How Can You Find and Apply for Scholarships?

As you plan to pay for college, start by applying for federal and state financial aid. You could get thousands of dollars to pay for tuition, housing, books, and more. Even so, financial aid may not cover all your college costs. Scholarships can help make up the difference! Scholarships are free money. You don’t have to work for them or pay them back. 

What kinds of scholarships can you get? 

Some scholarships come from the government or your college. Others come from companies or organizations. There are scholarships for all kinds of students!
Here are some reasons you may be a good match for a scholarship. 
  • You have financial need. 
  • You have good grades.  
  • You’ve done really well in other areas, like leadership or the arts.
  • You have a career goal like nursing, teaching, or engineering. 
  • You’re really good at a sport.
  • You belong to a club or organization.
  • You’re a certain gender, ethnicity, or religion, or you have a special family situation.

Athletic Scholarships

If you’re an athlete and part of an athletic association, you could be eligible for an athletic scholarship. They are very competitive and hard to get. You should apply for financial aid, too. 
Here are some important things to know about athletic scholarships.
  • You’ll need to do well in your classes  and sport. You may need to get a certain GPA or take specific classes.  
  • Some scholarships cover full tuition, and some only cover part of it. Some college athletes get no scholarship money at all. 
  • Athletic scholarships are hard to get. Colleges look for student-athletes who also have other interests. Consider doing other activities besides sports. 
  • College athletic recruiting begins early in high school. Go to local camps or competitions to improve your chances of being recruited. 

Talk to your counselor about how to get an athletic scholarship.

How can you find scholarships?

Look for scholarships in your community. Here are some great places to start.
  • Your high school counselor. 
  • Your college financial aid office. 
  • Your local library. 
  • Non-profit organizations or businesses. 
  • Religious or community groups. 
  • Professional associations related to your career path. 

Also check out these trustworthy websites. 

Learn about financial aid and scholarships for undocumented studentsfoster youthhomeless youth, or students with disabilities

Be careful when searching for scholarships! 

  • Don’t trust sites that guarantee scholarships. 
  • Never pay to apply. 
  • Don’t give sensitive information, like your Social Security number (SSN). 
  • If you’re not sure about a scholarship, check with a counselor before you apply.  

Can scholarships affect your other financial aid? 

Colleges that accept you will send you financial aid offers. Your offers will list your college costs and how much federal and state aid you can get if you decide to attend. You can’t get more aid than your total cost of attendance (COA).  
If scholarships push your total aid over the COA, here’s what you should do.
  • Work with your college financial aid office. They want to help you make the most of your aid!
  • Free money is best! Lower your loans first. Then, lower your work-study

How to Apply.

Scholarships all have their own requirements, forms, and deadlines. Here are some steps you should take. 
  • Keep track of your scholarships.  
  • Read scholarship websites and forms carefully. Make sure you meet all the requirements and apply on time. 
  • Scholarships can be very competitive. Give yourself plenty of time to complete your application. 
  • Ask a parent, counselor, or teacher to look over your application. 
  • If a scholarship comes from your college, you may need to fill out the CSS Profile.  

Apply for scholarships every year. 

Scholarships aren’t just for first-year students. You may be able to renew your scholarships or apply for new ones. Get as much free money as you can while you’re in college!