In addition to the many federal and state financial aid programs, there are several private sources of financial aid available to students. Sources include agencies, associations and organizations (e.g. corporations, civic, religious and philanthropic groups). Good sources of information about private scholarships include colleges, libraries and the Internet.
There are several online scholarship search services that can be helpful in identifying sources of aid for students who meet certain criteria, such as academic achievement, religious affiliation, ethnic or racial heritage, artistic talents, athletic ability, career plans, or proposed field of study. However, students should keep in mind that funds from these sources are usually limited and not all applicants will receive awards.
Here are links to some popular online scholarships search services:
Students can improve their chances of obtaining financial aid by planning ahead, applying early and reading directions carefully. Since private financial aid programs generally have early deadlines, students should begin researching these sources during their sophomore and junior years of high school, or two to three years before they plan to attend college.
Watch Out for Scams!
Unfortunately, in their efforts to pay the bills, many students and their families fall prey to scholarship scams. Looking for Student Aid provides pointers on avoiding scams and a checklist of places to find free scholarship information. The site includes a printer-friendly fact sheet to print and share with students.
For more information on avoiding scams, visit the Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) Scholarship Scams Web site. The FTC works to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices in the marketplace.