This article is published in the 2017 I’m First Guide to College

By Amy Weinstein

Did you know scholarships can help you pay for your college education? In fact, the more scholarship money you get, the less you will have to borrow to pay for tuition, room and board, books, and other expenses. Most importantly, unlike loans, scholarships do not need to be repaid and should be an important part of your financial aid package.

You can find scholarships that are industry specific—those that have to do with science, technology, engineering, the arts or mathematics. Additionally, there are scholarships if you have overcome challenging life obstacles. There are a number of scholarships available for students who are gifted academically, artistically, athletically, or musically.

Members from the National Scholarship Providers Association (NSPA) give scholarships and are committed to access, choice, and success. They
offered the following tips for finding and applying for scholarships:

Start Early
“If you’re a freshmen and sophomore in high school, you should be looking at scholarship applications early on, in order to see what kind of information scholarship providers request. It is overwhelming for many students who begin looking at applications late in their junior year, only to realize that they could have been a bit more proactive in their level of involvement both in their school and in their community.” – Patti Ross,
Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation

Look Everywhere
“Remember to look for scholarships at your local community foundation! Other sources include high schools, libraries, employers, civic groups, community organizations, private foundations, and online searches. It’s worth spending time to complete these applications. Two hours spent completing applications that can get you a $500 scholarship is like getting $250 per hour for your efforts!”- Dawn Lapierre, Community Foundation of Western Mass.

“Applying for scholarships is like applying for college. The process is lengthy, and takes commitment on your part to find the best options available. Check with your local area merchants, guidance counselors, and librarians for information on possible opportunities. Search the web.
Adhere to all deadlines and information requirements. Applying late or sending incomplete information is not the message you want to send to scholarship providers.” – Vanessa Evans, Ron Brown Scholar Program

“Don’t give up. You might be able to find scholarships your freshman year in college to fund the next year. Some scholarships are renewable each year (provided you meet certain requirements). Register on while you are in high school, the earlier the better.” – Kevin Ladd,

Be Thorough
“When searching for scholarships using an online matching service like, try to complete the profile as thoroughly as possible. Students who answer all of the optional questions on average will match twice as many scholarships as students who answer only the required questions. If you have to pay money to get money, it’s probably a scam. Never invest more than a postage stamp to obtain information about scholarships or to apply for scholarships.” – Mark Kantrowitz, Publisher of and

“Earn it. Scholarships are free, but they require effort on your part. Write the topically specific essays first and see if you can “recycle” some of the language for the general essays. Be thorough and polite. Once you begin applying, make sure to read, understand and follow the rules. If you don’t follow the rules you could be disqualified.” – Kevin Ladd,