Ask Cappex: The Best Scholarship Sites

In Paying for College on Apr 26, 2016

Our college expert Mark Kantrowitz answers your questions about college and financial aid.

Q: What are three extremely useful scholarship websites or databases for students of all backgrounds?

A: Search for scholarships using a free scholarship matching website, such as Cappex.com/scholarships, Fastweb.com and the College Board’s Big Future.

You might find it helpful to search at least two of these scholarship databases. There is a lot of overlap between the scholarship databases, so using two or more scholarship matching sites will give you the confidence that you’ve found most of the scholarships for which you are eligible.

You can also try using Google or other web search sites by appending the word “scholarships” to your academic major or other keywords. Sometimes appending the word “scholarships” several times will yield different results. But, not all of the matches will be relevant and you will need to check the eligibility criteria carefully.

Beware of scholarship scams. Never pay money to search for scholarships or to apply for scholarships. If you have to pay money to get money, it’s probably a scholarship scam.

But, just because online scholarship search sites make finding scholarships easier, don’t forget about the offline world. There are some scholarships that deliberately avoid being listed in any of the national scholarship databases. These include small local scholarships, such as a PTA scholarship or Dollars for Scholars program.

You can find local scholarships by looking on bulletin boards outside your guidance counselor’s office, your college’s financial aid office and near the jobs and careers section of the local public library. Look in the coupon section of the Sunday newspaper, where some scholarships are advertised. Ask your employer and your parents' employer(s) whether they offer any scholarships, as well as businesses you frequent.

Also, look at scholarship listing books in the library or bookstore. But, before you rely on any book, check the copyright date. If the book is more than a year or two old, it is too old to be useful. About 10 percent of the information in a scholarship listing book changes each year. The address and selection criteria might have changed, or the scholarship might no longer be offered.

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