College Grant and Scholarship Search Tips
The rapidly rising costs of college tuition have parents and students scrambling for ways to close the gap between what they’re required to pay and what they can afford. The Internet is typically the first stop for these scholarship searchers – where they’ll find countless websites to sift through. In fact, entering “scholarships for college” into a search engine will give you millions upon millions of results!
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The sheer volume of sites is overwhelming – and a waste of time. Unfortunately, some scholarship websites provide little valuable information, while others are set up to collect personal data for resale, or to swindle you into paying a fee for nothing, or for something that you can get for free elsewhere.
For most people, paying for school is difficult enough. So we’re providing some useful tips to make finding college financial aid easier – and to avoid the scams along the way.
Five Free, Reliable Scholarship Sites
When you start your scholarship search, be wary of any site that charges for searches. The following five scholarship sites will make good use of your time – and they are all free:
1. Scholarships360.org: This website is certainly approachable, since it highlights just one scholarship per day. Financial aid seekers can check in daily to see if the featured scholarship is a good match for them. Previously offered scholarships are categorized, so you can easily search through the archives. Scholarships360 offers a description of each day’s scholarship, along with eligibility guidelines, application instructions and links to more information.
2. Fastweb.com: Fastweb requires that you complete a short profile, and then immediately starts finding appropriate scholarships, based on your responses. The site is well organized and easy to navigate. Once you register, you’ll receive email updates with scholarship opportunities that match your profile.
3. Scholarships.com: This is a robust site, where scholarship seekers fill out a profile and receive a customized list of scholarship opportunities they are eligible to apply for. Or, search on your own through lists of scholarships by category, such as type (acting, dance, disability or even celebrity), year of study, academic major, home state and more. The site also offers information and links to applications for college grants, including federal grants, career-specific grants and state-sponsored grants.
4. CollegeScholarships.org: Here’s a scholarship website with a difference: no log in or registration is required – which may appeal to many people seeking college financial aid. CollegeScholarship.org also features a scholarship search engine, where you can enter keywords to conduct a Google search that returns only scholarship-related results. For example, entering “adult,” “student,” “scholarship” and “woman,” and you’ll get results for non-traditional women’s scholarships.
5. U.S.ScholarshipGuide.org This site offers information on scholarships, college grants, loans, and other college financial aid. There is no registration required, and users can easily search through new scholarships, the most popular scholarships, or scholarships by category.
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Scholarships Can Make Paying For School Much Easier
Would a scholarship of $500 help you pay for college? How about $1,500, $3,000 or $20,000? Look around the websites above and you’ll find success stories about students who used the site to find college financial aid in the form of scholarships, grants and loans. While every student’s experience will be different – and there is no guarantee you will qualify for a scholarship – it’s clear that many students are racking up tens of thousands of dollars in scholarships.
From corporations like Coca-Cola and Dell, to professional organizations and financial institutions, all types of organizations are providing scholarship funding. You just have to find the ones you qualify for and apply. But be sure to use caution and common sense to avoid falling prey to scholarship scams.
Avoiding Scholarship Scams
As in any online activity, there are predators out there working hard to take advantage of scholarship seekers – and take their hard-earned money. These scammers might guarantee a scholarship in exchange for a fee, or claim to be awarding a scholarship in order to obtain banking information or credit card numbers.
Watch out for these five red flags:
1. The site requires you to pay a fee for a scholarship application.
2. You’re guaranteed to get a scholarship or your money back.
3. A credit card number is required to “hold the scholarship.”
4. You’re informed of winning a contest or scholarship you didn’t enter or apply for.
5. Language such as “you can’t get this information anywhere else.”
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Remember that authentic scholarship search sites won’t guarantee that you’ll earn a scholarship. And you don’t need to pay a fee to find any number of scholarships you can apply for.
Are You Ready to Find a Scholarship?
If you’re concerned about paying for school, remember that every dollar of free scholarship or grant money is one less dollar you’ll have to take on in debt. So don’t wait any longer – visit these five online resources for finding college grants and scholarships, and apply for as many as you can.
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