April 7, 2014

Guide to the Internet for Scholarship Seekers

One more time, all together now, “Thank you for the Internet!” The Internet saves enormous time and expense by allowing you to access Web sites specifically designed to help scholarship seekers, visit scholarship Web sites to learn more about the judging, and, in some cases, apply for scholarships online. Not surprisingly, the Internet also presents a number of opportunities to spend money without result. This page discusses the good, the bad, and the ugly on the Web.

Scholarship Links

Careers and Colleges

Database of thousands of scholarships worth over $7 billion. Features its own $10,000 scholarship.

College Board

Twenty-three hundred sources of college funding, totaling nearly $3 billion in available financial aid.


The Mach25 database contains over six hundred thousand awards totaling over $1.6 billion. Allows key word search.

College Scholarships

Groups scholarship by interest. Includes middle school and high school awards.


This site provides a scholarship directory so you can browse as well as search, which is a nice feature. It also has very good financial aid explanations.

Club Scholarship

This site is part of the Collegiatefunding.com network and lists more than five hundred thousand awards.


This site lists six hundred thousand scholarships from more than eight thousand funding sources and includes info on distance learning.

Hispanic Scholarships

Database of scholarships for Hispanic students.

International Education Financial Aid

Specializes in scholarships for international students and study abroad.

International Scholarships

International scholarship listings


Scholarships specific to current and former military personnel.

Nationally Coveted Scholarships and Fellowships

Limited undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral awards.


Database containing more than $16 million in scholarship awards.


Database has more than 2.7 million scholarships and awards totaling over $19 billion.


U.S. and Canadian scholarship databases.


Over 3 million scholarships worth over $16 billion, and the site is expanded and updated daily.

How many of these sites should you use? You can be obsessive and try to use them all. A more reasonable alternative might be to pick five or six that seem most suitable and go for it.

Key Word Searches

Go back to your personal assessment and select interests, hobbies, and types of community service. Now, using a search engine like Google, enter the interest and the word scholarship. We entered chess and scholarship in Google and got over a million hits. One site, www.chess-class.com/scholarships.html, listed over twenty chess scholarships. We tried girl scouts and scholarship in Google and got over a million hits. We started with www.girlscouts.org/program/gs_central/scholarships/, which listed over fifty girl scout scholarship sources. We even found scholarships for spelunking. (That’s cave exploration for those of you who haven’t been studying your SAT word lists!)

Online Scams

Be oh so careful when searching for scholarships online. As in every area of the Internet, schemes for fleecing people have developed in the scholarship arena. The typical scams involve application fees, “guarantees,” fees for publicly available money, and requests for an unusual amount of personal information.

Paid Searches

Usually paid searches suggest that they have access to otherwise unlisted scholarships. This scenario is very unlikely. Considering the tremendous availability of free databases, there is no good reason to pay for scholarship information.


Guarantees of any kind are a huge red flag. It just isn’t possible for an organization to make guarantees about winning an award, and those who guarantee matches are hyping their services; legitimate scholarship search sites do not need to rely on BIG PRINT and lots of exclamation points!!!!! And possibly bolding and underlining to describe their services.

Application Fees

Beware of any scholarship fund that requests a fee. We have heard of funds that essentially turn the fees into scholarships, and if so, terrific. But be sure that the ratio of scholarships to money collected is reasonable. If you can’t get that level of information from their Web site, it’s not worth the key strokes to get involved.

Contact Information

Legitimate businesses will list methods for contacting them beyond an e-mail address and P.O. Box. If you can’t talk to them, they may not exist as a real business. The FTC has developed several excellent publications on the issue of scholarship scams. Try www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/alerts/alt009.shtm for a copy of “Ouch! Students Getting Stung Trying to Find $$$ for College.”

Essay Writing and Editing Services

We encourage you to get coaching and editing assistance on your essays. It’s almost always useful for someone else to review your work and provide fresh insights. There are services available on the Internet that will edit your essay for you for a fee. Editing is good; rewriting is not. We have concerns that some “editing” groups are really rewriting students’ essays based on just a core idea or two. The point of the essay is for the judges to get to know you, not some freelancer who’s picking up $50 to massage your thoughts for you.

When we asked judges about the practice of students having their essays written or substantially written for them, we were told that those essays tend to stick out because they are out of character with the rest of the application. We can pretty comfortably speculate on the fate of those “diverging style and competence” applications. Flushed.

Students are often looking for freelance writers to compose essays and college applications (and term papers and graduate theses). It’s very sad to realize that those people are managing their lives by lying and cheating. Makes you wonder how they’ll operate once they become doctors and lawyers and architects and engineers, and the pressure to perform and produce gets intense. Fall back on old habits? Essay assistance can be an excellent learning tool if done well. The Internet can put you in touch with people who can coach you through writing your essay. Just be sure that at the end of the day, you can still honestly call it your own work.