A few months ago, I wrote a post called ‘Where Have All the Scholarships Gone?’ It was in response to the numerous postings I came across on Facebook and Twitter where students professed that they were unable to find scholarships anywhere. It included some of the widely known resources for locating college money, such as free scholarship search tools and guidance counselors, as well as a few new ways to locate free money. Apparently, there are still several students out there who haven’t either read the post, or simply do not understand how to conduct a simple search on the Internet, because the whining about the lack of scholarships has not subsided. I hate to sound harsh and call these students lazy, but I am dumbfounded by the lack of motivation or creativity some of them exude. When I was actively searching for scholarships, I literally left no stone unturned. Heck, I even turned over a few couch cushions in my quest to find money; every dollar found was one less I would have to repay in student loans. If you are having difficulty locating college scholarships, just remember to think outside the box, and try these lesser-known avenues for finding free money for college.
1. Rival Schools
Not every high school guidance counselor or college financial aid officer is the same; some go above and beyond to help students, but others simply do not have the time (or resources) to research available scholarships. Even if you have a top-notch counselor who provides you with a detailed list of awards, do yourself a favor and scope out several other schools’ webpages, too. You can typically find scholarships for high school students listed on guidance or college planning pages. If you’re a college student, simply look at the outside scholarship listing on the other school’s financial aid website.
2. Cable Television
For some reason, cable television providers have ventured into the scholarship business, but I’m not complaining. Sure, they will probably try to get you to subscribe to their services, but if they give me money for college, I’ll waste a few minutes listening to their pitch. You can find current programs by Googling ‘cable TV scholarships,’ but don’t forget to check out your local provider’s website, as well. If your area is part of a smaller market or the award is only available in a few cities, it may not have enough traffic to register on a Web search.
Social media really has become a great resource for finding scholarships. For one, many scholarship search services and providers now have accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. You can also find scholarships listed on Reddit, and now Tumblr is getting in on the action. Students love to share their Instagram shots there, which often include pictures of scholarship applications or checks. Conduct a simple search using the keywords scholarship, scholarships or free money to find opportunities.
Free money for college doesn’t always come in the form of a scholarship. Sometimes, it’s called a grant, fellowship or even a contest. If you like to write short stories or poetry, there are opportunities galore. A good resource is the Poets & Writers website, which provides details on entry fees, prize amounts and deadlines. If you are an artist or photographer, check out TheArtList.com or IncredibleArt.org. There are also contests for science, sports and other talents. Google ‘science contests’ or other search terms to locate those that may be of interest to you.
Another great place to find scholarships is your school’s ‘Wall of Fame’ or ‘Brag Board.’ This will be extremely helpful to high school juniors, as schools love to highlight scholarships and awards that their seniors have won. Peruse the listings and make a note of the scholarships mentioned, as you should be able to apply for several next year. If you find students who have numerous awards listed, consider following them on Twitter, as they may tweet about their accomplishments. It may sound like cyber-stalking, but it’s a great way to get a head’s up about potential college money. Of course, you could simply ask them for their help, but some students are very stingy when it comes to sharing scholarship information. Personally, I believe in sharing the wealth. Happy hunting!
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