So your child has decided on a college, and maybe the school is providing some great scholarship money, or maybe not. In most cases, there will still be at least some amount you must pay out of pocket. You have one more option to reduce that amount without loans, outside scholarships, provided that the school allows you to use them to reduce out of pocket costs further.
Where Do You Find Outside Scholarships?
There are many sources for outside scholarships, both national and local. Let’s talk about national scholarships first. My favorite sites for finding national, and sometimes smaller-scale scholarships, are Cappex, College Prowler and FastWeb.
Cappex is a site that can be used for more than just scholarship searches and it is my favorite scholarship search site. After the student registers for the site and enters profile information, he or she will receive a list of potential scholarship matches. The student can then go through the list and mark off scholarships he or she will apply to, might apply to, ones that don’t fit, and more. One of the most helpful features Cappex has that I haven’t found on other scholarship websites is an indication of how much competition there is likely to be for a scholarship. The site uses a 1-5 ranking scale for the amount of competition. The site also warns you when a particular scholarship has specific qualifications that you may not qualify for. Cappex will send you an email notification when a scholarship you said you will or might apply for is coming due. You will also get notifications when additional scholarships have been added to your list of potential matches.
College Prowler can also be used for much more than just scholarships. In my opinion, the best thing about using this site for scholarships is that it’s kind of a “one stop shop” when you use the site frequently to keep up on student college reviews.
FastWeb is another site that matches scholarships based on the student’s profile. It uses a helpful approach where Might Apply, Will Apply, Will Not Apply, Applied and Not Eligible can be broken out on separate tabs.
It is helpful to periodically visit more than one of these sites. You will find a slight variation in scholarships offered on each site. Many scholarships will be duplicated across all sites, but occasionally you will find one that isn’t listed anywhere else.
Finding Local Scholarships
National scholarships are a long shot, but the way I look at it, somebody has to win and if your student doesn’t enter, she can’t win! Local scholarships will have much less competition. The best information source for these is the guidance office at your high school. Our high school publishes a scholarship listing, organized by when the applications become available. Most of the applications are available in our guidance office. If your guidance office does not have this type of listing, they may still be able to help you find local scholarships. You can also try searching online for scholarships for the city, county or region where you live.
Just make sure you know the college’s policy on outside scholarships if you are receiving any need-based aid. Will they reduce need-based aid by the amount of the scholarship? If so, your child would not come out ahead winning a scholarship and it may not be worth his or her time and effort.