Finding Scholarships for College: Tips and Tricks

By Alicia Geigel on August 10, 2021

This article is brought to you by GradGuard. We protect college students and their families from the financial risks of college life, like providing a refund for tuition or replacing a stolen backpack when your school may not. When the unexpected happens, GradGuard’s tuition insurance and renters insurance can help you get back on track.

As college students, one of our biggest goals is to be awarded scholarships to help fund our college education and lessen the financial burden of our tuition. Within the past ten years alone, the cost of attendance at a four-year college increased 21% between 2010 and 2020, according to data from the College Board. Due to this increase in tuition costs, students are looking for scholarships more than ever, but it can be tough knowing where to start. In an age controlled by the internet, college scholarships are everywhere, with a multitude of websites and sources all pulling us in a different direction. Because there is so much information about scholarships out there, it is sometimes hard to determine which scholarships are worth applying for, which ones are bad/scams, a waste of time, or if you even should apply for scholarships.

Are you a prospective or current college student who is unsure about your chance at obtaining a scholarship? Are you overwhelmed about where to start and how to find them? Have you lost faith that there’s no way you could get one based on your grades, ethnicity, etc.? These tips will give you an insight on how to apply for scholarships and the best places to start looking for them!

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Before Your Search

  • Know What Scholarship Committees Look For: Usually, scholarship committees don’t zero in on one specific trait that a student has, rather they typically look for students who are well rounded, with a mix of good grades, involvement in extracurricular activities, engagement in service opportunities, etc.

  • Collect Relevant Information: Don’t make yourself overwhelmed during every scholarship application by having to search around for important dates or re-type every academic achievement you’ve had. Instead, prior to applying for the scholarships, Michael Gardon of the Simple Dollar suggests gathering together all information you think you’ll need for an application, such as grades, activities, accomplishments, etc.

  • Focus on Quantity: This step is simple, but overlooked! Apply for as many scholarships as you can and focus on quantity over quality. There’s no limit on the number of scholarships you can apply for — $100 here and $300 there can go a long way!

  • Search Frequently: Don’t give up searching for scholarships right away if you can’t find anything. Sources are constantly updating their sites to show the most recent scholarship openings with their deadlines, so keep searching frequently and the perfect one will come your way, I promise!

  • Use the Free Sources: Free sources include but are not limited to high school and college counselors, online scholarship sites, federal aid and state grant agencies, etc. Take advantage of these sources, they won’t cost you a dime!

  • Start Early: Scholarship applications aren’t usually something that you can pop out in a few minutes, they take a bit of time to thoroughly fill out each section carefully. Because of this, it is important to apply for scholarships as early as you can to allow yourself enough time to write a successful application and get it sent out before its deadline.

Where to Look

  • University Scholarships: Look no further than your favorite, preferred universities for scholarships that could be perfect for you! According to Cathie Ericson of Forbes, “Schools award two main types of financial aid: need-based (dependent on your family household income) and merit-based (offered because of your achievements, whether academic, athletic or artistic, to name a few).” Distinguish what kind of aid you are seeking and research the types of awards your prospective school gives out according to the type of aid you need.

  • Local Scholarships: Local scholarships are great ways to find financial aid as well. Some groups that support students and award scholarships include high school groups, civic groups, community foundations, local businesses, and state programs.

  • National Scholarships: National scholarships are the ones you are probably most familiar with, meaning ones that are open to students across the country. You may have more luck looking for scholarships on a national scale, because there may be broader categories or more specific categories that cater to you, your interests, and skills! Look for national scholarships on websites like,,, and

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Regardless of when you apply or how many scholarships you apply for, it is never too late to begin to apply and reap the rewards that you deserve. While reaping those rewards, it’s also important to protect both your scholarships and tuition money, which is where GradGuard comes in. GradGuard, a leading provider in tuition insurance, helps to give you tuition reimbursement in the case that you would have to withdraw due to medical or mental health reasons. Amongst the stress of either looking for scholarships or taking college courses, GradGuard has you covered. And remember, there is some kind of scholarship out there for you!

It’s no secret that college costs a lot of money. Make sure your investment in higher education is protected with GradGuard. Our affordable tuition insurance and renters insurance plans are specifically designed for college students. Customizable plans make it easy to protect your tuition, room and board, laptop, bike, and so much more.

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