Scholarship Searches/Tips

SCHOLARSHIP SEARCHES:     Contains info on many scholarships for which you may be eligible.   Get results immediately online for free college scholarship searches.    Offers a database of 600,000 potential scholarship matches.

High Five Scholarships Gives students millions of scholarship opportunities and  also gives help to improve SAT & ACT test scores.   (Minnesota Higher Education Services Office)  Free up-to-date info on how to save, pay, and prepare for post-secondary education. A Financial Aid Estimator allows students and parents to enter their personal information to estimate their financial aid eligibility,  and prices for Minnesota and reciprocity institutions.   Access FAFSA on the web, Renewal FAFSA on the web, Corrections on the web. FAFSA4caster will give an early estimate of your eligibility for federal student aid, allow you to transfer all of your FAFSA4caster data to FAFSA on the Web once you are ready to apply for aid, provide the option to apply for your Federal Student Aid PIN, increase knowledge of the financial aid process, & provide info about other sources of aid.   A wealth of information about financial aid, including EFC estimator, College Cost Projector, Savings Projector, Scholarship information and links to scholarship searches.
Scholarship Tips

As you research scholarship opportunities, keep these tips in mind:

  1. Make sure you meet all of the eligibility criteria before you submit an application.

  2. Complete the application in its entirety. Don't leave any item blank. If something does not apply to you, make a note on the application as to why or indicate "Not Applicable".

  3. Follow directions and provide everything that is requested.

  4. Write a concise essay. Be as personal and specific as possible. Be creative.

  5. Neatness counts. Make copies of the forms you receive and use them as working drafts. Once you have the final version, type it or print it neatly and legibly.

  6. Keep track of deadlines.

  7. Proofread the entire application before mailing it.

  8. Make a copy of the entire application for your records.

  9. Be wary as you search the Internet, and be careful of solicitations you receive in the mail from places that "guarantee" you'll receive scholarships if you pay a fee. Each year many families fall prey to scholarship fraud and scams. The Federal Trade Commission warns consumers to be alert for companies that make guarantees or ask for money or credit card numbers. If they are promising something that seems too good to be true, it could be a scam.

To find out how to spot, stop or report a scholarship scam, visit the FTC web site at or call (877) FTC-HELP.


 = Counselor Favorites

  • Adventures in Education
    This site contains basic information on a selecting a school, how to get money for school, what parents need to know, and a financial need estimator.

  • Best Colleges 
    Comprehensive scholarship database

  • BigFuture by The College Board
    Follow steps to find money for college

  •  College Board Financial Aid Profile
    On line registration and FAQ for the PROFILE, a program of the College Scholarship Service® (CSS®), the financial aid division of the College Board. Some colleges, universities, and scholarship programs use the information collected on PROFILE in addition to the FAFSA.

  • College Funding Company
    This site is a coalition of four not-for-profit organizations dedicated to helping families learn about and fund higher education.

  • CollegeNet
    College scholarship search with over 600,000 entries

    Paying for College - Past Present Future

  • College Planning
    While this site features information on the entire college preparation process, it is sponsored by a credit union and its financial information features are especially strong.

  •  Compare Your Aid Awards
    This site, sponsored by the College Board, helps students and their families understand their award letter, compare aid offers and learn about strategies for paying their share of the cost.

  • ED Office of Post Secondary Education (OPE) Home Page
    Obtain general information about the financial aid process on the federal level.

  • eStudent
    Compare loans and apply online with major lenders. Search for scholarships. See what loans your school recommends.

  •  FAFSA on the WEB
    An interactive application that students can use to apply for federal student aid over the net. Extensive help screens prevent errors that can delay processing.

  • FAFSA Worksheet
    This worksheet should be completed prior to filling out the online FAFSA at Because the order of the questions on the FAFSA on the Web may be somewhat different than the paper FAFSA, it is important to complete the Pre-Application Worksheet instead of a paper FAFSA prior to completing the online application.

  •  Completing the FAFSA
    Get detailed information on how to complete each question on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The 2016-17 version will be available in December 2015.

  • FastWeb
    Extensive scholarship database. Does regular electronic financial newsletter via e-mail.

  •  FinAid: The Financial Aid Information Page
    Financial Aid Information Page - regularly updated, current, objective - vast source of all types of financial information. This is the most complete financial aid page we've found so far!

  • Financing Education
    Comprehensive site from Peterson's offers articles on many financial aid topics.

  • Financial Aid for College
    This comprehensive site sponsored by the US Department of Education has links to three brochures: Funding Your Education provides general information about the U.S. Department of Education's federal student financial aid programs. It is designed for high school students and others considering entering a post secondary school for the first time.Looking for Student Aid - A short brochure covering sources of Free Information About Student Aid and using Scholarship Search Services.

  • Funding Your Education
    An introductory publication for students not yet enrolled in a post secondary school, provides general information about the U.S. Department of Education's federal student financial aid programs and how to apply for them.

  • Fundsnet
    Fundsnet™ is a privately owned Web site created in 1996 to assist nonprofit organizations find funding resources on the Internet. It has pages listing scholarships and financial aid opportunities.

  • GoCollege
    Resource to guild students how to finance and succeed in college.

  • Minnesota Higher Education Services Office
    Information on State of Minnesota financial aid programs--including reciprocity and state grants. Includes details of reciprocity with Wisconsin, Dakotas and other states. Reciprocity forms can be downloaded here.

  • My College Dollars

  • National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators
    Professional site has many links to financial aid information of special interest to parents.

  • NelNet
    While this is a commercial site sponsored by a financial institution involved with college loans, it has a user friendly explanation of the financial aid process for both parents and students.

  • Reciprocity - Midwest Higher Education Program
    A reduced tuition program for out of state students. Open to students in Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota. Missouri, Nebraska, and North Dakota. Program is limited to select schools and select programs.

  • Reciprocity - Minnesota Higher Education Services Office
    Includes details of reciprocity with Wisconsin, Dakotas, and other states. Reciprocity forms can be downloaded here.

  • Sallie Mae
    Extensive financial aid site including scholarship and loan information.

    Find scholarships

    Search, find and apply for scholarship, grants and financial aid.

  • Scholarship Scams
    Site run by the Federal Trade Commission that helps students and parents avoid unethical scholarship data base providers.

  • Selective Service
    Males must register for selective service before they can receive financial aid. This site allows you to register on-line.

  • Simple Dollar College Scholarship Guide
    Scholarship Guide

  • Smart Money
    This site is affiliated with the magazine and discusses planning for college and the financial ramifications.

    Helps students find scholarships that are most relevant to their background, field of study, sport, skill, interest, achievement, or other attribute.

  •  The Student Guide
    Booklet maintained by the federal government explains how financial aid works. It also has information about the types of aid awarded by the government: PELL grants, Direct and FFEL Stafford Loans, PLUS Loans, consolidation loans, work study and Perkins Loans.

  •  Title IV Institution Codes
    Use this site to find your school's Title IV code when you fill in your FAFSA.

  • Types of Scholarships
    This site introduces you to some of the best scholarships available today.


You may have heard people say there are “millions of scholarship dollars that go unclaimed each year.”  You have probably also talked to parents who have told you that their son or daughter was an outstanding student and could not get a scholarship.

The fact is, there are thousands of scholarships; however, most of these scholarships have very specific eligibility criteria (e.g., the student must go to XYZ college, be in the top 5% of his/her class, and have an ACT score of at least 28, or a student must belong to a particular ethnic group, race, or religion, have overcome a great obstacle, have great leadership skills, a specific major, etc.)

When it comes to academic scholarships, students generally must have an outstanding GPA (3.5 or better), high test scores (ACT 27+, SAT 1200+), excellent recommendations, and be involved in extracurricular and/or community activities.  To receive an athletic or talent scholarship, a student must be truly outstanding.

Even though it is not easy to obtain academic or talent scholarships, students and parent who are willing to invest the time and energy may find that their efforts pay off handsomely.  When looking for scholarships, keep the following in mind:

  • Start early.  Begin looking into possibilities during your son or daughter’s junior year.  Be ready to locate and complete applications early in the senior year.

  • Finding and applying for scholarships takes time, energy and persistence.

  • The larger scholarships are usually awarded by the college the student plans to attend.  Contact the college’s financial aid office to learn about any scholarships they may offer.

  • Private colleges are often more generous in awarding scholarships, thus making private schools competitive in price with public schools.  Do not rule out a private school until you have seen their aid package.

  • Apply for local scholarships.  These are generally for smaller amounts (i.e. $500-$1,000), however, since the competition is not as great, they are usually easier to obtain.

  • Be aware of deadlines.  Scholarship applications become available throughout a student’s senior year and are sometimes due only weeks after being publicized.

  • Network.  Tell everyone that you are looking for scholarships.  Check for scholarship opportunities with your place of employment, your church, organizations to which you belong, etc.  Also look for scholarship opportunities in local newspapers.

  • The Internet has a great deal of information on scholarship opportunities.  You can also find books and computer programs listing scholarship opportunities in the counselor’s office and local libraries.

  • Be organized.  Make sure teachers and counselors are given plenty of time to prepare letters of recommendation and transcripts.  Be aware of deadlines!

  • Remember that students who are not able to get scholarships often are able to get need-based financial aid.

  • Your son or daughter will have a better chance of being awarded a scholarship at a college or university where he/she is in the top 25%.

  • Always check to see if financial aid and scholarship awards are renewable.

  • Scholarships searches that charge a fee are very seldom worth and many are scams.

Where to look for a Scholarship (In rank order)

1.  Local scholarships-

  • Applications available at April class meeting

2.  Financial Aid Office

  • At your college

3.   Your church, parents’ place of work, any organization to which your family belongs

4.   The Internet



 Tips for Scholarship Applicants

The National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Department of Education estimates that roughly 60 percent of 2013 graduating college students did so with loan debt, and about two-thirds of the nation's full-time students entering college this fall will pay for their educations with the help of scholarships or grants. It is not surprising that, as the price tag continues to climb for higher education, so does the number of individuals seeking scholarships and other funding support. In short, the competition for scholarship awards is fierce.

          That said, once you've researched available scholarships and identified those for which you plan to apply, make sure you approach the process with the following five rules in mind:


          Might seem obvious, but you'd be surprised how many students talk themselves out of filling out that application. Some have bought into those old scholarship myths that just won't die. No, you don't have to have a 4.0 GPA, be an athletic demi-God or low-income student to qualify for many scholarships. There are plenty of programs that award students for merit in certain areas, like community service or leadership. Do not assume that someone with higher test scores trumps your application. I have often seen a well-conceived and communicated essay buoy an application to the top of the heap.


           The application lists the deadline as February 15. The website lists the deadline as February 15. Your high school counselor says you have until February 15. Mail the application by January 1; sooner, if you can. Here's why: almost all scholarship applications require that you send your high school transcripts. Some require that recommendations also be sent. It is highly unlikely that all the components you need to arrive at the scholarship office will do so by the 15th if, say, you apply on the 10th. Send it in early, and set yourself up for success.


          If the application asks you to print your name, print your name. If you are supposed to send everything in one envelope, you will not get extra points for sending three. Of the hundreds of award requests we receive each year at MMC, at least 25 percent are disqualified due to incorrect or incomplete applications.  A good rule of thumb: if in doubt, call the scholarship office and ask questions.


          Think about the organization that is offering the scholarship and about how you might be particularly worthy of its consideration. What does the organization represent? How do your values align? It is important to be thoughtful in how you approach a scholarship application, the tone of your essay and whether or not you are a good "fit" for an award. Remember, you are one of a number of qualified applicants competing for only a few award opportunities. If it feels like you're stretching to qualify, it's probably not the right scholarship for you.


          Of course, you should apply yourself: give the application your full attention and best effort. As well, you should apply yourself: authenticity is important and appreciated.  

          Scholarship selection committees read many applications and essays and quickly learn how to weed out the genuine from contrived responses.  Consider what makes you unique and how you might stand out as an applicant and communicate that honestly. Have you overcome some difficulty that informs your character?  Is there an experience you might share that says something about who you are? One of the best essays I've read started out with the phrase, "The last thing I wanted to do was apply for this scholarship." The applicant parlayed that into an essay on valuing hard work. Her hard work paid off: she got the scholarship award.