Paying for college is one of the biggest concerns students and parents have about college. As the cost of education has skyrocketed, more and more families are concerned about the possibility of their children going to college. Although the price tag for a college education can seem out of reach, there is a lot of financial help available.
One of the most common questions I receive from students and parents is about scholarships and where to look. This is the main reason I created the scholarship database on my website. However, I know there are scholarships I am missing. Therefore, here are 12 places to look for scholarships and financial aid:
- Colleges and Universities. The largest providers of grants and scholarships are the institutions themselves. Therefore, as you are doing your research on colleges you may want to attend in the future, look at the financial aid options that are available at the institutions. Fill out the net price calculators at the colleges you are considering to get an estimate of the financial aid you will receive if you were to attend in the future. Finding good financial fit colleges is very important when looking at colleges.
- Federal Government. The federal government gives a lot of free money away to students to help pay for college. Therefore, students should submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) when it becomes available for the upcoming school year. Pay attention to deadlines because if you miss the deadline, you may be out of luck. Check out the FAFSA4caster no matter where you are in the college admissions process to get an estimate of the aid you may receive from the U.S. Department of Education.
- State Government. Many state governments give a lot of free money away to help students pay for college as well. In addition to grants based on financial need, many states offer grants for specific populations, such as homeless youth. Check with your state to learn about the grant possibilities available to you.
- High school counseling office. Many local scholarships are not advertised widely. Instead, local scholarship providers give information about their scholarships to high schools to advertise to their students. Students should check with their school counselor to see if they have a list of local scholarships available. Also check with the college or career center, and teachers who teach classes such as AVID or TRIO that are focused on helping students attend colleges in the future.
- Other local high schools. Sometimes scholarship providers only provide scholarship information to one or two high schools. However, the eligibility requirements could be open to other students in the local area. Students should visit the websites of area high schools and see if they have scholarship lists available. Scholarship lists, if available on school websites, will probably be found on the counseling or career center pages of the school website.
- Local organizations and companies. While many local scholarship providers will notify high schools of their scholarship opportunities, others do not. It might be worth it to check with local businesses and organizations to see if they offer scholarships. Places to check can include the local chamber of commerce or company websites.
- Employers. Sometimes employers offer scholarships to their employees, or employee’s children. Students should check with their employer, as well as their parent’s employer for scholarship opportunities.
- Organization affiliations. Organizations in which students or their parents have affiliations may give scholarships. Some of these scholarships are specifically open to members or persons affiliated with the organization, or may give preference to affiliated individuals. Examples could be banks, churches, or student organizations. When looking at organizations, look locally and nationally. For example, check with your specific church, but if you attend a church affiliated with a specific denomination, check with the national office as well.
- Scholarship search sites. There are some great scholarship search sites available that allow students to create profiles with their information. Once the students provide their information, the scholarship search site will create a list of scholarships that they meet the eligibility requirements. In addition, the sites will notify the students every time a scholarship is added to their database in which the student may meet the eligibility requirements. Some great scholarship sites to consider are Fastweb, Cappex, and Unigo. Sometimes one of the sites will know about a scholarship the others sites do not. Therefore, to ensure students find out about the most scholarship, they may want to consider creating profiles with each scholarship site.
- Colleges financial aid offices. In addition to the aid the institution gives students, many financial aid offices have databases of outside scholarships. Some scholarships will be national scholarships open to all students while others will be only open to students at your college. The institution-specific scholarships may only be advertised in the college’s financial aid office. Check the financial aid office website, follow them on social media (if available), and visit the physical office to learn about other outside scholarships.
- College department offices. Once you know the major you are considering, or you are already enrolled in a major, check with the department office at the college. Many academic departments at colleges get notifications for scholarships that are specifically offered to students studying that academic discipline.
- JLV College Counseling. Shameless plug, but I have a pretty big scholarship database that I am constantly updating. You don’t have to sign-up to view scholarships – just view the scholarship lists and visit the scholarship provider websites to learn how you can apply.
Many students and parents wait until their senior year to start looking for scholarship. However, there are scholarships available for younger students. Therefore, as students discover their desire to attend college, they should start searching for scholarship. In addition, it is never too late to look for scholarship. Even after students enroll in college, they should continue looking for scholarships to help them pay for college. Scholarships are out there; check out these 12 places where students may find free money for college that they will not have to pay back.