More College Scholarship Search Sites
Other scholarship resources
If you read the web pages posted by the financial aid offices of schools you’re researching, you’ll often find lists of sites that host information about scholarships. The schools consider those sites reputable, and that’s a handy method of prescreening the sites you yourself plan to use in looking for assistance.
Some scholarship sites appear over and over on those college pages, and the following information is a brief introduction to the ones that can be useful for students anywhere in the United States. You should also read the posts collected on this page from the New York Times (NYT), which will give you some insight on how the financial aid process works from the points of view of both students and schools.
These sites are universally reliable, because the government has no motive to cash in on its site users. The constant you can depend on finding in explanations of federal scholarships is a wealth of detail, including definitions of terms like Expected Family Contribution and Cost Of Attendance, that can confuse the reader initially.
Since you will encounter the same definitions over and over, it will be worth your while to familiarize yourself with the glossaries provided. That will make it much easier to understand the details found on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, which is a form you’ll have to fill out every year if you apply for government help.
Here are some of the sites where the federal government posts scholarship listings. There are many government agencies providing financial aid for college, so these sites are only a few examples of what’s available.
- Finding and Applying for Scholarships is a page containing general information on what scholarships are and how to obtain them.
- Scholarships from the Health Resources and Services Administration, which is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, train medical personnel. You must work in a government facility after you earn your degree.
- The National Science Foundation has a division of undergraduate education that offers scholarship for service opportunities and other types of funding for school and research to students in the STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics).
There is a special category of government scholarship given for foreign study. The three major avenues for these awards are the Boren, Gilman, and Fulbright programs. The Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program pays less than the Boren Scholarships, but the Gilmans come with no expectation of return other than a small follow-on project like submitting an article to a newsletter. The Borens come with a service requirement, meaning you have to work in national security in exchange for the aid.
The Fulbright U.S. Student Program supports American students working at universities in other countries. It includes not only undergraduate scholarships but support for graduate and postdoctoral students as well.
It can be difficult to find a private scholarship search site that is not making some attempt to monetize a relationship with the user. More rarely, a site strives to earn a good reputation by posting the most complete information it can find, then keeping that data updated (which is in itself a difficult job, since financial aid information often changes from year to year).
The most highly recommended of these sites is FinAid.org, and its creator wrote some of the posts used in the NYT roundup mentioned above. The site notes that the most efficient way to search for scholarships is to use sites that require constructing a user profile, then using that profile to find possible matches in those sites’ databases. That is an excellent point, but currently FinAid.org is the only site offering such searches that you should feel free to use with no reservations.
There are other sites available, and you may use them, but exercise caution in handing over personal data. As an example, FastWeb.com looks more like a lottery website, posting photographs of people with their locations and scholarship amounts and offering a cash prize for referring a friend to the site. That emphasis on money signals that the site owner’s primary interest may not lie in providing information to students.
There are many private philanthropic organizations that encourage diversity in higher education and provide scholarships for specific minorities. Here are some of their websites: