For college-bound students, scholarships can fill in the gap between what you can afford and the cost of the school. Most students believe scholarships are a pipe dream if they aren’t athletes or 4.0 students. But nothing could be further from the truth. There are thousands of scholarships available for the taking. You just need to find them.
There are six key places to look. But remember: Finding them is half the battle. You have to put in the effort to apply and be vigilant in paying attention to requirements and deadlines.
1. Search Locally
Beat the scholarship odds by applying locally. Local scholarships have fewer applicants and often don’t even get disbursed because they have no applicants. Ask at the library for a list of local companies that provide scholarships. Watch the news or local papers for scholarship announcements, and ask your high school counselor. Go a step further and call local organizations and ask if they award scholarships.
Local scholarships may not be large awards, but small amounts add up. If you like beating the odds, local scholarships just might make you a winner.
2. Take advantage of social media and blogs
Companies that provide scholarships, scholarship search engines, and college experts post often about available scholarships. Follow their Twitter accounts, like their Facebook pages, and check out their Pinterest boards. On Twitter alone you can find multiple scholarships posted daily. Instead of spending time aimlessly reading feeds, pinning recipes that make you hungry, or reading tweets about the Kardashians, use your social media skills to find scholarships.
[Stay organized with the College Planning Calendar + Checklist.]
3. Use the best scholarship search engines
If you do a Google search of scholarship search engines, the results will boggle your mind. It’s obvious that you can’t search or register on every one of them. But you can register on the best ones and receive email notifications. My personal favorite is MyScholly.com because you can search on the website or use the app. This means the time you waste sitting in a doctor’s office, waiting for a movie to start, or standing in any long line, you can search for scholarships.
4. Ask friends and family
Ask family and friends if they have heard of any scholarships. Turn them into private detectives, asking them to keep an eye out for any opportunities. One day, while standing at the checkout line at Kohl’s, my friend saw a scholarship flyer and picked one up for my daughter. While listening to the news, I heard of a local scholarship available at one of the automobile dealerships in the city. My daughter applied and won the $1,000 award. A family member may even work for a company that awards scholarships to relatives.
5. Focus on specific interests
One of the best ways to find and win a scholarship is to apply because of a specific interest or qualification. There are scholarship opportunities for relatives of veterans of all the wars from the Revolutionary War to Afghanistan. There are scholarships available for students interested in studying STEM careers, entering the nursing field, or even those who create prom outfits out of duct tape. The list goes on and on.
To find these scholarships, you can either do a Google search, go to a specific website itself, or register on one of the search engines and mark the specific criteria.
Here’s one list of 100 Unique and Weird Scholarships Worth Applying For.
6. Check with the individual colleges
Most colleges offer scholarships specific to their students. Before applying, you can search school websites and find out if you are a candidate. Once you apply, be sure to research the scholarship criteria. Some are automatic when offered financial aid; others require you to apply separately.
Searching for scholarships requires tremendous commitment and consistency. But the time you spend searching and applying can pay off by reducing your college costs. Who doesn’t like free money?