What must be noted is that the search process to access these cannot be hit-or-miss. It needs to be taken seriously as time and effort must be put in to the searches and doing what’s necessary to apply. Rarely does one scholarship cover even a single year, so that’s why students must be aware of the need to apply for multiple scholarships.
It is recommended by Kim Stezala, Scholarships 101: The Real-World Guide to Getting Cash for College to go on no more two sites to start, then expand if you’re not successful finding what you need.
Here are some of the sites she recommends:
- Scholarships.com is one of the best known and is reported to have tracked $19 billion in scholarships. After you complete a profile, the site will filter your criteria to generate a list. It’s about matching the scholarship to the student.
- Fastweb.com (owned by Monster.com) attests to having 1.5 million scholarships in its database. Similar to scholarships.com, it will email to the students the best matches, deadlines, as well as newsletters.
- Chegg.com offers over 25,000 available scholarships. It even has online tutors to help students with their scholarship essays.
- Cappex.com is a site I have mentioned that is extremely helpful for the college search, but it also contains a database of over $11 billion in scholarships. It even offers a gauge to find out the chances of getting into a school, incorporating user-generated data. Stezala likes the fact that it gives students a ‘reality check’ on whether they will be admitted to a school that is generous with their grant money.
- The College Board site, BigFuture – another site I have mentioned for the college search – helps students obtain information about colleges and how to pay their tuition. Its search engine contains information on more than $6 billion in scholarships, financial aid, and internships.
- Niche.com – also a good college search site – helps students gain a sense of a school’s ‘flavor’ by posting student reviews. They also have a search option where students are paired with scholarships that match their qualifications.
- High school websites often will have a list of available local scholarships. These usually will have less competition than those posted onto a national database. (Don’t forget to check out other area high schools.)
Here are 3 more I also like:
- GuaranteedScholarship.com requires no interview, essay, portfolio, audition, competition or other additional application requirement.
- Unusualscholarships.com is a compilation of interesting and unusual scholarships such as the Left-handed Scholarship, scholarships for twins, etc.
- College websites where you are applying may offer merit based scholarships that typically renew each year. Make a point to also check out the department you are applying to, as they often offer their own grants.
In another article on the US News Education website, they spotlighted a student -Jocelyn Pearson – who received more than $126,000 in scholarship money! She found out – after much wasted effort – that the most productive results came from scholarships that demanded she ‘prove her merit’ not ones that were merely contests or sweepstakes.
Here are her recommendations:
- Avoid the big scholarships – full tuition ones – more difficult to score. Go for the smaller ones as there are so many more of those available. For example, the Jif Most Creative Sandwich Contest award includes a scholarship worth $25,000, as well as a Jif Peanut Butter Basket worth $50. Who knew?
- Don’t stop applying for scholarships once accepted into college. Continue applying throughout. Use the scholarships to pay for college as you go.
- Adhere to the deadlines. Keep a list of the scholarships applied for and record their deadlines. Make note if a scholarship is offered only once or twice a year.
- The most promising scholarships require essays, but a new one does not need to be written each time – tweak the essay to make sure it fits the scholarship criteria. She recommends to refine a few important experiences that resonate. Says Jocelyn, “At first it took hours for one application, but by my last year in college, I was doing 10 applications in the same amount of time.”
- Get several copies of your transcripts as well as your recommendations. This will accelerate the process. Make sure you inform the people you got recommendations from that you are applying for several scholarships.
- Avoid those scholarships that require entering a name or ask to collect social media shares. Look for scholarships that are based on accomplishment or need. Pearson learned that many contests and sweepstakes are ways to collect information to sell to marketers.
- Jocelyn noted that she seemed to have a better chance of being awarded a scholarship once already in school especially if participating in internships and clubs to build your resume.
A final word from Jocelyn: “ There’s so much money out there, if you know where to look for it. Keep applying, even if it takes some time to start seeing success. You might be surprised at how it starts coming in as you persist.”