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As the average price of college rises, more and more students look for ways to cover their costs. While some turn to federal or state financial aid, others look at some of the available scholarships that are out there. A large number of scholarships go unused every year because students do not realize that the money is there or they do not understand what they need to do to apply for one. When you use a scholarship search platform, you can view dozens and even hundreds of scholarships at the same time. As not every platform contains the same information though, you may want to look at multiple sites. This allows you to view any money that you might qualify for and find out how to apply.
One of the top reasons to use one of the best scholarship search platforms is because it lets you customize your search.
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You can enter information such as your race and age or what you want to study and find scholarships that match you perfectly.
Some of these platforms also let you create an account and save your information for any future searches. With our guide to the top platforms, you can easily find one that helps you get the money you need for school.
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We know that there are many scam websites out there that encourage prospective college students to pay to search for scholarships. Any site that asks you to pay money to do a search is a scam and one that you should avoid. You can find out more about some of those scams after looking at the top websites. We looked at more than 20 different scholarship platforms and checked out how easily you can use each one. This helped us decide which ones we wanted to study more in depth. We also looked at the reviews posted by real college students to see which sites helped them find money for school. Some of the other factors we considered included:
We also looked for sites that frequently update the information available for users. Any site that only updates once a year lost its spot on our list. We also did a few searches and weeded out sites that did not provide enough information about scholarships and those that listed programs that are no longer available. You can trust that our list includes the best scholarship search platforms around.
The average cost of attending college today really depends on where you go. Public and state schools are less expensive than private colleges. Most colleges charge a lower rate for residents and a higher rate for nonresidents too. If you want to go to a college outside of your home state, you’ll pay more. The average cost for students attending a public college or university is around $20,770 per year. This cost drops to around $10.970 per year if you attend a community college. While state and public schools do charge less, nonresidents attending one of those schools will pay more than $36,000 a year. The costs associated with private schools is even higher. If you want to attend a private college or university, you’ll pay more than $46,000 a year before you get any financial aid.
College students face more costs outside of just tuition too. You’re responsible for covering the costs of any supplies or textbooks that you need and a dorm room and meal plan to live on the campus. If you attend a school outside of your home state, you’ll need to pay for any transportation to and from the campus too. Your living expenses can add significantly to your overall costs.
The best scholarship search platform that we found is Scholarships.com, which features the largest database of funding options for prospective college students and those already enrolled in school. Not only can you search before you enroll in college, but you can also search throughout the year to find new opportunities and funding sources that you can use the following year. As of September 2018, this site features more than 3.7 million scholarships and grants. CBS and Forbes are just a few of the networks and websites that talked about this site over the years. Its homepage shows some of the college students who used the site and the amount of funding they received.
One reason so many college students like using Scholarships.com is because it includes a scholarship directory. This is a helpful feature for those who aren’t sure how to start and students who want to know more about their options. You can click any link on that page and view scholarships based on a specific type of criteria. When you select Number of Scholarships Available, you can narrow down your search based on the number of slots left in specific programs. If you select SAT score, you can view scholarships that do not look at an SAT score and those that require a score within a specific range. You can also view scholarships for specific genders and grade point averages as well as some of the other criteria shown below.
Though this site does require that you set up an account to do a search, it only asks for a few pieces of information to create your account. You need to enter your full date of birth, zip code and your current grade. The site also asks for an email address and a password. As it sends an email to the address you enter, you must put in a valid one. Once you verify that your information is correct, you can log in with your email address as your username and the password that you selected. It only takes a few minutes to set up an account with Scholarships.com.
One thing you should consider when looking at scholarship search platforms is the number of aid available. Scholarships.com beats some of its competitors in this regard because it features more than $19 billion in aid for current and future college students. With more than 3.7 million different programs listed, the website makes it easy for you to find opportunities based on your status and other factors. The site even lists scholarships for younger children. Those programs provide kids with resources that help them get funding for private school or for advanced programs that help them pay for college classes.
As you search for scholarships, you might find one that sounds perfect for you and then learn that the deadline passed. This website makes it easy for you to find scholarship opportunities before they pass because it features a Trending Now page. When you visit this page, you’ll find the top trending scholarships. Though some trend because the deadline is quickly coming up, others land on this list because more students applied to them or wanted to learn more about them. That often occurs when the scholarships have a long application process. You can also view the most popular colleges across the country and the top schools in your state.
When you decide to live on a college campus, you’ll need to check with the university to find out how the process works. You typically need to put down a deposit and fill out a form that the school will use to find you a roommate. Many college students experience culture shock when they first move onto campus because the environment is so different from their homes. Scholarships.com is the only website we found with a Campus Life section. Not only does this section provide you with some tips on moving away from home, but it also supplies you with tips on saving money during the school year.
Scholarships are just one way in which you can pay for some of your classes and cover your other expenses. You’ll also want to complete the Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA). This determines whether you will get any of the federal or state aid that you need. Many students like using this website because it features a Financial Aid section that goes over some of the federal programs that are now available and the basics of filling out the FAFSA. You’ll also find other information on paying your way through college.
The biggest downside to using this site is that it can feel a little overwhelming the first few times that you visit. With so many options, you may not know where to start or what to do to find the right opportunities for you. We recommend creating an account and adding as much information about yourself as possible to find scholarships suitable for you. Another issue you might find is that the site can run quite slow at times. While using it ourselves, we found that it slowed down other websites we had open and that some of our searches ran slowly too.
A popular scholarship search platform that many students use today is Fastweb.com. Not only does it show you some of the scholarships that users recently run right on its homepage, but it also tells you the number of scholarships that you can search through. Its database contains more than 1.5 programs and opportunities. A new feature found on this site is that it lets you store information for future use. You can actually click to remove any scholarships that don’t interest you and create lists of those you want to apply to later. Members can also search for internships and special programs for high school and college students.
A top benefit of using Fastweb.com to search for scholarships is because it makes the registration process so easy. When you click the Sign-Up button, you only need to enter your birthday and current grade in school. The site also asks for your zip code and when you will graduate high school. Parents and guardians can use this section to create an account and learn about opportunities suitable for their own children. If you want to know about the available opportunities before you sign up, you can do a quick search and view scholarships without creating an account.
Some of the other scholarship search platforms let you save scholarships to your list but give you no way to manage those opportunities. Fastweb.com has a list feature that lets you manage all the scholarships that interest you and those you want to ignore. You can click a button on the search page and automatically add certain opportunities to your list or remove others from your searches. Those that you remove will not come up in future searches. The list feature also lets you see which scholarships still require more information for you and which ones you finished.
Not all high school and college students today carry a computer with them, but most do have access to a cell phone. Fastweb.com is one of the only sites around with an app that lets you access your account and search for scholarships while on the go. This app works with both different generations of the iPhone and with Android phones. Once you download and install the app, you can log in with your account info. The app will show you the scholarships you applied for and those on your list.
If you are a high school senior and want to apply for scholarships before you send off your college applications, Fastweb.com has a directory that you can use. Called its Scholarships for High School Students, this directory shows you the biggest scholarships that you can apply for during your senior year. Some of these awards provide students with more than $20,000 a year. You’ll also find any new scholarships added to its database on this page. The website has directory options for veterans going back to school, college freshmen and other types of students too.
One of the most important decisions facing high school students today is where they will go to college. The number of options available to you might seem overwhelming, but you can use this site to narrow down your choices. Fastweb.com has its own College Search feature that you can use at the same time that you look for scholarships. It lets you search for schools based on where you want to live or the majors that interest you. When you pick the majors option, the website will show you the top schools with the best programs in that major.
Though Fastweb.com sometimes pushes its deals too much on members, you might find a promo through the site that you love. This section includes deals that are only available to members. You might get a free gift card when you buy a new computer or get a discount when you buy new school clothing or shoes online. As Monster.com owns the site, it also offers a free resume evaluation for members. This will come in handy when you want to look for a job or an internship.
Some think that internships are only for college students, but doing one while in high school can make your college application stand out from the pack. Each internship shown on this site includes some basic information and the deadline. You can click on the links to learn even more. Google and Marvel are just a few of the companies that advertise internships on this site. In addition to internships suitable for those still in high school, the site features programs for university students that let them earn college credits.
The biggest downside to using Fastweb.com is that it sends way too many emails to your registered address. Experts recommend that you create a separate email and use that just for this and other platforms. You can log in once a week and check for any new scholarships without those emails clogging up your main email inbox. Another issue with this site is that it offers information on fewer scholarships than other sites do. There are still more than one million opportunities that might be right for you though. Fastweb.com focuses more on scholarships than grants and other programs too.
To get into college today, you must take a standardized test. Most schools will accept official scores from either the ACT or the SAT. The College Board is responsible for those tests and will send out your scores as needed. It operates one of the largest college prep sites on the web, which includes information on applying for college and paying for your dream school. The College Board also operates Big Future, which lets you search for scholarships and learn about other funding options.
Like some of the other sites we found, Big Future from the College Board does not require that you set up an account before searching the site. The Welcome page, which you will see below, shows you how the site works and some of the resources and programs that you can find. There are more than 2,000 programs available that provide students with more than $5 billion every year. When you do a free search, you can follow links to learn more about those programs and to visit the official site of each scholarship. Big Future will only save your information and search parameters if you have a registered account.
Big Future wants you to find scholarships that you qualify for, which is why it features four different pages of search parameters that you can complete. You’ll start with the personal information section and list your gender, where you live and citizenship status. It also lets you click boxes if you are a minority student, had a parent who died in the line of duty or have any type of disability. The academic section asks for your education status and major if already enrolled. In the type of award section, you can add any other types of funding that you want to search for online. There is also an affiliation section that asks about any clubs you joined or any organizations your parents participate in to find programs from those clubs and organizations.
Some of the other scholarship sites make it extremely difficult to go back once you perform a search. You may not remember what options you clicked on and may have a hard time figuring out what to do to change your search parameters. Big Future put a Summary of Criteria button right on the top of the page that you can click on whenever you want to check your parameters or examine the information you added. If you want to make any changes to your search, the links on the side of the page let you go back to that section.
Another nice feature about this website is that it lets you search for scholarships based on the name of the sponsor. The right side of your screen will show each letter in the alphabet. When you click on any of those letters, the site will bring up a list of scholarships available from sponsors listed under that letter. You also have the option of using the search box, which comes in handy when you want to find scholarships relating to specific majors or programs that are only open to students in a specific state.
One benefit that many students like is that this site lets you create one account and use it across all of the College Board and Big Future pages. That account lets you log in before you take a standardized test to check on the date and location of the exam. You can also use that info when signing up for test prep classes and searching for scholarships. Big Future asks for general information, including your full name, date of birth, gender, email address and when you will graduate high school. You must also pick a username and password and set up a security question. Big Future asks for contact information for one of your parents too.
While scholarships can cover a large portion of your total costs, you will likely need other types of financial aid. Big Future has a Financial Aid 101 page that goes over everything you need to know about the top types of financial aid. You can learn more about the FAFSA and what information you need to fill it out, but you’ll also find tips on finding funding through your college or university. The website goes over sticker price vs. net price too. Sticker price is the total cost of attending the school, while the net price is the amount that students actually pay. You can use any of those pages before or after searching for scholarships.
If you want access to millions of scholarships, you may not find Big Future helpful. During one of our preliminary searches, we found only 455 scholarships open to the fictitious student we created. There were more programs and options for females than males and more options for minority students. The site seems to focus more on smaller scholarships that are lesser known and less popular too. If you apply for and receive multiple scholarships in the $250 to $1,000 price range though, those amounts can really stack up. Those who used other scholarship sites may find this one a little confusing to use also.
Cappex is one of the top scholarship search platforms for students who want to look at funding options and select a college or university at the same time. Once you create a profile, the site will actually search through its database and give you a list of schools that match your needs and interests. The website also ranks schools in different categories and lets you view the campuses that have the best food or the top dorm rooms. Those searching for scholarships will find information on private scholarships and the best types of funding offered by individual schools.
Before you can use most of the features of this site, you must register for an account. Cappex asks for your status because it uses that to determine what content is most helpful to you. There are sections for high school and college students as well as admissions counselors and the parents of prospective or current college students. You only need to enter your email address and create a password that matches the criteria listed to create an account. Cappex will give you full access to its site once you complete this step.
Unlike other scholarship search sites that only show you programs available from select schools or certain companies, Cappex provides users with information on thousands of scholarships available from a wide range of sources. The Merit Scholarships section focuses on programs available from colleges. Not only can you view the top schools that offer merit scholarships, but you can also enter the name of a college or university and view all the scholarships it offers. The Private and Foundation Scholarships section includes information on scholarships available from organizations and companies such as Coca-Cola and Google.
As long as you have a free account with the site, you can apply for any of the individual scholarships that it offers. One example is the Cappex Easy College Money Scholarship. This program awards a $1,000 scholarship to one student each year. The website has other similar programs available too. You don’t need to do anything special to apply. The site recommends that you complete your whole profile and that you fill out the sections on your extracurricular hobbies and interests. It will use that information to select winners for each scholarship.
Ivy League schools have an acceptance rate of around 10% or less, which means that they will reject a large number of students who apply. Even state schools can have acceptance rates of between 50 to 70% and turn down many students. Cappex offers a handy calculator that it calls the What Are My Chances Calculator. You can enter information such as what you scored on the SAT/ACT, your extracurricular activities, if you are a minority student, your gender and a list of your extracurricular activities and interests. The site will then compare that information against the school’s database and tell you what your chances are of getting an acceptance letter.
Many high school students today worry about choosing the wrong school. If you find that the school isn’t a good fit for you, you might waste a whole year before transferring to another campus. You might find that it takes you longer to earn your degree and that it costs more too. Cappex offers a College Fit Meter that will help you pick the right school. It considers the distance between your home and the school, whether it’s private or public, the size of the school, the number of available majors and how much both tuition and housing will cost. The site then compares that data to your profile and will tell you if the school you selected is a good fit for you.
As a prospective college student, you may want to learn more about the top features of various schools before you apply or before you make a final decision. The Cappex College Rankings that come out each year can help you with that decision. This section of the site ranks the best schools in different categories. If you click on the Best College Dorms, for example, you’ll see the top five schools with the largest and greatest dorm rooms. You can then click a link on that page and view a list of all 25 schools ranked in that category. Cappex ranks school based on criteria such as the Best Colleges for Activities and the Best College Food. You’ll also find lists of the safest colleges in the nation and the best value schools too. Those rankings can help you find a great school as you search for scholarships.
The biggest issue with the Cappex website is that it does not let you perform a search without creating an account first. While you can view some of its rankings and check out a few details about some programs, you cannot apply for a scholarship or even view a link to the official site without first setting up your account. Some may dislike the overall look and design of the website too. There are so many different pages and links to other pages that you may have a hard time finding exactly what you want. Another issue is that it does not provide links to or information on scholarships for veterans or military students.
Though other scholarship search platforms require that you enter tons of information before viewing any programs, Scholarship Monkey has a list feature that puts all those opportunities in one convenient place. Not only can you view a list of scholarships for minority students or those who belong to certain religious groups, but you can also view those available in your state. This site provides more information about each program and has links to all official scholarship websites.
The best feature about Scholarship Monkey is that it lets you link the site and your search to a social media site. When you log in for the first time, a box will pop that lets you select how you want to use the site. You can link it to your Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn or Microsoft account. When you come back in the future, it can automatically detect you and log you back into the site. You can then set up your profile and select the types of scholarships you want to search for after adding some of your personal details.
Though Scholarship Monkey may look a little plainer than some of the other platforms do, it offers a number of funding sources for its users. The site maintains a large database of scholarships that you can search for and apply for at any point during the school year or in the middle of the summer. There are more than 4,000 programs now listed on the site. Those programs provide students with more than $4 billion in funding each year. If you use any other scholarship search sites though, you might notice that this one doesn’t include any that you can’t find on another website.
One great reason to use Scholarship Monkey is because it supplies you with a list of scholarships and grants that let you look for programs based on any specific criteria that you have in mind. When you look at scholarships by major, you can view programs suitable for more than 60 different majors. The site includes both traditional majors such as criminal justice and education as well as programs designed for more advanced majors, including physical medicine and energy technology. This lets you learn more about scholarships available to those majoring in the same field that you hope to study. Some of the opportunities listed under those majors are open to graduate students too.
Not all college students today attend school in the same states where their parents live. Many students move to a new state because they want to experience life away from home. Scholarship Monkey offers a list option that lets you look at scholarships available in specific states. While you’ll want to click on the state where your school is, you should also look for scholarships available in your home state. Some states offer scholarships that help residents bring down their college costs, no matter where they go to school. You should look at the residency status listed in the scholarship.
Scholarship Monkey offers a few other lists that you can use, which provide you with a full database of scholarship opportunities. One of those is a list of scholarships for minority students. You can click on your minority status and find scholarships for you. Other lists include gender, religion and athletic scholarships. When you click on any link provided by one of these lists, Scholarship Monkey will take you to a new page that shows you all the scholarships that fall under that category. You can use the buttons on the side of the page to see which schools offer those scholarships. Unlike other sites that offer scholarships you can use at any school, Scholarship Monkey focuses on scholarships offered by specific colleges.
The developer of Scholarship Monkey had daughters heading off to college and wanted to create a site that they can their friends could easily use. One thing they recommended was the use of a keyword search. This feature allows you to enter any word or phrase that you want into a search box. The site will automatically search for all scholarships that mention that word or term and show you a list of all your matches. This makes it easy to find scholarships without using one of the lists. The personalized scholarship search is a feature that you can use after creating an account. As you change your criteria, you’ll find opportunities that match what you want and need. Though there is a section of the site dedicated to new and featured scholarships, this section typically sends you to other sites without providing you with all the information that you need.
As much as we like Scholarship Monkey, we don’t like the ads located on the bottom of the page. These ads might trick some students into thinking that they lead to real scholarship sites. You’ll instead find yourself on websites that ask for personal information without giving you any scholarship info. Some of the ads link to other scholarship search sites too. We also had a problem with the speed of the site. When doing a search, it took several seconds or longer for pages to load. This includes the log in box that pops up when you enter your account.
A merit scholarship is one based on your individual merit. These scholarships typically come directly from colleges who use the information on your application to determine if you qualify. Most schools look at your grade point average and standardized test scores in comparison to what incoming students. One example of a merit scholarship is the one offered by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation. The corporation awards funds to students who score highly on the PSAT. Some of these programs may cover the total cost of attending a college or university for up to four full years.
Another type of scholarship offered by an individual school is a need scholarship. Designed for those who come from low-income families, these funds go to students who demonstrate a higher level of financial need than their peers. The only way that you can qualify for this type of scholarship is with the submission of the FAFSA. Once the school receives your copy, it will look at how much your parents make and how much they can assist you. Students who live on their own and those who come from poor families often qualify for one of these scholarships.
If you participate in one or more sports in high school, you should look at athletic scholarships. Though some students assume these only go to students who will later play at the professional level, schools award these funds to students who will benefit any of their teams. Even if you aren’t the best player on your team, you might get a scholarship to attend a specific college. You can contact the athletic department directly and ask about these scholarships. Some schools require that a coach or scout watch you play in person, but other schools will let you submit a tape that shows your work on the field or court.
Many colleges offer performance scholarships that go to students who have strong creative skills, including actors and dancers. To qualify for one of these programs, you usually need to complete an application and send it an audition tape. The university will view all the tapes that it receives and decide which students it wants to see in person. You’ll then need to go to the college and perform in front of a panel of experts who work for the school. Colleges offer performance scholarships for artists and musicians too.
Background and/or Minority Status
You might qualify for a scholarship because you are a student of color too. The United States is home to a number of these programs that started out offering funding to students who normally would not attend college. The organizations and foundations that offer these programs often look for students who are the first in their families to go to college and those who overcame certain hardships. There are scholarships for students who are Hispanic, African American, American Indian and those who belong to other ethnic groups. You’ll also find some programs that award funds to female students
You’ll also find some family scholarships that award funds to students who have a parent or guardian who works for a corporation. Both CVS and Walmart offer small scholarships to the children of workers. If your parent belongs to any fraternal order or lodge, you might have a chance at getting a scholarship too. Some schools offer free money for incoming students of alumni. As long as one of your parents graduated from that university, you qualify for a small scholarship. If you have a sibling attending the same college or university, the university may award both of you a scholarship or grant.
No reputable website will ever ask you for money before providing you with scholarship information. Any site that claims you need to pay for that info is a scam because you can find that information for free on other sites. You’ll also want to avoid any site that asks you for money for any of the following reasons:
College scholarships fall into different categories such as military veterans. Students who served their countries and want to go back to school can apply for a scholarship. They can use those funds in addition to their GI Bill benefits to significantly cut down on their overall costs. Most programs ask that students show proof of their service such as their discharge papers. The federal government offers special programs for veterans such as its Troops to Teachers program. Designed to help students living in underserved countries, it requires that veterans work in one of those areas after they graduate. They must also agree to study teaching or education in college.
The American Legion also offers a scholarship that gives students an award worth $1,000 after they leave the military. This scholarship is unique because it requires that students demonstrate their financial need. Each branch of the military has its own scholarships and funding programs for veterans. Students will also find scholarships available from ROTC. It’s important that students look at the best colleges for military students too. Those schools offer assistance to veterans and currently enlisted military students. Many of these schools offer financial aid help for those students too.
You can look at the chart below to get an idea of some of the disabilities that might qualify you for a specific scholarship. These disabilities include any impairment that can interfere with the way you study or how you get through school. You may need to submit a letter from your doctor or other proof that you have a disability. Many of these programs also ask for an essay. You’ll write 250 to 1,000 words on how your impairment affected you in the past and what you will do to finish school while dealing with that problem.
The top scholarships come from major organizations that serve as a face for disabilities. A good example is the Organization for Autism Research scholarship. It awards students diagnosed with autism $1,000 to attend college. Those who are deaf or have a hearing impairment can apply for a $5,000 scholarship from the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. Though some scholarships award students with disabilities around $1,000 or less just once, other programs allow students to renew their scholarships. They can get the same amount of money each year during the four years it takes to finish a college degree.
A: The GI Bill is a special financial aid program established by the federal government after World War II. It originally provided soldiers with free money that they could use to go to college after leaving the military. The program now lets military personnel use money for any type of higher education. Their benefits will vary based on when they enlisted.
A: Any student who is under the age of 24 is a dependent in the eyes of the FAFSA. This means that you’ll use your parents’ tax records and that the government will use their earnings to determine what aid you get. You can only qualify as an independent if you are over the age of 24, currently enlisted in a branch of the armed forces or do not have living parents. Married students under the age of 24 also qualify for independent status.
A: The federal government offers subsidized loans for undergrads and unsubsidized loans for graduate students. With a subsidized loan, the government will not charge any interest on your loans while you are still in school. Interest only starts building up six months after you graduate or leave school. Unsubsidized loans begin accumulating interest as soon as students receive their funds.
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