Paying for College

10 Tips for Finding Scholarships

Getting an early start on the scholarship search not only increases the number of options you have, it better prepares you for actually applying for scholarships.

applying for scholarships

Start before senior year.

Getting an early start on the scholarship search not only increases the number of options you have, it better prepares you for actually applying for scholarships. Many scholarships are specifically for high school seniors, however there are some that are available for younger students. Scholarships often have a minimum GPA requirement, so getting an early start gives students an opportunity to work toward a higher GPA if necessary.  

Get some advice! 

Talking to your high school guidance counselor can be a quick way to get informed about what scholarships are available to you. And local businesses usually tell local high schools first about any scholarships they may be offering. 

Check college websites.

Most colleges have a page on their website listing scholarship opportunities. Since most of these are college specific, make sure it’s somewhere you’ve applied to and are considering attending. However, some colleges also list outside scholarships that are typically offered by a local business. 

Visit the financial aid office.

If you already know which college you’re attending, go to the financial aid office to look for scholarships. Sometimes the financial aid office has applications for local scholarships or scholarships sponsored by the school. 

Ask organizations and businesses.

Businesses and organizations related to your field of study are a great place to start. They often offer scholarships to students who’ll be majoring in a field that could be useful to them in the future. 

Check with local foundations. 

It never hurts to ask. See if charitable foundations or groups in your area offer scholarships. Many foundations do, and since they are typically only awarded locally there is less competition. 

Search the web!

An internet search for scholarships will yield many diverse options. There are several scholarship-specific search engines that make finding them that much quicker. While you’ll find more scholarships this way, there’s also a lot of competition for most of them. 

Be specific! 

When searching the web, it is important to look for scholarships that apply directly to you. Typing “scholarship” into Google will give you many options, but you’ll probably only be eligible for some of them. Try searching for scholarships based on your field of study, your area, your state, your gender, etc. 

Don’t forget non-academic scholarships.

If your grades aren’t perfect, there’s no need to worry. Scholarships aren’t just for students with a high GPA. Non-academic scholarships are available to a wide variety of people. They can be based on community service, leadership, extracurricular activities and many other things. 

Don’t give up.

Finding scholarships can be a long, time-consuming process, but it is worth it. To win a lot of scholarships, you have to apply for a lot of scholarships. Many scholarships even require the same material, so saving materials from each application can be a huge time-saver. 


With a high PSAT score, Audriana Osborne, a recent graduate of Loveless Academic Magnet Program High School (LAMP) in Montgomery, earned $933,404 in college scholarships this year. 

In the 10th grade, she scored high on the PSAT and was named a National Achievement Semifinalist, a title that positioned her to be awarded a full-ride, four-year scholarship at Florida A&M University (FAMU), estimated as a $105,940 value. 

Other scholarship dollars came from a mixture of organizational and institutional scholarships. Osborne says she began applying for scholarships in August of her senior year and didn’t stop until graduation. 

“I didn’t really have a plan, I just went for it,” she said, and pointed out that most of the scholarship applications involved writing an essay. 

In the fall, Osborne plans to attend FAMU to major in English/Pre-Law. She says the greatest advice she’s received is to “shoot for the stars and never let anything stop you.” 


Through the Military: Kenneth Levens, a recent graduate of Prattville High, was also able to rake in over $930,000 in scholarships. How did he do it? “I started applying for scholarships the second semester of my junior year,” he said. 

Kenneth knew he wanted to go into the Navy after graduation, so he began looking at scholarships offered at various military academies. He was offered $400,000 from the U.S. Naval Academy, $350,000 from West Point, plus an $180,000 ROTC scholarship, even though he did not take ROTC in high school. 

He was evaluated through academics, a medical screening and a fitness test. “I made a 26 on the ACT, but I ranked 2nd in my class so that helped,” said Kenneth. 

Kenneth is spending his summer training and plans to attend the U.S Naval Academy. He says he’s just an average guy, and he hopes “people will look at a story like mine and be inspired.” 

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