When we were looking for scholarships, we found them in nearly every place you could imagine. We discovered some in the dusty collection of books at our library and others by reading serendipitous newspaper announcements of past scholarship winners. We even found an award advertised on a supermarket shopping bag. Having personally spent hundreds of hours scouring the planet for scholarships and meeting thousands of other successful scholarship winners, we have learned where most scholarships are hidden.
To help make your scholarship hunt more efficient, we present in this guide what we believe are the ten steps to finding the best scholarships.
Invest in a good scholarship book and you'll have an invaluable resource that will lead you to some great scholarships. When selecting a book, choose one that offers detailed descriptions of the awards and an easy-to-use index. You don't have time to read through every scholarship, so an index will help narrow your choices quickly. For example, our scholarship directory The Ultimate Scholarship Book not only contains thousands of awards but also has a dozen different indexes based on criteria like field of study, career goals, hobbies and interests, talents and more. These will help you pick awards that are a match to you.
When it comes to the Internet, we recommend that you use as many online scholarship databases as possible as long as they are free. There are enough quality free databases that you should not have to pay for any online search. Of course, you can start with the search right here on SuperCollege!
If you are a high school student, start your scholarship search with your counselor. Ask if he or she has a list of scholarship opportunities. Most counselors keep a binder filled with local awards and scholarships, so make an appointment to discuss the ones for which you might qualify. Before your meeting, prepare information about your family's financial background as well as special interests or talents you have that would make you eligible for certain awards. Don't forget that your own high school will have a variety of scholarships from such places as the parent/teacher organization, alumni group and athletic booster clubs.
If you are a college student, make an appointment with your school's financial aid officer. Before the appointment, think about what interests and talents you have and what field you may want to enter after graduation. Take a copy of your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) if you have one. Mention any special circumstances about your family's financial situation and ask the financial aid officer for recommendations of scholarships offered by the college or by community organizations. Also, if you have already declared a major, check with the department's administrative assistant or chair for any awards that you might be eligible to win.
Here's a reason to enjoy your extracurricular activities even more. One benefit of participation may be a scholarship sponsored by the organization. Inquire with the officers or advisors of the organization about scholarship funds. Bands, newspapers, academic clubs, athletic organizations and service organizations often have scholarships that are awarded to outstanding members. If the organization has a national parent organization (for example, National Honor Society), visit their website. Often you will discover awards that are given by the parent organization for members of the local chapters. If you're involved with a church or religious organization, be sure to inquire both locally at your house of worship and with the district, state, and/or national offices to see what scholarships may be available to members.
Gen and Kelly Tanabe
Founders of SuperCollege and authors of 13 books on college planning.
By: Gen & Kelly Tanabe
The goal of The Ultimate Scholarship Book is simple: To help you find free money. Inside you'll find the most up-to-date and comprehensive listing of more than 1.5 million awards. An easy-to-use index makes finding the right scholarships ridiculously quick. And it wouldn't be the Ultimate book without a section of little known insider tips and strategies that show you how to actually win the scholarships you find!
By: Gen & Kelly Tanabe
Learn how to go back to school without going broke. This is the only book that shows you how to find the best scholarships for adult students, get your employer to pay, have your student loans forgiven and much more.