The economic challenges still facing many families have made the search for scholarship money more relevant than ever. Fortunately, online tools and scholarship directories have facilitated the process of finding these sources of funding.
, is a specialized search engine, which requires users to create an account by submitting basic information. It offers possibilities for a wide range of students, including incoming students, current students and graduate, medical and law students.
ScholarshipMonkey has a clean, user-friendly design.
After creating a free account, users must complete a more detailed profile, which includes SAT scores and GPA. In addition, it collects information about religion, ethnicity, gender and disability. While it’s unusual to be asked for this kind of information, it’s pertinent here because scholarships are frequently awarded on the basis of these categories.
, is sponsored by the College Board, the same organization that oversees the SAT and AP assessment programs. Unlike ScholarshipMonkey.com, Big Future provides overall support for the college selection process, with tools to help students research colleges and careers, gain acceptance and pay the looming tuition bills.
BigFuture.com is a great overall resource.
The site’s resources are extensive and helpful, and include a primer on financial aid basics, which will be very useful for parents navigating the process for the first time. Additional tools include a scholarship search tool with information from approximately 2,200 financial aid and internship programs, and calculators to help breakdown costs and loan repayments.
The site has a wide range of financial aid information.
, organization is similar to ScholarshipMonkey.com. Its primary function is as a search engine, collecting basic information and then matching the user to potential awards.
Scholarships.com has a detailed search feature.
Possibilities include athletic and artistic scholarships in addition to academic scholarships. Scholarships.com has the addition advantage of being accredited by the Better Business Bureau.
The U.S. Department of Labor sponsors CareerOneStop
, a site encompassing a range of topics related to education, training and careers. It also has a very user-friendly scholarship search engine which allows users to search by award type, residence preferences, study level and affiliation restrictions. Unlike most other scholarship databases, users do not need to go through the process of creating an account.
CareerOneStop is is well-organized.
, part of the Monster.com network, is a great overall resource for locating sources of financial aid. It includes information about the often-overwhelming process of filling out financial aid forms. It also prominently features a section on aid for military veterans and recruits.
FinAid.com contains a great deal of useful information.
FinAid.com links to another Monster site, FastWeb.com
, which covers many of the same topics as FinAid, but also has a scholarship database.
FastWeb helps students identify colleges and funding.
It’s important to note that scholarship scams abound. In general, you should never have to spend money to find money. FinAid.com includes an extensive section on the various types of scholarship scams and how to avoid them. Though this section of the site site is long and detailed, with multiple articles, it’s worth a careful reading as it does a good job of addressing this important topic.
Applying to college and figuring out how to pay for it is a long and challenging process. The above sites can help parents and students demystify it by providing access to sources of scholarships, which can make a big financial difference for families.