Need money for college? Millions of dollars in scholarships are awarded every year—and not just to students with perfect GPAs or outstanding athletic talent. Even if you get state or federal aid, additional scholarships—even small ones—can ease the financial stress of books, fees, study abroad or living expenses.
The key is to look a lot, in a lot of places. Here’s where to find scholarships that can help reduce your out-of-pocket college expenses:
Start local. Your first stop should be your school counseling office, which will have many resources for scholarships, many awarded only within your school or school district. You might be surprised at how many scholarships are offered by local organizations and individuals who are invested in helping young people in your community.
Community foundations. Indiana has a state-wide network of community foundations, one in every county of the state. Check your local community foundation website for a list of area scholarships.
BigFuture.collegeboard.org offers a free scholarship search and so much more, from advice on taking the SAT to choosing a college major.
Scholarships.com is a free scholarship search that is easy to use: After you fill out a profile, the site will use your criteria to filter through a huge database of scholarships to generate a short list.
Fastweb.com is equally easy and claims to have more than a million scholarships in its database. When you register for the free scholarship search service, you not only get access to those lists, but also to helpful advice and regular newsletters.
UNCF.org is the nation’s largest minority education organization, with more than $100 million in scholarships awarded every year.
Cappex.com offers a two-for-one: free searches for both scholarships and schools that might be a good match for you and your college goals.
Watch Out for Scholarship Scams
Scholarships offers can be exciting but watch out: There are scammers out there. Don’t fall for these tricks:
Guaranteed scholarship in exchange for a fee—scholarships are free!
Offer of a “guaranteed” scholarship from someone who contacts you, via phone, mail or email. That’s not how it works.
Claims of “exclusive” lists of scholarships. Foundations, colleges and other organizations don’t keep secrets about their scholarships. Real scholarships are open to anyone who wants to apply.
Remember: If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Never give away personal information, such as your social security number or passwords, to someone over the phone or by text or email. Use the financial resources on these pages, and your high school or college to stay safe from scams.