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10 Sites to Kick Off Your Scholarship Search

hese websites offer free databases to help students apply for thousands of available scholarships.

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Scholarships can be a good way to ease the financial burden of college or fund your education entirely. Many scholarships are merit-based, meaning they’re awarded because of a student’s academic, athletic, artistic or leadership abilities.

But you don’t need to be at the top of your class or a star athlete to win scholarships. Many are awarded based on a student’s financial need, and you may even be able to find some related to your hobbies.

Often, some of the best scholarship sources “are in your backyard,” says Angela Warfield, principal consultant and founder of college admissions consulting firm Compass Academics. School counselors as well as local cultural affinity groups, churches, clubs, community foundations and athletic organizations often award scholarships. Targeting these first is a good way to stack scholarship money, experts say.

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But you should expand your search wider, and there are plenty of free websites and apps that can help. Here are 10 websites experts suggest using to start your scholarship search.

Going Merry

A popular site recommended by independent college admissions counselors is Going Merry, which aims to simplify scholarship applications for students. Signing up is free, but students can also check to see how much they’re eligible for in scholarships without signing up. According to the website, students have won upward of $40,000.

“I recommend this for students due to its user-friendly platform, which simplifies the scholarship application process and aggregates numerous scholarship opportunities in one place,” Denard Jones, lead college counselor at college admissions consulting company Empowerly, wrote in an email. “It offers a time-efficient approach, allowing students to focus more on their studies and extracurricular activities while pursuing valuable merit aid opportunities.”

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Scholarships.com

This website helps students discover scholarships they qualify for, organize their matches and apply for those scholarships. The recently redesigned website has helped streamline the process even more, says Kevin Ladd, chief operating officer and co-creator of Scholarships.com and a former U.S. News contributor.

Ladd says the platform prioritizes legitimacy, accuracy and ease of function for users.

“If you found it on Scholarships.com, it is safe to apply for it,” Ladd wrote in an email. “We thoroughly vet each one, ensuring it’s legit and there are no fees associated with applying. Daily, we are looking at these and checking them against the URL associated with them, looking at the deadline and dollar amount, filtering, etc. and emailing or calling the provider if necessary to ensure timeliness and accuracy.”

Scholly

You may have heard about the Scholly app through the television show “Shark Tank,” where founder Christopher Gray shared how he earned $1.3 million in scholarships thanks partly to applying to virtually every scholarship he qualified for. He found that for many of the scholarships he won, he was one of a few applicants or the only applicant.

Financial management company SoFi estimates $100 million in scholarship money goes unclaimed each year, and Gray says he created Scholly to help students find that money. Now owned by educational lender Sallie Mae, the app is free and helps students identify scholarships based on their academic profile and demographics.

Fastweb

Fastweb is another free scholarship search provider that claims to have a database of 1.5 million college scholarships worth over $3.4 billion. Owned by Monster.com, Fastweb also offers college planning resources and financial aid information.

Big Future

A platform created by the College Board, BigFuture allows students to search for scholarships and get help paying for college. The website claims to have a database of more than 24,000 scholarships that award more than $1.5 billion annually. The website allows students to create a profile and get matched with scholarships they qualify for.

RaiseMe

The majority of scholarships are awarded to high school seniors, but RaiseMe advertises scholarships available to students as early as their freshman year. The website matches students with micro-scholarships, which RaiseMe defines as “a small grant that you can earn during high school or community college and put towards tuition at a four-year college or university.”

Students must create a profile on the website and enter their grades, hobbies, honors, awards, community service and other achievements. From there, they can potentially earn money from one of the 300 colleges that RaiseMe partners with.

On average, students who use RaiseMe and meet standard eligibility requirements for a college earn $25,000 in micro-scholarships over four years of high school, according to the website

Appily

Previously known as Cappex, Appily is another free resource that allows students to search both schools and scholarships that they qualify for based on their personal profile and demographics. You can search for scholarships based on your year in school, and after you complete a short questionnaire, the site filters schools and scholarships that may be applicable.

“This platform provides a comprehensive scholarship database, aiding students in identifying financial aid opportunities to support their search for affordability in a personalized way by matching opportunities with student preferences,” Jones says. “It also features college reviews from actual students, offering valuable insights into campus life, academics and extracurriculars.”

Niche

Along with searching for scholarships, Niche.com allows students to gain a sense of a school’s “personality” by reading student reviews, Hartley says. Similar to other websites, Niche matches students with scholarships that match their qualifications and provides essay-free scholarships, which some students may prefer.

Unigo

Unigo is another website that pairs students with scholarships that fit their profile. The website has more than 3.6 million athletic, merit-based and company-sponsored scholarships and grants in its database, as well as 650,000 college reviews, statistics and other data points to use when vetting schools.

Users can check each month to find new scholarships that fit their profile, with some applications taking just a few minutes to complete.

Scholarships360

After struggling to find scholarships on their own, brothers Will and Brian Geiger launched Scholarships360 in 2010 to help students find money for college. Since then, the website has offered a free database of thousands of scholarships that can be filtered by grade and demographic, plus scholarships that are easy to apply for and don’t require an essay.

A new site feature is that all scholarships “are now ‘ungated’ so that students don’t need to sign up,” company CEO Will Geiger wrote in an email. “We think that this makes Scholarships360 particularly student-centric as students can go directly to the scholarship website. They can also use our app to check their eligibility and get matches.”

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