College tuition is outrageous and full scholarships are hard to come by. If a student isn’t the valedictorian of a huge school, or a nationally ranked high school athlete, taking out massive loans may seem like the only option available to finance the soaring costs of higher education. But there are ways to find free money for college and whittle away at the cost of tuition with smaller scholarships. Below are some ways to find free money for college and strategies for applying.
Future college grads should sign up for an account on FastWeb. This website is essentially a search engine for smaller scholarships. Sign-up is quick and easy, then the site matches scholarships to your interest/demographic. You’ll find a short summary of the scholarship, then links to the site for the actual application. Scholarships range from $500 to $30,000. Scholarships include The Craziest Thing To Save Money Scholarship, Anti-littering Scholarship and Diverse Minds Youth Writing Challenge.
Strategy: Because of this website, I never had to pay out of pocket for my books. When applying for scholarships, I always shot for the low-hanging fruit. Smaller scholarships are likely to have more winners and less competition. I leaned toward essay contests, but there are a number of ways to apply for scholarships including video submissions, simple applications for lottery and even social media projects.
Big companies love giving away money to charitable causes that are going to change the world. And an idealistic future college grad is great bet for a secure investment. Love shopping at a big store? Check out its website for any scholarship giveaways. I remember writing an essay about community service that won me $500 from Best Buy for two semesters. Best Buy still offers this scholarship, but its deadline for this year has already passed.
Does anyone at your family work at a big company? AT&T, Walmart and Bank of America — to name a few — offer scholarships to family members of associates.
Strategy: Find a company you like and check out its website. Scholarships and giveaways will usually be in the press release or media relations section of the company’s site. You can also use Internet searches such as “Coca-Cola + scholarship” to find free money.
Keep an eye and ear out for leadership and innovation scholarships offered by various departments at your university. I was really involved with the Undergraduate Student Congress. I received a small stipend for my service and also the opportunity to apply for numerous leadership scholarships funded by the student center. One scholarship helped finance a study-abroad trip to London.
Strategy: Whatever your major or interests at school, there is a good chance there is someone with a lot of money that also shares that interest and is willing to support you as your pursue it.
Even if you don’t qualify for financial aid, there are still many opportunities to earn (or win) a substantial amount of money for college. Remember, look and apply for scholarships you like, grab the low-hanging fruit and good luck.
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