Use Your Smarts to Pay for College: How and Where to Find Scholarships

Are you headed off to college soon? If so, have the funds you need by knowing how and where to find scholarships.

Have you been accepted to college? Are you worried about how you’re going to pay for it?

If so, you’re not alone. In fact, up to 40 percent of would-be college students from low-income families do not go to college (even though they’ve been accepted) because they can’t afford it.

If you want to go to college but don’t know how you’ll pay for it, keep in mind that there are lots of scholarships that you can apply for.

Don’t know where to find scholarships? Keep reading.

Explained below are some simple tips that will help you find the best scholarships to offset the cost of your education.

Types of Scholarships

Before getting into how and where to find scholarships, it’s important to understand the different types of scholarships that are available to you.

Some people think that the only type of scholarship is an academic scholarship.

In fact, this scholarship myth keeps a lot of people from applying at all. They assume that, because they don’t have great grades, there’s no need for them to try and earn a scholarship.

The following are some of the most well-known types of scholarships:

Academic Scholarships

These are awarded to students who demonstrate outstanding academic achievements. They’re typically awarded to students based on their GPA and standardized test scores.

Average Academic Performance Scholarships

This is a type of academic scholarship that also takes other factors into account, such as a student’s community service background, leadership qualities, and involvement in extracurricular activities

Athletic Scholarships

Athletic scholarships are awarded to students who demonstrate outstanding athletic ability. Often, students are nominated for these scholarships by their coaches or other school officials.

Minority Scholarships

Many schools offer scholarships to students who belong to an ethnic minority group. There are also many private, minority-run organizations that offer scholarships to help these students pay for college.

Scholarships for Women

In the same way that scholarships for ethnic minorities exist, so do scholarships for women.

Some universities offer scholarships to help women pay for college, and many private organizations do as well. There are also scholarships awarded to women who plan to study a male-dominated field (such as a STEM field).

Creative Scholarships

There are also scholarships awarded to students who show an aptitude for the arts. Creative individuals can receive scholarships from art colleges directly, as well as from public and private organizations dedicated to keeping the arts alive.

Community Service Scholarships

If you’re a student who is involved in your community, you may qualify for a community service scholarship. Many public organizations award scholarships to students who have contributed to making their neighborhood, city, or state a better place.

First Generation Scholarships

If you are the first person in your family to attend college, you may be eligible for a first generation scholarship. These scholarships are often awarded to outstanding first-generation students, especially those who come from a low-income background.

Unique Scholarships

There are also a lot of unique scholarships out there that can help you cover the cost of your college tuition. Various organization and businesses offer scholarships.

Some of these scholarships are quite unusual. For example, the Stuck at Prom scholarship awards a cash prize to the student who designs the best prom dress made out of duct tape!

Where to Find Scholarships

As you can see, there are lots of different types of scholarship out there for which you can apply. But, how do you find these scholarships? Start by following these steps:

Talk to Your High School Guidance Counselor

The first thing to do when it comes to finding scholarships is to talk to your high school guidance counselor.

Your guidance counselor will have access to a variety of resources and will be able to point you in the direction of scholarships for which you will likely be qualified.

Talk to Your Future College’s Financial Aid Department

If you’ve already been accepted to a particular college, you can also reach out that college’s financial aid department.

You can speak with someone from the financial aid department in person or over the phone to learn about scholarships for which you can apply.

They might know about scholarships that your guidance counselor does not and will be able to give you advice that’s more specific to that particular college.

Search Online (but be Smart About Your Search)

There are also lots of websites out there that provide you with lists of scholarships. You can set specific filters on these lists so you only find scholarships that apply to you and your unique situation.

You can find a lot of great scholarship information on these websites. But, you need to make sure you’re vetting them properly to ensure they’re legitimate.

Avoid scholarship postings that claim to offer “exclusive” information that no one else has access to. These are almost always scams.

You should also steer clear of postings that guarantee a scholarship or that require you to pay to apply.

Don’t fall for postings that require you to attend a “free seminar” or interview, either. These are often a ploy to get you to listen to some kind of sales pitch.

Reach Out to Local and National Organizations

Finally, there are lots of local and national organizations that provide free scholarship information online. Some specific organizations you might want to reach out to include:

  • The U.S. Department of Labor (they have a free search tool on their website)
  • Charitable foundations
  • Religious and community organizations
  • Local business
  • Civic groups
  • Organizations that are related to your field of interest
  • Ethnicity-based organizations

You can also reach out to your parents’ employers. Many business offer scholarships to the children of their employees.

Looking for More Educational Advice?

Now that you know where to find scholarships, it’s time to start looking for ones that match up with your needs.

What about once you’ve secured the scholarships, though? How do you ensure you’re successful in college?

We’ve got lots of articles on our website that will help you have a great college experience.

Start by checking out this article on essential writing tips. You’ll definitely use these tips when you start writing essays and research papers!


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