Navigating the Scholarship Landscape

Grants and Scholarships are considered gift Gaid because students do not have to pay them back. However, it is important to understand the requirements of the grants and scholarships so that students can maintain those that are renewable throughout their academic careers. Especially with scholarships, it is important to know the duration of the scholarship so that this does not affect affordability after the freshman year. 

The great news is that there is no limit to the number of scholarships a student can obtain. Students can begin applying to scholarships as early as Kindergarten. You can find scholarships for students under 13 on the website. Please beware of scholarship scams. My family was a victim of these scams and we paid for access to a scholarship database and it should never cost money to apply to a scholarship. READ the user agreement as I have heard that a couple of sites which I will not name re-sell student’s personal information to third parties and the students are spammed afterward. 

When students apply to the university, they may be automatically considered for awards directly from the school. However, they can obtain scholarships from many sources. Although it is great to have students apply for larger scholarships like CocaCola, Jackie Robinson, Foot Locker, etc. especially if they are competitive applicants, it is also a good practice to have them apply to local scholarships. I usually have my students ask the adults in their families to see if their employers, unions, and civic organizations offer scholarships. There is also local organization such as the chamber of commerce, fraternities and sororities, unions, and civic organizations that offer scholarships, and though smaller in number, they begin to add up and can make a significant difference in the student’s ability to attend college.

Many of these organizations do not have enough applicants and I’m sure you’ve heard that many dollars in scholarships go unclaimed. One key practice, as you become familiar with scholarships and their eligibility requirements, is to have students apply only for scholarships where they meet the criteria. Sean Spears posted an article in USA Today, highlighting the following 10 websites as the best for scholarships. 


“The site boasts $10 billion in scholarship awards and has an impressive collection of articles, test prep resources, and more.”


Unigo has plenty to offer beyond just scholarships, including jobs, internships, college profiles and rankings, articles, and a textbook store. When it comes to scholarships, the site offers both profile-based matchings as well as easy-to-browse categories.” 


Fastweb, a subsidiary of Monster, hosts more than 1.5 million scholarships that amount to more than $3.4 billion dollars. And it’s all so well organized! The search platform’s filters make it hard not to find exactly what you’re looking for.”


Cappex has a large scholarship database and they’re not afraid to brag a bit: “We’ve Got More Than $11 Billion in Scholarships.” 


“It acquired scholarship match service Zinch in 2011 and now hosts scholarships totaling over $1 billion. Its interface is simple and the mandatory sign-up process is well worth the time. What’s more, it has a “top scholarship picks this week” category, which highlights opportunities you may have otherwise missed. And on top of the scholarships, Chegg offers homework help, tutoring, test prep, internships, and (of course) textbooks.” 


The College Board offers much more than an extensive list of scholarships. It also has test prep, articles, and college search tools, among others. And its “scholarships, other financial aid and internships from more than 2,200 programs” totals nearly $6 billion.”


“It’s neatly organized into categories that make it simple to start finding and applying for scholarships. You can browse by categories – including, but not limited to, sports, interest area, career and major.”

SCHOLARSHIPS.COM’s tagline says it all: “With more than 2.7 million scholarship and grant opportunities worth more than $19 billion, just about everyone is bound to find something.”


“You can search by keyword or create a personalized profile to get filtered results. From there, you can create, manage and save lists that you can return to later.”


Scholarship Monkey offers three search options: personalized search, search by keyword, and lists of scholarships. Results from any of these searches can then be further filtered by college, but unfortunately not by any other criteria.”