Paying for College

Winning a Scholarship

Financial aid rarely covers the full cost of attending college.

Average annual U.S. tuition costs
$6,500 two-year public community college
$12,000 four-year public institution
$27,300 four-year private institution

And that's not to mention extraneous costs, such as:
$7,400 room and board
$1,100 books and supplies
$1,037 transportation
$2,000 personal expenses

How do I increase my chances of winning a scholarship?

Follow these handy tips to increase your chances of winning scholarships.

  • Apply early. Start researching scholarships in your junior year if possible. Many scholarships have deadlines as early as August.
  • Find which scholarships are the best match for you. There are many sites such as where you can create a profile to find which scholarships match you best. Be sure to complete the profile so you don't miss out on any relevant scholarships.
  • Get scholarship updates. Follow for the latest scholarship announcements.
  • Consider additional sources of scholarships. Ask the college you're considering attending if they offer academic scholarships. You may also find out about other scholarships through school advisors, teachers, philanthropic organizations, local employers, and religious organizations.
  • Ask to be nominated. Some scholarships require that you be nominated by your school or a local organization. If you find a scholarship that you're qualified for that requires a nomination, don't be shy about asking the person responsible to nominate you. If so, be sure to provide them with your resume highlighting your accomplishments.
  • Don't rule out small scholarships. There's often less competition for scholarships with lower dollar values, but they all add up.
  • Write a great personal statement. Make sure your personality shines through in your personal statement. This is often an important factor in choosing the scholarship winner.
  • Proofread. Ask a teacher, counselor, parent, or other trusted advisor to proofread your application.
  • Verify receipt.Send your application certified mail to ensure it is delivered to the right address.