College tuition and its associated fees increase each year. In 2022-2023, first-time, full-time students at private nonprofit four-year universities will be responsible for an average of around $28,660 in tuition, fees, and room and board after need-based grant aid. That’s in addition to $4,140 in allowances for books, supplies, transportation, and other personal expenses. That’s almost $33,000 that students are responsible for paying.
So how can you ensure you’re applying for scholarships and grants as effectively as possible? Here are five tips for improving your scholarship search:
Tip 1: Narrow down your search
It can be overwhelming at first to try and figure out where to find scholarships. Google seems to come back with endless and mostly unhelpful results, and aggregate websites can have inaccurate information, such as deadlines and broken links to applications.
Make it easier for yourself by narrowing down your search. For example, if you’re searching for merit scholarships because you’re a straight-A student with a 4.0 GPA, you might Google something like “merit scholarships for 4.0 GPA.” You will still get many results, but they’ll cater to you.
Try phrasing your scholarship search terms around topics you relate to or identify with, including your location, intended major, hobbies, sports, clubs, and more.
Tip 2: Use real-world connections
It may sound cliché, but who you know does matter—tapping into relationships you’ve made, whether with teachers, mentors, neighbors, or more, will impact your scholarship search.
Ask teachers or mentors if they have advice on where to look or if they have specific program information that could be a good fit. Similarly, if you ask someone you know from school who was a few years ahead of you or that neighbor next door who just finished her first year of college, you might gain helpful insights into your search.
Tip 3: Go straight to the source: your school
Another good way to find college scholarships is to see if your school itself offers any. Many schools offer scholarships through alum donation programs, primary- or area-of-interest-based programs, and need-based awards.
The number of scholarships available will be significantly smaller than you might find from a Google search. Still, the applicant pool (aka the “competition”) is also considerably smaller since the awards are made only to students at that school.
Tip 4: Find state and federal government options
The government offers federal grants, such as the Pell Grant, on a financial need basis. When you complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, you’ll receive government aid based on your family’s income and other financial factors. Though these grants differ from scholarships, completing the FAFSA is essential if you think you qualify.
Tip 5: Find online resources that prioritize you
In addition to the other vital resources mentioned, continue your scholarship search on Kaleidoscope. This online platform hosts thousands of scholarships, grants, and financial awards. Create a Kaleidoscope profile, and sort and filter through all the award programs to ensure you find the right ones!
To start applying on Kaleidoscope, click here.