Looking for college scholarships can be overwhelming, to say the least. There are endless forms to fill out — and that requires finding the right forms to begin with! But it doesn’t have to kill you. There are ways you can win the scholarship game without dying of sleep deprivation or exhaustion. Here are five tips on how to find scholarships for college students:

  1. Know how to sell uourself
  2. Start early
  3. Look locally
  4. Get creative
  5. Apply to multiple scholarships for college students

1. Know How to Sell Yourself

Before you apply for a college scholarship, you need to understand what you are as a package and what you’re eligible to apply for.

Do you qualify for financial aid scholarships for college students? Are you an athlete, merit scholar, painter, or video game enthusiast?

You don’t need to be the best at anything, but it helps to know what type of scholarships you should be focusing on.

Read up on the basic eligibility criteria for federal student aid on the U.S. Department of Education's site to find out what type of financial scholarship you might be eligible for.

2. Start Early

It’s logical to start looking for college scholarships only after you know where you’ve been accepted to college. However, you will have a lot more options available to you if you start earlier. Students should research student loans, financial aid, and other scholarship opportunities during their junior year of high school or earlier. That way you don’t miss a single application deadline as a high school senior.

But if you’re already in your senior year, don’t panic. There will still be scholarships for college students available to you. You just might have to spend a little bit more time researching for the right one for you.

3. Look Locally

The biggest mistake people make when looking for college scholarships is focusing on national opportunities instead of local ones. Although the famous ones might seem fancy, they’re also way harder to get, since the application process is so competitive.

The best thing you can do for yourself is to start local — I mean really local.

Don't just look for opportunities in your state. Also look in your town and region specifically. Check out StudentScholarshipSearch, a site that helps you narrow down scholarships by state and region. Sites like ScholarshipOwl can also make your search and application process easier.

4. Get Creative

Get creative when researching scholarships for college students. Make a list of all of the different outlets you can pursue, like your parents’ jobs, your school guidance office, or any local and national businesses.

In addition to big scholarship opportunities from places like Starbucks or Coca-Cola, smaller businesses often offer small scholarships in the form of a few thousand dollars. Odds are that you have a higher chance of success if you leave no stone unturned during your search. This also goes for your application: Try to stick out. Make sure your personality comes across on the page with whatever you write.

5. Apply to Multiple Scholarships for College Students

Don’t worry about the amount of money in any one scholarship. One college scholarship doesn’t have to cover all of your tuition and housing needs.

Consider applying to at least a few dozen scholarships for college students. I know, that sounds like a lot of work. But even if you spend 10 hours applying for a $500 scholarship, that will end up translating to you being paid $50 an hour if you get it.

You’re more likely to be successful applying for a bunch of smaller scholarships and pooling the amounts together than trying to go for the gold and get one well-known full scholarship. Look for scholarships that offer a range of services — from tuition scholarships to textbook grants to housing aid.

Further Reading: “I Received Way More Financial Aid Than I Deserved”

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