some of the large, national scholarships, every single bit helps when paying for college!

    How to find scholarships as a college student

    You may not know it, but there are lots of scholarships for college students too! Some of the top ways that you can find scholarships will be the same as when you were in high school:

    However, there are also some other great sources for finding scholarships that are more specific to college-students:

    Scholarships through your academic department

    Chances are that the academic department you are studying in offers scholarships for students who are majors in the discipline. Oftentimes these scholarships are for upperclassmen who have a strong academic record in the specific field.

    Check out your academic department’s webpage to see if there are any opportunities that you might qualify for or ask the faculty in your department what resources they know of.

    Funding for research, internships, and study abroad

    If you are a college student who is interested in studying abroad, securing a summer internship, or doing research, there may be specific scholarships and grants available to you!

    See also: Top Study Abroad Scholarships

    Like the departmental academic scholarships mentioned above, these scholarship opportunities are generally offered through your college. We’d recommend getting in touch with the office of financial aid for more details on the types of funding that might be available. 

    Finding scholarships can be time-intensive and it can get frustrating if you aren’t winning the scholarships you’re applying for. Don’t get discouraged! You can’t win a scholarship if you don’t apply and once you do earn one, the time invested will be well worth it!

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    Key Takeaways

    Key Takeaways

    • There are tons of ways that you can find scholarships, including using search engines, asking around your local community, and renewing your FAFSA each year
    • You don’t have to be a high school senior going into their freshman year of college to be eligible for scholarships! If you are in school, there are scholarships out there for you
    • When searching for scholarships, don’t forget to be specific and search for unique scholarships that may pertain to specific interests or defining characteristics about yourself
    • If you’re feeling stuck in your scholarship search, reach out to your guidance counselor, employers, parents employers, local companies, and any other people you can think of to inquire about if they know of any scholarship opportunities you may be eligible for

    Frequently asked questions about how to find scholarships

    Are scholarships hard to find?

    Scholarships are not difficult to find, however, finding scholarships that you are eligible for may be what really proves difficult. Each scholarship you find will have various eligibility requirements, which may include GPA, ACT or SAT scores, education level and more. There are scholarships for all kinds of things, so don’t be afraid to get specific and search for unique scholarships!

    What GPA do most scholarships require?

    There is no one GPA that all scholarships require. Scholarships can require anywhere from a 2.0 to a 4.0 GPA. Make sure you check with each individual scholarship about what their requirements are, if in fact they do have a GPA requirement. Some scholarships may choose to not look at GPA at all.

    How can I increase my chances of getting a scholarship?

    You can increase your chances of getting a scholarship by putting time and effort into your applications. For applications that ask for essays, letters of recommendations and more, you should take your time carefully filling things out. The best thing you can do to increase your chances is submit an application that has everything the scholarship asked for! Submitting a complete application shows that you care about the scholarship you are applying to, which can go a long way!

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