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The best way to pay for college is with money you didn’t have to save and don’t have to pay back. This money typically comes in the form of grants and scholarships.
Grants are generally based on need, while scholarships are merit-based. You must submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, to qualify for federal government grants, like the Pell Grant. Many state- and school-based grants are also tied to the FAFSA.
Your school could offer merit-based scholarships. Contact your school’s financial aid office to see what awards are available. For private scholarships — money awarded outside your school — you’ll have to dig a little deeper. Scholarship search engines are a good place to start.
Scholarship websites, or scholarship search engines, provide you access to many scholarships at once. Some sites, however, may sell or share your information, which can lead to spam email. The seven websites on this list claim to keep your information safe and provide a trove of opportunities to help fund your college degree.
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Bold.org allows individuals and companies to create scholarship and grant opportunities. Those looking for free money for college can create a profile to customize their search or use the search tool to explore by keyword. Some popular search terms include: scholarships for women, scholarships for high school seniors, scholarships for hispanic students, scholarships for nursing students, graduate school scholarships and merit-based scholarships.
BrokeScholar allows you to search its scholarship library without creating a profile. In many cases, it also routes applicants directly to the scholarship provider to apply. If you don’t want to search the whole library, you can search by demographic, education level and academic subject.
While Chegg is mostly known for its study services, it also provides a scholarship search engine with over 25,000 opportunities. You can filter through the results without creating a profile or create a profile to save your search preferences.
4. College Board
College Board’s scholarship site falls under its BigFuture brand. The site has over 6,000 scholarship opportunities from organizations such as UNCF and Scholarship America, but you’ll need to create an account to look through them. College Board then uses your profile information to match you with relevant opportunities.
5. Get Schooled
Get Schooled was founded through a strategic partnership between Paramount and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Its target audience includes low-income families, racial minorities and first-generation college students. Get Schooled provides lists of scholarships by category, and you can download Get Schooled’s scholarship application tracker to help you stay organized.
6. JLV College Counseling
JLV College Counseling is an independently owned site that curates scholarship opportunities by due date. You don’t have to register to browse, and the site doesn’t have a detailed filter function. You do, however, have the option to sign up for newsletter updates.
The U.S. Labor Department's CareerOneStop website has a database with over 9,000 college scholarships that you can search through.
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