If you are like most students, paying for college is a big concern. You know college is something you want and need to do, but you’re not sure how you are going to pay for it. Luckily, there is a lot of financial aid available to students who want to go to college. However, one of the most common questions I receive from students and parents is about scholarships and where they should look for scholarships. This is the main reason I created my scholarship database on my website. However, I know there are many scholarships missing! Therefore, here are 20 places to look for scholarships and financial aid:
1. Colleges and Universities
Some of the largest providers of scholarships and grants are colleges. As you are researching colleges, looking for the institutional scholarships and grants you may be awarded. Learn about the merit scholarships and other scholarships they offer students. 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 attend the college. Finding a good financial fit college is very important when looking at colleges.
2. Federal Government
The federal government awards a lot of money in grants every year. However, the only way you can qualify is to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
3. State Government
Many state governments give out scholarships and grants to their residents. In additions to grants based on financial need, many states also offer grants for specific populations, such as homeless youth. Check with your state to learn about the grants possibilities available to you.
4. High school counseling office
Many local scholarships are not advertised anywhere except at local high schools. Check with your school counselor or your college and career center for a list of scholarships. Also check with the teachers who teach classes geared towards preparing students for college, such as AVID or TRIO.
5. High school scholarship application
Many high schools have gathered scholarships to award to their students during the senior year. These scholarships are typically from local businesses and alumni. The application will be available from your high school and will have firm deadlines. Talk to your counselor to see if the high school will be awarding scholarships, learn about the deadlines, and mark your calendar.
6. Other local high schools
Other high schools might know about local scholarships that your school has not added to their scholarship list. Visit the counseling pages of other local high schools to see if they have scholarship lists available.
7. Go back to your elementary and middle schools
Many elementary and middle school PTAs and PTOs offer scholarships to students who attended their schools. Check their websites or visit the school office to see if they are offering a scholarship this year. As someone who has administered a scholarship like this, the competition is very small!
8. Local organizations and companies
Some organizations and companies do an amazing job of advertising their scholarships at local high schools. But, others do not. Check with local business and organizations to see if they offer scholarships. Check your local chamber of commerce and company websites for scholarship opportunities.
Sometimes employers offer scholarships to their employees, or employee’s dependents. You might even find employers that offer scholarships to grandchildren of employees. Check with your employer, as well as your parents’ employers to see if there are scholarship opportunities. If you or your parents are union members, check with the union for scholarships as well.
10. Student organizations
Check with all of your student organizations to see if they offer scholarships. Don’t stop at the school level organization. If your student organizations have local, regional, state, or national offices, check with them to see if scholarships are available.
If you play a sport, look to regional and national organizations. There are scholarships for everything from baseball to bowling to karate. Do a simple search for “[sport] scholarships” and you might be surprised to find a few scholarship opportunities.
Do you have a hobby that there isn’t a student organization for? For example, do you like genealogy and learning about your family history? There are scholarships for that. Again, do a simple search for “[hobby] scholarships” and see what comes up.
13. Religious organizations
If you are a member of a church or a regular attender, check to see if they offer scholarships. Don’t stop at your church. If you attend a denominational church, check with the regional, state, and national offices for scholarship opportunities.
14. Race, Ethnicity or Nationality-based organizations
There are many organizations related to race, ethnicity, and nationality. Look at your family background and check out organizations related to your race, ethnicity, and nationality. Don’t just stop at scholarships for African-American or Native American students. There are organizations for students with family from specific counties. Start large in your search, but don’t forget to narrow it down to the countries your ancestors immigrated from before coming to the United States.
15. Organization affiliations
Do you or your parents have other affiliations? You might be thinking you have no other affiliations, but you’re probably wrong. Did you know many utility companies offer scholarships to students who live in their service area? If you have a bank account, check with the bank to see if they have scholarships. Check with your city if they offer scholarships. Think about companies and organizations you and/or your parents shop or do business with and check their websites to see if they offer scholarships.
16. Scholarship search sites
There are many great scholarship search sites available to students. Most sites will require you to create a free profile and then they will send you scholarships that you meet the eligibility requirements. Some great scholarship sites I recommend include Fasweb, Cappex, and Unigo. I encourage students to sign up with multiple sites because one site might know about a scholarship that the others do not!
17. Search engines
Write down all of your characteristics, hobbies, talents, etc. Many scholarship sites will have general scholarship lists, but you can be very specific when using search engines. For example, you might find a “performing arts scholarship list.” These general lists are great, but will you qualify for all of the scholarships? Maybe not. Go to search engines and search your characteristics. For example, if you are trumpet player, search “trumpet scholarships.” You might just find a scholarship that is not listed on any scholarship list.
18. College financial aid offices
Many financial aid offices have large lists of outside scholarships. In addition to national scholarships, many financial aid offices will know about local scholarships and scholarships only open to their students. Some of the scholarships you find in college financial aid offices will not be advertised anywhere else!
19. 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.
20. JLV College Counseling
Because I put a lot of work into it, I have to plug my own scholarship database. I am constantly updating my scholarship lists and adding scholarships daily. You don’t have to sign-up to view scholarships like so many scholarship search sites require you to do to. Just visit the scholarship lists and click on the names of scholarships you are interested in and you’ll be sent directly to the scholarship page.
Start searching for scholarships today! One of the biggest misconceptions about scholarships is that they are only open to high school seniors and current college students. However, it is never too early or too late to search for scholarships. There are scholarships open to younger students, graduate students, and adults returning to school. No matter where you are in your educational career, search for scholarships. Check out one or all of the sixteen places I recommend looking for scholarships.