Finding Financial Aid and Private Scholarships

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Finding Financial Aid and Private Scholarships

November 15, 2012

If you are like most families, you are looking for as much financial aid as possible. In addition to aid provided by colleges and universities and government sources, there are many other private scholarship options available. Although time consuming, these scholarships can offer big rewards for those who make the effort.

Today's post gives five hints for accessing private scholarships:

#1 - Your best friend for accessing private scholarships is your student's high school guidance counselor. Organizations that offer scholarships seek out students who meet predetermined criteria. Rather than send information to every family across the country, these organizations send information to guidance counselors at high schools, who then pass the information on to students. Guidance counselors may also be aware of local scholarships. And, because these local scholarships usually have fewer applicants, your student stands a greater chance to receive this aid. Keep in mind that local scholarships can come from churches, which often award scholarships to members. 

#2 - Attend financial aid workshops that are hosted by local high schools or school districts. Seasoned financial aid professionals are generally the presenters and are able to provide information on when, where, and how to apply for various forms of financial aid.

#3 - Access database searches. Sites such as fastweb.com and schoolsoup.com are valuable sites that match applicants with scholarship entities. Billions of scholarships are available. Be sure to remind your student: you’ll only be awarded a scholarship if you take a chance and apply.

#4 - Not all private groups administer their own scholarships, but contract with a management service. The National Merit Scholarship Corporation uses the preliminary SAT as a platform for awards. Scholarship America assists local groups in distributing scholarships through volunteer chapters.   

#5 - Use the Internet to search for scholarships. A Google search is an excellent way to find existing scholarships. For example, typing in “minority scholarships” may lead you to the Gates Millennium Scholarship or the American Indian College Fund.

In any search, honor all deadlines. Scholarship deadlines, whether institutional, federal, state, or privately funded, should be taken seriously. Many deadline dates are backed by statute and are unable to be appealed. Some private companies may still accept an application after the deadline but since it was late, it will not be included for consideration. 


Kim Jenerette serves as the Executive Director of Financial Aid at Cedarville University. A 1983 graduate of Cedarville, Kim has served in higher education for 19 years. He has served as a negotiator in Washington, D.C., where he negotiated statute into federal regulations. He served as the President of the South Carolina Association of Student Financial Administrators, where he served approximately 10 years on the Board. He also served for two years on the Regional Board, including as the Vice President. He has presented at numerous conferences and workshops, including at professional development events throughout the southeast.

Posted in Affordability Financial Aid