You frequently hear that you need a college degree to succeed in the modern world. Many students have parents and even grandparents who remind them that they worked part-time through the summer to pay their way through school. They don’t realize that while wages slightly increased over the years, college tuition rates increased even faster. Even if have a good summer job, you might not make enough to pay for one semester of school. You also don’t have the money that you need to cover your living expenses, including your textbooks and a dorm room. That is why you need to look for scholarships that will cover some or all of those costs.
Scholarships are important for several reasons. Those programs often include funds that go unclaimed each year and offer money that you do not need to repay. As you start your career, you don’t want to worry about loans and how you’ll pay them at the same time that you pay all your other bills. Using college scholarship search platforms is the easiest way to find programs that you qualify for and learn how to get that money. We ranked the 10 best scholarship search platforms that you can use while planning for the future.
Before you check out any of the top 10 best scholarship search platforms, you should fill out the FAFSA. This stands for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid and is available online. The federal government will assign you a pin that you use to log into the system and complete the application. It usually refers to you as a dependent and asks for information from your parents, including their names and tax documents from the last year. You only qualify as an independent student if you meet any of the following criteria:
When you complete the FAFSA, you have the option of adding the college you will attend or multiple schools that interest you. The government will determine how much your costs are for the year and how much financial aid you need. Both the government and the school will offer financial aid that may include grants and student loans. If you qualify for any scholarships, those funds will appear in your financial aid package too.
Married students are an example of those that the government considers as independent students in terms of the FAFSA.
Applying to college features multiple steps. Most schools now streamline the process with an online application portal that lets you create a new account and use it to finish your application. Some schools use the Common Application too, which allows you to apply to more than one school with one set of information. Colleges in Texas also use the Apply Texas site that offers applicants the chance to apply to several public schools in college with one application. Schools can accept you without granting you any financial aid, but most will send you a letter that details all the financial aid that you get.
Most students qualify for federal work-study, which is a program that requires they work on the college’s campus or in a nearby location. These positions pay the federal minimum wage or slightly more. You also qualify for subsidized student loans as an undergrad and unsubsidized loans as a graduate student along with grants that can come from the federal or state government. If the college believes that you qualify for any of its scholarships, it will list those funds in your financial aid package too. Most colleges offer scholarships based on your overall merit as well as your financial need.
The best scholarship search platforms make it easy for you to find the money that you need and let you get back to studying.
As an incoming student, you may qualify for need and/or merit scholarships from the school you chose. A need-based scholarship is – as the name implies – a scholarship based on the need that you demonstrated on the FAFSA. Some of the factors that can determine you need extra money include:
Big schools such as those in the Ivy League offer more need-based scholarships than other schools do. They want their students to afford the cost of attendance without worrying about expensive loans that they need to pay back.
In addition to scholarships based on your need, you may qualify for merit scholarships too. These often go to the students who finished at or near the top of their classes. You qualify for more money if you graduated in the top 5-10% than if you finished within the top 50% of your class. If you cannot rely solely on the money that the college might give you, using scholarship search platforms can help you get more funds for school.
Before you walk the hallowed halls of a college campus, you need to make sure that you can afford the cost of attendance.
Merit scholarships award money to students based on the merits that they have. This usually refers to how well they did in high school. If you had an almost perfect GPA and took advanced placement (AP) classes, you’ll usually qualify for more scholarships and funds that students with lower grades do. Some applications also ask for a list of your extracurricular activities and interests such as the clubs and organizations that you joined along with info on how you helped the community. Doing volunteer work can help you qualify for many scholarships.
Some programs offer lottery scholarships. As long as you complete the application by the deadline, you have a good chance of winning some of the available funds. Each person who applies enters the lottery pool. The organization that runs the lottery chooses names at random. You may have just a few weeks to accept the scholarship before it goes to someone else. Though you have no guarantee that you’ll win a lottery scholarship, you have nothing to lose. When fewer students apply, the pool grows smaller and increases the chances that all or most applicants will get some of the money.
You have a better chance of winning a lottery scholarship than you do winning the standard lottery.
Using any of the top 10 best scholarship search platforms can help you find more scholarships than you knew existed. You’ll also want to use some tips to increase your chances of winning at least one.
Teachers can provide valuable feedback and help you choose a good essay topic.
Though all scholarship applications are different, most ask for some of the same things, including:
Even if you only need one letter of recommendation, make sure that you choose the right person to write it. Picking a teacher from your freshman year who you barely see how is risky because the teacher may write about what you were like years ago rather than today. Some students also make the mistake of choosing people with a hidden bias and those who aren’t familiar with them. Most scholarship programs want a letter that demonstrates who you are and why you deserve the money.
The essay is an important part of the application too and one that you shouldn’t overlook. Don’t think that you can whip up a good essay in a few hours or right before the deadline either. You want to spend at least a few days and even a few weeks to create an essay that speaks to the scholarship committee and makes them want to pick you. Some programs may ask for an official transcript from your high school as well as an ACT/SAT score too.
Spending time in a quiet place such as the library where you can focus can help you write the best essay for your scholarship application.
One of the biggest names in the scholarship search platform world today is Scholarships.com, which functions in the same way that dating websites and apps do. To search for scholarships, you simply create a new profile. The site asks for your current year in school, full name, zip code and address. It also asks for an email address and has you set up a password. You’ll use both your email address and password to log into your account later.
Many scam sites exist for the sole purpose of taking money from prospective college students and their parents. The first time that you visit this site, you’ll notice the word free on the homepage. This lets you know that you never need to pay a dime to apply for any of the listed scholarships or to use the site. We highly recommend using the scholarship directory because this helps you narrow down your choices. Not only can you look for scholarships with the most programs available and those for ROTC students, but you can view those open to students in your state or where you want to attend school.
Between applying for financial aid and using the FAFSA, the process of getting help for college is confusing. That is why we like the financial aid section of Scholarships.com. It has a dictionary of all the abbreviations and terms that you might come across with a list of what each one means. Through the 529 Plans page, you can learn about college savings accounts and what you can do with that money. The site also has financial aid news, including new programs that launch every year and changes to the FAFSA.
Every site that we found and ranked has some problems that might affect students. One issue with Scholarships.com is that it offers too many options. You may find that narrowing down your searches is difficult and that you have a hard time finding scholarships based on your interests. We also found some scholarships listed that are closed to new applications and noticed that the site ran a little slow. You might not like that it limits searches to only those with a registered profile too.
Some may find the number of choices on the site a little frustrating.
You probably heard the name Sallie Mae on television or the news due to the student loans that it offers to students. Those loans include convenient repayment terms and help you get all the money that you need for school. Sallie Mae also offers a free scholarship search that ranks as the second-best of its type on our list. It takes only minutes to search through more than five million scholarships to see how you can earn some of the $24 billion that goes to students every year.
How would you feel if you checked your email one day and learned that you won $1,000? If you have a registered account with Sallie Mae, you might get one of those emails. The site has a monthly prize that is similar to a scholarship lottery. Every student who creates an account automatically goes into the prize pool. The site draws one winner every month. While you can put that money back for college, you can also use it to cover some of your current expenses. After having a little fun, you’ll still have some cash for school.
While Sallie Mae gives you the option of searching for scholarships, it also has a matching algorithm. When you fill out your profile, the site makes note of the keywords that you used and the options that you selected. It will then provide you with a list of scholarships that it thinks match your profile. You no longer need to look through hundreds of scholarships that you don’t qualify for based on your age or hobbies. Sallie Mae shows you exactly which scholarships match your criteria and gives you convenient information on how to apply.
Sallie Mae can match you to scholarships for chemistry majors and those designed for other majors.
One of the problems associated with using scholarship search platforms is that you’ll occasionally come across old scholarships that you missed out on. You might find that the deadline ended last week or that it stopped accepting applications last week. Sallie Mae has an email alert system that can keep you from missing out. As soon as a scholarship pops up that matches your profile, the site sends you an email alert. Checking your email once a day ensures that you find those scholarships quickly. You might have the chance to apply before other students do too.
As with Scholarships.com, Sallie Mae requires that you complete a profile before you can search the site. This only takes a few minutes, but it can feel like a chore if you use multiple sites. Since Sallie Mae offers student loans, you can expect to see quite a lot of information on loan programs on the site too. It has an entire section devoted to helping students apply for loans as well as another section on using loans to pay for college. We also found that it doesn’t include info on applying for or using other types of aid for school such as grants.
Smart students know to avoid the sections on student loans and focus on the scholarship search available from Sallie Mae.
Unigo is one of the best scholarship search platforms that you aren’t using. The chances are good that you never heard of the site before. Don’t assume that you should move on to one of the other sites that we recommended though because it can still help you apply to more than 3.6 million scholarships and grants as well as find information on the top colleges in the country. Unigo offers free registration and lets you use a simple account to search for the scholarships that are right for you.
As a way to get its name out there, Unigo offers a 10K scholarship. Students received more than $600,000 in scholarship funds through the site since it launched this program. The application has an essay requirement but lets you answer that question in 250 words or less. To write this essay, you need to pick a historical figure and bring them back to life. You’ll then explain what their favorite app is and why you think they would love that app. Students can apply for this scholarship in less than an hour.
As long as you have a computer, you can search for and apply to scholarships listed on Unigo.
Have you spent weeks looking online for scholarships and are tired of tracking down people to write letters of recommendation and creating new essays? Thanks to the easy scholarships section of Unigo, you can take a break and still find great scholarships. This section features scholarships that do not require an essay and are easy to enter. Not only can you find scholarships, but you can apply to them within a few hours. You’ll also like that each one shows how much money you can get and the deadline to make sure that your application arrives on time.
Unigo can help you find the right college too. It offers a college matching tool that lets you view colleges that offer specific majors as well as those that have campuses in certain states. You’ll also find articles on how to get jobs in different areas along with which schools offer programs in that field. Some of its other college resources include tips on acing a standardized test and writing the perfect essay.
While we ranked Unigo third on our list of scholarship search platforms, we don’t like the disclosure information listed on the bottom. This states that the website has the right to sell or share your personal information with others, including your searches as well as your age and location. We also found that the site runs much slower than similar sites do, which may occur due to the pop-up ads that run on the page. You’ll notice those ads the first time that you visit.
Unigo scholarships can cover the cost of your textbooks and all your other supplies.
Cappex is the best scholarship search platform for students who aren’t sure where they want to go to school. The site partnered with more than 3,000 institutions of higher learning as well as organizations that can help you find some great scholarships. Though the site is a little confusing to use, it has some great resources and scholarships.
We wanted to highlight the scholarship search that Cappex offers before looking at any other features of the site. While you can view all scholarships, you can also narrow down the search based on eligibility factors. Not only can you set the minimum and maximum amounts, but you can look for renewable scholarships that transfer from one year to the next. It has searches based on ethnicity such as African American and Native American as well as those designed for students in high school and those already enrolled in college. You can look for scholarships with deadlines that come soon to get in under the wire too.
Cappex offers tons of resources to keep you from feeling bored as you search for college scholarships.
It takes just a few minutes to look up the acceptance rates of college and view how many students apply and receive acceptance letters each year. This gives you an idea of your chances when you apply, but Cappex takes it a step further with a tool that lets you compare your odds against other students. Once you enter info about your class ranking and GPA along with the schools that interest you, the site will determine your odds of getting an acceptance letter. If your odds are low, Cappex will give you a list of tips on how to improve your odds such as taking AP classes.
We noted in the cons section above that Cappex includes a little too much information on colleges. While you might not think this is a problem, it may become one when you visit the site. It pushes you to look for colleges in specific states and view colleges that accept students with a certain GPA. We found that it was sometimes easier to find those links than links to the scholarship search platform. Cappex also has more sponsored ads than other sites do, which causes some lags. You might click on a link to apply to a scholarship and find that it led to a site that asks for payment to apply.
With the Cappex scholarship search, you can view those that are easy to apply to and those that have more steps.
Peterson’s is a popular website for college students and those planning on attending college. It has dozens of resources to help you get the best score on a standardized test and improve your chances of getting into an amazing school. When you use the free scholarship search tool, you just need to sign up for a free account first. This puts you in touch with more than 4,000 organizations that have available scholarships as well as nearly two million programs. You can search for fellowships and grants too.
We like that Peterson’s shows you data about unique scholarships that you won’t find on many other sites. One example is the Slovenian Women’s Union of America Scholarship Foundation, which offers money for students with Slovenian heritage. You’ll also find scholarships for students in the LGBTQ+ community and minority students. Searching with Peterson’s is easy because you just need to pick the level of award that you want. As long as you have a registered account, the website will show you all the available scholarships and let you change the parameters to find those that match you.
Peterson’s is easy to use on your phone or computer.
Peterson’s can help you get an extra $2,500 for school through a special program. Called Peterson’s World’s Easiest Scholarship, it doesn’t ask for an essay or tons of info. You can apply for this program using the same information that you shared on your profile to save time. Peterson’s will send you an email if you win.
You can win big money for college through Peterson’s scholarship search.
Any student who took a standardized test before knows about the College Board. This is the organization that sends your tests to schools and helps you earn college credits in high school through special programs. With its scholarship search, you can find out about more than $6 billion in funds that go to worthy students every year from more than 2,000 organizations and programs. You’ll also find options for programs that offer need-based aid.
One of the only scholarship searches with an option for need-based programs is the College Board. When you create a free profile, you can share information from the FAFSA to let the site know whether you come from a low-income family. It can find schools that offer scholarships to those students to give you an idea of where you should apply. You also have the option of entering ethnicity details and the names of any organizations that you belong to, which lets the site find scholarships from similar organizations.
Though the College Board is a basic search platform, it’s easy to use on tablets and mobile devices.
A nice feature that we like about the College Board is that each search shows you basic details about scholarship programs, including the deadline if there is one and the amount of the award. If you want to learn more, you can click on the name of the scholarship to visit the official website. This makes it easy for you to view any other requirements and see if the scholarship is still active. Some of the scholarships that we found on the site no longer award money to students.
If you want to get a broad idea of the scholarships that are out there, you can use the browse option offered by the College Board. Instead of adding search criteria, you can view all the scholarships available for specific majors and those for students living in certain states. The College Board also allows you to view the types of scholarships offered by different schools if you haven’t applied.
The biggest issue with the College Board is that it focuses heavily on smaller scholarships such as those that award students a few hundred dollars or less. While winning multiple awards can significantly help you pay for college, you may find that you can get even more money from larger scholarships that have a similar application process. The site also offers a limited selection of programs and has a fairly basic design that is hard for some to use.
When you log in, the College Board remembers your searches so you don’t have to write down the info that you find.
When Monster.com decided to enter the college market, it created Fastweb, which now offers a scholarship search as well as general information about colleges. That search lets you look through more than one million scholarships to find more than $3.4 billion in money for students. Though most of its users are high school students preparing for college, it includes scholarships for current college students too.
Some of the top scholarship search platforms require that you keep a notebook handy to write down details when you apply for programs. With Fastweb, you can save all the important info that you need on your digital account. As long as you stay logged into your account, you can view all the scholarships that you applied to in the past and those you saved to apply to later. You’ll also receive notices if the organization needs anything else from you. The save feature also lets you keep track of scholarships that you want to share with your friends. Category listings include scholarships for military and Hispanic students.
You can use Fastweb to search for scholarships as easily as you can use Monster.com to search for jobs in your area.
Whether you want to get a part-time job after school or a job for this summer, Fastweb can help. It includes useful articles on how to find the perfect job and what to do during the interview as well as how to make your resume shine when you haven’t had a job before. The Job Board features open positions available from employers across the country and lets you search by your city or state. You can also use Fastweb to view students who received scholarships in the past, including the most recent winners and what they said about their experiences.
We had more problems when using Fastweb than we did with similar sites. You’ll quickly notice the ads on the homepage, which also appear on other pages. Some of those ads include sponsored links that direct you to paid scholarship searches. You need an account to use the site, which requires registering with your email address. Many users received quite a bit of junk mail from the site. In addition to a limited selection of scholarships, Fastweb also tries to push some of its exclusive deals on you.
One downside to using Fastweb is that it sends a lot of junk and spam mail.
College students across the country know the name Chegg for the millions of textbooks that it publishes annually. As a way to reach more students and help them with college, it launched Chegg Scholarships, which we added to our list of the top 10 best scholarship search platforms. This is one of the only platforms we found that shows you matches and lets you view scholarship details without signing up for an account first.
The scholarship search platform on this site is quite basic and a little bland when compared to others, but that also makes it easy to use. This platform includes more than 20,000 scholarships and can show you some potential matches without asking that you set any parameters first. Once you add those parameters, you can get a better idea of the funding opportunities that are out there. Not only can you view scholarships for college students or high school students, but you can view those available to students with your GPA or age. We also like that the site includes an option to view only scholarships that include an online application.
The Chegg Scholarships search platform includes info on both big and small awards.
Finding out more about schools before you apply is a great way to make sure that you pick the right one. With the Chegg Scholarships website, you can use the explore colleges feature to find those schools. It provides information on more than 6,000 colleges and universities across the nation. You can view those in certain environments such as rural towns or big cities and compare public and private schools. This feature also lets you view schools that offer two-year degrees vs. those with four-year degree programs. Logging in allows you to save your searches and the colleges that interest you.
Our biggest issue with Chegg Scholarships is that the site doesn’t offer anything that you can’t find elsewhere. It only has details on around 25,000 scholarships, which is a fraction of what you would find on the other sites on our list. You won’t find much in the way of search parameters other beyond your level of education and GPA. The site also frequently asks if you want to buy some of its products or donate through PayPal, which can be annoying.
This site helps you verify information on certain scholarship programs without taking time out of your busy schedule to hit the library.
With a name like Scholarship Monkey, you might want to check out the site just to see what it offers. This is a scholarship search platform that includes dozens of options for students based on what they want to study and where they are in their education. Though it lacks some of the options that other platforms have, it’s worth using as you search for scholarships.
One feature that we liked about this site is the scholarship lists. Why weed through hundreds of scholarships that you don’t qualify for when you can view those designed for students just like you in a convenient list? Clicking on the scholarships by major lets you view all the scholarships for students who study nursing, business, education, interior design and dozens of other subjects. You’ll find similar lists designed for students of certain religions as well as those who are in the military or play certain sports.
If you already spend a lot of time on social media, you’ll like this aspect of Scholarship Monkey.
While other sites let you create a new account, Scholarship Monkey asks you to link one of your social media accounts to the site such as LinkedIn or Facebook. It will then take you to an authorization page where you log into that account to verify that you are the owner. Though some dislike this feature, it allows the site to view your current school and other basic information that can help it recommend scholarships for you. This feature also makes it easy to share scholarship opportunities with your online friends.
Scholarship Monkey has quite a few issues that you won’t find on other sites, including the ads that you see displayed on the pages and the basic design of its search platform. We also discovered that the site doesn’t update as often as it should. You may come across scholarship listings that ended months ago or even last year. Another thing to keep in mind is the social media aspect that it pushes to encourage you to link the site to your Facebook page.
Scholarship Monkey offers information on hundreds of scholarship and award programs to help you earn money for school.
The minds behind Broke Scholar understand what life is like for college students with limited funds, which is why they created a website to help students find ways to save money. Originally launched with discounts and coupons for students, it later added a searchable scholarship platform that is easy to use.
Searching for scholarships through Broke Scholar is easy because you can simply select your year in school such as high school senior or college undergrad. The site then shows all the scholarships that are available for students in that year. The other search parameters include ethnicity, gender and study area. With ethnicity, you can select Asian, African American, Hispanic or Native American as well as an option for scholarships that are open to all students. Choosing the study area parameter lets you view scholarships for dental students and those interested in other majors. Broke Scholar lets you search for scholarships specifically for male or female students too.
If you want an easy way to search for scholarships that won’t take a lot of time, try Broke Scholar.
Offering discounts for students was the original intent of Broke Scholar, which is why you’ll find so many coupons through the site today. You can view the top discounts of the year and find out how students qualify for 15% off at Target and 30% on Samsung products. The site also has category listings that help you save on electronics and beauty supplies among other products. No matter where you are in school, Broke Scholar can help you find both discounts and scholarships.
Broke Scholar is one of the more basic scholarship search platforms, which means that you won’t find any unique programs on the site. All the scholarships we found were readily available on the other sites on our list. It also limits some of the search parameters that you can use and puts the focus on ways that the students can save money rather than how they can earn money for school.
Broke Scholar and other search platforms show that it’s never too early to start looking for college scholarships.