Scholarships are the ultimate way to pay for school and avoid student debt. Like loans, scholarships are available from a variety of sources. Unlike loans, they don't have to be paid back. College scholarships are available from federal, local and state governments. Other scholarship sources include professional associations, community organizations and individual companies or benefactors. A number of colleges and universities also offer their own scholarship programs.
Search Sites for College Scholarships
- FastWeb - This site is the Internet's largest source of local, national and college-specific scholarships. You can search FastWeb's database after registering for a free account.
- Scholarships.com - This free site has been helping students find scholarships since 1998. Scholarship.com's searchable database contains more than 2.7 million college scholarships and grants.
- CollegeBoard's Scholarship Search - CollegeBoard's free scholarship search engine contains more than 3,000 scholarship opportunities. The information you can find in this database is always up-to-date.
- Sallie Mae Scholarship Search - Students can gain access to information on nearly 3 million scholarships when they use Sallie Mae's free scholarship search. Students can also create a search profile to stay current on the latest scholarship opportunities.
- U. S. Dept. of Education Scholarship Search - A free scholarship search from the U.S. Department of Education. The majority of the scholarships in this database are school-based.
College grants are another great way to pay for school. Like scholarships, grants don't need to be repaid. Another advantage to grants is that they are often need-based.
College grants are most often awarded through federal, state and local governments. Other grant sources include colleges, universities, public organizations, private organizations and individual benefactors.
Where to Locate College Grants
- Students.gov - Th U.S. Department of Education site offers information on some of the federal grants available to college students.
- CalGrants - This California Financial Aid Commission website offers information on grants that can be used at California colleges, universities, career schools and technical schools.
- IEFA Scholarship Search - IEFA's mission is to provide financial aid and scholarship information to international students who want to study abroad. This site also provides grant listings.
State and Federal Aid
State and federal governments make aid available to college students each year. Billions of dollars are available to students who apply for it. State and federal aid includes grants, scholarships, low-cost loans and work study programs. Nearly every college student qualifies for some type of state or federal aid.
Where to Find State and Federal Aid
- Federal Student Aid - This site is the official student gateway to apply for federal financial aid. Students can find information on applying for federal aid, scholarships and grants.
- Federal Work Study - The Federal Work-Study (FWS) program is for low-income undergraduate and graduate students who want to earn money to pay for college.
- State Higher Education Agencies - Your State Higher Education Agency is a great place to find information about the financial aid programs available in your state.
Other Sources of Aid
Scholarships, grants and government aid aren't your only options. There are many other programs out there designed to help students keep debt to a minimum.
Where to Find Other Financial Aid Options
- CLEP College Search - There are nearly 3,000 colleges and universities that award course credits to students who perform well on CLEP exams. Fewer required courses equal a smaller tuition bill. You can use this search engine from the College Board to find colleges and universities that grant credit for CLEP accomplishments.
- GreenNote - This social networking site provides an alternative to high-cost student loans. Every student is eligible for a GreenNote loan regardless of credit history or citizenship status.
- Tuition Reimbursement - More than 50 percent of major employers offer some form of tuition reimbursement or assistance. This article explains how you can get your employer to pay for your college education.