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How to Get Money for College

Updated on February 9, 2016

College Scholarships 101

Are you looking for college scholarships? Do you need information on financial aid? Don't despair! Just read the tips below and you'll be well on your way to getting FREE money for college!

Every year I hear and see many articles and advertisements about finding college scholarships. Some are easy to read and easy to follow. Most are easy to read but hard to follow because they just don't give enough information. I am here to give some straightforward tips and techniques to get scholarship and grant money for college.

If you follow these tips, you can get plenty of scholarship money, perhaps even enough to get a free ride to college. Just remember to be wise about your decisions and stay on top of your applications.


You MUST fill out the FAFSA every year that you attend college. I suggest doing this as soon as you and/or your parents finish your taxes each year.

Tip #1 - Start Early

You can (and should) start applying for scholarships as early as you want to. There are many scholarships that are set aside for students of all ages. The key is knowing where to look. The best way to find scholarships for specific age groups is to go to your favorite search engine and type in "Scholarships", along with your age and/or grade in school. There is no doubt that you will receive several results. Here comes the reason that you need to start early: you have to weed through them and find the ones that you are eligible for and that you wish to apply for. Typically, you should not need to go past the first five pages of search results, but you may wish to do so. Also, you should NEVER pay for a scholarship search or grant finder. If a scholarship requires an application fee, talk to your school counselor about the authenticity before sending off a check. They can usually spot a scam a mile away.

Tip #2 - Know What You Want

If you know that you want to attend College X and study Major Y, then you can get more scholarships that are tailored to your needs. If you know that you want to major in Rocket Science, you can find scholarships that only Rocket Science majors can receive. There is a much narrower pool of candidates for these scholarships so you have much better odds of receiving these scholarships. If you don't know what you want, however, don't despair. There are hundreds of scholarships out there for undecided college students. You can still get these if you apply early, get all your materials in order, and point out your best attributes.

Financial Aid and Scholarship Book

The Scholarship & Financial Aid Solution: How to Go to College for Next to Nothing with Short Cuts, Tricks, and Tips from Start to Finish
The Scholarship & Financial Aid Solution: How to Go to College for Next to Nothing with Short Cuts, Tricks, and Tips from Start to Finish

This is a FANTASTIC resource for college bound students. This helps demystify the financial aid and scholarship process.


Tip #3 - Learn How to Write a Good Essay

Many scholarships, especially the higher paying ones, will require an essay to be written by the applicant. If you can write well, you have a better chance of receiving the scholarship. If you are not very talented in the writing area, talk to your favorite high school English teacher. He/she would love to help you and can also double as a reference. Teachers love to be asked for help, especially when it comes to something this life changing. Be sure to ask for help at least two to three months before you begin writing scholarship essays.

Another Great Resource

How to Go to College Almost for Free
How to Go to College Almost for Free

Another great book on how to find more money in the scholarship system.


Tip #4 - Sign Up For Scholarship Drawings

You would not believe how many scholarship drawings are out there. There are usually no requirements besides proof of college enrollment upon winning the drawing. All you do is fill out some information and hit submit or drop you application in a bucket. Just remember to spell everything correctly and double-check your contact information in case you win. To find scholarship drawings, go to your favorite search engine and type in "scholarship drawings".

Tip #5 - Don't Worry If You Aren't a Great Student

If you have survived high school with a good GPA (grade point average), one above 3.0, you will find many good scholarships that you can receive just because you are a good student. If you didn't do so well in school, don't despair, there are still many opportunities for you. Drop by your guidance counselor's office. Chances are, he/she will have some scholarships that are specifically for students who have your GPA or ones that do not require a specific GPA.


Tip #6 - Do Scholarship Searches on Scholarship Search Sites

By far the best place to get scholarships is on a scholarship search site. Among the best are Fastweb, Finaid, and SallieMae. They have information about scholarships from all over the United States and you fill out a detailed profile to get a list of scholarships particular to your major, school, religion, homestate, organizations, and many other factors. You get a list with contact information, application details, due dates, and other pertinent information. You can even sign up to get reminders about scholarship due dates.

Tip #7 - Just Remember That It is Never Too Late

You can receive new scholarships at any time in your college career. You can get new scholarship money up until the last day of graduate school, if someone is willing to give it to you. Your school cannot deny your scholarships, unless it is in forged or counterfeit money. The only thing that they can do is take away money that they or the government has given you, up to the amount of the scholarships.

Scholarships Poll

How many scholarships did you apply for?

See results

Financial Aid Resources

Where to find more scholarships or more financial aid information.

Got a question about financial aid? Ask me! I've been a college student on financial aid for 4 years and I know pretty much all the ins and outs. Also, if you know of a great scholarship site, please tell us.

© 2012 Jessica

Comments? Questions?

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    • Jessica Holbrook profile image

      Jessica 6 years ago from Southern Indiana

      @Countryluthier: I agree! At my small high school (approximately 700 students), we had 20-30 scholarships set aside for students at our school alone and several went unused because no one took the time to fill out the application.

    • Countryluthier profile image

      E L Seaton 6 years ago from Virginia

      Never ever ever ever give up on applying for scholarships. There is always unused money in the system. You must apply to receive it.