Debt-Free College: 8 Essential Tips on How to Find Scholarships

With college costs and student loan rates at an all-time high, many students are hoping to find alternative ways to pay off their college education before even taking a class. The most popular alternative to payment is finding scholarships. Nowadays, there are scholarships for almost any type of talent or feature, but the trick is finding the right ones for you.

Many of these scholarships can help you take out fewer loans, which will help with your credit report after college. They may also provide funding for books or food so that you can focus more on your studies during college time. Read on to find out more about how to find scholarships to help you and your family pay for college.

1. Use Your High School Guidance Counselor

Once you are accepted to the school of your dreams, you and your guidance counselor should know each other fairly well. But, their job doesn’t have to end when you are merely accepted. They should also be able to support you with paying for college through the scholarships that your high school or school district may offer.

Many high schools have alumni that have donated to scholarship funds for students. Be sure to look to your guidance counselor to advise you on how to find these awards.

2. Ask Your College Financial Aid Office

Just as your high school should support you in your scholarship quest, your college will do the same. Many colleges also have scholarships that are available to incoming freshmen to help them pay for school.

You should also contact the financial aid office at your school to see if they can give you aid in the forms of grants, in order to further help you pay for your schooling.

3. Reach Out to Local Government

Many cities and counties have funds available for local students going off to college. Almost every city has a “mayor’s scholarship” or some form of city scholarship available for graduating seniors at local high schools. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your local government and find out if these scholarships are available.

On top of that, you may also be able to look to local businesses to provide scholarships. It is not uncommon for a local supermarket chain or famous restaurant to provide scholarships for the city. Be sure to reach out, as any amount of scholarship can help you pay for school.

4. Look to the Federal Government

While it’s possible that your local government may have scholarships available, the federal government surely does. On top of providing loans, the federal government also consistently has awards for many of the nation’s top students, including awards from many of the senators and house representatives.

Be sure to visit your state and district’s representatives when looking for scholarships, as these are the ones most available to you. But, don’t be scared to also apply to scholarships from members higher up in the government, up to and including the President of the United States.

5. Search Scholarship Websites

When it comes to how to find scholarships, one of the most popular trends among high school students today is searching for scholarship websites.

These websites have databases of scholarships that are instantly available to you. All you need to do is put in some features about yourself such as your race, grades, and extracurriculars and you will be matched to scholarships that you may be qualified for.

Be sure to spend at least an hour a day visiting scholarship websites if you’re looking to pay for college. With so many scholarships available, there’s no doubt that you can find a scholarship that matches you perfectly.

6. Expand Your Search Criteria

There are various criteria that you may be looking for when searching for scholarships. For example, you may be looking for scholarships that give money to athletes or scholarships for artistically talented students. But, you should expand your search to every aspect of your self, as there as scholarships for everything.

Don’t be afraid to apply to scholarships that apply to you in any way possible. For example, even if you didn’t play for your varsity soccer team, your time with your recreational team may be enough to grant you that local soccer scholarship. Never be afraid to apply for more scholarships, even if you may be rejected.

7. Prepare For The Scholarship Process

Each scholarship has a different process that goes into it. Some may require an essay you must write, others ask you to provide evidence of your talents (such as an art sample), and others may even ask for your family’s income and for your transcript.

Be sure to embrace each aspect of the scholarship process and approach it with your best foot forward. You never know where you may be able to distinguish yourself from other applicants.

If your scholarship has an interview aspect, visit the site from the honor society to find out how to ace your scholarship interview.

8. Be Honest

When applying to different scholarships, you may be tempted to best the truth and apply to scholarships that may be barely out of your reach – whether in terms of income, grades, or even talent levels. But, be honest with who you are. You are bound to get caught being untruthful, which may lead to bigger problems for you in the end.

With so many scholarships available, it’s ok if you can’t quite apply to one or the other. There are bound to be dozens of scholarships available to you.

How to Find Scholarships Perfect for You

Now that you’ve read up on how to find scholarships, go ahead and search! Don’t be afraid to go through every source you can think of to find scholarships. At the end of the day, any chance you can to get some money for college will be well worth your time and effort.

Be sure to remember to never pay to apply to scholarships and always make sure that the money is coming from a reputable source.

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Melissa Thompson

Melissa is a mother of 2, lives in Utah, and writes for a multitude of sites. She is currently the EIC of and writes about health, wellness, and business topics.