Wondering how to pay for college? Not sure where to find free money to help with college expenses? We’ve got you covered!
There is government and private money out there, but you need to know where to find it. Because, believe it or not, you can go to college and graduate with little to no debt.
Whether it’s a government, national, or local Scholarship or Grant, you may be eligible for money you don’t need to repay.
Here are your best ways to find and apply for free money that’ll subsidize your education.
How to Find Free Money for College
There’s a lot of free money out there to help you pay for college. No matter who you are, you can find money for college.
My sister-in-law is a great example. She comes from a low-income family. She knew her father wasn’t going to be able to pay for 3 kids to go to college. That didn’t stop her, but it did take her countless hours to do the research.
Fast forward 4 years and my sister-in-law received her degree in business with honors. But imagine how much easier it would have been if she’d known where to find grants and scholarships?
First, let’s uncover the different types of free money for college. There are 3 main categories:
This free money can come from a variety of sources:
- Federal grants
- State grants
- Local organizations
- Labor unions
- Professional organizations
- Banks and/or credit unions
- Advocacy groups
My sister-in-law was able to find scholarships. In fact, the majority of her financial aid came from scholarships. Her father had the ability to pay the difference, which is not always the case.
I know for her and I’m certain for your parents as well, graduating from college is a dream come true.
Where To Search For Scholarships and Grants
I know what you’re thinking. You’re most likely wondering, “where do I start?”
The search can get overwhelming. I know I felt anxious when I was searching. To the point, it even stopped me from looking. But don’t worry. I’ve done the hard work and pulled together a list.
To begin, here are a few places recommended by the Federal Student Aid to get help:
- High school counselor
- Financial aid department
- Free online scholarship search tools
- Your state grant agency
- Library’s reference section
- Ethnicity-based organizations
Always stay diligent in your research to avoid scams. Verify it’s legitimate and most of all, pay attention to the payback terms and conditions.
Now let’s dive into specific scholarships and grants.
1. Government Scholarships
Government funding is where you’ll find grants you qualify for. There are two different types of government funding:
- Federal grants: Federal Pell Grants are awarded to those with financial need. To qualify for them, you must submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
Other grants you may qualify for are:
- Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG)
- Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grants
- Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants
- State grants and scholarships: Depending on what state you live in, will determine what will be available for you.
Massachusetts has a variety of grants and scholarships you can apply for.
Similar to the Federal Pell Grant, you must submit for FAFSA.
2. Local Scholarships
What better way to look for free money than within your own community?
You know what’s around you. You know the people around your area. If you don’t, it’s a great opportunity to learn about your community.
You or your family members may be part of local communities that can help with your search.
- Labor unions: You might not know this but if you have a parent or a spouse who is a retired or active member of a union you have options. As a child or spouse of a union worker, you qualify for the Union Plus Scholarship Program. They have awarded over 5 million awards since 1991 to union families.
- Organizations: Local organizations will be a good help with your search. Think about organizations you or your parents are a part of and ask if they offer a scholarship.
Organizations include non-profits within your community. Inversant is a non-profit in your community whose mission is to help those in need get a higher education. We have our Cash For College Scholarship open now. Think you might be eligible? Check it out!
- Employer: A place that I forgot to apply to was where my parents worked. The company that my mom worked for had a scholarship that I was able to apply to, and I believe the company my dad worked for also had a scholarship. The main difference with the scholarship offer from my dad’s company, compared to my mom’s, was you qualified based on what you were going to major in. Make sure you check for every opportunity, and that you also read the small details.
Ask your parents and grandparents to check with their employers. Many companies offer scholarships for their workers’ children and spouses.
3. Online Scholarship Search Tools
I started my search using online scholarship search tools. It was the main way, besides applying for FAFSA, schoolteachers would recommend.
There are a lot of websites out there, but here are some of the top websites that helped me find scholarships. As well as others that are recommended.
- U.S. Department of Labor’s: The federal government has their own list of scholarships. CareerOneStop list more than 8,000 scholarships, grants, and other financial aid.
- College Board Scholarships Search: According to Student Loan Hero, this has been the industry leader for locating scholarships and grant money. The College Board Scholarship search has partnered with over 2,200 programs to create their list.
- Chegg: On Chegg’s scholarship search tool, you will be able to search over 25,000 scholarships. If you set up a profile, Chegg will show you results based on your profile.
- Fastweb: Fastweb has access to over 1.5 million scholarships. That’s worth over 3.4 billion available for you.
- Scholarships.com: Scholarships.com has a library of over 3.7 million scholarships. That is up to $19 billion in free money. I know 3.7 million scholarships are overwhelming. Creating a profile will help narrow your search to show scholarships you can qualify for.
How To Apply For Scholarships
You have your list of scholarships you want to apply for. What’s next?
- Each scholarship will have its own deadline and its own requirements. Review both!
- The scholarship website will have all the requirements listed. As long as you match all the requirements, you qualify.
- Pay close attention! Is there anything else besides the application required? Some scholarships will ask for an essay, a video, a resume, or other documents.
- Not all scholarships will have a deadline around the same time. Stay organized and on top of deadlines. You don’t want to miss out on an opportunity because you missed the deadline.
One thing I like to do is create spreadsheets. When I was applying for jobs, it helped me stay organized. I knew where I applied to, when I applied to it, and if I had heard back.
Do one for your scholarship search. Organize by,
- Scholarship name
- When you applied
- If they state when you should hear back from them.
If you miss a scholarship deadline, don’t let that stop you from applying. Keep moving forward!
There’s a lot of free money out there. Whether you choose a Scholarship or Grant or a mix of national and local funds, it’s all up to you.
With that being said, now it’s your turn. What did you find surprising? Which direction will you go? Share with me in the comments!
OH, and don’t forget – check out Inversant’s Cash For College Scholarship. Review the requirements to see if you qualify and APPLY! We’re accepting applications until August 26.