The College Scholarship Search

4 Tips for Making the Match

If you are a current or prospective college student looking for ways to supplement your financial aid package, then you can’t afford to overlook college scholarships.

But where do you find them?

The financial aid office at your college or university is a good place to start. So is talking to the officers of the clubs and membership organizations that you – or your parents – belong to. Rotary, Kiwanis and other community groups frequently offer scholarships.

But the best and most efficient way to look for free money for college is online. Of course, even with the Internet, looking for scholarships can be like searching for a needle in a haystack. You have to know where to look – and precisely what you are looking for.

Try Googling “free scholarships search engine.” You’ll get tens of thousands of hits. If you’re looking to narrow that down to say, ten, here are three things to look for in a scholarship site:

#1 There is such a thing as a free lunch.

Here’s a rule to live by: Any site promising access to “secret” scholarships for a fee is a scam. There are plenty of reputable scholarship search engines, and all of them let you search as often and as frequently as you wish – for free. Bottom line: If you’re not 100% confident that a site is legit, look elsewhere.

#2. Let the database do the work.

The most reputable – and most effective – college search engines feature personalized profile matches. Your detailed profile is the key to making the search engine work. It will cross reference all the information you input – like major (or tentative) field of study, hobbies, leadership experience, ethnic background, grades, and more. Then it will compare your info to a pool of well over a million scholarships.

The more information a site requires you to fill in at the beginning, the more likely you are to get a serious list of potential leads. If a site just asks your name and location, you will probably have to sort through a lot of garbage – and you’ll miss out on a lot of treasures, too.

#3. Out-of-date information is never helpful.

You want to pick search sites that frequently update their information. Current data is the hallmark of a worthwhile scholarship search site. To find out whether the site you’re looking at is worth its salt, check the homepage or About Us section for details about how many scholarships the database contains – and how frequently that data is checked. If information is more than a semester out of date, you’re probably wasting your time.

#4. Buyer Beware: Scam artists about.

There are a number of scholarship scams (and scam artists) operating on the Internet. If someone asks for money for the privilege of being considered for a scholarship, run the other way. Likewise don’t trust a site that asks for your credit card information or other sensitive details.

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