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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 counselors, friends and family for advice, and never stop looking! Scholarships and grants can be awarded throughout your college years to supplement college expenses.

The pain of 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 86 million plus search results for the word “scholarships”!

Below, we detail several of the top scholarship search and scholarship rewards programs, as well as describe the two largest college grants, the Federal Pell Grants and Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG).

Where You Can Find a College Scholarship

A scholarship is a monetary award given to a student for the purpose of furthering his or her education. Scholarships are often awarded based on merit, such as academic, athletic or artistic talent. 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 that recognizes student achievement and/or merit, usually without regard to financial need

Many families are not financially disadvantaged enough to qualify for need-based financial aid programs, but still do not have enough resources to pay for higher education costs without some assistance. Along with student loans and part-time employment, scholarships fill in the gap between what a family can afford and the total cost of attendance. Scholarships do not have to be paid back, making them preferable to loans and part-time employment, but getting a scholarship can be competitive.

One of the Top Scholarship Search Sites

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

ScholarshipPoints is a scholarship rewards program that allows you to earn entries, called "points,” for monthly drawings. Signing up is free and you can win without writing an essay, and with no regard for your GPA, test scores or writing skills. The ScholarshipPoints program rewards visitors who participate in the program’s online surveys and contests. Visit ScholarshipPoints.com to join the ScholarshipPoints program. ScholarshipPoints has awarded more than $750,000 in scholarships to students and prospective students.

Where to Get Grants for College

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

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

To get a federal grant, you need to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).  Each of these two federal grants is described below:

Federal Pell Grants

The Federal Pell Grant program is the largest need-based student aid program. According to the College Board, an estimated 9.2 million undergraduates received Federal Pell Grants in 2013-2014. For many students, these grants are the foundation of their financial aid package. Federal Pell Grants are awarded only to undergraduate students who have not yet earned a bachelor's or professional degree. Awards depend on program funding. You can receive only one Federal Pell Grant in an award year.

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

The amount 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 costs may be eligible for additional Federal Pell Grant aid to help cover those costs, except that the Federal Pell Grant may not exceed the maximum Federal Pell Grant amount. Check with your college’s financial aid office.

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG)

The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant program is one of three federal campus-based student aid programs. The FSEOG 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 demonstrated financial need and the funding level of the college or university the student is attending. Recipients must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents enrolled at least half-time in an undergraduate program at an eligible accredited college or university.

Students at each college or university 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.

Nearly one million students receive Federal SEOG grants each year.

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