Find scholarships for college locally and online to help pay for expenses. Eligibility for scholarships can be based on many criteria, including academics, athletics, ethnicity, religious affiliation, and special interests.

What are Scholarships?

Scholarships are considered gifts that don’t need to be repaid. There are thousands available and offered by schools, employers, individuals, private companies, nonprofits, communities, religious groups, and professional and social organizations.

What’s the Difference Between Scholarships and Grants?

Scholarships and grants are similar in that they are considered “gift aid.” Both don’t need to be repaid. Typically, grants are awarded based on financial needs, such as the federal Pell Grant for low-income students. These grants are awarded on a needs-based basis at the federal, state, or college levels.

On the other hand, scholarships are usually awarded on the basis of merit, whether it’s for academics, artistic talent, community service, or athletic ability.

How to Find Scholarships

There are many scholarship databases available online. However, I suggest localizing and personalizing your scholarship searches first.

Start your search at your high school guidance office

Guidance counselors have lists of scholarships that are localized, specific, and available to graduating seniors.

Ask your local bank or credit union

Many local banks and credit unions offer scholarships to customers and members. These scholarships are often offered to local students or the children of credit union members.

Your parent’s employer

Many employers offer scholarship opportunities to the children of employees. Ask your parents and have them speak to the Human Resources Department. Additionally, some employers offer scholarships to students seeking degrees in their industry, so ask your family members, too.

Find a non-profit, service organization, or church group

Many associations and groups offer scholarships to students who meet service requirements. Do you belong to any groups, or are your parents part of any associations? Many churches also offer financial assistance to members, so that’s another option to consider.

Call local colleges

Many student aid offices will have lists of available scholarships. These scholarships may have additional application requirements and may not use information from the FAFSA, so it’s important to ask and get informed. Have an open dialogue with the student aid office of local colleges and the universities you’re considering.

Find government scholarships

Check out the scholarships offered on the federal and state level by visiting StudentAid.gov. You can use the U.S. Department of Labor’s FREE scholarship search tool.

Use scholarship search engines

There are many scholarship portals. However, be alert to scams. You do not need to pay to access scholarship opportunities. However, some websites or people may charge you for the information you can easily find yourself. Check out our list of scholarship search engines.

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