You’re going to college — or, at least, you’re fairly certain you’re going to college. What you’re less sure about is how you’re going to pay for it. Sure, there’s always a small chance that Taylor Swift will randomly decide to put $30K towards your college tuition. But what if T-Swift doesn’t make it rain on you? Fortunately, that’s where college scholarships come to the rescue.
One of the first questions that students tend to have regarding college scholarships is: Do I qualify? Without even knowing your grades or financial circumstances, the answer is almost certainly yes.
Related: How Do College Scholarships Work?
The second question that students want to know is how to find college scholarships. Strap in — because we’re going to tell you everything you need to know.
Finding and Winning Scholarships: Your Overall Strategy
Let’s get one thing out of the way: Applying for college scholarships is 100 percent worth your time and effort. However, it’s also important to be realistic. Unless you scored in the top one percent on the SAT and have achieved some other notable feat, the odds of you winning a full-ride scholarship are pretty slim.
Related: What Is a Good SAT Score?
Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t get your slice of the financial aid pie. A more realistic possibility is winning smaller scholarships that range in the $50 to $500 range. These smaller scholarships can be awarded for all sorts of things, like being enrolled in a specific program, meeting certain college GPA requirements, participating in a sport, having an impressive array of extracurricular activities, or being a minority.
The point is that you definitely qualify for college scholarships, but in order to win big, you need to apply early and often. You also need to know where to find college scholarships — and that’s where we can help.
How to Find College Scholarships
Before you get too deep into your college scholarship search, do yourself a favor and fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Some college scholarships require a submitted FAFSA in order for you to be eligible, so you should fill it out even if you don’t think you qualify for financial aid.
Ready to begin your college scholarship search? Here are the best places to look for college scholarships.
1. Start Local
One of the first places you should start looking for college scholarships is in your home region. Why? Because scholarships offered by local organizations and institutions generally have a much smaller pool of applicants, which increases your odds of winning scholarship money.
So, where do you find these local opportunities? A good place to start is with your school guidance counselor. Schedule an appointment with your counselor and he or she should help you identify the best college scholarship opportunities in your home region.
Other potential sources for local scholarships may include the following: non-profits, community foundations, labor/trade unions, churches, and your local chamber of commerce.
2. Find Scholarships Offered by Colleges
Are you getting ready to apply for your dream schools? To find that sweet, sweet scholarship dough, consider going straight to the source.
Many colleges and universities offer institutional financial aid, or aid that is offered by the school itself. This aid often comes in the form of grants and scholarships and is typically reserved for incoming freshmen and current students. If you haven’t submitted a formal application yet, contact the financial aid office of the colleges you’re applying to and see what you need to do to get in the running for institutionalized aid.
Related: How to Apply for College
3. Use Scholarship Database Websites
Another fantastic way to find college scholarships is by using scholarship websites like Tallo (that’s us, BTW) and Niche.
Every scholarship website is a little different, but at Tallo, we make it ridiculously easy to apply for college scholarships. Like, your dog could probably do it.
All you need to do is create a Tallo profile, click on the “Opportunities” tab, enter “Tallo” in the keyword field, and apply. That’s literally it. We offer two EASY college scholarships each month (read: no essay), so take advantage and start applying!
If you want to broaden your search, Niche and FastWeb are also legitimate websites for finding college scholarships. Pro tip: Create a separate email for your scholarship websites. Otherwise, your main inbox is probably going to get loaded with spam.
You don’t need to be valedictorian to apply for college scholarships. Community service, financial need, hobbies, interests, career ambitions, sports — any of these things could make you eligible for certain scholarships. The real secret to winning more scholarships is not selling yourself short. That, along with staying on top of deadlines. Good luck!