How to get going on the scholarship search
It can be hard to know where to start looking for scholarships. You can learn more by visiting Federal Student Aid, a website managed by the U.S. Department of Education. This is the federal agency for which you will fill out the Free Application of Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine how much federal financial aid your student will receive. The agency offers tips and advice on scholarships, including what other sources to tap for more information. The Department of Labor also offers a free scholarship search tool.
Free scholarship websites
After seeing what scholarship resources the guidance counselor can offer, it’s time for your student to hit the web. There are many free online scholarship sites for you to do your research like Sallie Mae’s Scholarship Search, Fastweb, and Nitro. On these sites, your child can create a profile with their academic scores, community service and volunteering, athletic and academic activities, along with family and community affiliations. These factors will be run against a search’s database to be matched with scholarship opportunities for which your student is eligible.
If your child is still a few years away from heading off to their higher education, make sure to write down the names of the scholarships that you might want to apply for later, or use the list functionality that scholarship search sites offer.
Also, be sure to apply for scholarships with smaller monetary amounts. If your student balks at spending time on essays or applications for these, remind them that if they earn even a few of them, that can mean more free money for college. Even a few hundred dollars can cover lab fees or a couple of textbooks. There also tend to be fewer applicants for these scholarships.
Remember, you shouldn’t have to pay to apply for a scholarship. If an organization asks for a fee or credit card number, do not share that information with them.