4 Places to Find Big and Small Scholarships for College

Scholarships for college are available in so many places, but many students don’t realize it!

Today, I’m going to share four places to find big (and small) scholarships for college.

I’m passionate about this topic because I’ll never forget the day I received an e-mail saying I won a scholarship for my entire study abroad experience. Studying abroad was something I thought would be out of reach for me, but I soon learned the study abroad office at my college offered several different scholarships. So, I applied, wrote a few essays, and waited.

I thought perhaps I could win a small scholarship that would offset the costs of studying abroad enough so that I could go. However, I ended up winning about $5,000, which I used to fully fund a summer at Cambridge University in England.

Needless to say, receiving that scholarship changed my life for the better. That’s why I’m so intent on encouraging others to apply for any and every scholarship they find. You never know how much you could win!

There are thousands and thousands of scholarships for college available to students. Some of them are small, around $500, while others could pay for an entire four year university education.

The trick is that you have to know where to look, and you have to be incredibly motivated to continuously apply for them. You also have to be willing to face rejection and write a lot of essays!

If you’re up for the challenge, below are four of the top places to find scholarship matches for you.

Table of Contents
  1. Online Tools to Find Scholarships For College
  2. Your Local Church (or Non-Religious Organization)
  3. Service Clubs
  4. Specific University Departments

Online Tools to Find Scholarships For College

While watching Shark Tank one night, I learned about Scholly, an online too that helps you find scholarships specific to your interests, major, race, and more.

I’ve been using Scholly myself for weeks trying to win scholarships to help pay for MBA courses.

Overall, I’m impressed with the interface. When you sign up for Scholly, you add information about yourself and Scholly will find a match for you.

Since I’m 30 years old, a mom, and going for my second master’s degree, I thought I wouldn’t be eligible for many scholarships. I wrongly assumed that Scholly would cater towards undergraduate students.

However, every day, Scholly shows me new scholarships I can apply for. I pay a small $2.99 month fee for Scholly, which will be worth it even if I won only one scholarship.

Another thing I like about Scholly is that they have a significant amount of smaller scholarships listed. I’ve learned that most students only apply to the big scholarships, trying to get large portions of their college tuition paid for. However, the smaller scholarships are less competitive.

One scholarship I applied for (but didn’t win unfortunately) only had 18 applicants! So, my best piece of advice when using a tool like Scholly is to apply for anything and everything you’re eligible for. Small awards adds up and can pay for significant portions of your education.

Your Local Church (or Non-Religious Organization)

Churches are a great place to start looking for scholarships. Your local church might offer scholarships to their own members. However, if you are a member of some of the larger religions that have national and international organizations (like Catholics and Methodists, for example) there are even more scholarships opportunities.

Here are some resources to find specific scholarships based on religion:

Of course, there are scholarships for you even if you’re not religious at all! The national organization, American Atheists, just awarded more than $4,000 in scholarships to students.

There are even scholarships that cater to free thinkers, coders, working parents, twins, and more. You just need to start looking to find one that fits you.

Service Clubs

There are many different national service organizations that offer college scholarships. Some of the most widely known are the Rotary Club, Kiwanis Club, and the Lions Club.

However, it’s also beneficial to look at your local mens and women’s clubs too. For example, many chapters of the Junior League (a national women’s volunteer organization) offer scholarships to college students. So, check for service organizations in your area and search online to see if they’ve offered college scholarships in the past.

Specific University Departments

Students who are currently enrolled at a college or university need to ask their professors, advisors, and financial aid office about scholarships available at their school.

As I mentioned, I won a scholarship from my school’s Study Abroad office. I also won a $1,500 scholarship from the Department of History my junior year. So, there were many scholarship opportunities in the various departments at my college. There will likely be several at your school too!

To give another example, The New York Times published an article a few years back about a student who attended community college before transferring to NYU. She won a $20,000 scholarship from the Community College Transfer Opportunity Program. Because of that scholarship and that she attended community college first, she earned a degree from NYU for a fraction of the price.

So, there are many opportunities right there under your own school roof that you can apply for, whether you attend a community college or a four year institution.

Luckily, with programs like Scholly and just searching the Internet in general, you can find scholarship opportunities easily. All you need to do is put in the time and the effort to pursue these opportunities, even if it’s as small as a $250 reward.

The key is to put as much effort as possible towards graduating from college or graduate school debt free. Scholarships can help you get there, and as evidenced above, you don’t have to be a top student to get them. You simply need to search for scholarships you’re eligible for and apply for them with a vengeance!

Good luck, and I hope this guide helps get you one step closer (which pairs nicely with some of these jobs for college students) to affording your education.

Did you win any college scholarships when you were in school? Where did you find them? What do you think is the best place to find college scholarships today?

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About Catherine Alford

Catherine Alford is the go to personal finance expert for educated, aspirational moms. She founded her award winning personal finance blog, www.CatherineAlford.com, in 2010.

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6 years ago

With two kids off to college in just a matter of weeks, we have been hunting high and low for scholarships. We learned about Scholly too, via Shark Tank, and it a tool we’ve used. My son was awarded $20K a year scholarship from his college. Our plan is to continue to apply for new scholarships each year.

Jim Wang
6 years ago
Reply to  Brian

Woaaaah – that’s awesome!

I really wish I would have paid more attention to scholarships when I was applying for college. It would have been amazing to go to school for cheaper or free!

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