College students are always looking for financial aid, scholarships, grants, and other help paying for college. Scholarships are popular because the monetary gift is free and does not have to be paid back, and because there are so many scholarship programs to choose from. But where to start searching and how to get a scholarship?

Students can search their local community and visit scholarship websites to find information on federal, state, local, individuals, businesses, companies, religious groups, nonprofit organizations, etc. that offer undergraduate scholarships. Students usually have to qualify for specific scholarships, such as having a certain income, grade point average, be from a certain community or religious group, or other criteria.

Where to find scholarships

  • National scholarships, such as the National Merit Scholarship Corporation, Gates Millennium Scholars, Intel Science Talent Search, Siemens Foundation, and Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation.
  • At your college campus office which helps students find appropriate scholarship programs.
  • TRIO program advisor that can help students from disadvantaged backgrounds find scholarships and grants.
  • Professional organizations in the field you want to study (business, journalism, chemistry, engineering, etc.). Ask if they offer scholarships.
  • Your community, where you can check out local businesses, foundations, ethnic and religious organizations, sports groups, and other groups that may offer scholarships.
  • Public or college library.

Online resources for scholarships

  • FastWeb. This is an online database of scholarships maintained by fastWEB (financial aid search through the Web). You input your personal profile, and the site generates a list of scholarships and grants for which you may be eligible,” as mentioned in the book, Reaching Your Potential: Personal and Professional Development, Fourth Edition. FastWeb lists 1.5 million scholarships, is free, and offers other career planning services.
  • Available to high school students, college students, and returning students, the site has more than 3.7 million college scholarships and grants worth around $19 billion. You can search by name, type, major, location, etc. to be matched with appropriate scholarships.
  • Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor, lists more than 7,500 scholarships, fellowships, grants, and other financial aid opportunities. Students can search by keyword and use filters to find scholarships based on type, location, level of study, and more.
  • College Board’s Scholarship Search. The site matches information you submit with a database of 2,200 scholarship programs worth $6 billion.

Avoid scams

Not all information online is reliable and may lure students into financial scams. Writing in “Find and apply for as many scholarships as you can—it’s free money for college or career school!” the Federal Student Aid office of the U.S. Department of Education says, “But be careful. Make sure scholarship information and offers you receive are legitimate; and remember that you don’t have to pay to find scholarships or other financial aid.” Tell-tale signs of a scam are:

  • making you pay to get information or file for a scholarship
  • asking for a credit card or bank account number
  • saying that you can’t get their information anywhere else

Teachers help students get scholarships

Encourage your students to do well and get good grades, which will increase their eligibility to quality for and get scholarships. Tell them to apply for many different scholarships and be persistent.

Reference: Throop, Robert K. and Marion B. Castellucci. 2011. Reaching Your Potential: Personal and Professional Development, 4th ed. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.

Do you have any tips for helping students find scholarships?