7 Easiest Ways To Get Scholarship Money

Female student standing in college and looking away.
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Applying for college can be stressful, and oftentimes, the last thing you want to think about during the process is applying for scholarships. But scholarships can greatly reduce the cost of college — something for which you will likely be grateful for years.

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After all, the average cost of college for in-state tuition at a four-year public college is over $25,000 in 2022. Attend a private school, and the cost shoots up to over $50,000. Indeed, scholarships are a must these days, especially if you want to spend four years at a private school or head out of your home state.

The good news is that there are some ways you can obtain scholarships without overextending yourself. Among the easiest ways are by working with your preferred college’s admissions office and networking with current students. Here are some simple ways to snag scholarship money.

Apply for Federal Student Aid

The federal government offers grants for college students to help reduce the cost. For most students, this is the first place to start when applying for college. You can qualify for the following grants with the FAFSA form:

  • Pell Grant — grant of up to $6,895 per year for the 2022-2023 academic year. These grants are intended for families with low expected income.
  • Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) — grant of between $100 and $4,000 per year.
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While federal grants are generous, they aren’t enough to cover even in-state tuition at a four-year public college — especially if you don’t qualify for a Pell Grant. Thus, you will likely need other options to help reduce the cost of college.

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Ask the Admissions Office

Every college is different and has its own set of scholarships available to students. Hence, after receiving your acceptance letter, you should ask your admissions or financial aid office what your scholarship options are. This suggestion comes from Dr. Amy Baldwin, student success professor at the University of Central Arkansas. Dr. Baldwin notes that university staff will be able to help you both with local scholarships as well as national ones.

Use a Scholarship Website

Another option Dr. Baldwin recommended that can help you find a variety of scholarships is to use a scholarship website. Those websites include www.fastweb.com and www.scholarships.com. Both websites will ask you to fill out a basic profile; then, they will go ahead and match you with the best scholarship options based on your information.

Network With Current Students

Current students can also be an invaluable resource. They can help you with tips about possible scholarships and what to expect as you embark on your college journey. Dr. Baldwin also suggested this as a possible “in” for scholarship money. Baldwin said, “Often times, they have spent time researching this and can provide direction or advice for applying on scholarships they have been involved with.”

Make Your Money Work for You

There are several ways you can reach out to current students. Perhaps there is someone from your high school who is one or two years older and currently attends the college where you plan to enroll. Another possibility is LinkedIn. The site’s “People You May Know” section includes people from your school. Once you add your college to your profile, you should start seeing students who currently go there.

Search Locally

Searching locally for scholarships can be a good idea because there can be a lot less competition for local scholarships than for national ones. In addition to asking your college about local scholarships, your high school can also be a valuable resource here. Check its website for a list of scholarships as well as your college’s website, as there may be a list there, too.

Start Early

The earlier you get started with your college applications and scholarships, the better. Part of this is not only starting the application itself earlier but setting yourself up for success long before that. For example, having good grades and extracurricular activities will increase your chances of both admissions as well as various scholarships.

Think of it like a job application: the more you have that can bolster your case, the better your odds are of winning out over other applicants. So, the earlier you start thinking about acquiring cash for college, the better.

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Continue Applying While in College

Just because college has started doesn’t mean you can stop thinking about scholarships altogether. Some scholarships are available to any student, regardless of your age or what year you are in college. Plus, new scholarships crop up all the time. Continue your search all throughout college to ensure you find as many opportunities as possible.

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About the Author

Bob Haegele is a personal finance writer who specializes in topics such as investing, banking and credit cards. He left his day job in 2019 to pursue his passion for helping people get out of debt and build wealth. You can find his work at outlets such as Business Insider, Forbes Advisor and SoFi.
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