Tips for Finding Scholarships

By Kailey Walters on May 18, 2020

College can undeniably be a bit on the expensive side, no matter where you end up going. There are a number of different ways to help offset the cost of attending college, one of which is applying for scholarships. With so many different scholarships out there, it can be a little difficult to figure out what you should be applying for — but don’t worry. Read on to find out what kinds of scholarships you should go for, whether national or local, so that you can help cover the costs of your college expenses.


Know the details of the scholarship being offered.

This may sound simple (and it is), but it bears mentioning all the same: make sure you know what the scholarship is about before you consider applying to it. This involves carefully reading the description of the scholarship so that you know exactly what is required of you should you apply. It also helps to take note of the deadline so that you are aware of how much time you have before applications close. Also, take special note of the scholarship’s relevance to you personally. Perhaps if you are a first-generation college student, you can look for scholarships specifically for that category. In that vein, knowing the details is extremely important in finding the right scholarship for you.

Ask your career center about local scholarships.

The career center on campus at your university is one of your most valuable resources for finding scholarships. In fact, there may be a section of your career center that is specifically dedicated to helping students find and apply to scholarships. So if you are just beginning your scholarship search and aren’t sure where exactly to look, your career center on campus is definitely a good place to start. Those who work at the career center may be able to offer you a list of local scholarship options, so you at least have the chance to start small.

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Research past local scholarships.

If you want to have a decent chance at winning a scholarship, you may want to go for the local ones over the national ones first. After all, national scholarships have tons and tons of applicants — and while they may offer a lot more money than local ones, it will definitely be more difficult to win or get noticed. That’s why you should stake your chances on smaller, local scholarships because there will most likely be fewer applicants, which means you’ll have a better chance at winning.

With that being said, it’s a good idea to research past local scholarships that are available. One way you can do so is to contact your school’s career center and ask about any awards that previous students have applied for and received. This way, you can get an idea of what kinds of scholarships you may have a chance at earning based on what other students at your university have achieved. This also gives you the chance to figure out what previous scholarship recipients did right in order to win, which can help you in your own scholarship application process. You can also ask your career center for a list of any local organizations and companies that are giving away money or have scholarship opportunities. This will help you narrow down a list of local scholarships and increase your chances of receiving something.

Use the US Department of Labor’s free scholarship search tool.

One simple but effective way to search for scholarships is to use this free scholarship search tool from the US Department of Labor. With it, you have the ability to search more than 8,000 different scholarships, fellowships, grants, and other financial aid award opportunities. The list of scholarships presented on the site is arranged in order of the closest deadline, so you’ll be able to see upcoming scholarships first and apply to those right away without doing too much digging. The site also helps to make your search easier by allowing you to search with keywords and use filters to see only awards for certain award types (scholarships, fellowships, grants, prizes, public grants, and loans), locations, level of study (bachelor’s degree, graduate degree, professional development, high school, vocational, and associate degree), and more. As a result, this site is a fantastic tool that provides quite a variety of scholarship options for you to choose from. The monetary compensation for each scholarship also varies, ranging potentially from $1,000 to upwards of $10,000.

Check out different college scholarship websites.

This one may seem pretty simple and straightforward, but sometimes you may have a hard time finding what you need if you don’t know quite where to look. After all, the Internet provides endless information on an endless variety of topics — but in order for that information to be useful to you, you have to know what you’re looking for and where to look. That involves being able to pinpoint the best scholarship websites out there so that you receive the most up-to-date and relevant information on upcoming scholarships, which will consequently allow you to figure out which scholarships are most appropriate for you, what is required of your application, and when you should apply. is one very well-known website that offers 1.5 million scholarships that provide more than 3.4 billion dollars in funding — which is undeniably impressive. Based on the personal profile that you create, the site will help match you to the scholarships out there that best fit your needs. This is a great, tailored experience if you’re hoping to find scholarships that fit your specific interests, passions, talents, background, and experiences. The site allows you to see all the scholarships you’ve applied for, which ones you’re not interested in, and any you may want to apply for in the future, which is helpful in keeping your records organized. On top of all these great resources, also offers contests that you can win monthly or weekly in order to win some extra money. Who doesn’t love that?

Not only that, provides connections to opportunities such as internships, online learning, student loans, part-time jobs, and student deals. It’s a very versatile site that is geared toward helping students in many different areas of their academic and professional lives, so don’t hesitate to take advantage of this great website. What’s more, it’s been recognized by the likes of the Today Show, ABC News, CNN, CBS, and the Chicago Tribune — so you know it has to be reliable, of course. is another great scholarship website that can be helpful to you. The scholarships on its site are categorized based on your matches, new scholarships, popular ones, exclusive deals, Niche scholarships, states, majors, those that are easy to apply for, those for minorities, and even more. This organization system makes it pretty convenient and easy for you to find what you’re looking for, based on what kind of scholarship you want. It also offers the $2,000 “No Essay” College Scholarship, which is open to all high school and college students, as well as anyone looking to attend college or graduate school within the next year. As is pretty obvious from the title, this scholarship requires no essay. Applicants can apply once each month, with a new winner being selected every month through a random drawing — meaning that it is more of a contest. The money earned from the scholarship may be used toward tuition, housing, books, or any education-related expense.


Another very useful site is, which boasts an impressive database that is updated daily. It offers over 3.7 million college scholarships and grants, with about $19 billion in financial aid to help students pay for college. The site allows its users — including high school students, college students, and non-traditional or adult-learners — the opportunity to complete a free profile and get matched to scholarships and grants for which they are qualified from different colleges, universities, organizations, foundations, corporations, the government, and more. In particular, its college scholarship directory allows you to search for college scholarships according to quite a variety of topics, some of which include academic major, athletic ability, artistic ability, ethnicity, first-generation college student status, GPA, minority status, music, state, religion, military affiliation, and much more.

If you’re not looking strictly for scholarships and are willing to go down the student loan route to help cover the cost of your tuition, you may want to look into SallieMae, a well-known education and student loan provider. You can create a personal profile to get matches that most accurately fit your own needs. Of course, while SallieMae is known for being a student loan provider, it does offer scholarships — more than 5 million of them worth up to $24 billion. On the site’s College Planning page, there is a scholarship portal in which you can search based on your field of study, hobbies, and graduate studies. SallieMae also offers a Bridging the Dream Scholarship Program, which awards $25,000 to hardworking high school juniors and seniors to help them overcome financial obstacles in the way of their education.

Scholarship Monkey is another valuable resource for those of you looking for scholarships online. This site allows you to search three different ways. One is through a personalized search, where you create a personal profile and receive email updates of scholarship matches based on your personal preferences. The second way is through using keywords, such as by typing in the name of your school and/or major. The third way is by looking through lists of scholarships, which are categorized based on major, religion, women, etc. Scholarship Monkey also provides a number of awards and contests, such as a $10,000 scholarship giveaway.


Create a strategy for applying to scholarships.

With all these different resources available for finding scholarships, it’s also essential to create a strategy for when it’s time to apply so you don’t get overwhelmed or disorganized.

First, after you’ve sifted through all the relevant scholarships you can get your hands on, you should make a list. This means you will really need to look carefully at the different scholarships you are interested in and know for sure that you’re qualified for, as you certainly don’t want to waste any valuable time applying to something for which you do not meet the criteria. Depending on your personal organizational style, you may want to list out these scholarships in a spreadsheet, in a Word document, or even by hand, if that’s your thing.

Next, you’ll need to assess each opportunity. This involves addressing the most important elements of each scholarship: its deadline (how long you have before you need to submit it), the difficulty of preparation (how well you’ll be able to prepare something thoughtful and worthy of submitting), and award amount (the monetary value of the award and whether the potential payoff will be worth the risk). Taking all these elements into consideration will help you get a clearer picture of how to efficiently and effectively go about applying for these scholarships.

Then, you should take the time to prioritize which scholarships you want to apply for. Based on your answers to the above questions, this shouldn’t be too complicated. Figuring out your timeline and strategy for when you’ll apply to certain scholarships may help increase your odds of winning something, as you’re being smart with your energy and time.

While finding and applying to scholarships can seem like a bit of a daunting task, you have no reason to worry. As long as you stay organized in your approach and know the right places to look, as outlined here, you’ll be well on your way to receiving some hard-earned scholarship money.

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