How to Look for Scholarships

How to Look for Scholarships

These days, students are left wondering how they will pay for college before they even begin their college application process. Tuition is becoming impossibly high, and TOPS and university funded scholarships aren’t covering the full cost anymore. It seems like the only thing a student can do is take out student loans.

Luckily, that is not the case:

There are thousands of scholarships available for incoming college freshman and currently enrolled college students. You just need to know where to look.

We have compiled a list of accredited places to look for scholarships both on and offline.

Before we begin, make sure you read this article published by Federal Student Aid to learn how to avoid falling into a scam when looking for aid and scholarships.

Where to Look for Scholarships:

1. Career One Stop

Career One Stop logo.png

Career One Stop is the US Department of Labor’s free scholarship finding tool. I played around with the tool to see how it performed and it isn’t as user friendly as I would like, but it is useable.

For example: I wanted to see if I could filter out all scholarships that were only available to high school seniors, but it would not let me do that. Because of that, I had to click on each individual scholarship to see if it was available to currently enrolled college students or not. That being said, there are still a good amount of filters available to narrow down your search.

There are many other online scholarship databases out there, but this is the safest one to use as it is a government compiled database.

2. Your university

Almost every university has a set of university-wide scholarships that are easy to find. Many universities also offer scholarships that are specific to certain departments or organizations that most students don’t even realize are available.

Whether you’re an incoming freshman or a currently enrolled student, it is worth talking to your department head or advisor to see if there are any scholarships that are specific to your major that you may not have known about.

If you're a female student, you should also check with your university’s Women’s Center or Women’s and Gender Studies department as these departments usually offer scholarships to female students.

3. Local businesses and organizations

Small businesses and organizations may not advertise their scholarships on scholarship databases. To find these, talk to people in the local businesses that you frequent or the organizations that you are a part of to see if they offer a scholarship. The advantage of these scholarships is that not many people know about them, so you won’t be competing with as many applicants.

We’ll even get you started with this one!

We offer a $1,000 scholarship to graduating high school seniors (who are members of POECU) to go towards their college tuition.  The application is available here. One winner is picked and announced at our annual meeting!

4. Your job

Some companies offer programs to partially or fully pay for an employee’s college tuition. These programs often come with an agreement stating that you will work for the company for a certain amount of years after you have graduated.

This option is most often utilized by nontraditional students or students going into graduate school. Whether you’re working for a large or small company, ask your boss if they offer a scholarship or program to pay for your college.

Just remember:

The hardest part is getting started. Searching for scholarships may seem intimidating, but don’t let that mindset prevent you from beginning your search. Soon, you’ll wonder why you were ever stressing in the first place!

Use these tips to get started on your search, and next week we will be bringing you tips on how to apply for those scholarships!

Rachel Morris