If you’ve ever typed “college scholarships” into the Google search bar, like I did many times in high school, you have seen that the amount of scholarships for future college students seems endless. Thousands of sites offer thousands of scholarships, so getting money for college should be easy, right? Well, we did some research to help you cut through the clutter.
Scholarships are everywhere, but you have to know where to look and where to focus your time. Don’t waste hours searching for scholarships on random websites when the best scholarships might be right in your community! Below is a list of some of the best places to start your scholarship search.
My biggest piece of advice: start early. Many scholarships require essays and these take time, so use this list to get started and find some scholarships you think could work for you.
College Financial Aid Office
These scholarships are the most common and probably the easiest to find. Browse your future college’s website for financial aid information. There are usually campuswide scholarships, but also major-specific scholarships. You may also find talent-based or diversity scholarships. The website should list these, but it’s a good idea to call the college’s financial aid office or your admission representative for more information. They can tell you which scholarships you qualify for and which ones you are automatically considered for.
Concordia offers scholarships for academics, talent, certain areas of study, diversity, community involvement and more. Nearly 100 percent of Concordia students benefit from more than $60 million in aid, with the average award being $29,000. You can even use Concordia’s scholarship calculator to see an estimate of the scholarships you would receive based on academics.
High School Counselor
Make an appointment with your high school counselor to talk about scholarship options. It’s part of their job to help students prepare for college and they can give you advice on which scholarships are worth applying for. They usually have a list of local scholarships available to you, so you can start deciding which ones you’d like to pursue.
Local foundations, religious and community organizations, local businesses
Look for organizations, groups or businesses that offer scholarships to local students. You have a better chance at getting these scholarships than national competitions for which students from the entire country can apply. Call your local church, veterans groups, nonprofits, the chamber of commerce, or area businesses to find out if they offer any scholarships. It can’t hurt to ask!
U.S. Department of Labor search tool
Go to careeronestop.org to search thousands of scholarships, fellowships, grants and other financial aid award opportunities put together by the U.S. Department of Labor. Their search engine organizes scholarships by deadlines, award amounts and the type of schooling you must be pursuing. Use the filters to narrow your search by location or award type. This is a great tool designed to help you find the scholarships that are most relevant to you.
Federal agencies and state grants
Sometime in the year before starting college, you will fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Based on your family’s income and other factors, you will receive a letter from each college you listed on the application to tell you your federal and nonfederal financial aid options. You may receive grants, loan options or work-study opportunities depending on the school. Check out your state’s grant agency website as well for more options.
There are tons of scholarship websites claiming to help you find the best and most scholarships. It can be overwhelming to google “scholarships” and see hundreds of sites come up, so stay away from websites that demand a fee or ask for your personal information. I’ve narrowed it down to a few scholarship websites that are reliable and well-reviewed. And keep in mind that it may be more beneficial to focus on local scholarships or use the U.S. Department of Labor’s search tool. Students everywhere use these websites, so you’ll have much more competition. Still, you can find some interesting and fun scholarship opportunities.
Creative, easy and fun scholarships
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Bailey Tillman '18 studies multimedia journalism, Spanish and film studies at Concordia.