A college education is expensive nowadays, and most students need financial help. Scholarships are a great aid, because it is basically free money. Whether you’re a high school student or you’re already in college, this guide can help you get connected with the money you need.
Here are some great ways to find scholarships
1. Start local. Many high schools have special guidance counselors for college planning. In smaller schools, the regular guidance counselor may have a database of local scholarships. Local or regional scholarships have fewer people competing for them, so there is a higher chance of winning one. Larger companies usually offer scholarships to children of their employees, so check that out as well.
2. Read the fine print. You do not want to apply if you do not meet all of the eligibility requirements. Some scholarships are very specific, so make sure you only apply to the ones that you qualify for.
3. Use the web. There are many websites available to use in your search for college dollars. Most want you to fill out a profile to better match you with awards. It is worth the time and effort to complete these profiles, so you only get options that match you. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:
Collegeboard.org is not only for college planning and SATS, but also has an arm that focuses on scholarships, Big Future. There is a huge database of scholarships here, so it is critical to fill out as many details as you can in the profile that is used for searching.
Fastweb.com is another great tool. Again, you need a profile to bring back the most accurate matches. You can then also see all the scholarships you applied for, or may want to apply to in the future. They also have ‘contests’ that you can enter monthly or weekly to win money.
Niche.com (formerly College Prowler) can help you find colleges, as well as money. You have options to pick from what types of awards you’re looking for. This site also has some contests to enter.
Moolahspot.com is not as robust, but does offer another choice. In the search for college funds, the more places you look, the better chance you have to get some extra dollars for your higher education.
4. Get creative! There are scholarships for a wide variety of accomplishments. For example, I went to college on a football scholarship! Yes a girl, who never played a day of football in her life, was on a football scholarship. How? I worked as a football equipment manager. In return for getting this scholarship, I worked with the football team, assisting during practices, taking care of the players’ equipment and uniforms, assisted coaches on game days, and made memories to last a lifetime! The best part? Unlike many of my peers on graduation day, I graduated without loans to haunt me for years.
ARTICLE: Is Grad School Worth the Cost?
Keep your eyes and ears open, and sign up for as many scholarship search sites as you can. Look at school, or even the local paper to learn of upcoming opportunities. Apply for only those scholarships you are eligible for. If you are diligent and apply, apply, apply, you should find some funding for your college years. Good luck!
About the author: Melissa King, a Savings.com DealPro, lives in Savannah, GA and writes the Savannah Savvy Shopper weekly column for the Savannah Morning News. She enjoys ‘Paying It Forward’ in her community. Check her out on her blog at ThisMommySavesMoney.com.