The rising cost of higher education is a major issue in the United States. With more and more people going into debt just to afford to learn, it's natural to want to do everything you can to ensure that neither you nor your children have to experience this misfortune for the sake of making a better life. One of the best ways to alleviate that future debt is with scholarships considering they're free money to put towards your education. That only leaves one thing to figure out, though: How do you get scholarships? That's what we're here to discuss today. Here are five easy ways to find scholarship money online you can use to pay for your education.
1. School Websites
If you already have a good idea about which university you or your child is going to be attending, one of the easiest ways to locate applicable scholarships is by checking the school's website. There's typically a whole section on a school's site detailing different forms of financial aid offered to prospective students with a subsection dedicated to what kind of scholarships are offered by merit, major, extracurricular activities, and more. Some of them you may need to apply for, but others (such as those related to high school GPA or the like) may apply automatically when you're accepted.
2. Check Local Databases
Beyond prospective schools, there should be scholarship databases for your local area. This could be a town, a city, a county, or an entire state. While there may be fewer scholarships available at this level, applying for as many as you can here tends to have a higher success rate compared to those on the national level. This is due to lessened competition between applicants; after all, you're only applying to others who plan to attend or live near you rather than a whole country.
3. Check National Databases
While it does mean more competition compared to local scholarships as mentioned before, national scholarship databases or aggregator sites are still an invaluable tool in funding your education. For starters, looking into these kinds of scholarships often shows you a much greater amount of variety than you could expect from local sites. Additionally, expanding the scope of your search to the national level can actually make it more likely for you to find some very specific forms of aid that you qualify for, too, as looking outside your local area can often reveal various scholarships or grants related to skills, ability, or background that simply aren't offered by local institutions.
4. Complete the FAFSA
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is one of the most important forms you'll fill out when you're applying for college. Essentially, it automatically applies you to a wealth of scholarships and grants as well as other financial aid opportunities you might be qualified for. This will save you a ton of time compared to manually applying for the same aid, letting you focus on other scholarship avenues that aren't covered in the FAFSA's scope.
5. Contact Career Centers and Other Organizations
There are a number of groups that may have lists of scholarships available that you could make use of. Often called high school career centers or the like, you'll be able to use their resources to check what kind of scholarships you might qualify for without wasting time. While their focus is more narrow compared to a large aggregator site, they can be a good balance between the local-only databases and the overwhelmingly-expansive national databases. You might also be able to get in touch with a real person to help you with your applications.
Finding the money for college can be difficult, but the rewards higher education brings are truly invaluable. If you're looking for ways to find scholarships in order to fund your educational ambitions, check out these five tips for finding scholarships online you can use.