The National Scholarship Providers Association (NSPA) is a non-profit association for scholarship and student support professionals. We do not give scholarships directly but we have some resources that may be helpful to you in identifying scholarships. Please see the list below for ideas about how to find scholarships. The items on this list are in no particular order of importance.
1. We encourage you to talk to your high school counselors about scholarships and ask them to inform you about upcoming opportunities. Scholarship providers often send information to high school counselors so use them as a resource. Many high schools post scholarship opportunities/deadlines on a bulletin board each month. If your high school doesn't do that, it could be a useful suggestion.
2. You may need to wait until you're accepted, but talk to the admission officers and/or financial aid officers at your college. Find out what type of scholarships and financial aid packages they can offer and how to go about applying for them. If you know what your major will be, talk to that particular department as well. Individual departments often offer their own scholarships that are not necessarily awarded through the main financial aid office.
3. Insider’s tip: If you've received your financial aid package (after you've been accepted), including any private scholarships you've been awarded, and the amount you still owe is more than your family can really afford, ask about options to appeal. Most colleges have an appeal process which might lead to a few more dollars towards your financial aid package. This is no guarantee, and we don't recommend taking advantage of it if you don't actually need it, but it never hurts to ask. Also, don't be afraid to take a work study or other part-time job to contribute to your education and living expenses. Many students work part-time and there are studies showing that they do better in school because they learn better time management skills and are investing in their own education.
4. Be sure that you fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This will need to be done after January once you or your parents receive tax information for the previous year. It is often the case that the earlier you fill it out, the better. Many colleges have priority deadlines for filing the FAFSA, so be sure you meet those to receive the most funding possible. This is a real thing! Apply early to be sure to get first in line for funding opportunities from the school and the state. The FAFSA is what colleges, the government, and some scholarship providers use to determine your financial need and estimated family contribution (EFC), which in turn determines which grants, loans, and scholarships you're eligible for. If you don't fill it out, you won't be eligible for any aid from the federal government given through your college. Many scholarship providers ask for your FAFSA information as well. If you have questions about this, your high school counselors should be able to help you.
5. Applying for scholarships is a big job. It takes a lot of work, but that work usually pays off. Check out the free scholarship searches on the right of this page. The more information you can provide about yourself, the better, because it will help you find the best matches. Also check with local organizations like Rotary or Lions Clubs, as well as with foundations in your area (community foundations, private foundations, etc.). If you know your major or what career you'd like to pursue, find out whether any professional associations in your desired field offer scholarships. You might want to check national, state, regional, and local organizations.
6. While nation-wide scholarships often award large scholarships, local scholarships tend to have better odds for "winning" since you're often competing against fewer students. Apply for as many scholarships as you can (even $500 and $1000 awards can add up), but use good time and resource management skills to prioritize how much time you should spend on each application and divide your time and effort accordingly. For example, if a local foundation is awarding ten $1000 scholarships and a big corporation is awarding one $10,000 scholarship, apply for both, but put more effort into the application for the local scholarship. Even though it's just $1000, your chances of being selected are probably greater.
7. We advise students to never pay for scholarship or financial aid information. Services that ask for payment are often scams, and even if they are not, there are many, many free resources out there.
8. www.finaid.org and http://www.edvisors.com are great resources for all things dealing with financial aid. These websites provide scholarship resources, as well as information about the whole financial aid process.
We wish you the best of luck in securing a scholarship and in your future educational endeavors.
What is Award Displacement?
Information for Students and Families
Why Does Award Displacement Occur?
Information for Students and Families
Impact of Award Displacement on Students
and their Families: Recommendations for Colleges, Universities, Policymakers and Scholarship Providers
National Scholarship Providers
Association - Executive Summary
Additional Resources and Financial Aid Information
Federal Student Aid Resources for the 2017–18 FAFSA
Tips and Tools for the 17-1 FAFSA
College Students and Parents: What You Need to Know About the 2017–18 FAFSA
by Federal Student Aid, U.S. Department of Education