Paying for college is an expensive endeavor.

In fact, college tuition in the United States rises each year. If you’re college bound, and wondering how to pay for tuition, books and fees, then it’s time to consider applying for scholarships. Every year, thousands of scholarships are awarded in different areas. You can get a scholarship based on academic program, hobbies, sports and even online activity. There are truly scholarships available for just about every student.

But, where do you look for scholarships? You know the money is out there, but where do you find it?

Consider some of these tips for finding your money for college.

  • Free Internet Services

There are Internet services available out there to help you find a scholarship that meets your needs. Websites, like Fastweb.com and Petersons, are great places to start. These services take your information (and keep it confidential) and then notify you once they find a scholarship that you are eligible to receive. The key here is to use free services. There are companies out there that will do this for a fee, but why pay when you can get the same information for free?

  • Blogging Scholarships

Are you a blogger? Do you have a great online presence with a following? If you enjoy writing and have an active blog, there is a scholarship option for you. These blogging scholarships are easy to enter and offer real cash for college. For example, USDish.com offers a scholarship of $1,000 for a 300 to 500 word article about reality TV. All you have to do is write a post and then submit your URL to USDish. You are then entered into the scholarship pool.

  • Local Outlets

Look locally for scholarships. There are likely scholarships available through local businesses, your school or even the local community colleges. These scholarships are usually smaller, but every little bit helps when paying for school. Talk to your guidance counselor, ask local businesses, talk to the place where your parents work, and go to service groups like the Rotary Club or Kiwanis. Don’t let the smaller amounts discourage you from searching out local scholarships. For example, a $500 scholarship could pay for books for a semester. Every little bit helps!

  • Use Your Activities as Leads

If you’re involved in extracurricular activities, then you know how important these things are to getting into college. They can also help you find scholarships. Most extracurricular activities are sponsored by an organization and those organizations often offer scholarships. Some groups that often offer money for school include band, newspaper clubs, academic clubs and athletic teams.  Talk to the officers of the organization about any scholarship funds that might be available.

  • Colleges and Universities

Don’t forget to look at the school where you’ll be attending college. Many colleges and universities offer scholarships for specific majors. For example, if you are a violinist and you are playing in the school orchestra for the semester, there may be money available for music majors. Stop by the financial aid office or your school or check with department heads about scholarships that may be available.

  • Think Outside the Box

Sure, you know there are scholarships available for good grades or for excelling in sports, but did you know there are also some wacky and just outright weird scholarships available? There are actually many scholarships available for “skills” you may never have thought would earn you a ride to college. For example, can you call ducks? If you can, you can find information at the Click and Sophie Major Memorial Duck Calling Contest. The grand prize here is a $2,000 scholarship. Or do you like snacks and treats? Try joining the National Candy Technologists Scholarship where you can create the next tasty treat and win some money for school at the same time.

When it comes to finding a scholarship, the most important thing to remember is to look. There are many different types of scholarships and grants available to deserving students. Start looking for those places that may help you pay for school. 

Lisa Forester has been a scholarship coordinator for  Usdish.com this year, and has loved the experience she’s received in doing so.  As a recent graduate herself, Lisa encourages students to look online for scholarship opportunities because every little bit counts.

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