13 Scholarship Search Tools to Help You Find Money for College
Getting free scholarships for college can help ease the financial burden of higher education. A scholarship search tool can offer thousands of options, allowing you to find funds with just a few clicks.
Even a small award can reduce the amount you need to borrow in student loans. With one of the following scholarship finders, you can narrow your choices based on your major, location, personal identity and other factors.
13 scholarship websites to help you pay for college
Finding scholarships that fit your needs and criteria can take effort and time. The following scholarship websites can help speed up the process, connecting you with awards that relate to your specific skills, interests and talents.
Bold.org has a polished, easy-to-use interface to help you filter scholarships based on education level, award amount, deadlines and more. Opportunities are available for students at all education levels.
Create a free profile to showcase your skills, background and goals to scholarship panels — you can then view your application statuses, receive updates and get one-on-one support from Bold.org’s team.
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 furthering your education, whether it’s a four-year university, a community college or a trade school.
Cappex also 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 can help you find scholarships — the federal government also provides a free searchable list of awards.
CareerOneStop, the U.S. Department of Labor’s free scholarship search tool, features nearly 9,000 scholarships, grants, fellowships and other financial aid opportunities. Save time by filtering results by award type, degree level and home and school location.
CareerOneStop also helps undergraduates and graduates in choosing a career field.
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 pick your most appropriate options among 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.
5. College Board’s BigFuture
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. Certain College Board scholarships honor academic achievement, while others focus on students involved in specific 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.
7. Going Merry
Tired of entering the same information over and over during your scholarship hunt? Going Merry (owned by online lender Earnest) streamlines the process by collecting your information once, allowing you to simultaneously apply for verified scholarships without breaking a sweat.
You can quickly see your matches after answering seven brief questions. However, it’s worth creating a free account to view more insider details, add scholarships to your favorites, autofill applications, track submissions and receive notifications for upcoming deadlines.
Another great perk is the “FAFSA Made Easier” program, which offers expert support in completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) quickly and with no errors.
The Niche scholarship search engine is another excellent, free, user-friendly directory with multiple categories, such as scholarships for athletes, nurses and other majors or careers.
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.
Peterson’s college scholarship database boasts $10 billion worth of scholarships and other aid opportunities. You can search for scholarships, grants, fellowships and even forgivable loans, whether you’re an undergraduate or graduate student.
Peterson is best known for offering “The World’s Easiest Scholarship” — which awards $2,500 for graduate or professional school. All you have to do is fill out a short form, hit “submit,” and cross your fingers that you’ll win.
Beyond finding scholarships, Peterson assists with test preparation and building a college list. It’s free to use the scholarship search engine, but the other educational resources typically come with a fee.
ScholarshipOwl is a free service offering personalized scholarship matches, helping you save time and energy searching for college funds. With this one-stop website, you can find, save and apply for a range of vetted scholarships. You can even write, edit and reuse your essays within the platform.
In addition to recommending scholarships based on your profile, ScholarshipOwl also offers auto apply for recurring scholarships requiring your basic information. This allows you to focus on applications that require more attention while ensuring you don’t miss those easy awards.
Scholarships.com houses a broad database of over 3.7 million student scholarships, totaling $19 billion in financial aid — even more than what FastWeb offers.
Create a free profile with Scholarships.com, then narrow down your options with personalized filters, including field of study, financial need, age and more.
Scholly reports having helped students win over $100 million in college scholarship money. It’s both an online search engine and a mobile app.
Create an account and enter information about your location and activities — Scholly will then 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.
13. 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 at a community center, Rotary Club or other local organizations about college funding.
Although local scholarships tend to offer less money, the pool of applicants is often much smaller than the national awards, improving your odds of winning. And remember, even small scholarships can help reduce the amount you take out in student loans.
How to get scholarships: 8 key tips
When choosing a college, the cost of tuition is an important consideration. But before ruling out an expensive school, try searching 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 won’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. Check out our in-college scholarship guide for more info on this.
Of course, some of the most coveted scholarships are those that cover the entire cost of college tuition, including books, fees and room and board. Check out this guide for full-ride scholarships.
Meanwhile, follow these steps to improve your chances of snagging a scholarship:
1. 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.
2. 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 FAFSA deadline — the FAFSA is another great opportunity to access free funds, plus low-cost federal student loans for college.
3. Gather all required paperwork
This may include a letter of recommendation from a high school or college teacher or mentor who knows you well.
4. Write a great essay
Even though you can reuse your essay for each scholarship, it’s best to tweak it to fit each specific application.
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. Apply for everything
Remember, a scholarship is free money you generally 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.
8. Repeat the process
There’s no limit to how many scholarships you can earn. If you have the time, keep applying for more opportunities.
What to do if your scholarship application gets denied
Receiving a scholarship rejection letter can be heartbreaking, especially if you poured your heart and soul into the application. However, winning every application you apply to, especially the highly-competitive ones, is unlikely.
Here are some ways to deal with a scholarship rejection:
- Don’t take it personally. Some scholarships receive hundreds to thousands of applications. A rejection doesn’t mean you didn’t stand out; it just means someone else was better qualified for this particular one.
- Review the rejection letter. It’s unlikely that all your letters will outline why you weren’t selected, but some might offer helpful feedback. For example, they might comment that your essay was powerful, which means you don’t need to stress about fixing it. Others might provide additional opportunities to pursue.
- Request feedback from the committee. It never hurts to ask for individual feedback. Some committees might take time to offer insight, which could help with future applications.
- Tweak your application materials. If you receive feedback about your application materials, now’s the time to edit them before the next round. You could also ask a teacher to help polish your essay even more.
- Apply for more scholarships. Perhaps that particular scholarship wasn’t a perfect fit for you. Spend time scouring the scholarship search websites above to find opportunities tailored to your specific skills and background.
- Consider additional ways to fund your education. While getting scholarships can reduce your overall student loan debt, there are other ways to fund your college years. For example, you could get a part-time college job or ask family and friends to pitch in via Gift of College or UGift. Private student loans could also help cover any remaining financial costs, though make sure you’ve exhausted all federal student loan options first.
Frequently asked questions
Yes, a scholarship will affect your overall financial aid package, since your total student aid can’t exceed your school’s cost of attendance. If awarded a scholarship, you must notify your school’s financial aid office immediately so they can subtract the award amount from your aid package.
Your aid package can include grants (like a Pell Grant), federal student loans and work-study awards. Receiving a scholarship will likely reduce your overall student loan debt, which is a good thing.
This depends on each scholarship’s specific deadlines. Some scholarship programs have deadlines as early as a year before college begins. To stay competitive, high school students should plan on applying for scholarships in the summer between their junior and senior years.
If you miss a scholarship deadline, don’t worry. Research upcoming opportunities using the “deadline” feature on any scholarship search site listed above. Once you’ve signed up for a scholarship finder, you can opt to receive notifications for upcoming deadlines.
A wide range of scholarships are available for all types of college students. Some are merit-based and awarded based on academic achievements, unique talents or exceptional skills. Others are need-based and determined by your family’s annual income and assets.
A full-ride scholarship will cover the total cost of attendance, including supplies, fees and room and board. Other scholarships might only provide a one-time award of a few hundred dollars. Still, any award is better than no award at all.
You can also search for scholarships based on demographics or interests, such as: