Searching for
Scholarships on
Your Own

You can search for legitimate scholarships by using these National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators ideas:

  • Work with your financial aid office: The largest amount of financial aid comes from federal, state, and institutional grants. Your financial aid office can help you find information on available scholarships, grants, and loans according to your needs and background.
  • Contact your academic department: If you have already decided on a major, your academic department may be aware of awards designated for students in your area of study.
  • Use a free scholarship search engine: Ask the student aid office to recommend free scholarship search sites other students have found useful.
  • Never assume: Even if you don't have straight A's there still may be help available. Seek out local and national organizations and associations in your areas of interest to see whether any scholarship opportunities exist.
  • Write the essay: Few people like to write essays, so use that fact to your advantage. Scholarships that require essays receive fewer applicants, giving you a better chance of qualifying. Keep copies of all the application materials you submit; often, essays, application materials, and college admission essays can be tweaked and used again for future applications. Be sure to thoroughly proofread before submitting each application.
  • Stack up the small scholarships: Studies show that families often overlook scholarships that are less than $500.
  • Apply early: The best time to apply is NOW! Waiting too long will result in missed deadlines. Don't wait to be accepted to a college to research and apply for private scholarships.
  • Don't do it alone. Finding and applying for scholarships can be a lot of work, so get friends or family involved in seeking opportunities and keeping you on track with applications and deadlines.
  • Don't get scammed.