According to dictionary.com, a scholarship is “a sum of money or other aid granted to a student, because of merit, need, etc., to pursue his or her studies.”
Of course it’s not like someone is just going to hand you money… You have to put in a little legwork. For example, most of the time you’ll do some sort of scholarship essay or project. But it’s worth it because it helps pay for college tuition and reduce student loans for the year.
Since you’re going to put in a lot of hard work crafting your scholarship essays and applications, I thought I’d make your life a little easier by showing you three different ways you can find scholarships. Easy as 1 – 2 – 3!
- Your school. A lot of students apply for scholarships through their high schools because it’s secure, proven and there are a number of them available. There are usually a good amount of scholarships using different criteria, so if you know what you want to go to school for you can apply for specialized scholarships. Talk to your guidance counselor or teachers to see if they have applications readily available or can direct you to where you can find the application. You can also apply for scholarships at UW Oshkosh’s Scholarship website. The site lets you search by subject, deadline, amount or A-Z list. There are also several scholarships listed on UW Oshkosh’s Financial Aid website.
- Free Websites. When I mean free, I mean F.R.E.E. because scholarship websites connect you with scholarship money you don’t have to pay back. Be careful! Don’t fall in the hands of scammers. Legitimate scholarship websites will NEVER ask for you to pay an interest or startup fee, your bank account number or any other overly personal information, like your social security number. Typically, scholarship websites have you fill out your hobbies, interests and academic-type information and then match you up with the scholarships most relevant to you. Here are some legitimate scholarship search engines that I got from UW Oshkosh’s Financial Aid “Outside Resources” page that can help you find the scholarships you need:
- GraduateTutor (http://www.graduatetutor.com/scholarships/)
- College Board (http://apps.collegeboard.org/cbsearch_ss/welcome.jsp)
- FastWeb (http://www.fastweb.com/)
- NextStudent (http://scholarships101.com/)
- Scholarship Hunter (http://scholarshiphunter.com/)
- Student Scholarship Search (http://www.studentscholarshipsearch.com/)
- The community or workplace. Many local businesses or community foundations offer scholarships in communities to local students. These scholarships are more likely to only be open to students within your community, which will limit the number of applicants (compared to national scholarships). Contact local businesses and city newspapers to help you find scholarships you need. Your current job is another good way of finding a scholarship. Ask your employer if they offer any kind of scholarship within their business, or know of any. Many employers have been around long enough to know of some opportunities they can share with you.
When you find a scholarship that fits your profile (academics/interests/etc.,) make sure you take the time to fill out the application thoughtfully. It might seem like it’s taking forever – and you might be sick of filling out applications – but you never know what sort of scholarships you will receive. Every little bit helps!
The only guarantee in scholarships is this: if you don’t apply, you won’t get it.
So use the list of suggestions above and enjoy the scholarship ride!
If any of you have other places you’ve found scholarships, or have recommendations, please share them in the comments.