Let’s get started by identifying the difference between merit and competitive scholarships. Both of these are given by the colleges themselves. Merit means that just by having the required GPA and ACT and applying correctly the student will receive the scholarship. Competitive means that many students will apply with the required GPA and ACT score and the colleges will pick the top recipients from their applicant pool.
One of the first places to look for scholarships is the colleges and universities that the senior is interested in. Those will be listed on their admissions page. When you visit the college and meet the admissions representatives you should ask questions and find out all the details. Be especially careful about deadlines. These are hard deadlines and I have seen many students miss out on scholarship offers because their applications were not received on time.
There are many search engines out there, but this is a list of my personal favorites. Also, I would recommend creating a separate email address that you use strictly for college/scholarships. This helps ensure that you don’t miss out on important information by overlooking it. Make sure your college email address is appropriate.
- Achieve Alabama – This is a search engine that was created by the State of Alabama Department of Education to ensure that the local scholarships are in one place. It is relatively new and updated regularly.
- Scholarships.com - The free scholarship search is one of the most established and robust, tracking a reported $19 billion in scholarships.
- Scholly – This is an app that matches students with scholarships based on the criteria that you enter about yourself. Cost is 2.99 a month, one of the more expensive ones, but well worth it in my opinion.
- College Green Light – this is a free scholarship search engine for first generation and underrepresented college bound students.
- GoodCall Scholarship Search Engine – GoodCall integrates data and technology to make finding scholarships easier for students and their families. And, unlike other scholarship search sites, they are totally free and open. You can view thousands of scholarships, filter results by specific requirements, and even search by competition level and entry difficulty.
- Fastweb.com – this company is owned by Monster.com, it claims to have more than 1.5 million scholarships in its database. Expect a flood of emails, which is why I suggested creating a separate email address for college.
- Cappex.com - Cappex allows students to search both schools and scholarships, with a database of more than $11 billion in scholarships.
- Local Scholarships - check with your local businesses, civic organizations, churches, credit unions, banks, and your parents/grandparents place of employment.
I would highly recommend creating an account for all of these. Don’t be afraid to apply for a scholarship just because it requires an essay. You should make sure you resume is updated and reflects organizations and accomplishments that you have done in the past few months. There is no doubt that applying for scholarships is hard work, but it is well worth it in the end. The only way that you are guaranteed not to receive a scholarship is not to apply.