Some argue that scholarship hunting should be viewed as a job.
We tend to agree. It might seem like too much work when you already have to deal with school (and everything else). But finding a few scholarships now will make it easier for you in college and beyond.
It’s important to start looking for scholarships as soon as you can. Deadlines can come earlier than you might think.
There are great lists online. Here are five scholarship websites we like:
Scholarships.com is one of the largest scholarship websites and aims to connect incoming college students with the best scholarships available. With more than 3.7 million scholarship opportunities to choose from, there is no shortage of options.
The site is free. You will need to create a profile and log in, and then look up the schools you are interested in. Each time you log in, you’ll find an assortment of scholarships you qualify for, with their deadlines marked too.
Look up colleges you are applying to. You’ll see links to their financial aid websites pop up. Scholarships.com doubles as an excellent organization tool, tracking both the schools and scholarships you are interested in.
They also feature college funding for students who might find it hard to get money elsewhere. For example, they have lists of dozens of scholarships for undocumented or DACA students.
ScholarshipAmerica is a nonprofit looking to help you locate all kinds of scholarships. They emphasize diversity and support for education at trade schools.
You don’t need to create an account to access the information. You can search for scholarships with various filters, including searching for those available in your state or those most recently posted.
The site features interesting opportunities for all types of students. A scholarship for female football players was featured. Another one offered money for studying HVAC repair. There are also plenty of scholarships for students interested in HBCUs (historically black colleges and universities). Chinese Americans will find many opportunities as well.
ScholarshipAmerica offers aid to students once they’re in college. The organization features an emergency grant program to help students stay in school. The average amount is nearly $750, which can make a big difference for students on a strained budget.
Niche is a popular website for all kinds of college searches. In recent years, they’ve added scholarships to the services they offer. The website is friendly, but it does require a lot of information from you, including things like your SAT and ACT scores.
Like many scholarship sites, setting up the account puts you in the running for a scholarship from the company.
Niche can recommend a variety of unusual awards, such as a $2,000 Zombie Apocalypse prize. To apply, simply respond to a question about how you intend to survive. There are also scholarships that do not require an essay, a great option for students strapped for time.
Niche goes beyond scholarships, providing an insider view at colleges you may be interested in. Current students rate their campus with stars for different categories (like academics, diversity, value, and campus life) and write reviews.
Raise.me is different because it encourages you to start earning micro-scholarships for college as early as your freshman year of high school. Students sign up and follow colleges they hope to attend. The small scholarships you earn through high school are awarded when you get into college.
The site’s founders recognize that many students work and don’t have time to devote to the extracurricular activities that may help others win mainstream scholarships. On Raise.me, students can earn small scholarships for babysitting a younger sibling or helping at the family store. Good grades deserve recognition, but Raise.me is looking to support other kinds of excellence as well.
Chegg mostly sells textbooks. But they also offer a free, easy-to-use scholarship search engine with more than 25,000 options. The company focuses on assisting first-generation college students and works with nonprofits to battle food insecurity on campuses across the country.
Like a lot of scholarship sites, Chegg offers services you will need to pay for. You can get help from tutors for writing essays and preparing for your ACT and SATs. There’s also essay proofreading and online study support.
Tip: Try to check out as many scholarship websites as you can. Different websites may list other scholarships. Plus, each site tries to offer at least one special feature that will keep you coming back. To gain the most benefit, visit all the websites regularly. Applying for scholarships can take a lot of time, but it’s worth it when you are awarded funds to help you through college.
Kim Nauer is the founder of UnderstandingFAFSA.org and a higher education expert at The New School. Her latest questions: How does anyone read a financial aid letter? And will this all-new FAFSA in the fall really be simpler?