There may be scores of agencies out there offering assistance in finding these scholarships, but beware of scholarship scams. No reputable agency charges fees for this service. Instead, try these three prime, reliable resources for tapping into scholarship possibilities:
- College Board Scholarship Search: This free College Board search feature connects you with 2,300 scholarship sources, totaling a potential $3 billion in aid. Of course, once you start putting in data - ethnic background, possible majors, family military history, etc. - that 2,300 quickly shrinks down to, say, 45. But this is a good starting place in the college scholarship search, run by the people who publish and administer the SAT, PSAT and AP exams.
- FastWeb: An enormous scholarship and college search database, FastWeb.com carries an impressive pedigree. It's recommended by more than 15,000 high schools and 3,500 universities, and college counselors and students rave about its ease of use. You open a free account and enter your family's basic parameters, and it sends you scholarship suggestions via e-mail. It's so effective, it can overwhelm you with possibilities. FastWeb is sponsored by colleges and marketing partners. You can opt in or out of receiving communiques from those partners.
- Your Child's Counselor: No one knows local scholarship opportunities as well as your high school's college and career counselor and scholarship expert. Encourage your child to visit his campus college center to check out the financial aid books and listings for national and local scholarships, and to talk with his counselor about timing. Some scholarships have very early deadlines - the application for the Coca-Cola scholarships, for example, is due by October of senior year. Others, including awards from local arts boosters, women's clubs and service organizations, may be spread out throughout the year.