The best way to search for scholarships is the Internet, and with over $1 billion in scholarships listed, the best scholarship search engine is FastWeb (www.fastweb.com). Enter your profile information and you'll receive an email with a list of scholarships you may be eligible to receive, based on your background. You'll also be sent updates when new scholarships for which you're eligible are added to the database. Also search on the Internet using the keywords "financial aid," "student aid," and "scholarships."
In addition to FastWeb, you should search some of the other free online scholarship databases, such as those at College Board (apps.collegeboard.com/cbsearch_ss/welcome.jsp), SRN Express (www.srnexpress.com), and Princeton Review (www.princetonreview.com). These are the largest, so it pays to concentrate most of your efforts on them.
When searching for sources of financial aid, don't overlook religious organizations, clubs in your city or town, and fraternities or sororities, which often award scholarships or grants to worthy students.
1. Private foundations often award scholarships that may not be highly publicized. Ask the reference librarian at your local library for a directory of local charities and foundations. Also visit www.cof.org/locator for a list of local foundations in your state. Contact them to find out if they award any scholarships.
2. If you're a member of an ethnic group, be sure to look into ethnicitybased organizations, many of which award scholarships. Awards are made to Jewish people, African Americans, American Indians, Pacific Islanders, Hispanics, and many other minorities.
Four Ways to Find Local Scholarships
1. You won't find many local scholarships on the big Internet scholarship search engines, but don't leave local sources of money out of your search. Check with local organizations such as Rotary International, Kiwanis Club, Elks Club, Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), American Legion, Lions Club, YMCA, and Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), which all award scholarships on a local level. Look in the Yellow Pages of your telephone directory or online for the telephone numbers of these organizations.
2. Your guidance counselor is usually the best source of local scholarship information. Most local organizations provide information to high school guidance offices on a regular basis. Another good source is your local library. Ask a librarian for help.
3. Check your local newspapers for announcements of scholarships awarded to local students, and then contact these organizations about how to apply for the next round of scholarships. The newspaper announcements usually occur between March and June, when most scholarships are awarded. You can browse through past issues of newspapers at your local library to find announcements.
4. Contact your local chamber of commerce and ask if they know of any member businesses that award scholarships to area students. Contact those businesses directly and ask how to apply.