Scholarship searches are often over-looked and under-researched as a source for funding a student's college education. With focused research and attention to detail, students and parents can find many local, regional, and national scholarships.
Where to start?
1. Review colleges' scholarship offerings. You may be considered for some campus-based scholarships as part of the application, but may need to complete additional applications for others. Pay attention to these details and possible separate deadlines as part of the college application process, and on each campus financial aid website.
- Middle Class Scholarship Program - This program provides scholarships to undergraduate California students who apply for FAFSA by March 2 and have family incomes and household assets up to $150,000.
- UC Blue & Gold Opportunity Plan - will cover your educational and student services fees if you are a California resident whose family earns less than $80,000 a year and you qualify for financial aid. No separate scholarship application is required for this.
- CSU President's Scholar Program is for highly qualified high school seniors who will enroll in a CSU as a first-time freshman. Scholarships range from about $3,000 to $12,000 per year, and a separate scholarship application is required. Look for details at each CSU campus website under Financial Aid/Scholarships.
- For all other out-of-state and private universities, look for details at each campus website under Financial Aid/Scholarships.
2. Use one or more FREE scholarship search tool on the web. These will include questions about your academic interests, GPA, test scores, geographic location and more to pinpoint scholarships that match your profile. The pop-up ads can be annoying, but just close them. Suggested tools:
- Fastweb - Complete an extensive profile and receive immediate results as well as regular emails. May not be as effective for students who are not ready to specify a major or career objective.
- Petersons - Another profile-based search tool, similar in scope to Fastweb
- Chegg - (formerly Zinch) Student-friendly and even a bit humorous. Will send scholarship info via text messages.
- Scholarships.com - Yet another profile-based tool. Watch for ads and poll-enrollment opportunities on many pages.
- School Soup - Simple questions and quick results
- Collegeboard - Another excellent search tool
- MeritAid.com - A comprehensive directory of merit scholarships and academic scholarships from colleges across the country
- Niche - Another search tool
- If your school uses Naviance, you'll have access to their free scholarship search through your Naviance portal.
- Californiacolleges.edu - offers a Scholarship Finder that matches your skills and accomplishments.
3. Check with your high school counselor and College/Career Center. Counselors will likely have information sheets for students to complete, which counselors will use to recommend students for specific scholarships. The high school College/Career Center may have listings on the school website as well as information in the center.
4. Ask your parents and grandparents to research their employers, business organizations, social and cultural groups, and service clubs for scholarships. These are excellent sources for substantial funding.
***Never pay to apply for a scholarship.***
Read tips to avoid scholarship scams from The Federal Trade Commission