How to discover scholarship opportunities
Guest Post by Josh Hochberg
For some high school seniors, acceptance into college marks the end of a long and stressful process. But for many others, the stressful process is just beginning. The majority of Americans do not have money-on-hand to cover their tuition, room and board, and other miscellaneous expenses. Depending on your school, financial aid may be available based on need, but even if it is, it often does not cover all expenses.
Scholarships are an excellent resource to help alleviate the financial burdens of attending the college of your dreams - if you know how to find them. Often, it can be a cumbersome and long process to find scholarship opportunities, let alone apply and receive them. But if you know how and where to look for them, the process can be painless and fruitful.
When applying for financial aid, you must go through the US Department of Education. Unbeknownst to most, the Department of Education also offers scholarships. However, only a select portion of the population is eligible for their scholarships - those who have been in foster care, served in the military, or are from tribal lands. Similarly, the Department of Labor, through CareerOneStep, lists over 8,000 aid opportunities, including over 5,000 scholarships. Scholarships range in award amount, from $5 million to $250, and are available to nearly all students (although some have eligibility requirements). CareerOneStep is unique in that their scholarships are not limited to those enrolled in 4-year degree programs. There are funds available for high school students, those enrolled in an Associate’s Degree, Graduate students, and for professional development.
The College Board is an excellent resource that connects users to relevant scholarship opportunities. According to their website, they list over 2,000 scholarship opportunities. In addition, those who take the PSAT and score exceptionally well are eligible for the National Merit Scholarship, and those who opt-in to their Student Search Service are provided with information on aid and opportunities from “nearly 1,900 eligible colleges and universities, and scholarship and other educational programs.”
In addition, there are many reputable search engines to match you with relevant scholarship opportunities. Scholly, founded by Christoper Gray (who received over $1.3 million in scholarships for college) and featured on Shark Tank, has connected its users to over $70 million in funding. Scholly is funded by a range of private foundations, donors, and businesses; they have students in many reputable universities across the country. MoneyMentor partners students with experienced mentors (college students) to guide them through the college application and financial aid process. Since 2014, MoneyMentor has helped over 65,000 students obtain $40 million in financial aid and matched users with over 10,000 scholarships. Lastly, scholarships.com’s search engine matches its user with scholarship opportunities they may qualify for; funding comes from universities, foundations, and corporations.
Without any guidance, navigating the scholarship world can be anxiety-inducing and tiring. Thankfully, these resources, organizations, and more are dedicated to helping make college affordable for you.