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College Scholarships

With millions of scholarships in our database that are specially tailored to potential applicants based on criteria such as GPA, ACT/SAT scores, athletic ability, and so forth, the easiest way to see what you qualify for is to conduct a free college scholarship search, . For scholarships, contests & sweepstakes you can apply in a matter of minutes, explore these offers:

Check Out the Scholarships Scholarships.com Offers

We do more than just help you find scholarships from others - we offer several of our own, and it couldn't be quicker or easier to apply.

Alternative Scholarship Search Methods

Search Scholarships by Grade Level

Most college scholarships target incoming freshmen and undergraduates, so the sooner you start searching for awards and applying for them, the better. If you’re a high school student, add applying for scholarships to your already lengthy list of things to do alongside college applications and standardized tests. Undergraduates that have received generous scholarships to pay for their freshman year should continue the hard work and good academic standing in their second year as well, as many scholarships for freshmen are also open to upperclassmen as general scholarships for undergraduate students. While scholarships for graduate students are less common, they are often very generous, as many target particular fields of study or are awarded by potential employers who want a better-educated employees. Conduct a college scholarships search or browse through our site to see the scholarships by grade level that you may qualify for, because no matter your year, you could be missing out on dozens of opportunities to fund your education.

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Featured Scholarships

Scholarships by Major

For incoming college students who have a strong ideas as to what they want to do post-graduation or have some experience in a field they’d like to explore more, college scholarships geared toward particular majors and fields of study are an excellent option. Awards in high need areas such as nursing and education are particularly plentiful, especially when working in low-income communities or high-demand regions. Look outside your college for scholarships by major, as many outside organizations will have private scholarship funds established to recruit college students into a particular field. Conduct a college scholarship search or browse through our site to see college scholarships by major that you qualify for.

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Sports Scholarships

While sports scholarships are more competitive than college scholarships, you don’t necessarily have to be a star athlete to land a generous award. Most sports scholarships will come directly from your college if you intend to play on their team, but if you’re more interested in playing a club sport or on an intramural team, you could qualify for scholarships from local groups and outside organizations that award sports-related scholarships. Many of those awards will look at things like need, community service and your academic record, so if you enjoy golf but aren’t the best golfer on your high school team, don’t assume that you can’t land a college scholarship. Browse through our suggestions for scholarships by sport, or conduct a free scholarship search to find awards you may be eligible for based on other criteria.

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Scholarships by State

One of the best places to being research scholarships is looking at those provided by your home state. Many of the most generous financial aid awards will come directly from your college, and your base tuition will undoubtedly be much less at an in-state public institution than at a college out of state, making it a very cost-effective decision. If staying in your home state is an option, include that in your criteria when you’re doing your scholarship search. Look at what your local college could offer you, especially if you’re entering into a high-need field like education or nursing, and contact local organizations for private college scholarships they may have set aside for incoming college students staying in-state. Browse through our suggestions for scholarships by state, and tips on how state assistance will help you start your career.

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Scholarships by Type

Chances are that whatever makes you unique, whether it be talent or personal characteristics, the things that make you stand out can land you a scholarship. Whether you’re a star athlete on your high school ice hockey team or a returning adult student back in school for an advanced degree, whether you speak another language or have survived a rare disease, you’ll find an award that will not only fit your profile but give you a good chance at landing free money. Scholarships by type are often much less competitive than awards based on need or academics, for example, as fewer people are applying for them. So make a list of what makes you different and what could make you stand out, and conduct a college scholarships search or browse through our site to see many of the scholarships you could be eligible for.

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Scholarship Application Strategies

The college scholarship application process can be time-consuming and stress-inducing if you already have a stack of standardized test prep material and college applications to get through. But with a few tips and strategies you’ll feel much more prepared to send in a winning, organized scholarship application. When you’re tired of filling out applications, remember that it will likely increase by your graduation date, and that the time you put in now could lead to a good amount of funding that doesn't require repayment. Browse through our site to learn about scholarship application strategies that could bump you to the top of that very competitive pile and maximize your financial aid package.

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Scholarship Information

Do not let popular misconceptions and scholarship myths scare you out of applying for awards. Landing an award isn’t impossible, especially if your scholarship search is focused on specific criteria linked to your profile, and it’s never too late to make yourself a more attractive scholarship applicant in the eyes of the judges who will be distributing the awards. If you do your research now and learn about what it takes to win a college scholarship, you’ll improve your chances of being awarded even the most competitive scholarships. Browse through our site to see what you should watch out for before submitting applications, and remember that any scholarship search engines that ask you to pay a fee are trying to sell a product or service. Why pay for a scholarship search when we offer it at no cost to you? Start with our free college scholarship search to find legitimate, generous awards to fund your education, and don’t forget to let us know when you land that first prize.

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College Scholarship FAQ

Have questions about college scholarships? We have answers. Check out our list below but if you have any additional queries, don't hesitate to contact us.

What is a scholarship?

Scholarships are funds used to pay for higher education that do not have to be repaid to the provider. Scholarships may be awarded based on any number of criteria including academics, achievements, hobbies, talents, affiliations with various groups or career aspirations. They are available from federal and state governments, large corporations, local businesses, professional organizations, universities and individuals and each has its own requirements applicants must adhere to to be eligible for the award. Our scholarship search can match you with the scholarships for which you best qualify and have the best chance of winning.

How is a scholarship different from a grant?

Though the terms "scholarship" and "grant" are often used interchangeably, there are a few difference between them. They are both free money in that you never have to repay but in the majority of cases, scholarships are awarded to students who are planning to attend or are already enrolled in some form of postsecondary education. Awardees are often required to maintain specific grade point averages, participate in certain activities or take a certain amount of credits per semester to remain eligible for the scholarships they earned initially; failure to adhere to these guidelines could result in suspension or cancellation of the funding. Grant recipients, however, do not necessarily have to be attending or planning on attending college: They often need the funds to finance research projects (recipients are expected to create proposals and update the donors regularly to maintain funding) or, if they are entrepreneurs or victims of natural disasters, require capital to help start or rebuild their lives.

How is a scholarship different from a fellowship?

Like scholarships, fellowships are considered gift aid and do not have to be repaid but they are typically only available for graduate students to help support their educations. Some fellowships include tuition waivers or payments to universities in lieu of tuition but most include a stipend to cover reasonable living expenses.

How do scholarships differ from loans?

The main difference between scholarships and loans is that while scholarships do not require repayment, loans do, with interest. Loans are awarded federally (Stafford, Perkins and PLUS) as well as privately (through banks and other lenders like Sallie Mae) and can be either subsidized (no payments must be made while in school) or unsubsidized (payments must be made while in school).

Will winning a scholarship impact my Financial Aid package?

It may. The government takes student awards into consideration when offering aid. However, students should not be deterred by this. The effects are not likely to be great. Many schools use student money to offset loan eligibility, not grant awards. Students who receive little aid can benefit greatly from scholarships.

Can I still receive a scholarship, even if I do not qualify for financial aid?

Yes, there are plenty of scholarships that aren’t based on financial need. Play to your strengths: If you have a high GPA, apply for academic scholarships, if you’re a great writer, apply for essay and poetry scholarships, if you’re creative, apply for art and design scholarships and so forth. You could have your entire tuition covered by scholarships if you do your due diligence, which means you’ll graduate with zero student loan debt.

Why should I apply for scholarships?

The real question here is why shouldn’t you apply for scholarships? A scholarship is free money for college, money you don’t have to worry about paying back so you can spend more time on your classes. You’re being awarded money for college for something you’re already good at – whether it’s your grades, athleticism, creative ability or tech savvy – so why not take advantage of it? So many students don’t want to apply for scholarships because they don’t think they stand a chance of winning but in reality, applying for scholarships that match your specific criteria (like the ones our scholarship search will match you with) increases the odds of receiving a scholarship award exponentially. Scholarships can paired with all kinds of financial aid to cover the cost of books, supplies, room and board, even entire tuitions but you will never know if that’s possible unless you apply.

What are the odds of winning a scholarship?

It depends on the scholarship you’re applying for. National scholarships will obviously have larger applicant pools than state- or major-specific scholarships but they are all judged on specific sets of requirements. If you follow the criteria, you will have a better chance of winning than someone who doesn’t; the same goes for students who observe deadlines versus students who submit their applications late. You won’t win a scholarship because of who you know; you’ll earn it based on how well you follow directions and the caliber of your responses.

Can I win multiple scholarships?

Yes, but typically not from the same scholarship provider during the same award year. If you’re applying to more than one scholarship, though, be sure to keep your applications and their unique requirements organized: Sending the wrong materials to the wrong scholarship committee can guarantee you won’t be receiving those funds for college.

Am I still eligible for scholarships if I am not a full-time student?

This varies from scholarship to scholarship. Some awards require students to be in school full-time, others are valid for students attending part-time and others are offered specifically to individuals who aren’t currently enrolled but plan to return to school in some capacity during the next semester.

Can I win scholarships if I attend an online school?

This depends on the school and scholarship provider. A great place to start your search is Scholarships.com, where our scholarship search presents awards meeting your exact criteria, or contact your school directly and inquire about scholarship opportunities available only to students (this smaller applicant pool will increase your odds of receiving the award).

Where can I find scholarships?

You’ve already found your way to Scholarships.com, where you can fill out a profile and have access to the 2.7 million scholarship awards in our database, so that’s a great start. For additional awards, speak to your guidance counselor, financial aid officer, volunteer coordinator, coach, employer or parents’ employers. Scholarships are distributed by large corporations like Google and local businesses alike – the latter of which you may have a better chance of winning since the recipient will be drawn from a smaller applicant pool.

I’m not a strong writer. Will I have to write an essay for every scholarship I’m applying to?

While the majority of scholarship application processes entail some kind of essay to assess applicants’ writing skills, not all providers require one. Keep in mind that scholarships that do not require essays can be more competitive or have additional guidelines to ensure the right students apply. If you’re having difficulty finding an essay-free scholarship, peruse our "Scholarships by Type" section for easy scholarships or increasingly popular video scholarships, where applicants produce short multimedia pieces instead of writing traditional essays.

Who should I ask to write me a letter of recommendation to accompany my scholarship application and when should I ask them?

Teachers, coaches, employers or volunteer supervisors are all excellent choices for recommendation letters because they can detail your strengths and achievements in ways that appeal to scholarship committees. Do not ask parents, relatives or friends close to your own age, because even though they may know you better personally, these references will carry less weight than a professional source. As for when you should request their assistance, do so well before the application deadline. Professors typically write more than one, so asking in a timely manner is not only appreciated but will likely yield a more thoughtful finished product.

When should I start applying for scholarships?

The sooner the better. Eligibility requirements vary between awards – you must be a high school senior, you must be a college sophomore majoring in computer science, you must be under the age of 30, etc. – but one thing is for sure: You won’t receive a scholarship if you miss the deadline. Make sure your application packet is complete at least two weeks before the deadline; this way, if it gets lost in the mail or the website crashes, you will have enough time to resubmit your materials.

Can my parents apply for scholarships on my behalf?

Your parents can certainly help you throughout the process but since you are the one the scholarship will be awarded to, you must be the one to fill out the application, write the essay, complete necessary supplements and sign the appropriate forms. Your parents can assist you in securing your transcripts and even stamping your envelope but if it’s determined that they did the bulk of the work for you, you will be ineligible to receive the award.

I have a question about the application process/award/requirements. Can I contact the scholarship provider directly?

This should be detailed in the scholarship’s rules, regulations and guidelines. The scholarship provider may have the answer to your question but if they have a strict "no call" or "no e-mail" policy, don’t call or e-mail. Instead, speak to your guidance counselor or financial aid officer; they’ve probably encountered the same questions in past years and will be able to give you an answer or point you in the right direction.

Will I have to pay an Application Fee?

Scholarships.com does not list any scholarships that require application fees but there are some scholarships out there that might. It’s ultimately your decision whether or not you want to apply for a scholarship that charges you to do but use your best judgment: If the scholarship is for $500 and you must pay a $100 fee to submit your application, is the now-$400 award (which you aren’t even guaranteed to win) worth it to you?

How do I know if I’ve won a scholarship?

Someone from the scholarship committee should contact you directly via phone or email by a specific date so it’s essential to make yourself as available as possible as that time draws closer. The funds will then be sent to you or the school you will be attending during the next semester. If someone from a third-party organization claims they need personal information (Social Security number, bank account numbers, and so forth) to complete the award process, it could be a scam; get as much information about the solicitor as possible without divulging your details and contact the scholarship provider directly to determine your next step.

Will I have to reapply each year, such as required for FAFSA?

Scholarships generally come in three varieties: one-time, renewable and renewable with stipulations. One-time awards are granted only once, while renewable scholarships are granted each year. Some are dispensed automatically each year after the initial award but most renewable awards call for the recipient to reapply or provide transcripts and progress reports to ensure they are still meeting the guidelines set by the scholarship committee. If you were awarded for your stellar grades or athletic achievement, a low GPA or nonparticipation on a university team could call for your award to be discontinued so check with your scholarship provider to determine your type of scholarship and what is required for continued funding.

Last Edited: August 2015

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