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Tip #3: Online database searches can yield results!

In the last two posts of our Scholarship Series, we’ve covered different types of scholarships; this week we’ll dig into one of the main resources for discovering those scholarships.

Reputable databases provide another option for acquiring monies for college. Free scholarship databases are dynamic search engines and give students an opportunity to create a profile, share demographic information, and input their specific academic interests and talents. In return, students are provided with a list of possible scholarship opportunities matching the criteria entered into the database. After reviewing the results, families can then decide which opportunities they should realistically pursue.

You might begin your search for scholarships at www.scholarships.com or at www.collegeboard.org. Colleges may recommend other reputable online scholarship databases for your use. At minimum, we recommend creating a profile in one of the search databases to get a sense of the various options available. You can always decide later whether to apply for specific opportunities or not.

As we’ve discussed before, there are scholarships for just about everyone! There are college scholarships out there tailored to people from every background, with varying experiences and interests, academic qualifications, talents, extracurricular activities, career goals, geographic location, and much more. If you know what major you’re going into there are often scholarships tailored specifically for you.  For example, there are scholarships exclusively for women going into engineering, for Latino students going into social work, for first-generation STEM students, and for male students going into teaching.

Students should also think outside of the box and research companies related to their area of interest for scholarship opportunities. For example, photography majors should research scholarships backed by Nikon and Minolta, computer science majors should check out HP and Apple, and journalism majors should check with media companies and publications. Being creative, researching thoroughly, and thinking outside the traditional avenues may lead to further opportunities!

Needless to say, students shouldn’t wait until their senior year of high school to search for scholarships. The scholarship search process takes time and is a significant undertaking; it’s not something you can accomplish on a Sunday afternoon. Though applications and requirements may vary from year to year, it’s never too early to begin your scholarship search and keep a running list of the scholarships to which you plan to apply when the time comes.

It needs to be mentioned that one should not pay any company to do a scholarship search on your behalf, as students can seek out scholarship opportunities on their own for free. Reportedly, there are scams out there whereby a company will charge to conduct a scholarship search for them. However, one can obtain the same information for free by using readily available scholarship databases such as those examples included in this post.


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Written by Jan Combs
Jan Combs is a college finance expert at College Coach. Before joining College Coach, Jan was Director of Financial Aid at Harvard Graduate School of Education and Assistant Director of Financial Aid at Boston University.