Where to Find and Apply for College Scholarships

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April 13th, 2015 by schoolbound

When it comes to searching and applying for scholarships, many students and parents are unsure about where to look. Here are five places you should always turn to when seeking free money for college:
1. Searching and Applying for Scholarships Online
Use reliable scholarship websites that offer updated scholarship data and a profile-based matching system. Time-saving scholarship matching services will use the information you supply about your grades, hobbies, awards, family background and career plans to match you with scholarships that you can compete for and possibly win. As long as you keep your profile information current, you can check back each month for new and updated scholarship matches and information.
There are so many scholarship programs out there, you won’t find one single, all-inclusive web site of all possible scholarships. So it is to your benefit to sign up for more than one of these online services and monitor your results regularly throughout high school and your college years.
2. Finding Scholarships at Your High School
A good place to start is your high school’s website. There, you may find clues about who is in charge of the scholarship information. Often, scholarship details are in the “Guidance” section of the website. Other times, the information may be listed in a section for “College Planning” or “For Seniors.” Scholarship information from your high school’s website may or may not be up-to-date so be sure to visit the guidance office and talk to the person in charge of collecting scholarship information. Let them know that you want to learn about local scholarships that are being offered in your school, county and region. This is important because most local scholarships are only advertised through area high schools.
3. Locating College-Specific Scholarships
Once you’ve identified a short list of colleges you want to apply to, you’ll need to check each college’s website to see if there are scholarships available for freshmen. Start your investigation in the “Financial Aid” section of the website. Some colleges have a streamlined application system, in which they award scholarships using information from your college application. Other colleges require you to fill out a separate application specifically for the scholarship process. In either case, you need to stay on top of deadlines. In addition to possible application forms, essays and letters of recommendation may also be required for college scholarships. If you can’t find the information you need on the school’s website, call their Financial Aid Office or Admissions Office.
4. Getting Scholarships from Employers
If you have a job, check with your employer to learn about employee scholarships and tuition reimbursement programs. The Human Resources (H.R.) office is usually the best place to go with questions like these. Likewise, ask your parents to check with their employers. Many companies offer scholarships for dependents of employees, and these are not always publicized outside (or even inside) the company. If an employer does offer a scholarship, make sure to get all the details about deadlines and paperwork. It’s likely there is an application and validation process that must be followed to get the funds.
5. Securing Scholarships from Local Organizations
Many local organizations, like churches, clubs, educational foundations and your local chamber of commerce, support students through scholarship programs. Check first with the groups you have connections with to see if you are eligible for their scholarships. Have you volunteered at any community organizations? Don’t forget to find out if your parents belong to any community organizations or service clubs, too.  Ask coaches, mentors, and other students about scholarship opportunities, and watch for community notices about scholarship programs. Local organizations sometimes advertise their programs through the local newspapers, on bulletin boards, through neighborhood newsletters and email updates.
Once you decide to seek out scholarship information as a possible way to help pay for college, you will quickly learn to identify the most reliable and up-to-date sources of scholarship information. Have confidence in your scholarship quest, keep searching, and apply, apply, apply! Good luck!