Be Prepared to Invest Time and Effort: There aren’t any quick tricks or shortcuts to winning a scholarship. Finding suitable scholarships requires a broad search and careful reading of the application requirements. For each scholarship, you may need to fill out an application form and submit letters of recommendation, a resume, high school transcripts, and information about your academic honors, community service, and work experience. Some scholarships also require an essay.
Start Early: Some national scholarship databases let you search their listings and submit information for scholarship matching starting in your freshman year of high school. Just remember to update your information in each database annually. You should at least start looking for scholarships during your junior year.
Go Local: Talk to your high school guidance counselor about scholarship opportunities in your community. Counselors are great sources of information about scholarships that may be awarded by local service clubs, businesses, nonprofits, religious groups, foundations, professional organizations, and others. You’ll have a better chance of success with local scholarships because there’s less competition than for national awards.
Use Care When Applying: Carefully read the application instructions. Then be sure to meet all deadlines, submit everything required, and proofread documents before sending them.
Register With and Search National Scholarship Databases: Most national scholarship databases will match you with scholarships based on your personal information. Registering with these databases can save a lot of search time. However, if you’re wary about supplying your personal information, you can search many of the databases yourself. The majority of databases are free, although some charge fees. Lots of databases exist. Here are some to get you started:
Avoid Scholarship Scams: If you get a call, text, email, or mailing offering you scholarship information for a fee, it might be a scam. Any offers “guaranteeing” you a scholarship if you pay money are definitely scams. Learn about these and many more scams in How to Avoid Scholarship and Financial Aid Scams from the Federal Trade Commission.