Where to find last-minute scholarships
Only a few weeks — or maybe even days — remain until college campuses reopen, but there may still be time to get a scholarship and reduce the amount of student loans you have to borrow.
Here are four resources to find a scholarship to help pay for college before classes begin.
Financial aid department
Contact your school’s financial aid department to find out if any institutional scholarships are left. There may be money left behind from a student who decided not to attend. Or a financial aid department may have inside information on available award opportunities.
Ask your parents if their employers have scholarships available. One in 10 companies has employer-sponsored scholarship programs for members of their employees’ families, according to the 2018 Survey of Benefits by the Society for Human Resource Management.
If you’re working yourself, even part-time, find out if there is a scholarship program for employees.
Search engines, contests
Find late-deadline scholarships using search engines like the U.S. Department of Labor’s CareerOneStop scholarship finder, College Board Big Future scholarship search tool, FastWeb, FinAid and Peterson’s. You can filter by due date or find ones that accept applications year-round. You may also search for scholarships on social channels using hashtags.
Monthly scholarship contests may pop up on search engines, too. They’re simple to enter and often don’t require an essay. Typically, awards are around $1,000.
Find organizations in your hometown that award scholarships. These tend to be less competitive than national awards because recipients usually must be local. Start by inquiring with your high school’s guidance office or college career center to find community-based scholarships that have gone unclaimed.
Reach out to community organizations, foundations and charities in your hometown or state to find out if they have scholarships still available. You can also look for career- or major-related scholarships through professional associations and national student organizations.
Get ducks in a row
To make the late-scholarship-application process easier, polish your resume and have a basic essay template on hand. The template should include information about yourself, why you’re attending school and why you need the money.
If you get a scholarship
Once you receive a scholarship award, contact your school’s financial aid office. Scholarship money is factored into your entire aid package. If you receive more gift aid than your determined financial need, it can impact need-based aid you receive and may even reduce institutional scholarships you’ve already been awarded.
If you have student loans, a scholarship can help you lower how much you need to borrow. Ask your financial aid office about returning loan money that could now be covered by your scholarship.