Are you looking for free college scholarships and grants? We have tips and tricks to land tons of college money.
This blog presents lots of proven ways to find more scholarship hacks. It shares how to prepare for them and how to win more awards. It’s time to start gathering in scholarship winnings!
What if there really was a pot of scholarship gold waiting for you at the end of the scholarship rainbow.
And what if you KNEW that with some effort, discipline and organizational skills you could find the path that leads to that pile of money. And then, of course, take some of it to the bank
Finding money that doesn’t have to be repaid is a huge benefit. Instead of paying, or borrowing $5000 and $50,000 each semester, your tuition costs could be much less. Some students have cut their costs to between $500 and $1000 each semester.
Finding the hidden trail to the treasure, means that there are really scholarship hacks that can get you to the gold?
Are you willing to explore these possibilities?
Keep reading, because we’ve got a map. We’ve been down the path with our kids and we’re sharing the secrets we uncovered along the way.
1. Where to Start with Free College Scholarships
This may sound crazy, but the first place to start is to create a place to keep your search organized. Get a three-ring binder and 12 tabs—one for each month of the year.
Perhaps have one of your parents help with the research to find scholarships that you qualify for. You or your parent can copy or print out the requirements along with the deadline, and put it into the appropriate month in the binder. With your targeted scholarships organized, you’ll have a much easier time seeing and submitting your information before each deadline.
2. Find an Editor
There are many kinds of opportunities to apply for, but a couple of the more common types require writing an essay. You will have to answer a specific question or write a biographical essay that includes some of your goals.
Realizing that the finest authors and writers all have editors to proof and help improve their work, there is nothing wrong with having a parent, friend or English teacher look over what you’ve written. This effort can make you a money winner. If your high school English teacher is willing to proof and edit, there is also a possibility that what you write could be turned in as an assignment or extra credit. Then you could double-dip – class credit and possibly a cash award!
Our son Joe did earn several biographical essay scholarships. He honed his writing skills by regularly turning in essays a few days early. His English teachers willingly proofed and suggested revisions for his scholarship essays.
3. Where to Search for College Scholarships and Grants
Knowing where to look for opportunities to could win may seem overwhelming. But with a little help, you’ll be discovering them like a seasoned tracker.
a) Specific College Websites
Just about every college and university (check out this almost complete list of community colleges, colleges, and universities at Wikipedia) has received endowment money (gifts from wealthy donors). This money is to be used for students meeting specific qualifications. Unigo, a top scholarship search site, estimates that each year there is in excess of $1 billion in scholarships available to college students.
The older a school is, the more likely there will be dozens of these scholarships or grants available. And they will be available in many different fields of study. The trick is to know where to look at each school’s website.
Sometimes all available opportunities are listed within the Financial Aid department’s section of the website. At other times university scholarships are listed within a department’s specific area of study on the website.
If you want to use a Google Hack for a search shortcut simply type in:
scholarship site:www.asu.edu (substitute the URL of your university of interest for the “asu.edu” part, and you’ll see specific pages where the word scholarship appears.
See the image below for the results, or click on the link.
As you can see in the image, this search resulted in more than 2000 matches. We did the same search for a small Christian University one of our kids attended and found more than 200 results to track down. If you have trouble finding the information, a call to the school’s financial aid department should get you to the right place.
b) Athletic college scholarships
If your child is an above-average to superstar athlete they may find their share of more than $10,000,000 in athletic scholarships available. Steve was awarded a gymnastics scholarship at Arizona State University that covered his tuition and books. Today the federally mandated Title IX requirement is in place requiring equal scholarship opportunities for men and women. Because of this, the likelihood of your daughter winning an athletic scholarship to a Division 1 school is much greater than for your son. Women’s sports like archery, rowing, basketball, soccer, volleyball, diving, swimming, lacrosse and more, are being offered at many schools to balance the number of awards given to men in sports like football, basketball, and baseball.
c) Merit-Based college scholarships
If your student has a higher grade point average (GPA) there are a large number of scholarship options available. Also becoming a member of one of several national honor societies can improve their opportunities for academic scholarships.
d) Your own state university scholarships
Many states have money allocated for aiding students with college costs, and there are other public or private foundations offering financial assistance to state residents attending school within that state. Our kids found and received several grants from the State of Arizona. Use the reference book, “Foundation Grants to Individuals,” (from your library or buy it used online) to see what’s available near you.
e) Your Major / Minor for college scholarships
According to Unigo.com research, there is more than $825 million in scholarship money earmarked for specific majors. Use “The College Blue Book,” to start digging. The financial aid department of your college of choice could be helpful too.
Many schools initiate new programs or majors each year and offer scholarships in an effort to recruit new students. We’ve seen this at several schools in majors ranging from music to theater and sciences, and also with schools that launch new sports programs.
f) Company Sponsored Scholarship
There are many corporations that have created charitable foundations that provide grants and scholarships for employees and for their children also. Large corporations like Siemens, Verizon and Intel have these programs as does the Federal Government through the Federal Employee Education and Assistance Fund. Some estimates put the amount of corporate / business sponsored awards at more than $28 million. Some good resources for finding these types of opportunities are: “The Scholarship Scouting Report” by Ben Kaplan, and “Confessions of a Scholarship Winner” by Kristina Ellis and Fastweb.com, Cappex.com and Unigo.com.
g) High School, Undergraduate, and Graduate Scholarships
There are a variety of scholarships awarded to students in various grade levels. For instance, a larger number of awards are available for high school students (mostly Junior and Senior level). Many high school guidance counselors keep their finger on the pulse of scholarships available for kids in their school districts. But there are still plenty of awards out there for anyone in undergraduate study programs. There are fewer opportunities available for graduate students, but it’s still worth applying and pursuing.
h) Unique College Scholarships
You’ll be surprised at what falls into this category. In many cases, foundation grants have been funded by a wealthy family who started a foundation, or by a corporate-sponsored foundation, which has chosen specific criteria for selecting recipients for the award. For instance, these could be based on where you work or volunteer, club participation, or associations you are a part of. These scholarships could include minority groups, people with disabilities or diseases, gender-specific, military background or service, first-generation college attendee and civil service careers.
We’ve seen awards for duck callers, Morgan Horse enthusiasts, Duck Tape Stuck at Prom contest/scholarship, the PanHellenic Scholarship Foundation (students of Greek descent), Asian and Pacific Islanders Scholarship Foundation, vegetarians, female Future Farmers of America, Scholar Athlete Milk Mustache award and the Tall Clubs International Scholarship (6’2” or more). The Jackie Robinson Foundation provides scholarships for disadvantaged youths of color. Do a Google search for unique, weird or wacky scholarships and you’ll be surprised at what shows up.
i) Play the Percentages: Search Online vs Off-Line
Steve spoke with the vice president of operations at Scholarships.com and discovered this scholarship hack.
Together they compared a number of scholarships listed in the big “Foundation Grants to Individuals” book versus those listed on Scholarships.com. Only about 40% of the opportunities listed in the book are found online. Kevin said they simply don’t have enough staff to review and verify all of the awards out there.
Think about this …
Hmm . . . If 60% of the foundations in this book don’t have websites or advertise online. Then 100 percent of the students who only search online will never find them. And if you are one of the few students who realize that there are lots of foundations to pursue “offline,” then you also realize that the number of students vying for that money will be fewer . . . and your odds of winning will be much greater!
We know going to the library or buying a book and flipping through hundreds of pages isn’t a high-tech way to go, but if it adds several thousand dollars to your college fund because there are fewer applicants for these “obscure” opportunities, it’s worth the time.
You can purchase this book on Amazon and search through the written pages (which we’ve done a number of times), or you can purchase access to The Foundation Center Database (which just merged with Candid.org) for a month at a time for $50. We did this with our son-in-law Nolan when he was entering a Master’s Program and found several scholarships/grants that he qualified for.
j) Small College Scholarships & Bonuses
Some students we’ve talked to only want to apply for “the big” awards – like those worth $5,000 or more. There is some merit to this thinking because a big reward can go a long way to funding college. But think about this, “Where is there likely to be greater competition, with a large award or with a smaller award?”
Maybe you won’t win a $5000 or $10,000 scholarship, but you could win a number of less sought-after $500 and $1000 scholarships. And that could add up to the same amount.
Our kids targeted smaller opportunities ($500 to $1000) and were pleasantly surprised several times with awards that exceeded the original amount. The reason given for the doubled award was, “We didn’t have as many qualified applicants, so we gave you extra.”
Where there is less competition, there can be greater awards.
k) The Scholarship System: Jocelyn Earned $126,000
We met Jocelyn Pearson at a blogger conference and immediately knew we had kindred spirits. We both believe that there are millions of dollars in free scholarship money just waiting for you to claim.
Jocelyn worked hard before college and during her university years to earn scholarships. In total, she earned $126,000 in free scholarships. And she graduated debt-free from a very prestigious international school of business.
After landing a job as an analyst at a large international conglomerate, she also kept telling people about her scholarship mining system.
Over time, as she saw the hunger in families to help their kids, she put together a course called The Scholarship System.
The course costs about $500. But don’t let that discourage you. In the past 4 years, students of the course have earned more than $1 million in scholarships and grants.
Watch this video where we interviewed Jocelyn and she shares about all of the components in her course.
She’s super smart! You can learn more in her FREE Scholarship System webinar that covers the details of the course.
Joe’s University Scholarship Bonus
Several years ago received a routine e-mail from a homeschooling friend about things events and opportunities for students in our state.
What caught our eye in the email was a mention of a $500 scholarship sponsored by the Chartered Property Casualty Underwriters Society (CPCU). The Scholarship was to be awarded to an Arizona university student enrolled in a business degree program. This was a perfect fit for our son Joe who was enrolled in a University Business Degree program.
Joe followed the scholarship submission instructions and wrote a brief essay about his education and employment goals, then mailed in the packet.
It nearly killed us to wait for the scholarship announcement, but the envelope did arrive. Unfortunately, Joe was traveling on a college baseball trip and we had to wait until he returned.
The night he returned, we left the envelope on the steering wheel of the car he was going to drive home from school. It was 11:00 p.m. and we were both in bed, but he burst into our room and read the note.
“Congratulations,” it started, then we gasped as he read, “Additional funds became available . . . your scholarship will be for $1,000!” We cried tears of gratefulness.
This was only one of many “miracle” scholarships that Joe received to fund his education at Grand Canyon University where he graduated with a positive net worth and a degree in business administration!
Somewhere over the College Scholarships Rainbow . . .
There are so many paths that lead to the end of the rainbow to find the scholarship pot of gold.
Take some time to gather your scholarship hacks & resources, make your plan and start your search. Finding your treasure will be less based on luck and more based on knowing where to look for the scholarships that you are best qualified for and that have the least competition. This is how the scholarship hacks really work.
We really hope you find that the dreams you dare to dream really do come true.
If you want more information about how you can earn a college degree without debt, check out:
1. Debt-Free College: Fantasy or Reality – a one-hour audio seminar (digital download) with handouts and links to many searchable websites
2. Get a copy of the book, “The MoneySmart Family System.” The largest chapter in the book deals with how we helped our kids to earn debt-free college educations!
3. Read more of our blogs listed below.
Read all of the Debt-Free College Blog Series Here:
- 6 Ways High Schoolers can Crush College Costs
- Student Loan Forgiveness Programs: How to get loans discharged legally
- Is There Gold at the End of the Scholarship Rainbow? Hack!
- How to Maximize FAFSA and Pell Grant Money!
- 10 Out of the Box Ideas for Big Time College Savings
- How to Eliminate College Debt
- How one kid got a college degree in 22 months for $3100 (you could too)