There are countless ways to get funding for college, but first, you need tips for finding scholarship opportunities. Here’s how to start:
- Talk with your high school counselor.
- Check with your college’s financial aid office.
- Use free scholarship search tools.
- Browse federal and state agencies.
- Search religious and interest-based organizations.
- Ask your employer.
Know the Various Types of Scholarships
When you’re first starting to seek out funding for college, it’s easy to assume that all types of scholarships are equal. However, there are a few different types of scholarships that all aspiring college students need to know about. Depending on your grades, your financial need, and a few other factors, you may have an easier time applying for some than others.
- Merit-based scholarships: These are awarded based on grades and academic achievements.
- Need-based scholarships: These are awarded based on financial need.
- Demographics-based scholarships: These are awarded to students of certain genders, those who belong to particular ethnic groups, or people who work for a company.
When you’re first starting to learn about scholarships, it’s important to know that you can apply for way more than just one funding opportunity. Most scholarships won’t cover your entire tuition, so don’t hesitate to apply for several, as long as you’re eligible.
Talk With Your High School Counselor
If you’re still in high school, seek out your counselor to get the conversation started. Most guidance counselors have a list of the most common scholarships, which is a great place to begin your funding search. Many counselors can also help with researching scholarships for your particular needs and interests. Don’t hesitate to ask your teachers for tips, either. Your teachers want you to succeed, so you have nothing to lose by asking for advice.
Check With Your College’s Financial Aid Office
If you’ve already decided on a college or if you’re considering just one or two, it’s a good idea to check with your college’s financial aid office for scholarship opportunities. Many colleges administer funding to their own students, so your school’s scholarship funds could help pay for your education. Your college’s financial aid office may also know about scholarships that are ideal for students from your area.
Use Free Scholarship Search Tools
Did you know that the U.S. Department of Labor has its own massive database of scholarships and funding opportunities? You can search this database by the level of study, award type, and award amount to find the ones that work for you. If you already have a scholarship or two in mind, you can search for it in the database to get more details about its purpose and guidelines. Be sure to check this database as early in your search as possible, as you won’t want to miss any deadlines.
Browse Federal and State Agencies
Many forms of federal financial aid need to be repaid, but some are available in the form of grants. For instance, you could be eligible for a Pell Grant or financial aid for serving in the military. Even if you haven’t personally served in the military, you could be eligible for funding if your parent is a veteran. Many states also offer scholarships to residents, so be sure to check with your state’s department of education to learn more about opportunities.
Search Religious and Community Organizations
Some of the best scholarship opportunities are right in front of you, and you can access them through the religious and civic organizations in your community. Check with your church, mosque, synagogue, or temple to find out what funding opportunities are available to members of your religious community. Connect with local organizations like the Rotary Club, the Kiwanis, or the Boy or Girl Scouts to learn more about scholarships that can cover your tuition.
Ask Your Employer
Whether you hold down a full-time job as you gear up for school or you have a part-time job in the evenings and on weekends, your employer may offer funding for college. Many companies cover the costs of tuition for a certain number of credit hours, especially if you’re working toward a degree that will help you do your job even better than before.
Ask your parents to check with their employers, too. Many companies offer merit-based scholarships for employees’ family members.
There are plenty of funding opportunities, but you have to know where to look to find the right ones. Keep this guide handy as you search and apply for college scholarships and get the funding you need for a successful college career.