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6 steps to finding scholarships


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College is getting more expensive. According to U.S. News and World Report, tuition at a public university was an average of $10,388 for the 2021-2022 year, compared with $38,185 for a private college. For an out-of-state student at a public university, the tuition averaged $22,698 per year. For many students, scholarships are essential to help offset the costs of education. Here are some steps to finding scholarships.

1. Start small. Start by applying for scholarships with the least amount of competition. Check first with your school’s counseling website for the scholarships posted by your counselors. These scholarships will often only be open to students in your area, which means a great chance of winning them.

2. Talk to your counselor. Ask your counselor for past graduation commencement programs to see what local scholarships were by graduates from your school. Any scholarship posted there means the scholarship committee is already familiar with your area and school.

3. Check the websites of other schools in your region. Private scholarships from small businesses tend only to contact the high school they attended to post their scholarship, but the scholarship might be open to students from other schools as well. Be careful to check the wording, and not miss a great opportunity! It is important to note that some local scholarships prefer their money to stay in-state and may stipulate that the recipient attends a local college. 

4. Research local organizations that offer scholarships. Again, this is a great place to find scholarships with less competition and a higher chance of winning them. Organizations like Boy Scouts, Elks Club, Rotary Clubs, Toastmasters, 4-H, churches, and especially local non-profits can be a great resource for students. Non-profits especially might often offer dozens of scholarships per year but lack an advertising budget to draw a large pool of applicants, which means less competition for you. 

5. Use keywords. Searching for the keyword “scholarships” on the websites of every local radio and TV station could reveal some surprising hidden gems. Many radio stations promote local scholarships on the air, but unless you listen to their show, you may not learn about the award. 

6. Widen the search. Create accounts on,, and They often post scholarships open to students of certain majors or meet specific criteria. Search to see what scholarships you might have the best chance of winning. 

Applications for local scholarships typically ask for an activities resume, general information about what high school you attend, an essay, and half of them ask for a teacher recommendation. To learn the entire scholarship process, including the types of scholarships, how to find scholarships, timelines, FAFSA tips, and more, check out our free course on 9 Day Crash Course: The Search For Scholarships.

*Violet W is a College Counselor & Outreach Coordinator at MoonPrep.

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