It’s that time of year when students start looking and applying for scholarships, and with the increasing cost of tuition and decreasing financial aid funds, students are more motivated than ever before to find free money they don’t have to pay back (as an alternative to even more student loans). Below are the top five scholarship websites to help students get as much money as possible.
Scholarships.com is a free and very well laid out, user-friendly website. You have to create an account to get started, then you can save your favorite scholarships to view later. Scholarships are organized into different searchable categories such as Scholarships Trending Now, Scholarships By Grade Level, Scholarships By Major, Scholarships By State, Scholarships for Women, Sports Scholarships, Minority Scholarships, and Unusual Scholarships. The site also has scholarship applications tips and resources.
Scholarships.com boasts over 2.7 million scholarship listings totaling $19 million in winnable funds.
I actually did one of these scholarships and won a $250 scholarship. All I had to do was follow the hosting company on Twitter, tweet them my contest entry, then write a short two paragraph essay adhering to their prompt. It was a very simple and straightforward scholarship that took minimal time and gave me connections to a great company.
The only downside is the site will occasionally have college application and advertisement pop-ups.
CollegeBoard should be a familiar website to most UCSB students who took the SATs and any AP courses. It is a private, free website that is updated regularly by staff and is highly accredited. Around 2,300 scholarships are listed with a value of closing in on $3 billion.
FastWeb was an organization recommended at my high school that continues to be relevant to students now. It’s private and free, and scholarships over 11 months old are automatically deleted from the database so that it stays current. There are videos on the site to give advice to students, sweepstakes and special promotions, and a list of common scholarship deadlines.
It offers around 1.5 million scholarships totaling around $3.4 billion in funds.
Back in high school I entered a FastWeb sponsored scholarship for students pursuing English in college and won $500.
CollegeNet lets you search for scholarships based on their content with Keyword Search or based on your personal information and what you qualify for with Profile Search.
CollegeNet also offers this great feature that allows students to open discussions in the forums. The conversation topics get voted on based on how interesting they are; the student with the most interesting conversation wins money to the tune of $300-$5000.
It is private and updates monthly.
At first glance ScholarshipMonkey looks unimpressive to say the least. What it lacks in pizzazz (minus the talking stuffed monkey) it makes up for in straightforward simplicity. It has over 1 million scholarships listed from over 4,000 sources and around $3 billion in funds.
While it, too, is free, the downside is that it’s not private unless you specifically opt out of third party emails, and it is also not as timely as other sites. It does, however, have some unique scholarships that might not be found elsewhere.
Regardless of where you are looking for scholarships, everyone should be looking. There is so much free money out there, and billions of dollars remains unclaimed every year because no one applies for some scholarships. Not all applications are rigorous; some, like my Twitter one, are very simple. And if you take the time to apply for some of the smaller, niche scholarships, odds are you will have little competition.
Image Courtesy of FastWeb