Outside scholarships are an excellent way to decrease your out-of-pocket cost or loan debt. Students can apply for these scholarships completely outside of the college application and merit scholarship process. There are numerous sources of outside scholarships.
Students are encouraged to start close to home by researching community foundations and service organizations.
Sometimes churches and synagogues offer scholarships. Employers are also a great resource. Have your parents check to see if their company offers any scholarships or tuition-assistance benefits. If you have a job, check with your employer.
Next, expand the search to the Internet. The key is persistence. This process takes work, but if you think about the possible payout, the hourly rate for the work is significant.
Free Scholarship Resources
These are specific resources to help with the search for scholarships:
- CFNC – CFNC is College Foundation of North Carolina, which has a list of scholarship opportunities.
- Fastweb – Fastweb is an online resource that helps with finding scholarships.
- FinAid – FinAid is a source of student financial aid information.
- Sallie Mae – Sallie Mae is an online resource that helps you find free money for college that you don’t need to pay back.
- SASFAA – The Southern Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators collects scholarship.
- Scholarships.com – Scholarships.com has a large database scholarships for both undergraduate and graduate students.
- Scholly – Scholly is an online resource that helps with finding scholarships.
Watch out for Scholarship Scams
Make sure to watch out for scams. Never pay for information about scholarships. There are people who will gleefully take your money to give you a list of scholarships that is available for free. Or worse, they’ll take your personal information and use it for personal gain, otherwise known as identity theft.
Read the Fine Print
Always make sure to read the fine print about a scholarship. Many organizations will want to use your application, art or social media creation for advertising purposes, even if you don’t get the scholarship. It’s up to you whether you feel comfortable representing that brand. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to hear “no.” If you work this process well, you will hear no often, but you’ll also hear yes.
- Know your deadlines.
- Keep a list of the scholarships you apply for.
- Create stock essays that you can tweak for specific applications.
- Understand the terms of the scholarships.