College Scholarships: How To Find And Apply For Them

College can be expensive, but you don’t have to let that be a barrier to getting your degree. Scholarships are available for a variety of reasons, so you don’t necessarily need a 4.0 GPA to qualify!

In this guide, we’ll help you find and apply for the college scholarships that are out there. We’ll also provide tips on how to stand out from the competition and maximize your chances of being approved for a scholarship.

What Are Scholarships and Where to Find Them

Scholarships can be a lifesaver for college-bound students. They’re essentially funds that don’t need to be paid back—which makes them great alternatives to traditional student loans. The best part? Scholarships are often awarded based on academic performance, interests, backgrounds, and more, meaning that anyone can apply and potentially receive one.

So, where do you look to find scholarships? Here are some places to start:

  • Your school or district’s guidance office—this is often the best place to start because schools will have information about local scholarships or those specifically designated for their students.
  • Online databases like Fastweb or the College Board—these databases contain thousands of scholarships from all around the country and make it easy to narrow down your results based on criteria like GPA, field of study, background, and more.
  • Scholarship programs from organizations and companies—lots of companies and organizations offer scholarships for students with certain backgrounds or in certain fields of study. Do some research online to see if any scholarship programs apply to you!

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Applying for Scholarships: The Steps

Applying for scholarships can seem daunting, but it’s quite simple when broken down into manageable steps. So let’s get started.

  1. Research: Start by researching the different scholarships available and make note of the due dates and application requirements for each.
  2. Gather Documents: Collect all the necessary documents to submit and make sure they are up-to-date, accurate, and complete—this includes your transcripts, letters of recommendation, official financial statements, essay drafts, etc.
  3. Write the Essay: Make sure to read over the instructions and requirements carefully so that you understand what is expected in your essay. Showcase your best qualities in your essay without going overboard—i.e., don’t be cocky or boastful!
  4. Fill Out The Application: After everything has been gathered and written up, fill out the online application (if applicable). Be sure to double-check all your entries before submitting them to avoid any errors or incomplete information that could cost you a chance at obtaining the scholarship.
  5. Send It Out: Just before hitting “submit”, see if there is an option to save a copy of the completed application somewhere on your computer or email to keep track of what you have applied for and when it was sent off. If you sent out a paper application, remember to include all required items like transcripts and letters of recommendation!

Following these steps will help ensure that all your hard work doesn’t go to waste and give you a better chance at obtaining those coveted college scholarships!

Common Scholarship Requirements

When you start applying for scholarships, you should be aware of any common requirements for eligibility. While requirements vary from scholarship to scholarship, here are a few that you should typically consider:

Academic qualifications

You must possess certain academic qualifications as stated by the scholarship provider. This may require a certain GPA, or other criteria such as class rank, SAT/ACT scores, or coursework.

Financial need

The provider may also require proof of financial need to be considered for the award. This is often done through the FAFSA form or the College Board’s CSS Profile.

Extracurricular activities

In addition to academic qualifications, some groups may be interested in your involvement with extracurricular activities both in and out of school. This can include volunteer work, internships, and other relevant experiences that demonstrate leadership and commitment to community service.

Other criteria

There may also be additional requirements such as essays or letters of recommendation that are necessary to apply for the scholarship. Be sure to read through the requirements section carefully and make sure you meet each one before submitting your application!

Making Your Scholarship Application Stand Out

You’ve got your eye on a few scholarships you like, but how can you make sure your application stands out and gets the attention it deserves? The good news is that there are plenty of ways to make sure your scholarship application jumps out of the pack.

Showcase Your Achievements

When it comes to scholarships, it pays to show off—your awards, that is. Whether it’s for academics, sports, or community service, make sure you’re highlighting any achievements that show you have the potential and drive to be successful. Even if a certain scholarship doesn’t recognize such achievements, they serve as evidence of your capabilities and deserve mention in any submissions.

Try Something Unique

If the scholarship requires an essay, use the opportunity to showcase your creative abilities—even if they aren’t directly related to what you’re studying. It doesn’t matter what you write about or how crazy your ideas get; just try something different!

Be Genuine

The best way to stand out in a pile of applications is by being genuine. Just remember: There’s no right or wrong way to apply for a scholarship; be yourself and express what makes you unique.

Mistakes to Avoid When Applying for Scholarships

When you’re applying for scholarships, it’s important to make sure that you do everything right so that you don’t miss out on any of the opportunities available to you. Here are a few mistakes to avoid when applying for college scholarships:

Not Taking the Time to Read Eligibility Requirements

When you are filling out college scholarship forms, make sure to read the eligibility requirements carefully and check any boxes or answer any questions in a way that best reflects your qualifications. For example, some scholarships may require a minimum GPA or enrollment in a certain degree program.

Not Meeting Application Deadlines

Make sure to pay attention to the application deadlines for each scholarship and make every effort to get your applications in on time. Late applications can often be disqualifying, so plan and give yourself plenty of time before the deadline.

Neglecting Following Directions

Make sure you understand exactly what is expected from each scholarship application and follow all directions carefully. Most scholarship programs have a certain format that you must use for your essays, so double-check all instructions before submitting your application.

Not Seeking Out Additional Opportunities

Once you have applied for college scholarships, don’t stop looking for more! There are likely several other scholarships available that you may qualify for, and taking the time to look can help increase your chances of receiving an award. Also, some college scholarships may have more than one round of applications, so don’t miss out on subsequent rounds!

Strategies to Help You Win More Scholarships

It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to find and apply for college scholarships. To give you an edge, here are some strategies that you can use to increase your chances of winning:

Search Widely

You should cast a wide net when searching for scholarships. There are many sources where you can find scholarships, including your university’s financial aid office, local charities and businesses, scholarship matching services, career centers, guidance counselors, and more. Be sure to search for both local and national college scholarships as some of them may have fewer applicants.

Start Early

College scholarships are highly competitive, so it’s best to start looking early and give yourself plenty of time to prepare your application materials. Make sure to keep track of application deadlines and be aware that some applications may require additional documents or essays on top of the initial application materials.

Follow Instructions Carefully

Follow the instructions carefully when filling out the applications. Make sure all forms are completed without any errors or omissions as these can disqualify you from consideration. Pay special attention to the essay portion as this is usually where the committee will decide whether or not they choose you as a recipient.

By using these strategies to help you find and apply for college scholarships, you’ll increase your chances of securing one that fits your needs!


Applying for college scholarships can be a daunting process, but with the right resources and knowledge, you can make it easier. With this guide, you now have the tools and information you need to start your search. Knowing where the college scholarships are and how to apply puts you in a great position to apply and get accepted. Take the time to research the scholarships and determine which ones are best for you. Remember to keep track of deadlines, apply early, and be complete and consistent with your application information.

Applying for college scholarships is a smart way to reduce the cost of tuition and get a head start on your career. With this guide, you now know the basics of applying for and getting accepted for a college scholarship. Good luck!

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