Show Me the Money!

Your federal financial aid offer has arrived—hopefully it’s a good one, and you won’t need to look anywhere else for money. But if the amount you received from the government or your institution won’t quite cover the costs of your education, don’t fret—there are hundreds of private scholarships available, awarded for wide range of reasons.

First and foremost, NEVER pay a service that promises to provide information on scholarships, or that charges to search for them on your behalf. Search on your own, or use the many free search services available. Before you begin your search, make a list of everything you can think of related to your background, talents, interests, even your physical attributes. Leave nothing out, no matter how insignificant or weird it may seem, then search for scholarships based on each of the listed attributes. Are you tall? There’s a $1,000 scholarship available for tall students (over 6’ 2” for men, 5’ 10” for women). Are you left-handed? There’s a scholarship for you. Vegetarian? Know Klingon? Interested in duck-calling, making a prom dress out of duct tape or writing about the zombie apocalypse? Yup, there are scholarships for those things.

The U.S. Department of Education has a lot of great information on finding scholarships at StudentAid.gov, and your school’s financial aid office may also have helpful information. The U.S Department of Labor offers a free online scholarship search as well. Other scholarship search sites include Fastweb.com , Collegeboard.com, and Scholarships.com.

Here’s where else to look:


Schools

If you’re already a student or know where you’ll be attending college, do some research on scholarships offered not just by the school, but by alumni or other affiliated organizations.

Clubs and Groups

Belong to a church? A volunteer organization? Have family that has been in the military? Dad belong to the Elks? Ask if they offer student scholarships.

Companies and Causes

Many companies offer scholarships as way of promoting their products or raising awareness of a particular issue. The American Sheep Industry Association offers one for students interested in using wool to create fashions, JIF has one for the student who can use its peanut butter to win a Most Creative Sandwich contest, and the American Fire Sprinkler Association gives away $20,000 to students who, among other requirements, must write an essay on automatic fire sprinklers. And don’t forget the companies hiding in plain sight—those that employ your parents and other relatives and friends of the family.

Genealogy and Culture

Several families offer scholarships open only to those with an affiliation to the family name (Van Valkenburg, Gatling, Zolp). Ask around to make sure you aren’t missing any scholarships set up by relatives, even if they’re distant. If you have a connection to a particular culture, see if there’s a group that offers scholarships for students. There’s one for practically every cultural heritage—Irish, Swedish, Scandinavian, Cuban, Native American, Inuit, even the Huguenots!

Sports and Hobbies

Athletic scholarships offered by the school itself for big sports like football and basketball are one thing, but there are also private scholarships for golf, bowling, waterskiing, fly fishing, as well as non-athletic interests such as music, fashion, travel, writing and art.

You’d be amazed at the money out there for the taking. Many private scholarships go unawarded each year, simply because no one applies. Some of the stranger scholarships are small, so apply for as many as you qualify for to make sure you have enough for tuition and expenses. Applying is no guarantee you’ll get it, but it’s certainly worth a try.

$tart with Change Blog: Need more scholarship dollars? Here's how to find them.

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Showing 16 comments
  • Idalid Rivera

    I like this because it helped me a lot in my school because I needed money. Thank you

  • vicky forchu

    need money to cater for my school needs

  • Glory Okezie

    Thank you for sending the information about finding different college scholarships. I am a current student at Kennesaw State University. Please, could you specifically send me scholarships information for black women or African women in college, Mothers with son in the army, mothers with high school and college children? Thank you so much.

  • raymonddeluca

    Is there a site that will fill out scholorships for you to the school you want to attend. i want to finish Bachelors BA but not with any more loans. My Gpa was 3./90 when got asociaite business administration i want to continue at same school with schol;orship available.

  • george e. bell

    i craft record and conduct music, i was adopted when i was 6 years old. i been in the foster system since i was 2 years old. is there a scholarship for that?

  • Ronald Heyne

    Thank you, very useful info, on scholarships, didn’t realize there were so many different kind, I’m definitely gunna give it a try.

  • Braetron Cruse

    I really need more money for living….I’m struggling at the moment barely making….But I’m really on top of my school work an my grades are up to par….

  • Donjae Jones

    My name is Donjae Jones, I’m currently a Sophomore at Morehouse College. I’m seeking financial help for the Fall semester of 2015. If there’s anyone who can help, please contact me. Thanks!

  • Sharon M. LeBlanc

    I am attending Mount Wachusett community College in Gardner, Ma. I signed up for the Nursing program an I am currently doing my prerequisites. I had a full time job an found out I couldn’t do full time work and school. I have reduced my work hours to Per-Diem. It has greatly effected my pay checks dramaticly. I am unable to afford gas to get to school. I had to ask my parents for money for car insurance and gas money an food money. Bottom line it’s been real hard for me to pay my bills. For example, I received a refund it helped out a lot it kept me a float for one month. I had to pay my rent an internet bill and gas. I purchased copy paper, ink for my printer, and several other things for school. It just wasn’t enough to continue. I don’t want a hand out. I will pay it back if nessary. I just need some help real bad. If you have any advise on how I can go about applying for a scholarship I would greatly appreciated it.

  • richard todd

    thank you so much…..

  • Ricki Jurgensen

    I`am affiliated with the military. I have 14 classes left, not counting the two classes that I`am currently studying. My GPA is 3.35 and improving. Any assistance would be appreciate. I want to finish my Bachelor`s Degree. I will have to obtain Grant assistance to finish, running out of funds.

    Thank you God Bless, Rick Jurgensen

  • Cynthia Barreras

    As I’m looking for scholarship as a Hispanic, American women born and raised California, I am happy to see their are many scholarship for the average person women as decided to go back to school for a better education and for a better paying job… well done!!

  • Brittany

    Thank you for the useful info!! Will search more scholarships! !

  • z

    Try getting a job and taking less college classes per semester… surprised that people here are so smart but scared to put forth real work

  • Daisy Glover

    I need a scholarship to help me with my Suicide Prevention Foundation. I am scruggling as a student at this time trying to make ends meet! I need Help!. Thank you.

  • Gladys Dimgba

    Thanks for the valuable information.