How to Find Scholarships for College

| Matthew Sweeney

Are you ready to discover your college program?

Scholarships are a pivotal financial aid resource for college students, but how can you find them?

Finding the right scholarship for your educational goals is a process. The first step is to educate yourself on your basic options. What kinds of scholarships (military, identity-based, etc.) do you qualify for? Is a scholarship the most appropriate form of financial aid for your needs? From there, you can start casting a wide net on scholarship search engines. The clearer you are about what you want, the more you can narrow your options.

This page offers an overview of different types of scholarships, tools for finding scholarships, and financial aid concerns for college students.

Where to Begin Your Search

Finding scholarships that align with your educational goals can seem intimidating, but it's best to start with the basics. Research the types of available scholarships and how to access them, as covered below.

Paying For College

Scholarships provide funding for students who need help paying for college. Like grants, scholarships do not require repayment, making them preferable to loans. Here are a few informational resources about finding funding in college.

This page offers tips and resources on how to cut the cost of college for first-time students, including information on filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and in-state tuition rates.

First-time learners can estimate the cost of college and explore various forms of financial aid with this page.

This guide offers information on applying for financial aid when enrolled in an online degree program.

First-time learners can use this step-by-step guide to explore how they can pay for college by working, accessing scholarships, and accessing heavily discounted tuition.

Academic Scholarships

Many scholarships are specifically tailored to certain levels of academic achievement. Like other scholarships, they help learners reduce their tuition expenses. These types of scholarships also have high standards for continued eligibility for financial aid; if your grades fall, you could lose your award money or even have to pay it back.

This guide offers tips for applying to an academic scholarship, along with an extensive list of popular academic scholarships. Each entry lists the award amount and links directly to the scholarship landing page.

First-time students can visit this page for an overview of how to access each type of scholarship.

This guide lists some popular colleges that offer scholarships for online students, including scholarships tailored to online transfer students and in-state online learners.

Business majors seeking financial aid should consult this guide, which provides tips on how to apply for business scholarships and grants, along with an extensive list of scholarships for business majors.

Athletic Scholarships

Student-athletes can receive athletic scholarships for participating in sports. These scholarships assist talented athletes by covering some of their schooling costs. "Full-ride" athletic scholarships are rare, and student-athletes should research options cautiously.

This page covers how student-athletes can improve their chances of scoring athletic scholarships. Students can also explore popular athletic scholarships from organizations like the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

Military Scholarships

Learners interested in joining the military and veterans returning to school can pursue military scholarships. These programs and financial awards can help enlisted members, their families, and veterans pay for their education. Most of these resources require recipients to complete a minimum number of years of service.

This guide explains military scholarships, their benefits, and how students can apply. The page also features a list of popular military scholarships organized by branch.

This guide goes into greater detail about where to search for military scholarships, how to apply for them, and who is eligible to receive them.

Students in ROTC or who are considering joining ROTC should visit this page, which covers how to receive ROTC scholarships, typical awards, and how they vary between military branches.

This guide helps student veterans who want to apply for scholarships for themselves and their families. The page offers a list of scholarships for veterans, including scholarships for disabled veterans.

Identity-Based Scholarships

Identity-based scholarships support people from marginalized or socially disadvantaged groups, helping create more equity in higher education. Learners can receive awards based on demographic information like gender, ethnicity, or disability, rather than need or academic accomplishment, to encourage wider representation in academia.

This guide for female college students provides an overview of scholarships for women and explains the difficulties women face in higher education. The page also lists popular women's scholarships by major.

Minority learners in college can use this guide to find scholarships designated for their demographic groups. It includes a list of both general and special interest scholarships for minorities.

This page covers the role that scholarships play in helping African American and Black students pay for college. It also includes several lists of relevant scholarships, including a list of scholarships for African American women.

This guide for Latino/a students explains how scholarships can help these students overcome economic and social barriers. The page also includes an extensive list of scholarships specifically for Latino/a learners.

Learners with disabilities who need help paying for school should consult this guide, which includes specific types of aid and lists popular scholarships for students with different types of disabilities.

This guide provides information on how undocumented learners' status affects their ability to find and apply for scholarships. It also covers how undocumented students can access financial aid and how that access varies across state lines.

Foreign students curious about scholarships for international learners can refer to this guide, which explains pathway programs and how enrollees can access specific kinds of scholarships.

This page explains the merits of religious scholarships for both religious and secular learners who need help paying for college. The guide also provides a list of scholarships organized by faith.

Scholarship Databases

Scholarship databases make it easier to find and apply for scholarships that fit your demographic groups and educational goals. These websites enable you to search through thousands of scholarships and grants while continually refining search parameters. No single database is comprehensive, so make sure to try multiple sites in your search.

Unigo is one of the most extensive databases for scholarship and grant listings on the internet. Learners can use Unigo to create a scholarship profile and apply for scholarships online.

Scholly is a popular app where students can apply for scholarships and grants. The app's algorithm displays scholarship and grant opportunities based on each student's unique profile.

Scholarships.com is a free search engine for scholarships, grants, and other financial aid opportunities. The site's numerous partnerships with colleges and universities give it access to some scholarships that other online databases don't have.

The College Board is primarily known for offering standardized tests like the SAT, but it also features an extensive scholarship search engine. The organization even offers a special $40,000 opportunity scholarship drawing for candidates who complete its six college planning steps.

Frequently Asked Questions

true Can You Get Scholarships for Online College?

Online college scholarships work in the same way as traditional financial aid. Many colleges even offer scholarships that are exclusively for online students.

How Do You Find Scholarships for College?

You can find scholarships for college in several ways, including through scholarship search engines or through your prospective school's scholarship landing page.

How Do I Find Local Scholarships?

Ask around your community when looking for local scholarships, which are often less competitive than national scholarships. You can find local scholarships through local businesses, foundations, and nonprofits. Local scholarships often honor the memory of key community members.

Can I Use the Common Application to Apply for Scholarships?

Thanks to integration between the College Board scholarship search and Common App, candidates can use the Common App to apply for several scholarships simultaneously with a single application.

Matthew Sweeney received his Bachelor of Arts in English with a specialization in English literature from Portland State. His writings on music and culture have appeared in the publications Eleven PDX Magazine and Secret Decoder. In his free time he enjoys reading, cinema, hiking, and cooking.

Header Image Credit: FG Trade | Getty Images

Learn more, do more.

Popular with our students.

Highly informative resources to keep your education journey on track.

Take the next step toward your future with online learning.

Discover schools with the programs and courses you’re interested in, and start learning today.

woman in an office