Pittsburgh — College is expensive. Although close to 85% of college students receive some sort of financial aid, most still struggle with paying off the hefty tuition fees.
Scholarships are a great way for students to reduce fees. Some colleges host scholarship programs that incoming students can apply to. Some colleges directly offer scholarships to exceptional students in acceptance letters. But, most colleges provide limited scholarship money and some don’t offer scholarships at all.
Students can outsource — external organizations offer merit and need-based scholarships and, unlike college applications, scholarship applications aren’t limited to only academics. For example, the Live Más Scholarship offered by the Taco Bell Foundation is awarded to students who are driven by “passion to ignite change in their communities and beyond,” and students must submit a 30-second to 2-minute video about their passions for a chance to win between $5,000 to $25,000. Most scholarships are available for seniors in high school to apply to, although some are focused on high school juniors and college freshmen and sophomores.
Finding such scholarships, especially those that are not need-based, can be challenging. A Google search with something along the lines of “scholarships for college freshman” is a great place to start. Many articles will have lists of such scholarships. Established companies like Coca Cola, Microsoft, Chick-fil-A, Dr Pepper, Burger King, Chevron and more provide students with large amounts of scholarship money, too.
Some organizations provide many scholarships with overlapping application requirements, so students can easily apply to multiple scholarships at a time. The National Society of High School Scholars (NSHSS) awards students with significant academic accomplishments, community engagement, and/or passion. A list of available scholarships can be found here.
To apply, students must submit a transcript, resume, two letters of recommendations and an essay. Bold.org offers scholarships to a variety of communities, from religious to career-based to even those who love books. A list of available scholarships can be found here.
Students must create a profile with their bio and resume and write an essay for each scholarship. Bold.org also offers multiple no-essay scholarships that choose winning students at random, and students can apply with just one click.
Students can also find scholarships made for their talents, passions and achievements through personalized search engines. Websites like Fastweb and Cappex will email students with weekly scholarships based on their profiles. A lot of these scholarships are underground and can’t be found with a simple Google search.
Students should also find scholarships through high school clubs they may be a part of. Clubs such as Distributive Education Clubs of America (DECA), Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA), National Beta and the National Speech and Debate Association (NSDA) all offer scholarships that students in the clubs can apply for.
Finding scholarships can be daunting and time consuming, but there’s a multitude of organizations that will award students for their passions, accomplishments and hobbies. They are a great way to make a dent on hefty university tuition.
Jiya Gupta is a freelance writer exploring Asian American racism and United States policy. She is a freshman at Carnegie Mellon University studying Business Administration and Computer Science. You can follow her on Instagram at @jiya.tfls.
Edited by NaTyshca Pickett