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Best Places to Look for Online Scholarships

Mar 28, 2011 Jennifer Williamson, Distance Columnist | 0 Comments

If you’re enrolled in college—or planning to go—it’s never too early or too late to start applying for scholarships. Scholarship money doesn’t have to be repaid, so naturally it’s the best kind of financial aid to have. However, to find the most scholarship money available, you’ll have to do some legwork. The federal government provides only limited aid options—many of them given only to the most financially needy students.

Get beyond the FAFSA, and you’ll be able to find scholarships for athletes, artists, community organizers, students from specific geographic areas, and those with a very diverse array of interests—and you don’t necessarily have to get top grades or come from an extremely financially disadvantaged background. Here are a few places to try looking for scholarships online.

FastWeb is a very large database of scholarships and financial aid information. It’s linked to by, a well-known informational site on college financial aid, scholarships, and funding issues. According to FinAid, FastWeb is the most frequently updated scholarship database on the web. In our experience, it’s also one of the most exhaustive.

FastWeb asks you to fill out a rather long form that asks you to list your GPA, hobbies, college of interest, majors of interest, and other information. Then it generates lists of scholarships that cater to your interests and abilities well as your GPA. This tool can be very useful in pinpointing lesser-known scholarships that might be available based on your more unique interests, rather than simply going for more well-known scholarships that judge based on GPA.

Man With Magnifying Glass

Finding free money isn’t easy. But it can be done.

The College Board provides a free scholarship search service that includes grants and awards from public and private sources. The database is updated annually, so it may not be as up-to-date as other sites such as FastWeb. According to the website, the database contains over 2,300 college funding sources from over 1,200 organizations. And while many scholarship sites wait for organizations to come to them with information on scholarships, the College Board claims to collect its information on its own—making some scholarship information available only here.

BrokeScholar’s website claims to include millions of scholarships, and its application process is fairly exhaustive—so you can find scholarships matched to your interests, potential majors, activities, GPA level, and location among other criteria. The database also includes scholarships at the local, state, and national level.

Your state higher education website

Your state education department may offer scholarships and awards to students in your state. While the variety of awards, the level of competitiveness, and the accuracy of the site’s information will probably differ greatly from state to state, it’s worth checking out what aid is available to you at the state level. Check out some examples for New York, Florida,and Maine, or do a Google search for your state’s department of education website.

Your college website

If you’re already going to college or have narrowed down your list of potential schools, check your university website to see what scholarships are available. Not all universities only give out grants and scholarships on the basis of high GPA’s or financial need—although those certainly don’t hurt.

Bear in mind that much of the time, your college financial aid office will automatically match you with a scholarship if you qualify for one. But this isn’t always the case. If you find a scholarship you think you’d qualify for, talk to your financial aid office to see if there is a separate process for applying.

A search engine

Sometimes the best place to look for scholarships is on a search engine like Google. The upside is that if the scholarships are out there, you’ll find them this way. The downside is that you’ll have to think of your own search terms—and know exactly what kinds of scholarships you qualify for. Think about your academic and extracurricular interests, community and religious involvements, your hometown, and even the companies where your family members work—as well as your sports interests, ethnic background, and academic performance.

Finding free money isn’t easy. But it can be done. And the time spent is worth it—even if you only win one scholarship. Every dollar of scholarship money you earn is a dollar you don’t have to pay back with interest—so the search is worth the effort.

How To Find a College Scholarship -




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