Where will your next college scholarship come from? Your school? Volunteer group? A job? Keeping your eyes and ears open is key. A number of scholarships are widely publicized, but others are not.
Your next scholarship may come from where you least expect. This was the case when I called my bank one day. Instead of the traditional hold music, a scholarship announcement played on the call — complete with rules, deadline and prize money. The scholarship was specific to my local area, increasing a student’s chance of winning the scholarship. If you happen to fit the requirements, the better for you. It’s the case of being at the right place at the right time.
Below are some additional places to find college scholarships.
There are countless websites with searchable scholarships. With a bit of digging, you’re sure to find a scholarship you’re eligible for and handpick those that fit you best. You can join an email list and receive notices when new matches are added.
Your high school or college counselor, financial aid office or scholarship office.
Your counselor, financial aid office and scholarship office are great resources for locating scholarships. They are one of the first groups notified when there are new scholarships at the school or local area. When you meet your counselor, come prepared with your financial questions. Ask for their advice on any scholarships they may know of. Don’t be shy. Even if nothing is available at the time, there’s a chance it’ll be available later, so keep checking back until it pans out.
Local news channels on the radio or television.
From time to time, news channels will broadcast an organization’s scholarship to their listening audience. This helps way organizations invest in a well-deserving student, while gaining publicity and giving back to the community.
Bulletin boards at local organizations and schools are another option. Check out your school’s career center or guidance office for tips, ranging from financial aid advice to scholarship information. A lot of schools, such as the University of Oregon, go a step further and take their bulletin boards online.
Grocery stores or newspaper stands.
Look for scholarships while you’re running errands at your local store or standing in line. Newspapers sometimes run scholarship ads for colleges. In other cases, they share stories about a scholarship winner, which you can use in different ways. 1) Find unique donors you didn’t know about before. 2) Read the winner’s story for inspiration. 3) Learn how the winner won the scholarship. 4) Use the winner’s story to research the organization and see if you’re a good match for any future scholarships they’re awarding.
Through your employer, parents’ employer or spouse’s employer.
Several employers offer partial or full tuition reimbursement, as long as you receive a passing grade for the class. In some instances, there are stipulations where the degree has to relate to your job. Some universities, such as Washington University offer a huge discount to their employees and the employees’ children and spouse, if the employee has worked at the school for a specific length of time. While this is not a scholarship, it can geatly offset college costs, even if it means attending school part time. When it’s time to re-enroll, simply apply your reimbursement to future costs and your education is practically free!
Non-profit or religious organizations.
Organizations like the Girl Scouts have a wonderful scholarship program for girls who have earned their Gold Award. You can also check with your local church, synagogue or mosque to see if they offer scholarships. Each year, my church has a huge donation drive in honor of the graduating high schoolers. All high school graduates, who are members, receive funds to further their college education. This averages $250 – $500 per graduate, depending on the number of graduates that given year. The graduates can use the funds to pay for college books, supplies, tuition, travel costs, or other college expenses.
Reach out to your high school or club’s coach to see if they can help, but be prepared to do a lot of the legwork yourself. If you’re contacting college coaches directly, research the college and team thoroughly and show genuine interest. Be proactive. Have videos handy, highlighting your plays and talent. Don’t give up if you don’t hear back right away. Take time to follow up, connect in person and visit the school. Because high school coaches are busy, it’s easier for them to recommend you if a college coach is already interested in you. Remember to keep your grades up. The minimum GPA is 2.3 for Division 1 scholarships, but some colleges require a higher GPA. Most athletes don’t receive a full ride, but a partial scholarship still helps.
You don’t have to be athletic to win a scholarship. If you love playing video games and are good at it, check out scholarships that are targeted to gamers. These esports scholarships are sometimes offered by schools, like Maryville University. To increase your chances, a unique esports scholarship may be better, such as one for female gamers at Stephens College.
Your local government, such as your city hall.
Scholarships from the town hall or city are often targeted towards your local area, municipal or city. Some city councils award several awards to high school seniors each year, which increases your likelihood of winning a scholarship. These scholarships are sometimes renewable and can range between $1,000 to $2,500 per individual. Some citywide scholarships are geared towards local government employees, who want to earn a degree in the metropolitan area.
Your local bank or credit union.
Local banks and credit unions often give away scholarships. The bank gets publicity, while funding a student’s college dream. Amounts average $1,000-$5,000, but some are up to $50,000. Some bank scholarships are offered to multiple students. To win, applicants must meet the eligibility requirements and deadline. The scholarship may be local or national. Check out USA Scholarships’ list of top banks offering scholarships.
Book publications are a wonderful resource. Each year, these handbooks are updated with thousands of scholarships, internships, grants and loan programs for students. However, although they list several awards, only a few may apply to you. Thankfully, you can use indexes to narrow down scholarships that apply to you. Some books are pricey, but you can borrow them at your local library or get them at a discount through Amazon and other booksellers. Examples include “The Ultimate Scholarship Book” by Gen Tanabe and Kelly Tanabe, “Scholarships, Grants & Prizes” by Peterson’s, and “Scholarship Handbook” by The College Board for past and current years.
At your local library.
If you’re not ready to shell out money for scholarship books, check out your local library. Some books are only available at the reference section and not available for checkout. If you have trouble locating a book, reach out to your librarian. The librarian may also recommend other scholarship resources you didn’t think of. If a book isn’t at your local library, have it transferred to your local library for pickup later. The library also has e-books you can check out if a physical copy isn’t available.
Try a local association, such as the Home Builders Association, American Nurses Association, and American Bus Association. Scholarships from local associations are often targeted to a specific group, which increases your odds of receiving a scholarship.