While doing some research on financial aid for a client, I realized that most of our clients have too much income for their children to qualify for financial aid.  To help finance a college education for their children without paying out of pocket, the clients/children would need to take out loans or get scholarships or a combination of both.  In doing research for financial aid, I came across some sources that are helpful in finding scholarships.

The SallieMae website has a good listing of scholarships as well as tips.  The scholarships are broken out into eight categories.  The categories are:  Career, Special Interest, Military, Minority, Religious, Sports, State, and College Major.  To be able to search or view in detail the different scholarships, you will need to register on the website.  Registration is free.  Without logging in, you can still look around the website to get an idea of the different types of scholarships available out there.  The tips include a list of some things that you will need to apply for a scholarship and some things to think about to write a good essay for scholarships that require them.  To browse the information available on scholarships, you can go directly to this section of the SallieMae website by going to http://www.collegeanswer.com/scholarships/index.aspx.

Another useful website is the savingforcollege.com website.  This website allows you to search for Scholarships, Cash Awards, Grants, Loans, Contests, etc using a variety of different criteria.  The number of returns you get on your search depends on how many specific criteria you want to search for.  Some search criteria include Grade Level, Gender, Background, and State to name a few.  There is no registration required to search through this site.  You can go directly to the scholarships search section to this website by going to http://scholarships.savingforcollege.com/.

If you know what college you will be applying for, the school’s website is also a good source of information on scholarships that are available only through the school.  Some schools have merit-based scholarships that you don’t even need to specifically seek out; you are automatically considered when you submit an application to the school.  Others you will have to apply for.  The school’s website will let you know what to expect.

Not all scholarships are merit-based, so even if you are not a straight-A student, there are scholarships that the school or other groups have available.  For example, the University of Richmond has Music and Theatre/Dance Scholarships that are based on your musical or theatrical/dance talent.  There are scholarships listed on the website are for students applying to college as well as for students that are already in college.  You can also contact the financial aid office or the specific departments of study to get information on available scholarships.

Local groups can also be a good source of scholarships, although they tend to be smaller than large national scholarships.  Your school guidance is a good source for information about some local scholarships.  Local area businesses will often advertise scholarships, and some local civic groups give out scholarships each year.  Keep your eyes and ears open for opportunities in your area.

There are scholarships out there for everyone.  Whether you are a freshman in high school, have a disability, or are doing postgraduate studies, you can apply for a scholarship.  Although most of the scholarships I found were merit-based, there were many for other specific talents.  Scholarships ranged from full expenses for a given college to a few hundred dollars.  Even a few hundred dollars means a smaller dent in your wallets, so do a little searching and complete those applications.