For many young people today, the cost of university or college is a huge barrier to pursuing an undergraduate or post-graduate degree.
Student loans now make up the largest percentage of all non-housing debt in the United States, accounting for $1.4 trillion in total. The average student will pay between $19,000 and $40,000 for an undergrad program. And for absolutely any potential student, this average tuition cost is shocking.
In order to offset costs, many students spend hours looking for merit or financial-based scholarships. If you’re in the same position, these websites may be able to help get your own search started.
FastWeb is one of the largest scholarship sites out there. After you register for their site, you’ll be able to access their massive database of scholarship opportunities.
Once you put in some basic details, the site generates a list of scholarships that match your profile. You’ll need to do the legwork yourself, but they have handy deadline reminders and you can easily save favorites. You can even put in the school you’re planning on attending and sort through school-based scholarships.
One of the only negative aspects of the site are the subtle ads. They masquerade as scholarships in the search function, but as long as you pay attention, you can avoid them.
2. Federal Student Aid
It’s a pretty basic site, but the Federal Student Aid website should be one of the first places you check because there are thousands of scholarships and grants available from the U.S. Department of Education.
You’ll start by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. From there, you’ll find out if you’re eligible for a scholarship or grant from your school. You’ll have to fill out the FAFSA form every year to ensure your continued eligibility.
If you or a family member has served in the military, make sure you check this site first.
CollegeBoard is a one-stop shop for college and university prep. It has tons of resources on everything from choosing a school to taking the LSAT.
Right on the front page, the “College Planning” section is where you’ll find the site’s proprietary scholarship search engine. They often have unexpected scholarships listed, so it’s a great place to check if you keep seeing the same scholarships elsewhere.
The search tool is great, but it’s extremely inconvenient that you can’t save your profile or preferences. If you want to redo a search, you have to re-input all your information. Another con is that you can’t search by school since the search tool will only pull up scholarships based on your personal information.
Although it looks very similar to FastWeb, Scholarships.com is a unique scholarship search engine that advertises a massive database of over 3.7 million scholarships and grants.
Their profile asks different questions than those found on other sites and they offer a unique search algorithm. These features make it worth signing up just to see whether it pulls up any new options for you. In addition to the scholarship database, Scholarships.com offers tons of resources, so you can learn about the application process, scholarships essays, and more skills that will help your search from their experts.
The site is free, but they pay for it with affiliate ads, which includes a lot of potentially annoying emails.
Another great site with a unique search engine algorithm is ScholarshipExperts.com. They recently partnered with Unigo, a college matching and school review site, so you get the best of both worlds in one convenient location.
On their homepage, they split their scholarships up by type. Therefore, you can search within categories depending on whether you’re an athlete, a member of a minority ethnic group, or excel in a certain subject. This approach is difficult for people who fall into more than one box, but if you know you only have a chance at one type of scholarship, it’s a great way to exclude all the other irrelevant options.
Even though it’s a student loan company, SallieMae actually provides a portal where you can search for scholarships. Presumably, they hope to capture customers who are already on the site but don’t end up qualifying for a scholarship.
Despite all that, the site is well-organized and has a neat feature called Match Accuracy. This is a percentile ranking that the site assigns to every scholarship that comes up in your search, based on how likely you would be to get it. If you only have time to submit a few applications, you can toggle the settings to show you only the highest percentage matches.
7. Scholarship Monkey
Scholarship Monkey is a straightforward scholarship search engine that allows you to search by keyword or category. You can also make a profile, which the site will use to generate a list of scholarship matches.
Once you have your results, you can filter them by your chosen school. Unfortunately, you can’t sort them any further, so you’ll have to manually look through all of them if you want to find ones matching multiple keywords.
Cappex is a simple, well-designed scholarship search engine.
The site encourages you to make an account, but you can do a quick search with just the site filters if you don’t want to give them all of your personal information. Another useful element of their site is the College Greenlight, a tool that uses an algorithm to determine whether you chose college or program will be a good match.
Start Your Search
If you’re thinking about entering an undergraduate or graduate program, money can be a huge barrier. Luckily, the scholarship sites mentioned here will help you discover whether you’re eligible for aid and give you all the tools needed to apply.
Don’t let the initial cost deter you. A degree is a worthwhile investment in your future, and it’s worth spending the time to see whether you qualify for scholarships, grants, or other forms of aid.
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