Find Scholarships Online

With rising tuitions, scholarships are becoming a much-needed support for students looking to attend public and private schools alike. Tuition and fees at public four-year colleges and universities has doubled as a percent of revenue since 1987. At the same time, state and local funding for public colleges and universities has decreased by a third (“The Economics of Higher Education”). How is a student to find such scholarships given the slew of socio-economic, race, merit, and athletic caveats associated with most scholarships? With so many students applying to scholarships, it is crucial to cast the net wide, yet also to present a competitive application.

Start at the Source
When searching for scholarships, a helpful place to start is the college’s website. Most colleges share specific scholarships and eligibility requirements. Printing out a college’s scholarship page and going through it with a highlighter and sharpie can be helpful in identifying potential scholarships. For outside scholarships, websites like FastWeb and MeritAid can be very useful, time-saving tools for finding those funds.

Put the Web to Work
Many companies are making the search for scholarships easier for students. Two such websites are FastWeb and MeritAid, which both provide services free of charge. With FastWeb, students create a profile, including potential colleges, and then FastWeb will match their profile with potential scholarships. From there, students can access the scholarship provider’s website and start applying. MeritAid functions somewhat differently; rather than requiring students to visit the sponsor page and fill out the application, students complete a profile and are provided information about scholarships for which they may qualify. Colleges then invite students to specific programs or scholarships. Both websites cut down significantly on students’ need to scour the web on their own in search of scholarships.

Share the Investment
College can be costly, but it’s helpful to see it as an investment. According to a study done by the Department of Treasury and the Department of Education, the average weekly earnings in 2011 for a bachelor’s degree recipient were 65% more than those of a high school graduate. Even individuals with some college experience but no degree made approximately 12% more than high school graduates (“The Economics of Higher Education”). College can be one of the best investments you ever make. But why stop there, why not invite others to join in the investment? Present yourself to scholarship sponsors as a candidate who will bring a significant “return” on their financial support.

The challenge of financing college is great, but it doesn’t have to be insurmountable. More scholarship money is available than ever before, and websites like FastWeb and MeritAid are making scholarship information more accessible. Don’t pass up the opportunity to let others help pay for your college education. You are worth the investment!

Cited: “The Economics of Higher Education” U.S. Department of the Treasury, Dec. 2012. Web. HigherEducation_ExecSumm_vFINAL.pdf

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