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College University Scholarship Search Engine

21 March 2013 One Comment

Free Money for Education. Use our Scholarship Search Engine to find a scholarship!

canstockphoto5907735The Top 5 Places to Find Great Scholarships

We learned how to find scholarships through trial and painful error. For example, when we first started to search for scholarships, we spent a lot of time tracking down awards that we later discovered were listed in our college financial aid office. But from each mistake we learned and slowly developed an efficient strategy for finding scholarships. And while we have found scholarships in nearly every place you could imagine, we have noticed that certain places were far richer sources of scholarships. The following are our top 5 places to find great scholarships.

#1. Go online to put a free scholarship database to work for you.

Forget the time-wasting social networks, and use the Internet for something productive. We recommend that you use an online scholarship database to quickly sift through the tens of thousands of scholarships available to find the ones that best fit your background, talents and career goals. To get you started try this free database of more than 3+ million scholarships. We recommend that you use as many online scholarship websites as possible as long as they are free. You should never have to pay to do an online scholarship search.

As great as these free websites are they only represent your starting point. Your next step should be …

#2. Invest in a good scholarship book.

Is it crazy to think that a bound stack of paper and glue is superior to the high-speed bits and bytes of a scholarship website? Absolutely not! The major weakness of any scholarship website is that it relies on a profile questionnaire you fill out to match you to awards. But your life (background, experiences, goals, talents, awards, interests and accomplishments) are not easily defined or summarized by a computer-generated questionnaire. Plus, you are limited by the choices provided on the profile.

Imagine you wrote a poem that was published in your town’s newspaper. On the profile, should you select “poet” as a future career? Or maybe under hobbies, should you select “writing and journalism”? Of course, that might trigger a flood of journalism scholarships that wouldn’t apply to you. Or maybe, even though you are not a member of a poetry club, you should still tell the computer that you are in order to trick it into showing you a sweet poetry award? Do you see where we’re going? The truth is that no computer can match you to scholarships as well as you can. You are a complex individual with a variety of passions, interests and goals.

A good scholarship book gives you the ability to browse thousands of scholarships. A book is more flexible than a computer because you are not penalized for not having an answer to a specific question. Nor are you forced to fit yourself into a predetermined category. There are several good books. Of course, we recommend starting with our book, The Ultimate Scholarship Book 2013. But you can visit any library or bookstore to find other solid, paper-based resources.

The next three places are going to require a little legwork. Just like a private investigator you are going to have to do a little sleuthing.

#3. Speak to your counselor or financial aid administrator.

If you are a high school student, book an appointment with your counselor. Most counselors keep a binder filled with local awards and scholarships. Don’t forget that your own high school will have a variety of scholarships from such places as the parent/teacher organization, alumni group and athletic booster clubs often aimed specifically at students from your school. Most schools post this information on their website. But even if your school does not, surf over to the websites of other nearby high schools in the area. You’ll find that many offer a wealth of scholarship listings.

If you are a college student, make an appointment with your school’s financial aid administrator. Think about what interests and talents you have and what field you may want to enter after graduation. Take a copy of your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) if you have one. Mention any special circumstances about your family’s financial situation and ask the financial aid administrator for recommendations of scholarships offered by the college or by community organizations. Also, if you have already declared a major, check with the department’s administrative assistant or chair for any awards that you might be eligible to win.

#4. Find backyard gold through community organizations

Maybe you’ve wondered why community organizations have so many breakfast fundraisers—one reason is that some provide money for scholarships. You typically don’t have to be a member of these organizations to apply. In fact, many community groups sponsor scholarships that are open to all students who live in the area. College students really have two communities: their hometown and where they go to college. Don’t neglect either of these places. How do you find these organizations? Many local government websites list them. Visit the websites for your town, city and state. Also visit or call your community association or center. You can use the phone book to look up organizations. Some phone books even have a calendar of annual events that are sponsored by various civic groups. Finally, don’t forget to pay a visit to the public library and ask the reference librarian for help. Then pick up the phone and call these organizations to find out what awards are available.

#5. Check out the professional associations of your future career.

Whether you want to be a doctor, teacher or helicopter pilot, there are professional organizations that exist not only to advance the profession, but also to encourage students to enter that field by awarding grants and scholarships. To find these associations, contact people who are already in the profession. If you think you want to become a computer programmer, ask computer programmers about the associations to which they belong. Also look at the trade magazines for the profession since they have advertisements for various professional organizations. Another way to find associations is through books like The Encyclopedia of Associations. This multi-volume set found at most college libraries lists nearly every professional association in the U.S. Once you find these associations, contact them or visit their websites to see if they offer scholarships. Professional associations often provide scholarships for upper-level college students, graduate school or advanced training. But even high school students who know what they want to do after college can find money from associations.

Bonus Tip: Don’t look for scholarships alone.

As you look for scholarships, don’t make the mistake we made when we started our scholarship search. That mistake was to look for scholarships alone. We’ve met thousands of students who have won scholarships from all across the country. Of these, the most successful were those who looked for scholarships as a group or in teams. In fact, they made it the biggest group project imaginable. Students who worked with others discovered that by sharing the awards they found and pooling their resources, they were able to find more scholarships in less time than they ever would have if they had worked alone. The end result was that these students had more scholarships to apply to and more time to focus on their applications. All of this meant that they won more money.

One additional benefit to combining your efforts with those of others is that you’ll stay much more motivated throughout the process. And take it from us who have been there, it can be very discouraging to look for awards alone! So get together with your friends, classmates and even relatives and start looking for scholarships together. Who knows, you may even have some fun!

By: Gen and Kelly Tanabe, authors of The Ultimate Scholarship Book 2013

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