Follow these tips for successful scholarship searches
Watch out for scholarship scams
Each year many students and parents are defrauded by scholarship scams. "The Smart Student Guide to Financial Aid" provides excellent tips on how to identify and avoid scholarship scams.
Never pay for a scholarship search
There is never a good reason to pay for a scholarship search. The information you will need is available for free. Just remember, "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!"
Be sure to fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid
The financial aid office will always recommend that you complete a FAFSA at www.fafsa.gov each year. Many scholarship programs also require that you complete a FAFSA to demonstrate need or to show that you are pursuing all avenues of financial assistance. Remember, the FAFSA website begins accepting applications in October of each year. For example, for students who will attend college in the 2020-21 academic year, they can complete their FAFSA as early as October 1, 2019. Early is better--don't wait.
Search free websites for scholarships
Take advantage of the websites offering free personalized scholarship searches. Check out our own Scholarship Searches and Private Scholarships pages for scholarship opportunities for college students.
Look at your own resources
Check your own contacts and affiliations. Many organizations offer scholarships based on a variety of factors. Check with your high school counselor, your employer, your parents' employer, clubs, fraternal organizations, your church, your academic department, and your financial aid office.
Expand your search
It is a good idea to look in multiple places for information in order to maximize your chances for scholarships. Try community organizations, local businesses, corporations, bookstores, and the Internet. Don't forget the library. While there are scholarship guidebooks in the library, the library can also provide access to research databases and reference books that can be extremely useful in your search for scholarship opportunities.
Don't be discouraged by the overwhelming amount of scholarship materials available
Classify scholarship programs as: priority completion, should complete later, maybe complete, and recycle the paper. Identify those scholarships in which you meet the criteria and concentrate your efforts on those programs.
Remember to apply by the deadlines stated
Organizations usually do not extend deadlines (even if you have a good reason), so it is important to complete your application on time.