This is part I in our series on finding scholarships. In this post, Diane will teach you where and how you should search for scholarships online.
The question I get asked the most by far is, “Where can I find a scholarship?”
I’m not surprised. Information about scholarships is scattered across the Internet. The best way to sort through that information is by using scholarship search engines—websites that allows a student to search through hundreds of scholarship opportunities.
Here are 3 steps that will help you get the most from these search engines.
STEP 1: FIND A SEARCH ENGINE
Here are a few of the scholarship search engines that I used to find almost every scholarship I’ve ever applied for.
STEP 2: REGISTER FOR ALL 3 WEBSITES
There is no complete source for scholarships. In order to find as many scholarships as you are eligible for, you’re going to have to register for a few scholarship search engines.
Before registering, create a fake/spam email account or register with an email account that you don’t mind receiving spam. These websites are all free to use. “Free” on the Internet means that they make their money through advertising and email campaigns. You’ll most likely be blasted with emails that you may not want.
When answering the questions about yourself during the registration process for these websites, be liberal. Finding a scholarship is an art not a science.
For example, when you get to the section that asks you for your major, please select ALL of the majors that relate to your major. If you are a pre-med major, then select biology, chemistry, microbiology, pre-med, medicine, etc. These search engines are not perfect and will often categorize scholarships incorrectly.
STEP 3: REVIEW THE LIST OF SCHOLARSHIPS
After completing the questionnaire, you will be shown a list of scholarships that you are eligible for. You’ll probably have a list of at least one bazillion scholarships. This is not exactly helpful because you are not eligible for a bazillion scholarships.
Here is how you can quickly root through the trash and find the gems:
- Open the first 5 scholarships in a new tab by right clicking the scholarship link and pressing “open in new tab.”
- Quickly browse through each scholarship tab to see if you are actually eligible.*
- Close each scholarship that you are not eligible for.
- Rinse and repeat for a new set of 5 scholarships until you are sick and tired of scholarships.
At the end of this exercise, the only tabs that should be open are the scholarships that you are eligible for.
*Eligibility: This is a gray area. Some eligibility criteria will be easy, like “must be male” or “must be majoring in biology.” Other eligibility will be trickier, like “must be a Colorado resident studying at a Michigan University with residency in Michigan” Huh? Luckily, this doesn’t make sense for anyone else either. If you think you are eligible and the scholarship award is big enough for you to take the time to apply, go for it.
One last note about scholarship search engines: Check back at least once a month to see if any new scholarships have been added to your list. These should be categorized with a “new” icon or something similar.
If you’ve done this exercise and came up empty handed, don’t worry. In part II of this series, we’ll talk about using Google and the financial aid office to find those “hidden” scholarships everyone talks about. [UPDATE: check out part II here.]
Have a question about using scholarship search engines? Post it in the comments or contact us.