College is expensive – and the cost is only increasing. For most of us, that means we need to find a way to pay for it. And even though student loans are fairly easy to get, they can also come with a high price, plus interest.
In order to take out fewer loans, many students turn to scholarships and grants. However, these can be hard to find, and difficult to keep track of.
Fortunately, there are many sites available to help students find the best-suited scholarships and help track due dates.
Unigo is a scholarship database that divides scholarships into categories such as:
- Athletic scholarships
- Minority scholarships
- Company-sponsored scholarships
- College-specific scholarships
Within these categories are sub-categories. For example, within the athletic scholarship category are specific sports such as baseball, cheerleading and ice hockey.
Unigo also offers its own scholarships, ranging from $1,500 to $10,000. Some of these have fun and random prompts. For example, one asks students to describe their unique strategy for surviving a zombie apocalypse, while another asks applicants to share why the number five is the best number.
Unlike other sites, Scholly is available as an app, for both iPhone and Android devices. Like other scholarship websites, you have to create a profile and supply basic personal information. Then, you’ll get a list of scholarships and grants you’re eligible for.
Scholly will show a “Scholly Score” for each scholarship which describes how closely it matches your profile. If you have a lot of scholarships to apply for, focus on the ones with the highest score.
One of the original scholarship sites on the market, Scholarships.com is another major aggregator of scholarships and grants. They claim to have more than 3.7 million scholarships worth $19 billion.
Users have to create a profile to start searching for scholarships. The site claims that when you create a profile, you’ll be shown which scholarships you’re eligible for.
When you create a profile, you’ll be asked to list which colleges you’re applying to, your GPA, artistic or athletic interests, race, religion and more. These demographic questions will also help identify potential scholarships.
The CollegeBoard is a reputable resource for students who want information about tuition, acceptance rates and teacher-to-student ratio. The site also compiles information about scholarships and has a thorough search engine.
Students don’t have to create a profile to search for scholarships and grants and can fill out as few or as many of the questions as they want. Answering more questions can narrow down the field so they only see scholarships that they’re a good fit for. Some of these questions will be more in-depth than other sites, including medical conditions or who your employer is.
Both students and their parents can create a profile on Fastweb. Fastweb will send you notifications for new scholarships when you have a week left to submit a scholarship. Unlike sites that only target high school students, current undergraduate and graduate students can search for scholarships on Fastweb.
The profile information only takes a few minutes to fill out after which Fastweb will show which scholarships you’re eligible for. If you’re interested in a scholarship, you can click on it and choose from the drop-down menu, “I’m interested.” This will save the scholarship to your profile so you can remember to apply for it later.
Peterson’s doesn’t require students to create a profile to search for scholarships, grants, fellowships or loans. Students can use filters such as where they live, area of study, ethnicity and gender. They can search for scholarships for both undergraduate and graduate programs.
Chegg is mainly known for buying and renting textbooks, but it also has a reputable scholarship database. Users can search for scholarships anonymously or create an account to receive access to more filters. You can also save scholarships to your profile once you make an account.
Chegg doesn’t have as many scholarships as other sites so don’t use it until you’ve signed up for one of the bigger sites. When you sign up, Chegg informs you that they may give your mailing address to various colleges who want to send you material.
You have to create a profile to see all the scholarships and grants that the site has. The site will ask for your contact information, high school, GPA and which colleges you’re applying to. You can also enter your test score results, which activities you participated in and your intended major.
When you click on a scholarship, Cappex will show the level of competition so you can decide if it’s worth applying to. This can help you avoid wasting time on a scholarship with a large number of applicants.
Search for Your Own Scholarships
Jocelyn Pearson, founder of The Scholarship System, recommends students search via Google for scholarships that fit their interests and activities. She said many local foundations, companies and organizations offer scholarships, which can be less competitive. Pearson said major scholarship sites should be used as a last resort.
If you’re having a hard time finding scholarships that seem like a good fit, take Pearson’s advice. Make a list of major local companies and contact them to see if they offer a scholarship. Include companies you’ve worked for or have a personal connection with.
You should also make a list of your interests and hobbies to see if there are groups that offer scholarships. If you don’t see anything, contact them directly and ask. You never know who’s willing to help out a college student.
Zina Kumok is a freelance writer specializing in personal finance. A former reporter, she has covered murder trials, the Final Four and everything in between. She has been featured in Lifehacker, DailyWorth and Time. Read about how she paid off $28,000 worth of student loans in three years at Conscious Coins.