If you're trying to figure out how you'll pay for college, you've probably heard friends or family say, “Scholarships for college are out there, you just have to look for them."
But if you've actually tried to look for scholarships, you know that finding the right ones can feel like looking for a needle in a haystack. There are over 5 million scholarships available to sift through for students in the US.
It’s a big haystack and we understand if it feels overwhelming. But it is true that with a little bit of work, you can win free money without having to pay it back. And, yes, there is a better way for you to search for scholarships.
With the right search tools, you can quickly narrow in on the scholarships that are the best fit and that you have the highest chances of winning. In this post, we’ll look at nine scholarship search sites that can make your scholarship search easier and more efficient.
9 Best College Scholarship Search Websites
The best college scholarship search websites make it easy to find and apply for the legit scholarships that you have a real chance of winning. The nine sites featured below are our top picks for 2020.
Bold.org is one of the newest college scholarship search websites, and they are changing the game. One of the features of their marketplace is that they allow anyone to create a scholarship. On the bigger search websites, this was restricted to high paying companies - so they didn't have as many smaller or niche scholarships.
Bold.org has a great selection of scholarships, but their application process is a bit long to register. But that registration process is well worth it to connect to a lot of scholarships easily.
Fastweb.com has been around since 1996 and has established itself as one of the most advanced college scholarship search websites available today. Using Fastweb, you can search for scholarships based on your area of study, strengths, skills and interests.
For example, if you'll be studying engineering at your college, you can find specific scholarships that are available to engineering students.
You can also filter your scholarship search based on a demographic or ethnicity. If, for instance, you want to find funding that is specifically intended for African-Americans, bilingual students, or military veterans, Fastweb makes it easy to find those scholarships.
Collegeboard is well-known for their college search and college prep programs. But they also offer a robust scholarship search engine.
One of the reasons that Collegboard makes our list of best college scholarship search websites is that it offers powerful filtering tools: Examples of criteria you can search by include:
- Health conditions or disabilities
- College major
- Religious affiliation
- Military service
- Club or organization membership
In addition to offering robust search tools, the number of schools that Collegeboard can search is one of the highest you'll find. For 2020, it has financial aid and internships from over 2,200 programs, worth nearly $6 billion of FREE college money.
Scholarships.com provides access to up to $19 billion worth of scholarships and grants in their database, ready for you to search and use towards your college education.
Their algorithm will automatically recommend the scholarships that it thinks you have the best chance of winning. But if you'd like to manually search for opportunities, you can do that as well. On Scholarships.com, you can search by academic major, athletics, art, ethnicity, first in family, GPA, minority, music, state, and much more.
When you create an account with them, you are entered into a drawing to win a $500 scholarship. In order to use their scholarship search engine, you'll need to create a free account on their website.
Peterson’s first came online in 1997 and their print version for college search has been around longer than that. One of the reasons that Peterson’s landed on our list of the best college scholarship search websites is that it is a strong resource for grad students.
While the first three sites on this list focus heavily on helping first-time and current undergraduate students find scholarships, Peterson’s has an entire section dedicated to helping graduate students who need help with college funding.
The search tool on Peterson’s website also allows you to look for grants, prizes, fellowships and forgivable loans. The tool is free and you can search through over $10 billion worth of scholarship awards.
Scholly is a student success app that gained a lot of publicity from being on popular TV show Shark Tank. They can help you with math problems and they even have a in-built editing and proof-reading tool that helps students write better.
You can find and apply for scholarships on Scholly as well. In order to use Scholly, you have to create an account and then access to all its features will cost you $44.99 per year.
According to Scholly, they provide access to little-known scholarships which gives you an edge since not as many people are applying for them. For an app that costs less than $5 per month, it could be well worth it if it helps you win even one $1000 scholarship.
7. Sallie Mae
Sallie Mae’s scholarship search engine allows you to search through 5 million college scholarships worth $24 billion.
One reason we consider it one of the best college scholarship search websites is that students can set up customized alerts to be notified when a new scholarship becomes available that matches their profile.
It's free to use but you will need to register for an account with them. Once you register with Sallie Mae, you'll also be entered into a sweepstakes to win a $1000 scholarship.
Unigo is yet another powerful scholarship search engine that gives you access to search through 3.6 million scholarships and grants.
They also offer a $10,000 scholarship where you submit a 250-word essay answering questions like, “Imagine a historical figure is brought back to life. Who is it? What’s their favorite mobile app?”
Niche.com has a super-friendly user interface for searching for college and grad school scholarships. And if you create an account on Niche today, you will be entered to win a “no essay” $2,000 scholarship.
After completing your profile, you can quickly begin to sort through the scholarships that it labels as "Your Matches." Or you can filter by a variety of unique criteria, including "Easy to Apply," "Popular," "Niche Scholarships," and "New Scholarships."
College Scholarships makes our list of best college scholarship websites for the simple fact that you don’t need to create an account or fill out long forms to start using their resources. Instead, you can immediately begin searching for the right scholarship opportunities and working through the application processes.
In addition to scholarships, you can find grants and loan opportunities on College Scholarships -- all without having to provide your personal information. When you visit their site, you can search through over 23,000 scholarships based on deadlines, gender, ethnicity, state and award amount.
Scholarships and grants rank #1 on our order of operations for paying for college. But to maximize your scholarship funding, you must have a plan. You can't haphazardly look for scholarships and become successful at winning enough of them to pay for college.
Consider creating a spreadsheet of scholarships with their deadlines and requirements. Also,
only focus on scholarships that fit you. Look for scholarships that are based on your area of study, ethnicity, gender, state, or school.
Finally, don’t be afraid to pay a coach or visit the career services at your school to help you find and win the right scholarships. And be sure to combine your scholarship efforts with other ways to minimize student debt like starting a side hustle to earn extra money and picking an affordable school.
Robert Farrington is America’s Millennial Money Expert® and America’s Student Loan Debt Expert™, and the founder of The College Investor, a personal finance site dedicated to helping millennials escape student loan debt to start investing and building wealth for the future. You can learn more about him on the About Page, or on his personal site RobertFarrington.com.
He regularly writes about investing, student loan debt, and general personal finance topics geared towards anyone wanting to earn more, get out of debt, and start building wealth for the future.
He has been quoted in major publications including the New York Times, Washington Post, Fox, ABC, NBC, and more. He is also a regular contributor to Forbes.