Every year scholarships help a large number of collegebound students pay for part, or all, or their tuition costs. College scholarships are available from a variety of different sources, and during your search you may come across programs requiring you to pay an entry fee or other administrative costs. These scholarship programs should be avoided. You should ever have to pay to submit a scholarship application. Neither should you have to pay a service to find a scholarship opportunity for you. Free college scholarships are readily available, and all you need to do is learn where and how to look for them.
Locating free college scholarships will take a bit of research, but is easier than many students may think. The greatest tool in your search for college scholarships is right at your fingertips, the internet. By utilizing some key search criteria you can locate free scholarship programs that suit your status and educational goals. An initial general internet search of 'scholarships', will bring thousands of results for you to sift through, and will give you a starting point from which you can begin to narrow your search.
The local library is also a good source for information regarding scholarships. A search of the stacks can yield some helpful results, but be sure to follow up any leads to determine that the scholarship programs you have found are still active and accepting applications.
In your search for scholarship programs you will encounter a number of “scholarship search services”. These are web businesses that match student profiles to possible scholarship opportunities. These services can be helpful, but beware of any service that asks a fee for it's services. You should never have to pay a penny for scholarship information, and these websites are only providing you with information you can find yourself on the internet.
Once you have started a general search, and have discovered how easy it is to find scholarship opportunities, you can begin to narrow your focus in order to locate more specific scholarship programs for which you are suitable. Let's say you are a female college-bound student, and you begin your search by looking for 'scholarships for women'. This is a broad search and will likely bring too many results to be truly helpful. You can narrow those results by adding another modifier to your search criteria, such as 'teaching scholarships for women'. This will help narrow down the results further until you find a collection of scholarship opportunities that most closely match your status and your ultimate goals as a student. Here are a few examples of search terms and their results to help you get a feel for the technique:
This process will take a little time, and you need to know what you are looking for in a scholarship. But by narrowing the focus of your search, you can begin to pinpoint the scholarship programs that will be most beneficial to you. Again, you could rely on a search service to find these results for you, but even free search services lack the insight that you yourself can bring to the scholarship search.
Once you have decided on a list of scholarships to which you would like to apply, prioritize them by deadline and by the amount of effort required to prepare the application. Now you can begin to fill out and submit the various applications, and get the scholarship process underway.
When you begin filling out the scholarship applications, be sure to take the time to read and understand the instructions fully. If you are filling out the application online, it is sometimes easier to print out a hard copy that can be easily revised before you submit the final application. In this way you can ensure that all of your information and answers are complete and free of errors. If the application requires an essay submission, give yourself plenty of time to write and revise the work. Even the most diligent student can miss errors in their applications, so be sure to have a parent or trusted teacher look over your work before the final submission. Having someone proofread your scholarship applications and essays will help you catch errors, and will allow you to present a more polished and successful application.
After you've applied for a few scholarships, you will likely find areas that overlap and that call for similar information. This is common amongst scholarship applications and it is fine to adapt or reuse answers for multiple applications. However, avoid giving formulaic responses to the questionnaires that accompany your applications. Scholarship award boards can sense when applicants are not applying themselves to the task at hand, and it will count against you if your answers and essays do not read as wholly original and specific to that submission. Put in the time and effort required to submit unique applications to each scholarship program. That time will be well rewarded.
Free college scholarships require a little work to locate, but that work can definitely pay off for the student searching for financial aid for a college education. Remember, you should never have to pay for scholarship information. If you encounter a scholarship program, or a search service, that requires you to pay a fee walk away. The information you need is available for free, with just a little bit of research. Apply yourself to the task and you too can find the much needed funds you need to bring your goal of a college education to fruition.