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How To Get College Scholarships and Grants

The best way to get a college scholarship or grant is to start the search early — reach out to advisors, friends and family for advice, and never stop looking! Scholarships and grants can be attained throughout your college years to supplement college expenses.

The pain can be sifting through hundreds of scholarship listings and still finding the time to write dozens of essays to attain a small percentage of what you need to actually pay for college. Yes, the Internet fortunately provides access to foundations and organizations providing scholarships and grants, but it would take a small army to actually sift through 29 million plus search results!


Below we detail the top scholarship search and scholarship rewards program, as well as describe the four top college grants, including Federal Pell Grants and Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants (FSEOG).

Where You Can Find a College Scholarships

A scholarship is an award given to a student for the purpose of furthering their education. A scholarship can be a monetary award, or it can be an award of access to an institution. Scholarships are a vital piece of the financial aid system for two reasons:

  1. They provide money which generally does not have to be paid back
  2. They provide access to money which students may otherwise be ineligible for

Many families are not needy enough to qualify for federal financial aid, but still do not have the resources to pay for higher education costs without assistance. Along with student loans, scholarships fill in the gap between what a family can afford and the total cost of education. Scholarships do not have to be paid back, making them preferable to loans, but getting a scholarship can be competitive. Click here for a list of college scholarships for seniors, a free college search guide, and to learn more about the scholarships HowToGetIn awards to students yearly.

The Top Scholarship Search

When looking for scholarships check out StudentScholarshipSearch.com. The site is updated regularly with new scholarship and grant opportunities to help connect students with how to get applicable awards, scholarships and grants. StudentScholarshipSearch.com is free to use.

The Top Scholarship Rewards Program

ScholarshipPointsSM is a scholarship rewards program that allows you to earn entries, "points", for monthly drawings. Signing up is free and you can win without writing an essay, and despite your GPA, test scores or writing skills. ScholarshipPoints rewards visitors who participate in the site's online surveys and contests. ScholarshipPoints gave away over $100,000 in scholarships to students and prospective students in 2010. Click here to learn more about how to win scholarships.

Where To Get Grants for College

The largest and most familiar grants are part of the federal student aid award package. These grants include:

  • Federal Pell Grants
  • Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)

To get a federal grant, you need to fill out the Free Application for Federal Aid (FAFSA). Below we detail more about each of these two grants. For more federal grant information visit FAFSAonline.com

Federal Pell Grants

The Federal Pell Grant program is the largest need-based student aid program. According to the College Board, an estimated 3.7 million undergraduates received Pell Grants. For many students, these grants are the foundation of their financial aid package. Pell Grants are only awarded to undergraduate students who have not earned a bachelor's or professional degree. Awards depend on program funding. You can receive only one Pell Grant in an award year.

To apply for a Pell Grant, you must submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

The size of a student's Pell Grant award depends on:

  1. The student's need
  2. The student's Expected Family Contribution (EFC) and Cost of Attendance (COA)
  3. Whether the student is enrolled on a full-time or a part-time basis
  4. Whether the student attends school for a full academic year or less
  5. How much money the program receives from the federal government

Students in a study-abroad program that costs more than their usual college tuition may be eligible for additional Federal Pell Grant aid to help cover those costs. Check with your financial aid office.

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG)

The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants program is one of three federal campus-based programs. The program provides grants to undergraduates with exceptional financial need (students with the lowest Expected Family Contributions) and gives priority to students who receive Federal Pell Grants. Students are automatically considered when they submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Students can get between $100 and $4,000, depending on when they apply, their level of need, and the funding level of the school the student is attending. Recipients must be U.S. citizens enrolled at least half-time in an undergraduate program at an accredited college or university.

Students at each school are awarded FSEOG aid based on the availability of funds at their school, so there is no guarantee that every eligible student will receive an FSEOG loan.

Nearly one million students receive Federal SEOG loans each year.