The cost of tuition is on the rise. College-bound students, along with their families, often find it discouraging when attempting to obtain financial aid to help fund their higher education. While this high cost can be a dissuading factor in gaining a college education, there is some good news. An increasing number of scholarship and grant options for college-bound students and their families continue to become available. Below we will provide you with helpful, free college scholarship and grant search information to assist you in your exploration.
Even though the amount of available financial aid is increasing for college-bound students, we recommend you begin your scholarship and grant search as early as possible. Typically the earlier you start the research process, the bigger the payoff. Getting the process underway during your student’s sophomore year in high school may sound premature, but the earlier you and your student begin, the less overwhelming it will seem and the more options you will have.
Throughout sophomore year, students should be assembling applications, recommendations, essays, test scores and transcripts. As early as their junior year, students should begin their free college scholarship and grant search in order to apply for and take advantage of the numerous opportunities available for younger students. To help ensure realistic goals are set and important deadlines are met, we recommend creating a calendar to keep track of cut-off dates as well as to stay on top of the sizeable amount of paperwork involved.
Available financial aid funds are increasing for college-bound students, however, they are also limited. Begin your free scholarship and grant search early and increase the likelihood that you will receive beneficial financial assistance.
There are a variety of resources which should be considered when you begin your college scholarship and grant search. Be sure to keep the following in mind to help make paying for college a little easier:
- Federal Resources – the U.S. government is the nation’s largest financial aid resource, but before you begin your free grant national scholarship search, you must first file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA can be found in your student’s high school guidance office as well as online. It is extremely important that filing the FAFSA for financial aid is completed before priority deadlines. While you may have heard that free private grants and scholarships make up the majority financial aid, in reality, the vast majority of financial aid is provided by the national and state governments and by schools. Take advantage of this enormous resource. Start your scholarship search today by filling out the necessary paperwork. Learn more about filing the FAFSA for financial aid on our site.
- Local Resources – be sure not to overlook free local opportunities during your college scholarship and grant search. The American Legion, the Rotary Club, the Jaycees, and Boosters chapters often set aside funds for college-bound students in the area. Memorial scholarships are another great source of college funding that are often overlooked. The benefit of a local search as opposed to a free grant from a national scholarship search is the competition, which is considerably less than that for national awards. To begin your search for local scholarship opportunities, stop by your students’ high school career office to see what’s available.
- Merit-Based Opportunities – merit-based scholarships can be based on academic or athletic achievements, however, they can also be awarded on the virtue of ethnic, religious, and professional affiliations. Many companies also provide scholarships to the children of employees. To learn more about the awards your student may be eligible for, please follow this link: Merit-Based Free Scholarship and Grant Search
- Corporate Opportunities – while obtaining a corporate college grant is not as common as a free grant from a national scholarship search, it is an option worth exploring. Each year, corporations ranging from Target to Coca-Cola award students with thousands of dollars in financial aid. Learn where to begin exploring your opportunities by following this link: Free Corporate College Scholarship and Grant Search
During your free college scholarship and grant search, you may come across various scams attempting to pocket your money without actually providing any award. To avoid becoming the victim of such a scam, we have outlined some warning signs to watch out for:
- Processing fees – if you come across a college scholarship or grant during your search which requires a processing fee, it should raise a red flag. Beware of any group or individual guaranteeing an award if you pay a fee. The scholarships may even assure a refund so that students will be comfortable as consumers, but in reality, the money never returns. There are several FREE college scholarship and grant opportunities to explore during your search.
- Awards without entries – beware of any awards given without entry. If a student is presented an award without actually having to fill out an application, this should also raise a red flag.
- Free Seminars – oftentimes, students and their families are presented with a letter saying they will be awarded a scholarship by simply attending a free seminar, when in actuality, a fee is deducted from your bank account and the student receives only a package with various scholarships listed. Be cautious of such a free guarantee during your scholarship and grant search.
While there are many scholarship scams to look out for when you are performing your search, there also a large number of legitimate awards which can and should be applied for. By adhering to these warning signs, you will be less likely to fall victim to such scams.
Remember, it is important not to overestimate the role of scholarships in financing a college education. Scholarships going unclaimed or ones which fund four years of college misrepresent the typical award. The vast majority of free college scholarship and grant awards are much smaller, which is why it is necessary to fill out as many legitimate applications as possible during your search.