The government, colleges, and private organizations provide money to help students cover college costs. This financial aid comes in several forms. One form is scholarships — gifts of money that do not need to be paid back.

Scholarships are usually offered to students who meet certain requirements. For example, scholarships may be given to students who have strong academic or athletic skills, who are members of a specific ethnic group, or whose parents work for a certain company. Here are more details about what types of scholarships are available and where to find them.

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College Scholarships

Scholarships given by colleges are the most common type of scholarship. Check out a college’s website, catalog, and financial aid materials for information on the scholarships it offers. Awards can be offered on a university-wide basis or within a particular college or major.

Your college may automatically put your name in for its scholarships when you submit financial aid forms. Ask a financial aid officer if this is the case.

Ask colleges if you’ll be automatically considered for their scholarships.

Outside Scholarships

Outside scholarships — those given by an organization that isn’t your college or the federal government — will most likely be a small part of your college money but can help meet costs. Here are some places you can look for these types of awards.

Local Scholarships

Ask your school counselor or principal about awards for students graduating from your high school and for residents of your town, county, and state. Look online and in your public library for information on local scholarships as well.

You may find scholarships sponsored by

  • Your church, mosque, synagogue or other religious community
  • Local branches of organizations such as the Rotary Club or the Kiwanis
  • Your parents’ employers
  • Your employer

State Scholarships

Almost every state has a scholarship program for residents, and the awards are usually limited to students who will attend college in that same state. For example, the State of Florida offers Bright Futures Scholarships to qualified Floridians who will attend college in-state.

National Scholarships

Examples of national scholarships include those sponsored by

  • National Merit Scholarship Corporation
  • Gates Millennium Scholars
  • Intel Science Talent Search
  • Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation

The College Board also cosponsors scholarship competitions with the Siemens Foundation. National scholarships are open to people from across the country, so expect more competition for them.

Search for a Scholarship

To find more scholarships, you can use free services like the College Board’s Scholarship Search. You should never have to pay for scholarship information.

Scholarship Search collects information on thousands of awards. It matches the details you submit with scholarship guidelines and then presents you with a list of possibilities to choose from. Once you’ve narrowed down the list to the scholarships that fit you best, learn how to apply.