If you are looking for scholarships to go to college or trade school, congratulations on having the drive and the grades to qualify for admission. Now comes the hard part: Where is the money going to come from? If you are very rich and have parents willing to front the money no matter where you are going, once again congratulations! You are a winner in the genetic lottery. For those who come from families in the lower income brackets, there are federal, state and university grants and work/study dollars to be had. (At some schools like Harvard, 100% of financial need is guaranteed to be met.) For the rest of the world who falls in the middle, being able to finance higher education can be quite a challenge.
Grants, loans and scholarships are different ways to finance a college education. Grants typically come from governments and are exclusively income based. Loans are available to all students, but have to be repaid. Scholarships can be either need-based or merit-based or a combination of the two. Scholarships do not need to be repaid and are available through a wide variety of sources.
So where do you look? DO NOT pay money to receive a list of scholarships available! Why pay money for a list that someone created by Googling “scholarships”? Save that money towards a textbook and do the groundwork yourself. The first place to look is the school where you’ve been accepted. Most colleges offer some form of need-based financial aid. In addition to the financial aid office, also be sure to contact the department of your major. Often there are scholarships available based on major (business or the sciences, for example).
If you didn’t find any scholarships through your school, or not enough to cover the full amount, it is now time to get creative. Think of things that make you unique and place that term plus the word “scholarship” into a variety of different search engines (while Google is dominant, the others might pop up things you otherwise would have missed). Try looking under your ethnicity, your religion, gender, sports, future career aspirations, clubs, favorite book, hobbies, etc. There are also many scholarships for returning students (older than those fresh out of high school), first ones in the family to go to college, and also for the children of employees – as your parents if their work offers something like this or contact the Human Resources department directly.
Once you’ve found the scholarships out there, that is only half your battle. They will not simply give you money for visiting their website. All require an application and many require an essay. Keep their deadlines in mind as late applications are typically rejected. Remember, apply to as many as you think you are eligible for since lots of little scholarships can really add up.