With over $49 billion in grants and scholarships out there (according to Debt.org) you won’t want your child to miss the opportunity to secure free money to help pay for college. There are a ton of college scholarship websites that help students find funding for college, but figuring out which ones are worth their (and your) time can be a challenge. Sometimes, it’s hard to separate the reputable sites from the dubious ones, and choosing the wrong source can lead to some serious trouble.
BEFORE YOUR STUDENT GETS STARTED
There are a few steps you and your child should take before searching for scholarships.
First, it’s smart to set up a separate email address. Why? Because signing up for scholarship websites can lead to a TON of junk email, so this helps ensure that their normal inbox isn’t flooded.
AVOIDING SWEEPSTAKES AND SCAMS AS THEY FIND SCHOLARSHIPS
While most people would hate to think that someone would scam a college student as they try to find scholarships, the fact is that it happens.
Before your child begins their search, they should take a little time to learn how to spot scams, as well as how to avoid “scholarships” that are actually sweepstakes, which give your student a small chance of winning and usually carry a lot of caveats, like their information being sold to third-parties.
COLLEGE SCHOLARSHIP WEBSITES TO HELP YOUR CHILD FIND FREE MONEY
As we all know, College Board is a major player in the college arena, providing valuable information about the SATs, AP classes, colleges and universities, and more. It’s no surprise that they offer a list of scholarships for students and have comprehensive search options to make the process easier.
Broke Scholar doesn’t require any personal information to search for opportunities, and the search criteria is easy to use. They also have information on grants and fellowships, giving your student more options to explore.
A college scholarship websites that proclaims itself as “your source for career exploration, training and jobs,” CareerOneStop has a lot of valuable information, including thousands of scholarships. Your student can easily filter the list based on their level of study, award types, where they live, and more.
We’ve always been a fan of Chegg, renting books from them for years! We also love their contributions to the environment, planting over 6 million trees to date. Their list of scholarships is highly searchable, including the ability to find scholarships that have online application processes.
Creating by a previous admission counselor, this list is one of our favorites. You can search by major, deadline month and more. You can’t filter by certain criteria like other scholarship search engines (i.e. GPA, SAT score, etc.) but we find most of the scholarships on this site to be legitimate, versus the sweepstakes ones we talked about earlier.
Student Scholarships uses a variety of categories to organize their information, and a search bar also gives your child to search by their criteria. Handy career-oriented Q&A’s are also available, letting your child learn more about a range of professions (which is helpful if your child is undecided about their major).
While they tout millions of scholarships, we find the list is quickly dwindles down when you put in your child’s search criteria. Still, even if you find a few legitimate scholarships, the search engine makes it quick and easily to narrow down the list. It’s worth checking out.
Unigo’s list of scholarships, awards and grants will give you fun, unusual, academic, need-based, student-specific, career, and even more types of scholarships. Browse through their list and find new scholarships to add to your child’s college fund. Or use our Scholarship Match to instantly find ones based on your child’s criteria. They also have a tool to compare different universities.
WEBSITE TO FIND MERIT SCHOLARSHIPS
Before looking for external scholarships at the websites above, it is certainly worth looking for merit scholarships they can automatically qualify for if your child hasn’t already chosen their university.
Merit scholarships are one of the largest sources of funds for college, making it possible to significantly reduce your child’s college bill, or even achieve a free ride.
We recently found this website, the Merit Scholarship List, that has aggregated merit scholarship information from universities all over the country. Wendy Nelson, a mother who helped her own children graduate debt free created this database and we are big supporters of it!
Access to the information costs $20/month but could save you tens of thousands of dollars. With this list, you and your student can search by a variety of criteria, including the school they wish to attend, state, or other options, like a talent they happen to possess.
The best part is you can filter for merit scholarships that they automatically qualify for based on certain test scores. This makes it an excellent resource for identifying merit-based scholarships for which your child may qualify.