Anyone I've ever heard giving financial advice to college students always says: look for scholarships. Well, where do you look?
For today's post, I'll be focusing on outside scholarships, or scholarships not granted by your institution. These scholarships can come from a variety of sources - clubs, your parent's work, your work -- the list is pretty big. You should also be happy to know that there are scholarships literally for everybody. From atheists to world travelers. I can almost guarantee that there will be someone out there willing to give you money. You don't have to have a 4.0, you don't need to be a stellar athlete, you just need to know where to look.
Online scholarship databases are a great place to start. For most of these services, you just fill out a basic profile and then the search engine uses that information to match you to scholarships.
Fastweb is a database listing a ton of cool scholarships, some of which I have applied for. Some of them, I should warn you, are a bit weird. There are tons of scholarships from well respected organizations. Some very prestigious. But there are also a good number of contests and promotions offering a cash prize listed here. I haven't had much luck with those, but you might. Just don't bank on any promotions as a solid college contribution.
The Collegeboard -- the same one famous for making the tests that millions of students suffer through each year -- also has a searchable scholarship database. It's not just a repeat of FastWeb. I have gotten some unique results. This one seems a bit buggier though, matching me to scholarships that I wouldn't qualify for based on my information (scholarships for the blind, for those who's parents are veterans). Sifting through all that can be annoying.
There are a lot of other database websites out there right now: scholarshipexperts.com, scholarships.com, go ahead and try as many as you feel will be helpful.
It sounds almost too simple, but try googling _________ (insert particular attribute here) scholarships. Women scholarships, engineering scholarships, Armenian scholarships. You'll find a ton of links to things that the databases might not pick up. A bunch of my friends would say, "It's so easy to find scholarships. Just google scholarships!" I didn't believe them at first but it's true. Long live Google (Feed the Beast!)
If you want a slightly less electronic approach to the scholarship search, turn to books. Your school's financial aid or college counseling office should have a good number available. Or check out the library. It can be a bit tedious, but I've definitely found some good scholarships worth applying to this way.
My personal favorite book is the College Board Scholarship Handbook. This is the 2010 edition, the 2011 edition comes out July 6th, though I'm not sure how much more useful the most recent copy will be.
How far have I come along on my scholarship search? So far I've applied to 1, and have found 5 others that I plan to apply to.
Wish me luck guys!
And on your own scholarship hunt,