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Scholarships for Students: The Quick-Guide for
Finding the Most & Best for College and Beyond

Attending college, either as an undergraduate or graduate student, is something that most people cannot afford to pay for upfront. On average, a student attending an in-state public institution can expect to pay nearly $13,000 a year for tuition, fee, room, and board charges, while those attending a private college can expect to pay $30,000 or more, according to the College Board.


The average college graduate walks away with over $19,000 in student loan debt. Finding a scholarship helps reduce or eliminate the amount you'll need to take out in loans.

Not surprisingly, many students are winding up with hefty student loan debts come graduation (on average over $19,000 for bachelor's degree recipients). Scholarships for undergraduate students, and fellowships for graduate students, are an excellent way to help pay for higher education because, unlike student loans, they don't have to be paid back.

Finding the Best Scholarships

There are hundreds of thousands of scholarships and fellowships out there, and sorting through them can be a daunting task. Most have specific guidelines as to who qualifies, but the good news is that there are scholarships for just about everybody. Some of the more common scholarship qualifications include:

  • Academics, athletics, artistic talent

  • Members of certain minority groups

  • Those who are engaging in certain fields of study

  • Those living in certain areas of the country

  • People who demonstrate financial need

Of course, this is only a small sampling. There are scholarships for people with certain disabilities, for those whose parents are policemen or firefighters, for those who've demonstrated community service ... there's even a scholarship for high school students who create an outfit for prom using duct tape!

Meanwhile, individual colleges and universities often offer their own scholarships, as do various private organizations, including religious organizations, high schools, corporations and more.

When you begin looking for scholarships or fellowships, one of the best resources is the Internet, as there are many Web sites that allow you to input your information and then will sort through thousands of scholarships for you, turning up only those for which you qualify. There are both free scholarship searches and fee-based ones, but most experts say the free searches are more than adequate.

Kaplan's Scholarships

Scholarship books are an excellent resource to help you find scholarships that you qualify for. Kaplan's Scholarships, 2007 Edition has over 3,000 scholarship listings awarded based on academics, financial need, career plans, writing ability, religious or ethnic background, personal character and more!

Some excellent online searches to try include:

    Gives you access to 1.3 million scholarships worth over $3 billion.

  • College Board's Scholarship Search:
    Has more than 2,300 sources of college funding, totaling nearly $3 billion in available aid.

    Has 3,000 sources of scholarships that amount to nearly $3 billion.

  • SRN Express:
    Focuses on private sector, non-need-based scholarships, and has a database of over 8,000 programs with a distribution level of over 150,000 awards for undergraduate and postgraduate students worth a total of more than $35 million.

  • Scholarship Experts:
    A scholarship database of 2.4 million awards worth over $14 billion.

The Internet is NOT the Only Way to Find Scholarships

The Internet is an excellent scholarship resource, but is far from the ONLY resource out there. There are a number of scholarship books that provide access to thousands of scholarship information, such as Kaplan Scholarships, 2007 Edition.

Kaplan Scholarships has over 3,000 scholarship listings in the areas of science, humanities, and social science, and each entry is worth at least $1,000, does not require repayment, and is not restricted to any one school.

Your high school or college guidance counselor can also help to point you in the right direction for scholarships and fellowships.

Other non-Internet places to look for scholarships include:

  • High school guidance offices

  • Public libraries

  • Postings at local colleges and universities

Watch Out for Scholarship Scams

During your scholarship search, keep an eye out for possible scams, as they do exist. The first sign that a scholarship may be fraudulent is if they charge an application fee. You shouldn't have to pay anything to apply for a legitimate scholarship. Other signs of scams to watch out for are:

  • Disbursement or redemption fees: A scam in which you're told you've won a scholarship prize that you must pay a disbursement fee or redemption fee to collect.

  • Guaranteed scholarships: Avoid Web sites that charge you a fee to search for scholarships, guarantee that you will get a scholarship and say they will refund your money when you win a scholarship.

  • Free seminars: Seminars that advertise free financial aid interviews or information are often nothing more than a sales pitch for financial aid consulting services.

Recommended Reading

Why Returning to College After Age 30 (Age 40, 50, Etc.) Might Be Just The Right Choice For You

The Dark Side of Social Online Sites Like MySpace to Beware Of: Threats to Privacy & Self


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