Getting scholarships is a great way to help ease the heavy financial burden of college. A scholarship finder (or scholarship search engine) can offer thousands of options, allowing you to find scholarships with just a few clicks.
Even a small award can reduce the amount you might need to borrow in student loans. You can narrow your choices based on your major, location, personal identity and other factors by trying out the following scholarship search engines.
Cappex offers an extensive directory of scholarships totaling over $11 billion in awards. It features a free, frequently-updated database, allowing you to access a range of financial support for your higher education, whether it’s a four-year university, a community college, or a trade school.
Additionally, Cappex offers advice on the college application process, including college reviews, admissions and an overview of the different majors.
It’s not just private organizations that will help you find scholarships — the federal government also provides a free searchable list of awards.
The Department of Labor’s CareerOneStop website may be best known for assisting undergraduates and graduates in choosing a career field. But CareerOneStop also features more than 8,000 scholarships, grants, fellowships and other financial aid opportunities.
Save time filtering results by degree level and home and school location.
The Chegg scholarship finder is another excellent tool that can help find scholarships for college students. Creating a free account will unlock additional filters to customize your search. But if you prefer, you can get started without joining and search by location, GPA and application type.
And if you’re burnt out with application essays, try narrowing the list to no-essay scholarships. Filtering will help you avoid scrolling through the site’s 25,000-plus award opportunities.
In addition to the scholarship search feature, Chegg also offers online tutoring and homework assistance, starting at $15.95 a month.
College Board’s BigFuture has long been a leader in locating scholarships and grants for college. It partners with over 6,000 programs and has several filters to help fine-tune your options.
You can enter personal and academic information to find scholarships for your specific needs. Some scholarships honor academic achievement, while others prioritize students involved in certain activities. This free search engine is one of the many features at CollegeBoard.org.
Fastweb is one of the best–known free scholarship finders, with 1.5 million scholarships worth over $3.4 billion. The site is free to use and easy to navigate, requiring only a quick sign-up process.
You can also organize your finds into different lists. For example, one list could be for academic achievement scholarships, another for California residents and a third for field hockey players.
Fastweb is a valuable tool for staying organized and hopefully finding lots of scholarship money.
The Niche scholarship search engine is another great, free, user-friendly directory with multiple categories to choose from, such as scholarships for minorities or various majors.
One of its best categories is the “Easy to Apply” filter. Here, you can search for scholarships that don’t require an essay, GPA or letter of recommendation. (Check out our list of no GPA-required scholarships).
Peterson’s college scholarship database boasts $10 billion worth of scholarships and other opportunities for aid. You can search for a scholarship, grant, fellowship, and even a forgivable loan, whether you’re an undergraduate or graduate student.
Beyond finding scholarships, Peterson’s also assists with test preparation and building a college list. It’s free to use the scholarship search engine, but most of the other educational resources come with a fee.
Scholarships.com houses a broad database of over 3.7 million scholarships for students, totaling $19 billion in financial aid. Create a free profile with Scholarships.com, and then narrow down your options with personalized filters, including field of study, financial need, age and more.
Scholly reports having helped students win more than $100 million in college scholarship money. It’s both an online search engine and a mobile app.
Create an account, enter information about your location and activities, and Scholly will match you with local and national scholarships. Although Scholly isn’t free, you can try a three-day free trial to see if it’s a good fit. They offer three subscriptions, ranging from $4.99 a month to $34.99 a year.
10. Local scholarships
Finally, make sure to search for local scholarship opportunities. Your school counselors can be an excellent resource since they work with students every year to find college funding. You can even ask around at a community center, Rotary Club or other group organization in your area about college funding.
Although local scholarships tend to offer less money, the pool of applicants is often much smaller than for many national awards. And remember, even small scholarships can help reduce the amount you take out in student loans.
When choosing a college, the cost of tuition is an important consideration. But before ruling out an expensive school, search for free scholarships that could lower costs and eliminate the need for federal and private student loans.
Scholarships are a form of aid you typically don’t need to repay. And you don’t have to stop the scholarship search once you get to college — even if you’re a year or two into your education, you can apply for scholarships for your remaining years at school. (Our in-college scholarship guide has more info on this.)
Meanwhile, the most coveted scholarships cover the entire cost of college tuition. Check out this guide for full-ride scholarships.
Most importantly, follow these steps to improve your chances of snagging a scholarship:
- Start your search early. Even if attending college seems far away, it’s worth scouring scholarship websites now. Make a list of potential scholarships, general requirements and deadlines, and continue adding to the list.
- Pay attention to deadlines. Most scholarship deadlines are strict. Add reminders to ensure you don’t miss an important one. While you’re at it, make a note of the Free Application for Federal Financial Aid (FAFSA) deadline — another great opportunity to access free funds for college.
- Gather all required paperwork. This may include a letter of recommendation from a high school or college teacher or mentor who knows you well.
- Write a great essay. Even though you can reuse your essay for each scholarship, it’s best to tweak it slightly to fit each specific application. (Read more in our guide to scholarship essays.)
- Attend a scholarship workshop. Some schools offer in-person scholarship workshops to help guide you through the application process. In addition, many various online seminars help college students find scholarships.
- Believe in yourself. Let your talents, uniqueness and innovative ideas shine through in your scholarship application. Make sure to list your extracurricular activities and other high school achievements. Be 100% you.
- Apply for everything. Remember, a scholarship is free money you usually don’t need to pay back. Even though $500 might seem small, if you manage to get two awards of this size, that’s $1,000, which could be enough to cover all your books and supplies for a year.
Repeat the process. There’s no limit to how many scholarships you can earn. If you have the time, keep applying for more opportunities.