Are you a prospective or current college student looking for ways to boost your financial aid package? Scholarship searches will help you locate free money for college. In the United States, there are more than 1.5 million different scholarships, awarding over $3.4 billion annually.
The financial aid office at your college or university will have some information, but the best and most efficient way to look for scholarships is online. Open Google and type in “scholarship search.” You’ll get over 5,000,000 hits. Narrow it down to free and personalized searches and you’ll still have close to 200,000. With so many scholarship search engines, how do you know which one(s) to use? And how do you avoid being scammed in the process?
Here are three good tips to keep in mind:
Personalized profile matches. A personalize profile is the key to a good search engine. This sophisticated matching technology cross references information you provide about your academic record, interests, leadership experience, ethnic background, etc. to a pool of over a million different scholarship programs. The more questions the search site asks, the less you will have to sift through irrelevant entries.
Current information. The frequency of updated information is the hallmark of a good scholarship search site. Reputable sites will list on their homepage (or somewhere else that you don’t have to dig to find it) when they update new scholarships and how often they review their current pool. If the site does not contain information for the current academic year, don’t waste your time.
Free. Don’t get sucked in by a site (or worse, a person cold calling you on the phone) that promises access to “secret” scholarships, for a fee. You should be able to search whenever you want, as often as you want, for free. Otherwise, you might be (and probably are) getting scammed. Even a free site should set of your scam radar if it asks for your credit card information in order to provide you additional services.
With those tips in mind, you can better sort through the Google hits and narrow down your search for the right scholarship site. Or, better yet, check out one of these five reputable searches. All of our recommended sites are free.
- FastWeb Database contains more 1.3 million scholarships worth over $3 billion. Only site that also lets you research and compare colleges based on relevant scholarship matches. Unique data profiles for personalized list of matched scholarships.
- College Board Database has over $3 billion in aid from 2,300 sources. Features personalized scholarship matching. Updated annually; original data source from 2005.
- Sallie Mae American’s leader in college lending provides access to award-winning database with over $16 billion in scholarships from 2.8 million sources. Expanded and updated daily. Customized list of scholarship leads provided.
- Scholarship Experts Forbes.com’s vote for best scholarship search engine. Founded in 2001. 2.4 million scholarship and fellowship programs totaling $14 billion. Customized list of scholarships that match student’s hobbies, interests and academic background.
Remember…Scholarship searches should be free! Be aware that any service claiming to have “exclusive” information on scholarships for a fee are red flagged as scholarship scams.