How to Search for College Scholarships Online

Tips include creating a spreadsheet, starting local then expanding, searching scholarship databases, and creating an account.
Student working on a college scholarship application

Are you a high school student looking for college scholarships? You're in luck. There's lots of scholarships available today, and the most popular way to find them is online. While your high school guidance counselor can still be a big help, most students today first turn to the internet when looking for scholarships. Below, we provide our tips on searching for college scholarships online.

Create a spreadsheet

When applying to scholarships, it's important to stay organized. The easiest way to do this is with a spreadsheet. Create columns for the information you'll need for each scholarship. Include columns for the scholarship website URL, the deadline, the prize awarded, and what is required to apply. Once you start winning scholarships, go through and highlight any scholarships that you are awarded. This will make it easier when you report scholarship winnings to your college's financial aid office.

Start local, then expand

While national scholarships tend to have the highest prize amounts, there's also a lot more competition. Local scholarships have a smaller pool of applicants, which leads to a better chance of winning. Many local organizations have their own websites where you can find information on the scholarships they offer. Start by checking the websites of your local Elks, Rotary Club, and PTA organizations.

Search scholarship databases

There are many websites out there with scholarship information. Some of the biggest and most up-to-date are BigFuture®,, and And of course, don't forget about the scholarship search feature on MEFA Pathway! When searching for a scholarship, you can filter by various criteria. One of the most useful ways to search can be to filter scholarships by a specific qualification. Think of any hobbies or extracurricular activities you participate in, and search for each one individually. The more specific you are, the smaller the applicant pool will be, so make sure to consider that when searching. For example, if you're looking for scholarships available to tennis players, search by the keyword "tennis" rather than just "sports."

Create an account

To get the most out of scholarship databases, you'll want to create an account. Although it might be more work up front, it will be easier in the long run since you will not have to reenter your information for every scholarship application. Although the requirements vary slightly for each website, you'll usually be asked to provide information such as your grade level, GPA, SAT® score, colleges of interest, heritage, activities, and academic honors. Some websites allow you to enter parent activities that could help you qualify for scholarships, such as having a parent who served in the military. You also can fill in personal attributes that allow you to search for scholarships based on everything from being a twin to your political party.

Though searching and applying for scholarships does take some work, you could end up winning enough money to make a serious dent in your college costs. And that's certainly worth your time and effort. Set a few hours aside to get online and find the scholarships most relevant to you. It could pay off nicely in no time. Good luck!

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