Unearthing Scholarships and Grants: Where to Look

A student filing an application form

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If you’re planning to pursue your undergraduate or graduate degree, the huge fee might make you second-guess your decision. The truth is – higher education comes with a multitude of financial challenges that might hold you back. 

Fortunately, securing scholarships and grants can make a huge difference in lightening the financial burden. The real work, though, is unearthing scholarships and grants: where to look for them? That’s what we have done for you. Let’s find out! 

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Unearthing Scholarships and Grants: Where to Look 

While the major chunk of money that students use for college comes from the college itself, several other sources are worth checking out. Apart from the federal and state governments, we have listed other major alternatives to secure scholarships and grants. 

A male student busy writing on a paper with his laptop open

Your Desired Institution 

Typically, the institution you’re aiming for might offer a number of school-specific or degree-specific scholarships. However, you’ll only become eligible for those once you receive your acceptance letter. 

Another option is to reach out to their financial aid office before you apply to find out about the scholarships they offer and how they could lower your total costs. Most of the time, a college with a higher initial fee might turn out to be cheaper after factoring in scholarships and grants. 

High School Counselors

Your high school often has scholarships available for deserving high school students. To find out about their grant options, it’s best to consult your high school counselors or recent graduates. Your guidance counselor can point you toward aid options you qualify for and give tips on how to apply. 

Scholarship Websites

One of the best ways to find scholarships is through websites tailored to offer you guidance on the subject. These websites list tons of scholarship and grant options that help you cover your education expenses without worrying about costs. 

These scholarships depend on factors such as need, academic excellence, background, and community services. You might also look for grants by category. We’ll cover some top-notch scholarship sites in the last part of this article. 

Local Organizations 

Local community organizations and businesses frequently establish scholarships to help students in pursuing higher education. They vary depending on eligibility criteria, award amounts, and application requirements. Once again, counselors or graduates may be invaluable resources for identifying these grant opportunities. 

Nonetheless, securing scholarships from local organizations may be especially tricky. This is because they have specific requirements, like residency establishment or community involvement, that narrow down the applicant pool. However, if you can land one, it could be a great way to help pay for some of your college education.

Jerome L. Rekart, Ph.D., who was the Vice President of Research and Insights at Southern New Hampshire University, thinks more students should take advantage of scholarships local organizations offer:

“Local organizations are often a treasure trove for scholarship opportunities, as they tend to support students within their community and can offer awards with less competition than national programs. By tapping into these local resources, students can find not only financial support but also a network of community members invested in their academic and professional success.”

Governmental Offices

When searching for scholarships to ease your tuition cost burden, one smart move is to reach out to governmental offices. 

You can look up the offices of your state senator, assembly person, or other politicians to get to know about opportunities available to students. They may have details on government-funded programs, community initiatives, or private scholarships that you may qualify for. 

Local Libraries 

Finally, checking with your local libraries when hunting for suitable scholarships or grants is also a great idea. This is because libraries tend to have resources dedicated to helping students achieve their academic dreams. Plus, librarians can assist you in finding potential scholarships through directories, websites, or databases and even help you with the application process. 

Types of Scholarships 

Statistics suggest that over 58% of US families use scholarships to fund their college expenses each year. It’s pretty evident you stand a good chance at attaining yours too. 

A student filing an application form

However, to improve your odds of securing a scholarship, exploring different options is important to see which opportunity aligns with your individual profile. While there are different types of scholarships, one rule applies to everyone – maintaining outstanding academic results! 

Here are the most common types of scholarships you can apply for: 


One of the most popular types of scholarship is merit-based, awarded to students with excellent academic performance. Such scholarships draw in talented individuals and foster a competitive learning environment. Students who excel in areas like research, arts, or athletics are awarded merit scholarships in turn for their hard work. 

The four categories of merit-based scholarships include: 

  • Scholarships for academic excellence 
  • Research scholarships 
  • Scholarships for artistic achievements 
  • Athletic Scholarships 


Need-based scholarships aim to promote equal opportunities for deserving students from low-income backgrounds. In fact, data suggests that around 55% of Harvard students depend on need-based scholarships. They offer students a chance to acquire higher education regardless of their financial situation. 

However, the key requirement to secure such types of scholarships is to prove your financial need with solid evidence and supporting documents. 

To do so, you might need the following (or more) documents: 

  • Parent’s/guardian’s numbers (for dependent students) 
  • Driver’s license 
  • Bank account balance 
  • Tax information 
  • Residency Proof 

Scholarships for Underrepresented Categories

If you belong to a minority group, you can still enjoy low-cost tuition and equal academic opportunities. Luckily, most schools offer scholarships for underrepresented minority groups to inspire individuals to break barriers and inspire future generations. 

These scholarships break stereotypes and include ethnic and racial minorities, such as the LGBTQ+ community, disabled students, and first-generation college students. To qualify for such grants, you’ll need: 

  • Evidence of being part of a particular ethnicity, gender, or other specific group
  • Financial need
  • Statement of Purpose sharing experiences as a minority group 

Scholarships for International Students 

As more students opt to study abroad, most institutions now offer scholarships exclusively to international students. At its core, an international scholarship facilitates cross-cultural learning experiences and promotes educational exchange between borders.

A student taking down notes on a notebook, while browsing on a laptop

To be eligible for international scholarships, students need to fulfill a few conditions, such as: 

  • Be an international student (mandatory) 
  • Language Expertise in tests like IELTS or TOEFL 
  • Have letters of recommendation from professionals 

Top Four Search Engines for Scholarships 

The good news is that college students have access to many scholarship options. Even better, you can access these scholarships through the top websites and secure one that best serves your needs. 

Let’s jump into the top 4 search engines for scholarships that make the process a breeze for you: 


Value Colleges is equipped with advanced tools and the latest rankings to help you land a college that aligns with your budget. Here, you can easily navigate through the financial aspects of your college to avoid making choices that could strain your pocket. 

With a deep commitment to quality, affordability, and Return on Investment (ROI), Value Colleges is your best bet for sifting through your college research. Once you turn to them, you can rest assured that you will not have to chain yourself to a lifetime of debt. 


Scholarships.com is amongst the top financial aid sites and has helped over 23 million students and families receive quality education without breaking the bank. You can scroll through the website’s directory to explore their aid options and testimonials. 

However, to check whether you fit the bill, you must create a profile. To do so, simply fill in details like your current school year, birthdate, ZIP code, and email address. Once registered, you can receive personalized information based on your interests and eligibility. 


Sponsored by The College Board, BigFuture is an all-in-one guide that helps every student take the right first step to their college. With this site, students typically match with over $1.5 billion in scholarships every year. 

Since applying for awards requires a free College Board account, BigFuture aims to simplify the process by storing application information and providing a data syncing feature. This makes it hassle-free to apply for multiple scholarships and send reapplications when needed. 


Featuring 4000+ scholarship providers, Peterson’s has over $10 billion in scholarship awards for deserving students. With their scholarship search tool, you can easily filter available scholarships by school type, ethnicity, gender, field of study, state of residence, and award type. 

However, to access detailed information about the grants available, you need to create an account. As with many other top scholarship websites, simply add your personal details to find reliable options to fund your college. 

A student looking happy while holding papers and looking at his laptop

Tips for Applying for Scholarships 

For the academic year 2022-23, 29% of students used scholarships and grants to fund their college. This might mean it’s your sign to pursue your dreams, regardless of your budget. 

So, if you’re already on your way to attaining scholarships and grants to fund your education, here are some quick tips to skyrocket your chances of success: 

  • Begin your scholarship search way ahead of time 
  • Apply for as many grants as possible 
  • Cast a wide net 
  • Keep track of your application deadlines 
  • Write compelling essays in advance and get them reviewed 
  • Use multiple scholarship search engines 

Related Questions 

What Are My Chances of Gaining a Scholarship?

While most scholarships are based on merit, your chances of gaining one primarily depend on the extent of your financial need and your application. When applying, it’s important to clearly demonstrate your need and how you can make a difference with your college aid. 

Can I Apply for a Scholarship Before Being Accepted Into a University?

Yes, you can. However, if you’re solely dependent on scholarship funding, make sure to let the university know beforehand. This way, if you don’t get the scholarship, you have enough time to find alternative funding options before starting your degree. 

What Should I Submit With My Scholarship Application?

Although the documentation requirements may differ for each university, the most typical supporting documents include:

  • Your transcript 
  • Letters of Recommendation
  • FAFSA (for need-based scholarships) 
  • An Essay 


With hundreds of scholarship options out there, chances are you’ll find one that best suits your budgeting needs. However, make sure to stay ahead of time, explore scholarship search engines, and present your best self in your application! Soon after, you’ll see your efforts pay off. 

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Aya Andrews


Aya Andrews is a passionate educator and mother of two, with a diverse background that has shaped her approach to teaching and learning. Born in Metro Manila, she now calls San Diego home and is proud to be a Filipino-American. Aya earned her Masters degree in Education from San Diego State University, where she focused on developing innovative teaching methods to engage and inspire students.

Prior to her work in education, Aya spent several years as a continuing education consultant for KPMG, where she honed her skills in project management and client relations. She brings this same level of professionalism and expertise to her work as an educator, where she is committed to helping each of her students achieve their full potential.

In addition to her work as an educator, Aya is a devoted mother who is passionate about creating a nurturing and supportive home environment for her children. She is an active member of her community, volunteering her time and resources to support local schools and organizations. Aya is also an avid traveler, and loves to explore new cultures and cuisines with her family.

With a deep commitment to education and a passion for helping others succeed, Aya is a true inspiration to those around her. Her dedication to her craft, her community, and her family is a testament to her unwavering commitment to excellence in all aspects of her life.

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ValueColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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