Tips on Finding Scholarships and Grants for College

by Jasmine
(Los Angeles, CA, USA)

Scholarships range from scholarships based on ethnicity all the way to favorite ice-cream. One can spend several hours online or in a library searching for scholarships and still not find ones that best suit them and their needs. How can one find scholarships suited for them when there are millions to be found? Looking through each one isn’t exactly the ideal way to “work smarter, not harder,” but without looking through each one, how is it possible to find the best?


First tip: Search for scholarships based on deadlines. Sorting scholarships by deadlines helps narrow the search, making it easier and more efficient. One will be searching for scholarships only available in one month as opposed to all scholarships. If you are in the month of November, search for scholarships due at the end of November or in the beginning of December. You’ll be able to get more scholarships done and can move on to working on scholarships due at the end of the upcoming month.

Second tip: See a school counselor, preferably your school’s counselor. If you’ve been attending that school for quite some time, the counselor will be aware of your financial needs and interests, thus they’ll be able to recommend scholarships to you. Regardless of the counselor being yours or not, counselors are aware of what scholarships are taking place or are soon to come and will inform you on all the requirements and websites to look at.

Third tip: Acquaint yourself with other college-bound and academically oriented students. Being college-bound, they most likely desire free money to pay for college. So ask them about scholarships they’re familiar with and scholarships that might be helpful to you as well.

Read more College Financial Aid Tips from other students and parents who have been through process.


Comment from your friendly team at College Financial Aid Advice

Thank you Jasmine for sharing your tips on finding scholarships and grants for college. Check out some of our scholarships lists and pay attention to those deadlines. Best of luck to you in college.


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Quick Tips for Scholarship Help (this is for you. Yes, you.)

by Kaylie Christine Crowley
(Lehi, Utah)

I don’t know about you, but when I have a hard decision to make, I look for a sign from The Universe. I’m talking a literal sign. In the car I look for billboards with a picture of my face and pink, sparkly letters that say, “Kaylie, go to college here”. I keep my eyes peeled on the internet for pop-ups that read, “You (yes, you) should apply for THIS scholarship (click here)”. Wouldn’t life be so much easier if, when you’re walking down the street, a man in a candy-striped suit dances up to you and hands you money, saying, “Here, kid, go to (-insert college name here-)”. If The Universe would just make decisions for me, I wouldn’t have to tear my hair out or kick my dog or punch through the bedroom wall! Don’t you agree?

So, high-school-senior/non-traditional-student/transferring-undergrad/anyone-else-who-sees-tuition-costs-and-faints, this is The Universe, and this essay is for YOU. I know you really want to go to college—if you didn’t, you wouldn’t go through this monstrous headache called ‘FINDING A WAY TO PAY FOR SCHOOL’. Trust me, I know all about it. I’ve attended five semesters of college so far, and I have over a hundred credits to show for it (I’m kind of an over-achiever). That, friend, is not a cheap undertaking. Luckily I’ve been pretty smart and applied (and qualified) for a lot of scholarships, so I’m still in the clear as far as debts go. However, school is getting more expensive the farther I advance, and when I think about the mountain of debt that is graduate school, I turn a really unnatural shade of puce (that’s a really disturbing red. Look it up and picture my face). So I’ve been doing a little (a lot) of research about financial aid, and I want to help you out so your face never has to turn that particular color. Here’s a list of the best things you can do to avoid puce-face-syndrome:

1. Use your resources. Everybody has resources, and these include your mom, your dad, your dad’s boss, your Aunt Gwen, your high school counselor, your basketball coach, your dog trainer, your older sister, your neighbor, your religious leader, your bus driver, your psychiatrist, literally anyone you come in contact with. Ask them about where they went to school, would they recommend that school, does their company offer scholarships? You’ll be surprised how much information this kind of networking will get you, if you ask the right questions.
2. Work hard. Universities want to see applicants that are well-rounded (learn to juggle, play the saxophone, train your dog to sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star), compassionate (almost every application asks about community service), have leadership skills (run for student government, start a knitting club, go for team captain), and care about their academics (do not skip Biology no matter how boring your teacher is—Admissions WILL KNOW. GPA is so important!).

3. Don’t limit yourself. Don’t be afraid to apply for stretch schools, don’t let yourself ignore scholarship opportunities because you feel that you aren’t qualified enough. There are scholarships out there for tall people, Jews, people who skateboard or do archery, people who make a prom dress out of duct tape. There is something you can do well, and there is someone out there who wants to pay you for it! Look at sites like Scholarships.com, Zinch.com, College Financial Aid Advice.com or Fastweb.com—if nothing else, they will give you an idea of what scholarship-givers are looking for.

4. Apply for FAFSA . It stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid, I mean, it says free right in the name! Who doesn’t want free federal aid to go to school? If you need help filling out the application, ask your parents or Financial Lit. teacher or your college financial aid counselor. FAFSA is a little confusing, but so worth the effort.

5. Never stop looking. Even when you’re attending school, in the height of finals, or graduated and taking a semester off, never stop looking. A common deadline for scholarships by big businesses like Frito-Lay and Dr. Pepper is actually October, which is right smack-dab in the middle of a semester when you’re lulled into a false assurance that you can take a break from writing 500-word essays and listing your positive attributes. Treat scholarship searching/applying as a part-time job, dedicate an hour a day or three hours a week to submitting resumes and looking for opportunities. I promise, it’ll pay more in the end than any other part-time job.

You know what to do now, the only other advice I would give would be to not let yourself be overwhelmed. College is difficult, sure, paying for it is hard, absolutely, but every minute is worth it in the end. Don’t be discouraged if at first you don’t succeed, and keep looking for signs from The Universe: you never know.

Read more College Financial Aid Tips from other students and parents who have been through process.



Comment from your friendly team at College Financial Aid Advice

Thank you Kaylie for sharing your quick tips for scholarship help. This is a great essay and should inspire some students to go look for that free money out there for college. Best of luck to you.


More Quick Tips and Scholarship Help for College

Scholarships for High School Seniors | Scholarships for College | Merit Based Scholarships | Scholarship Contests | Scholarship Money for College | FAFSA | Tuition Assistance Programs | Federal Student Loans | Consolidating Student Loans | College Tax Credit | Student Jobs


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Mastering the Michelangelo of Scholarship Applications

by Alexia Smith
(Springfield, OR, United States)


Smell the coffee, hear the early morning yawns, the computers booting-up. This is not a 9-5 job, this is you applying for scholarships.

Just the word alone—scholarship—tends to leave the effect of a terrible night of sleep or a looming public presentation. It is feared, agonized over, and pushed further into the recesses of our mind’s To-Do list that the word “scholarship” becomes synonymous with “chore”. But the idea of a scholarship being a chore is just what the students who are applying for scholarships want you to think. In reality, this 9-5 job we know as applying for scholarships is a nail-biting, sweat-inducing, on-the-edge-of-your-seat kind of competition that is allusive and sneaky. If you want to be on top, you have to treat applying for scholarships as if you are vying for a promotion. Every day, you need to arrive to work early, suck up to the boss, whiten your teeth, feign confidence. Because if you don’t—your cubical neighbor will be receiving the promotion while you eat stale celebratory cake.

It all starts with a portrait. While applying for scholarships, you are an artist—a true Michelangelo. You have to create yourself as a whole package: a prospective lawyer who is applying to Harvard, a future architect who loves to draw floor plans, a basketball-playing hopeful business major. Whatever and whoever you are or are not (to be or not to be is the question), you have to paint your picture so that the foundation or organization funding the scholarship wants you. Remember—if they don’t like your picture, they will go with a Dali instead. Take time before even starting to apply for scholarships to make a list of what you want to achieve, who you are, and adversities you have overcome. Even if you don’t know what you want to become or even what you want to major in, you need to express yourself as true blue as you can. Authenticity is key.

Along with being an artist, you need to be a detective. Those who earn scholarships are sneaky, detailed, and effective. Ask your counselor or career center assistant to give you a list of scholarships, but also designate a certain day or days of the week you will sit down and just Google scholarships and scholarships sites. As you go through, make lists of those which you may qualify for. Make lists of necessary materials—such as transcripts, letters of recommendation, test scores. Make lists of essay topics. Be a Sherlock Holmes and keep a picky eye out.

No matter when you start your scholarship search, take it on as a 9-5 job—not a chore, but a job you work at incessantly and passionately, because if you do, you will be rewarded tremendously. Just think, three hours writing an essay for a $1,000 scholarship may seem like a chunk of time, but $333 dollars an hour is a chunk of change.

So go on, pour that coffee and sit down to earn the promotion. It will be worth the while.

Read more College Financial Aid Advice from other students and parents who have been through process.



Comment from your friendly team at College Financial Aid Advice

Thank you Alexia for some great advice about Mastering the Michelangelo of Scholarship Applications. Good luck to you.



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