How to get scholarship money for college

Find free money for college that you don’t need to pay back.

College scholarships are financial aid for college that you can apply for through organizations, websites, scholarship tools, and more. Scholarships can be need-based, merit-based, or based on things like your hobbies, field of study, ethnicity, religion, and more. You don’t need to be number one in your class or an all-star athlete to get free money for college. Most importantly, all scholarships are free scholarships, which means free money to help you pay for college.

Scholarships aren't just for undergraduate students. Are you a graduate student or considering graduate school? Learn about graduate school scholarships to help further your education.

Tips for getting scholarships

Understanding what it takes to earn a scholarship can be overwhelming. That’s why we’re here to help you understand all there is to know about free college scholarships and how to find them.  Discover 5 tips for getting scholarships for college with Sallie Mae's scholarship guide.

Looking for more easy-to-read scholarship resources to help you during the process? Check out more information from Sallie Mae.

Types of college scholarships

There are many different types of college scholarships available including those for high school students, students from underserved communities, single mothers, and more.

Types of scholarships for college

How to apply for college scholarships

These tips about requirements, deadlines, and more can help as you apply.

Tips on applying for college scholarships

Writing college scholarship essays

A powerful scholarship essay can help you stand out from the crowd.

Tips for writing college scholarship essays

Get matched with college scholarships

Meet Nitro by Sallie Mae

  • Get matched to scholarships based on your profile.
  • Track your progress in securing scholarships, savings, financial aid, and student loans.
  • Compare how much colleges will cost to help make your decision.

By clicking this button, you’ll go to our trusted partner Nitro College’s site. Any information you provide will be shared with Nitro College and will be covered under the terms of the Nitro College privacy policy.

Sallie Mae's College Scholarships:

How does the Sallie Mae scholarship work?
Our scholarship programs help students from historically underserved communities reach their higher education goals. We offer scholarships for high school students, current college students, and graduate students.

Learn more about our scholarship program to find out if one's right for you.

What to know about scholarship programs for college

First, search for which types of college scholarships you might want to apply for. These are some examples of scholarship categories that could apply to you.

  • Scholarships based on field of study. For incoming college students who have an idea of what they want to study in school and/or what field they’d like to enter after school, scholarships geared toward majors and fields of study can be a good option. 
  • Scholarships for college students. Whether you’re an incoming freshman or are already in college, there are scholarships specifically for undergraduate students. As you continue your studies and try new extracurricular activities in college, you might be eligible for more scholarships you weren’t originally qualified for. Don't forget to revisit college scholarship opportunities. 
  • Scholarships for graduate studies. Finding graduate school scholarships is just as important as finding free money for undergraduate studies. There are many scholarships specifically for graduate students that you can apply to.
  • Scholarships based on hobbies. There are all kinds of unique scholarships out there. You can search for scholarships based on your skills, activities, and interests.

Scholarship tips from students

"If you think there aren’t scholarships out there for you, google it. You’ll be inundated with scholarships whether it's $500 up to $25,000. There's something for everybody."

Kirsten C., principal at Clinton Prairie Junior-Senior High School

How to find college scholarships

There are many sources to help you search for free college scholarships based on the type of scholarship you’re looking for. Here's where you can start.

  • The financial aid office at a college or career school
  • A high school counselor
  • Organizations (such as professional associations) related to your field of interest
  • Federal agencies
  • Free scholarship tools, like Nitro by Sallie Mae where you can get matched to scholarships and track your college funds all in one place. (By clicking this link, you’ll go to our trusted affiliate, SLM NitroCollege LLC. Any use of the site will be governed by SLM NitroCollege LLC’s terms of use and any information you provide will be governed by the terms of SLM NitroCollege LLC’s privacy policy.)  

Remember, scholarships are free money for college, so apply to as many as you can.

See Sarah’s 5 step plan for making college happen