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How To Find and Apply For Scholarships: A Step-by-Step Guide


If you’re among the 20 million students who enroll in college each year, you could be one of the 70% of students who borrow money to pay for their education. Loans could be a short-term fix, but they might leave you with almost $30,000 in debt when you graduate.


Scholarships for higher education are a much better option. Students of various ages and socioeconomic backgrounds are eligible to apply for and earn scholarships.

So why aren’t more people applying if anyone can do so and win? Well, many students find the scholarship application process demoralizing. They demand a lot of time and effort and have various criteria.


Despite the difficulties, you shouldn’t pass up the chance to receive free money for education. Here is a step-by-step guide to finding and applying for scholarships to help you with the process.

How to Find Scholarships for Applying?

With the help of the internet’s plethora of search engines and online resources, you may quickly identify and apply for hundreds of scholarships. Here, we’ll go through some of the typical resources you (and your parents!) may utilize to locate scholarships to apply for.


Websites for Scholarships

The first location that is frequently suggested to seek is scholarship websites. These widely accessible websites provide thousands upon thousands of scholarships. With easy sign-up choices, filter options, and search results customized to students’ unique profiles, scholarship websites have really stepped up their game in recent years.

The competition on scholarship websites is fierce, which is a drawback. Numerous of these websites have links to external, national scholarships, some of which are determined by a lottery. Some websites still mention scholarship programs that are no longer available because they aren’t updated regularly enough or aren’t quality-controlled.

Search Engines

Google is beloved by everybody, right? Anything may be found, even college scholarships, of course. Millions of results will be found with a short search.

Although this can seem like a sensible strategy, it’s definitely not the greatest place to begin. The majority of the findings won’t apply to you. Browsing through pages and pages of pointless material will cost you a lot of time. Try to be as particular as you can with your queries if you’re going to use a search engine like Google. By doing this, you may focus your search and discover more pertinent scholarships.

Take some time to reflect on your identity before beginning your scholarship quest. So who are you? What traits do you possess? What distinguishes you? It’s a good idea to list your gender, race, state of residence, disability, family status, traits, strengths, and shortcomings as well as your interests. This information will serve as your roadmap when you look for scholarships.


A simple way to look for scholarships is through mobile applications and mobile-friendly scholarship websites. A huge advantage is being able to apply while on the road and keep up with scholarships. Most applications let you customize your search results.

You may refine your scholarship search for local scholarships with Going Merry’s mobile-friendly scholarship application, compile a list of your favorite universities and scholarships, and view scholarships you’re qualified to apply for. By the beginning of 2020, we’ll also be launching mobile apps (for iOS and Android)!

Government Grants

You must prove your financial necessity if you want to get a government grant for education. The Pell Grant is the largest government award. You must first complete the FAFSA in order to be eligible for Pell Aid or any other federal grant.


Scholarships from your high school, from which you are graduating, or from your college may be available (that you will be attending next year). In either situation, colleges may offer scholarships paid for by the government, a for-profit or nonprofit organization, past students, or the institution itself. All students will be eligible for certain scholarships, while others will be awarded based on merits or particular attributes (such as leadership) (GPA, sports).

Departmental scholarships may be available at some institutions, such as those solely available to psychology majors. The qualifying standards should be as specific as possible to reduce competition and increase your chances of winning.

How to Increase Scholarship Winning?

Even better than one scholarship is two or three! Applying for more scholarships is the greatest method to win more of them! Concerned about having to complete several applications? We also would be! With ScholarshipOwl, all of your applications are sent on your behalf once you complete just one form. You have less time-consuming work to worry about and more time to concentrate on the scholarship application’s more crucial components, including the essay.

Although it may be tempting to simply apply for scholarships with large awards, don’t discount minor prizes. Since there are fewer applications for smaller scholarships, your chances of winning are higher. Additionally, if you receive many scholarships, you may pool them together to put together a wonderful package of financial help for yourself.

Here is our step-by-step tutorial on how to apply for scholarships, whether you’re a college freshman making your first scholarship application or just need a little more money to get you through grad school:

Step 1: Look for Scholarships That You Qualify For

Finding scholarships to apply for has already required a lot of work on your part. Now, split your search into need-based and merit-based scholarships.

Need-based scholarships are only given to applicants who require a little additional financial assistance and are based on your or your family’s capacity to pay for education. Scholarships that are merit-based are given to candidates based on their accomplishments or skills. They could be more interested in academia, the arts, or sports.

Step 2: Acquaint yourself with the requirements for applications

Finding the application criteria comes next after selecting a few scholarships to apply for. Each scholarship has its own set of prerequisites. Fortunately, you will repeatedly run across the same criteria.

The following are some typical documents you could be asked to submit:

Scholarship Application Form

Fill out the scholarship application completely, and make sure all the information is correct.

Transcripts/diplomas. This one is rather simple to understand. You may obtain copies of your transcripts from the websites of your high school and college. Additionally, you can go to the Registrars or Guidance Offices.

Recommendation Letters

Most scholarships want letters of recommendation from people you know or who you’ve worked with. Give someone at least four weeks’ notice when asking for a letter of reference from a professor, teacher, guidance counselor, or a personal source. A hurried or anxious recommender is the absolute last thing you need.


Not every scholarship calls for an essay. But if they do, this is unquestionably where you should put most of your efforts. You must make the reader understand your individuality, originality, and motivation.

Information about Financial Aid

Some scholarships, especially those that are need-based, may ask you to send your FAFSA form or, in some cases, even the tax and income information for your parents, along with your application.


When applying for scholarships, having an updated résumé might really help. One of the key components of your application, together with your essay, should be your CV, where you may showcase your qualifications and achievements.


You’ll probably need to upload your portfolio if you’re looking for scholarships in the fields of art and design.

Step 3: Start your scholarship applications

Never undervalue the time required to submit a scholarship application. Rushing through a scholarship application is the worst thing you can do. Your program is more likely to include errors. The scholarship judges will be able to see that you don’t care about the award.

As soon as scholarship applications become available, begin the application process. Creating anything, in this example, a prom outfit out of duct tape is a requirement for several scholarships, such as the Stuck at Prom scholarship competition. You must write one or more essays to be eligible for many scholarships. You might need to make a video to apply for certain other scholarships.

Beat the rush by beginning those applications early.

Step 4: Write a stellar essay

Giving the essay the time and attention it deserves is crucial since it has the power to make or destroy an application. Even if you’re unconfident in your writing abilities, applying a few straightforward strategies might assist your essay advance.

The following advice will assist you in writing an essay that will captivate the scholarship committee:

Be sure to follow the directions! How thoroughly you follow instructions will determine how well you are rated. Don’t go over (or under) the word count, and address every aspect of the essay question.

Make time for yourself. Giving yourself enough time to complete the essay will allow you more time to organize your thoughts and more time for editing. Planning ahead will help you prevent mistakes and feel secure about the procedure.

Get a head start on your essay writing! Essay writing requires time. You should give yourself enough time to revise, proofread, and provide your essay to a relative for review. You may find errors in your essay that you missed if you have a second set of eyes to read it.

Choose Your Own Course. When you submit an application for a scholarship, you share the same writing prompt with hundreds or maybe thousands of other candidates. How can you differentiate your essay from the competition? What unique contribution can you provide to the situation? Set aside some time to reflect on your advantages and come up with ideas on how to make your essay stand out.

Draw out a plan. Before you begin working on your essays, creating an outline may really help you keep organized. Additionally, it helps ensure that your essay follows a logical pattern and that you address every aspect of the essay question. We are not advocating that you create a three-page plan. You’re ready to proceed once you write down a broad notion of what you’ll discuss in each paragraph.

Review, edit, and repeat. Five extra minutes might go a long way when it comes to editing and proofreading your essay. We all err in our writing since we are only human. Ask a parent or your guidance counselor to review your essay once you have proofread it. The second pair of eyes can assist you to make sure your essay is clean and professional when you submit it by checking the spelling and punctuation.

Step 5: Send in your application and any necessary supporting documentation

It’s time to submit the essays, complete the scholarship application with complete and correct information, and gather all necessary supporting documentation. The majority of scholarships may be applied for online, although some need submissions by mail or email. Make sure your recommender is aware of the submission instructions if the scholarship calls for a letter of recommendation.

Step 6: Verify Your Scholarship Status, but Take Your Time!

The majority of scholarships will inform you of the deadline for receiving a response. Once you’ve submitted your scholarship, you may check its status to make sure you’ve filled it out completely.

After you’ve submitted your application, breathe deeply and unwind. As you wait for a response from the scholarship sources, keep an optimistic outlook.

In order to estimate how much money you have applied for, we also advise keeping a detailed record of the scholarships you have applied for. Update this list once you learn the results of your scholarship applications!

Step 7: Don’t Stop Scholarship Applications

Didn’t get the scholarship you were hoping for? Hold on! It’s not yet time to give up. As long as you’re a student, you can continue to apply for scholarships at any time. You can continue submitting applications for the same scholarships. To find out what the scholarship selection committee is searching for, we advise looking at previous scholarship recipients.

There is no one ideal moment to apply for scholarships, so believe us when we say that. Of course, having the scholarship to use as a starting point for education is comforting. But don’t worry! For students in their sophomore, junior, and senior years, there is a tonne of scholarships available. Graduate and postgraduate students can apply for scholarships. Additionally, scholarships are offered to students of all ages.

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