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How to search for scholarships


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Millions of students across the country depend on financial aid to make their college dreams a reality. In addition to federal and state grants and loans, scholarships are a valuable source of college funds. However, many students miss out on scholarship opportunities due to a lack of information. The following tips can help you find, and apply for, scholarships that could reduce the cost of earning your college degree.

Reaching out
One of the first stops on your scholarship search should be your college admissions adviser's or guidance counselor's office. These professionals can help you identify awards that fit your personal and academic profile including many programs you haven't heard about. Broaden your search by contacting the financial aid office at the colleges you are considering, as this is an excellent source of information about scholarships specific to individual schools.

Searching online
The Internet is an invaluable research tool for your scholarship search. One of the most helpful Web sites for students looking for funding is the U.S. Department of Labor's Scholarship Search Tool. This site enables you to search for money for college based on a number of criteria, including the type of financial assistance (grants, fellowships, etc.), the degree level you are pursuing, your geographical area, and you affiliation or area of interest. State grant agencies are also a good place to begin your scholarship search. Remember that this process can take time, so be sure to begin looking for scholarships as soon as possible.

Making connections
Depending on the major you wish to study, another source of scholarships can be businesses or professional organizations in that field. For example, technology companies such as Microsoft, Dell and Google all offer scholarships to students who want to enter careers in computer science, whereas defense contractors like Northrop Grumman offer similar programs to young people who want to enter the engineering industry. Even household brands such as McDonald's and Coca-Cola offer scholarships, and these opportunities are often overlooked by many students, making them a potentially valuable source of college financing.

Exercise caution
Although it is generally a good idea to apply for several scholarships instead of limiting your choices to just one, be mindful that not all scholarships are legitimate. During your search, avoid Web sites and other sources of funding that charge application fees or guarantee funds, as such programs are usually a scam. Remember - if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

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