A college education is an expense that can leave students in debt long after they’ve earned their degrees. Scholarships are critical tools for lowering costs, reducing debt, and giving those who can’t otherwise afford it a chance at an education and a better career. An estimated 1.7 million private scholarships were available in 2020, and 58% of students used them to help pay for higher education. Finding and applying to scholarships takes time and effort, though, and knowing where to look and how to apply improves your odds and increases your chances of winning. Keep reading to learn more about how to find scholarships, what to keep in mind while applying, and peep our list of 50 scholarship opportunities that are available now.Scholarships List
How Scholarships Make College More Affordable
While scholarships vary in how they can be used, most help pay tuition costs and expenses (e.g., books, rent, food, etc.) related to attending college on campus or online. Scholarships are free money and often can apply to expenses that other types of financial aid don’t cover. They give you options that might not otherwise be available should you have to find other ways to cover the cost of college. They also present unique opportunities to discover new possibilities.
Scholarships are Free Money
Unlike student loans, you don’t have to pay back scholarships. You also don’t have to work or volunteer to earn them, unlike work-study or internships. When you receive a scholarship, it doesn’t count as debt or affect your credit score. As long as you fulfill any terms related to the scholarship, like maintaining a certain GPA or pursuing a certain major, scholarships are free money that directly applies to the cost of attending college.
Scholarships are Versatile
Scholarships often have rules about how you can use the money. Some are paid directly to your school for use toward tuition, while others are more flexible. For example, some give you a check you can spend on education-related expenses (e.g., room and board, textbooks, a required laptop, etc.). Some scholarships are simply yours to use as you wish to help offset any other expenses you have while you’re in school.
Scholarships Reduce Debt
When you get a scholarship to pay for college expenses, that’s money you don’t have to borrow through the Federal Student Loan program or private institutions. All loans charge interest over time, and this can leave you with a hefty monthly payment after you graduate. The expenses you pay for now through scholarships are money you don’t have to shell out later when you’re starting your career.
Scholarships Give Options
If the only thing keeping you from your dream school is the tuition bill, a scholarship can help you achieve your goals and give you access to more schools. They are especially important for students who can’t pay for college because of low income or who have additional expenses, say from a family they support, that most college students don’t have. Scholarships open doors for more students and give them options they wouldn’t have otherwise.
Scholarships Reveal Opportunity
An often-overlooked benefit of scholarships is that the process of finding them can lead you to schools, careers, and organizations you did not know existed. Seeing a STEM scholarship from a small school, for example, may lead you to a great academic fit you hadn’t considered. Applying for a foundation scholarship may sign you up for grad school scholarship announcements. Knowing as much as you can about scholarships and the people who give them reveals new opportunities for any savvy student paying attention.
Scholarships You Can Apply for Now
Scholarships help you pay for college. While you’ll still want to search for local scholarships and others online, the list below is a great starting point for finding current scholarships you can apply for now. From general scholarships to those within specific areas of study or demographics, it gives you an idea of what’s available and may even be your source of some significant funding for college.
True Eye Experts College Scholarship: Open to any field of study, one scholarship winner receives $1,000. The deadline is March 31st.
Trailheads Blaze Your Own Trail Scholarship Program: One award of $1,000 is given to a student who shares a challenge they overcame. The deadline is December 10th.
Technology Addiction Awareness Scholarship: One $1,000 award is given based on an essay. The deadline is January 30th.
I Have a Dream Scholarship: One $1,500 scholarship is awarded based on an essay. The deadline is January 31st.
Coca-Cola Scholars Program Scholarship: Over 1,400 college students each year receive a $20,000 award based on leadership and achievement. The deadline is October 31st.
Burger King Scholars Program: Scholarships of up to $50,000 are awarded through this program. The deadline is December 15th.
Horatio Alger Association National Scholarships: Over 100 awards of $25,000 are given to juniors in high school who demonstrate they have overcome hardship. The deadline is March 15th.
Dell Scholars Program: Laptops, a $20,000 scholarship, and textbook credits are just some of the prizes awarded to winners in this program. The deadline is December 1st.
U.S. Bank Student Scholarship: Students completing free financial literacy courses become eligible to win scholarships of up to $14,000. The deadline is October 30th.
PNC Student Lending Scholarship: By taking financial literacy courses, students are eligible to win a $2,000 scholarship. Deadlines are June 1st and December 1st.
AmericanMuscle Automotive Scholarships: Two $2,500 awards are given to students pursuing automotive degrees or related fields of study. Deadlines are October 15th and June 15th each year.
AmericanTrucks’ Student Scholarship Program: Two $2,500 awards are given to students pursuing careers in the traditional building trades, such as HVAC, carpentry, or electrical. Deadlines are October 15th and June 15th each year.
ASHRAE Society Scholarship Program: Open to students pursuing careers in HVAC and/or refrigeration. The organization offers multiple scholarships with various deadlines, but only one application is required.
Mike Rowe Work Ethic Scholarship: Up to 250 recipients receive a total of $1,500,000 after enrolling in an approved trade program. Deadlines have not yet been announced.
WTS Scholarships: Women interested in the transportation industry are eligible for several WTS scholarships with amounts of up to $5,000. The deadline is March 11th.
Boster Bio Scholarships: Two $1,000 awards are granted by Boster Bio to students pursuing two-year to four-year degrees related to biology or biotechnology. The deadline is May 23rd.
BMW/SAE Engineering Scholarship: One $1,500 scholarship is granted to an incoming freshman enrolled in an ABET-accredited program to study mobility and advanced technologies. The deadline is March 21st.
Lockheed Martin STEM Scholarship: Two-hundred awards of $10,000 each, renewable up to three times per student, are given to students studying engineering or computer science. The deadline is April 1st.
AFCEA STEM Scholarship: Awards ranging from $2,500 to $5,000 are given through four STEM Major scholarships. One application makes undergrad students eligible for all the scholarships. The deadline is May 31st.
Creative Biolabs Scholarship Program: One scholarship of $1,000 is awarded to a student studying science at a college or university. The deadline is September 30th.
Novus Biologicals Scholarship Program: One scholarship of $1,500 is awarded each semester to one college student with a declared major in a STEM field. Deadlines are July 20th and December 8th.
PixelPlex Bi-Annual STEM Scholarship: One $2,000 scholarship is awarded twice a year to a student in a qualifying STEM program of study. Deadlines are December 5th and June 5th.
Google Lime Scholarships: Awards of $10,000 are given to winning students with disabilities who are studying in a STEM field. The deadline is early spring.
Orangesoft Women in Technology Scholarship: Female students pursuing a STEM degree can apply for this $1,000 scholarship. The deadline is October 31st.
Tradition of Caring Mortuary Science Scholarship: Students enrolled in a mortuary science program are eligible for scholarships of up to $3,500. The deadline is October 17th.
SNAME Scholarships: Several scholarships of $6,000 are awarded to undergrad students interested in maritime studies, including marine or ocean engineering. Grad students can receive up to $20,000. The deadline is June 1st.
American Society for Enology and Viticulture Scholarship Programs: This organization has two scholarships of up to $12,500 for those interested in viticulture. The deadline is March 1st.
Udall Undergraduate Scholarship: Multiple awards of up to $7,000 are given to those familiar with Morris K. Udall or Stewart L. Udall and their impact on environmental policy. The deadline is March 2nd.
The Blades of Green Scholarship Fund: One award of $1,000 is given to a student interested in environmental science. The deadline is March 31st.
RTK Environmental Group Scholarship: A scholarship of $1,500 is awarded to a student studying environmental science each year. The deadline is May 31st.
E-waste Scholarship: One award of $1,000 is given to a student who can share about the hazards of e-waste. The deadline is April 30th.
HotelPlanner.com Graduate Technology Scholarship for Military Veterans: Scholarships totaling $10,000 are available for military veterans and their families pursuing undergraduate or graduate degrees related to technology. Deadlines are August 15th and December 15th.
Army Women’s Foundation (AWF) Scholarships: The organization awards several scholarships of up to $5,000 to female students who have served in the armed forces. Their descendants are also eligible. The deadline is January 21st.
Google Student Veterans of America Scholarship: Designed for students in STEM fields, especially computer science, a $10,000 award is given to several winners. The deadline is early spring.
AMVETS Generation T Scholarships: Several $5,000 awards are given to veterans enrolled in an eligible construction trade program. Deadline September 24th.
Point Foundation Flagship Scholarship: Awarding up to $13,600, this organization supports those in the LGBTQ community with mentoring and opportunities, too. The deadline is January 26th.
Prism Foundation Scholarships: Those identifying as LGBTQ and Asian/Pacific Islander can apply for these student scholarships of up to $5,000. The deadline is June 5th.
The Gates Scholarship: Open to low-income, minority groups (i.e., African-American, American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian & Pacific Islander American, and/or Hispanic American), this scholarship pays the remaining costs of higher ed after all other aid is applied. The deadline is September 15th each year.
UNCF Scholarships: Open to attendees of 37 historically Black colleges and universities belonging to the UNCF network of member institutions, UNCF scholarship range in requirements and award amounts. Deadlines occur throughout the year depending on the scholarship.
Jackie Robinson Foundation Scholars Program: Awards of up to $35,000 over four years plus sponsorship to a mentoring conference are available to minority applicants through this program. The deadline is January 11th.
AISES Intel Growing The Legacy Scholarship Program: Awards between $5,000 and $10,000 are awarded to select AISES student members studying in a STEM field and part of a recognized American Indian Tribe or Alaska Native Village, Native Hawaiian or a decedent from a Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander or a decedent from a Pacific Islander, or an Indigenous person of Canada. The deadline is May 31st.
Actuarial Diversity Scholarship: Students who are pursuing an actuarial science field and have one parent that is Black/African American, Latinx, Native North American, or Pacific Islander are eligible to apply for award amounts of $1,000 to $4,000. The deadline is June 1st.
Latino Actuaries Scholarships: Various scholarships of up to $7,500 are awarded through this program for Latino students going into the actuarial field. The deadline is April 15th.
Hispanic Health Professional Student Scholarship: The NHHF awards up to 20 scholarships a year, ranging from $2,000 to $5,000, for Hispanics pursuing a healthcare degree or for those who want to serve Hispanic communities through healthcare. The deadline is September 23rd.
American Chemical Society Scholars Program: Three hundred scholarships of up to $5,000 each are awarded to minority group students pursuing chemical degrees and careers. The deadline is March 1st.
Against the Grain Scholarship: Students of 25% Asian and/or Pacific Islander ethnicity may apply for this $1,000 art scholarship paid directly to the school. The deadline is May 31st.
Johnson & Johnson Race to Health Equity Program: Students in various stages of their nursing education can apply for this program with several awards available. The deadline is January 27th.
National Black Nurses Association Scholarship Program: Several scholarships ranging in amount are awarded through this program for African American undergraduate and graduate applicants. The deadline is April 15th.
The Professional Association for Design Scholarship: Students studying graphic design, illustration, or photography are eligible to apply for this award of up to $5,000. The deadline is April 20th.
Greater Than Gatsby Scholarship: Student may enter their photography in this scholarship competition where two winners receive $1,000. The deadline is May 1st.
Where to Find Scholarships
Scholarships take work to find, and knowing your goals helps you find the right ones. Opportunities vary by geographic region as does the level of competition. Additionally, composing a list of your potential scholarship qualifications (e.g., grades, special skills, interests, hobbies, community involvement, intended college major, career aims, etc.) ahead of time helps you focus on the ones that are a fit for you. You can likely generate a large list of opportunities through a combination of resources that include your current school, online databases, community organizations, foundations, and local sponsors.
Your College or High School:
If you are a high schooler, talk to your guidance or career counselor to learn about opportunities in your immediate area or state specifically for students at your school. When researching colleges or universities, look at the financial aid section of their website for scholarship opportunities. Most list not only the money they give students directly but also share information on outside scholarships.
Websites offering searchable scholarship listings usually let you change your search preferences as you get closer to your college decision. Your recommendations become more tailored and help you avoid looking at scholarships that don’t apply. Many databases also sponsor their own scholarships, but you’ll probably have to give your contact information and agree to marketing communications to be eligible.
If you’ve joined any clubs or groups during your high school career, inquire with them about scholarship opportunities for their members. Many groups, from 4-H and Boy Scouts to STEM clubs, often give scholarships each year to members heading off to college. These are not always widely advertised, so reach out early in your college search to make sure you don’t miss out.
Foundations can be large, like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, or small, like those in your town or city. Both offer yearly scholarships with awards ranging from a few hundred dollars to full tuition. Visiting a foundation’s website is the best way to learn the details. Some even have rolling admissions, so you can apply any time of year and be in the running for the next award.
Local Businesses and Sponsors:
Small or large companies often support students pursuing education in their industry. A local car repair company may give out scholarships to a student attending mechanic school, for example, while a hospital system might pay tuition for a future nurse. Churches, grocery chains, law firms, and processing plants are just a few types of companies that regularly support the next generation of students through scholarships.
8 Tips to Increase Your Chances of Winning a Scholarship
Finding scholarships is just the first step. The next is increasing your chances of having a winning application by making yours stand out from the competition. Start by keeping a binder or spreadsheet with a record of your pending and submitted applications. You’ll also want a place, whether electronic or paper, to keep your research and essay drafts. With so many scholarships to apply to, having a system in place gives you the best chance of not missing anything. In addition, the tips below can help you increase your odds of earning scholarships to fund your education.
Put Extracurriculars and Volunteering on Your Resume
If you don’t have an employment record, don’t worry. Other activities – sports, competition teams, volunteer groups, leadership positions, etc. – also speak to your ability to work hard and be consistent. Ask someone who knows you well to help you brainstorm ideas if you’re struggling to find content for your resume.
Quality Letters of Recommendation
Letters of recommendation can a while to receive, so be sure to give recommenders enough time to say something honest and complimentary about you. Look for people who have worked with you directly – a boss, a teacher, your pastor, etc. – and who can provide unique and personal comments about you.
Polish Your Online Reputation
Scholarship committees can see anything you’ve posted online and use it to make a decision about you. Now is the time to transition your digital footprint to one that shows your increasing maturity by cleaning up anything inappropriate or unprofessional. This not only puts you ahead when it comes time to apply for colleges since they’re looking, too, but also when you’re ready to apply for a job in your chosen field as you near graduation.
Apply to Everything You Are Eligible For
You may be tempted to skip that scholarship for $250 or avoid the competition with thousands of applicants. However, doing so might mean you’ll miss out on a small award that covers your books for a semester. You also never know if you’re the one among thousands a scholarship committee is looking for. If you’re eligible for a scholarship, apply.
Focus on the Essay
Many people dislike writing, which means they often skip scholarships requiring an essay. This gives you an advantage, however, because you can use your writing skills to apply for scholarships with lower numbers of applicants and better odds. Many scholarship essays are just 250 to 500 words and can be tackled in an afternoon.
Show Your Passion
What motivates you and how is this evident in your life? Why are you pursuing the degree and career that you are? Answering these questions helps create your personal story, which you can use to illustrate your passion and help you stand out. A personal story shows scholarship committees that you are more likely to follow through on your goals.
Keep it Local
You’ll find more nationwide scholarships on websites and databases, but local scholarships are more achievable and have less competition. Find and apply for as many of these as you can. Check with your guidance counselor or call organizations directly. Your local newspaper might also list opportunities for local scholarships around the fall of every year.
Don’t Dismiss the Small Stuff
College costs are not just tuition. Textbooks are expensive. Meal plans can be too. Yet, there are plenty of small scholarships that can cover these types of expenses. Don’t skip a scholarship just because it’s small. Consider how many hours you would have to work to earn $200 or $300. Even tiny scholarships are a good return on your investment of time and energy.