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Scholarship Page

The 50 Best Scholarships and Grants: Purefy's Top Picks

National Scholarship and Grant Finder: Scholarships and Grants for College Students
Filter College Scholarships and Grants opportunities
Award Name Organization Description Award Type Level of Study Location Award Amount Deadline Website
Award Name Organization Description Award Type Level of Study Location Award Amount Deadline Website

01

Scholarship

Unlike some financial aid like student loans, which have to be repaid with interest, scholarships never have to be repaid and are merit-based (like academic or athletic scholarships). You can search for available scholarships at sites like FastWeb, and you can apply for a wide variety of scholarship types from many different sources, including:

  • Colleges
  • Private businesses
  • Nonprofits
  • For-profit institutions
  • Professional organizations
  • Philanthropists, high profile figures, and celebrities
  • Other individuals on a local, state, or federal level

02

Grants

Like scholarships, grants do not have to be repaid, but are typically based on need rather than merit. You can qualify for grants from the federal government or from your school, as well as some other places. You can get college grants through:
  • Your college or university (includes government-issued grants after completing the FAFSA)
  • Federal grants (for example, the Pell Grant and the Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant)
  • State grants from your state’s grant agency
  • Local grants from your area including nonprofits, professional organizations, private businesses, for-profit institutions, and private philanthropists

03

Fellowship

If you’re a graduate student, your college may have fellowships and assistantships that you can apply for.

With a fellowship, you’ll be able to get financial aid in exchange for research and development in your field of expertise. In many cases, you don’t need to teach, which could be a distraction from studies.

With an assistantship, you’ll perform certain tasks as an employee to professors and other faculty members, as well as the department in which you’re studying. That may include teaching undergraduate courses.

In either case, you typically don’t have to pay back the money you earn from a fellowship or assistantship.

04

Work-Study Programs

Work-study programs can be an excellent way to pay for college through employment at your school. Your eligibility is typically based on the information you share on the FAFSA. The job opportunities are typically part-time and flexible, which can make it easier to manage your class schedule and workload.

Keep in mind, though, that the pay may not be as good as if you were to find a job on your own outside of your campus. But if you prefer to stick to campus or don’t have means of transportation, a work-study program can be a great option.

Other Types of College Funding

Learn How to Pay for College

Learn How to Pay for College

When it comes to paying for college, many people just don’t know where to start. That’s why Purefy developed How to Pay for College – The Definitive Guide, an all-encompassing 13-page eBook to help get you started on the path to your college degree.

Learn How to Pay for College

When it comes to paying for college, many people just don’t know where to start. That’s why Purefy developed How to Pay for College – The Definitive Guide, an all-encompassing 13-page eBook to help get you started on the path to your college degree.

What is the free application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA?

When you fill out and submit your Free Application for Federal Student Aid, it provides your school with the necessary information to determine how much federal student aid you qualify for. In addition to student loans, this student aid package can also include grants and a work-study program.

Depending on your situation, your FAFSA can even go so far as to help you qualify for financial aid from your state and university.

The FAFSA application itself is relatively long and can take a little less than an hour to complete. Before you begin, however, make sure you have everything you need. That includes:

All of this information helps identify you and your family and also helps your school calculate your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The financial aid office uses your EFC, along with your year in school, enrollment status and the total cost of attendance at the school to decide how much financial aid to provide.

How to file the FAFSA

Because the FAFSA is required to qualify for federal financial aid, as well as other forms of aid, it’s crucial that you submit it before each year’s deadline.

Keep in mind, though, that state- and school-specific FAFSA deadlines may be earlier than the one set by the U.S. Department of Education. And in some cases, financial aid is given on a first come, first serve basis, so you’ll want to apply as soon as possible.

Before you can start the FAFSA application, you’ll need to create a Federal Student Aid ID (Also called an FSA ID and even a FAFSA ID). The FSA ID is your username and password for select Department of Education websites. If your FAFSA requires that you also include your parents’ information, your parents will also need a FAFSA ID.

Note, however, that it can take up to three days in some instances to receive your ID, so the sooner you request it, the better. Neither parent nor child should create an ID for the other.

Once you receive your FAFSA IDs, visit fafsa.gov or use the myStudentAid mobile app to fill out and file your application. Alternatively, you can print out a paper application and mail it in.

After you complete it, you’ll get an email within three to five days with instructions on how to access your Student Aid Report (SAR). If you didn’t provide an email address, you’ll get a paper copy in the mail within 7 to 10 days. The SAR shows your answers to the questions on the FAFSA form and some basic information about your eligibility for federal student aid.

If you qualify for aid, your school will send you an award letter based on its own timeline. Check with your college’s financial aid office to know what you can expect.

Types of Scholarships Available

Merit
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Merit-based scholarships can come from many different places, including:

  • Private businesses
  • Nonprofits
  • For-profit institutions
  • Professional organizations
  • Celebrities and philanthropists
  • Individuals on a local, state, or federal level

Some scholarships are available to apply for while you’re in high school or even when you’re in college. Depending on your scholarship, you may get a one-time award or one that renews annually until you graduate.

Academic
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Academic scholarships are a type of merit-based scholarship which are often awarded to a small percentage of prospective students based on high school grade point average (GPA) and SAT/ACT admissions test scores. Some are restricted to students who are valedictorians or salutatorians or to students with high class rank.

Athletic
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Another type of merit-based scholarship, athletic scholarships are usually awarded based on a student’s ability in a sport rather than their grades. Athletic scholarships are provided to student-athletes from the college’s athletic department.

Minority
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Minority scholarships are awarded to students from various ethnic backgrounds to help them afford college more easily.

Scholarships by Area of Study

Scholarships can also be awarded to a student based on their planned area of study. Some examples of common academic categories for scholarships include:

How to apply for scholarships

Scholarships are a type of financial aid that you don’t have to pay back. Your school may offer several options based on merit and financial need. Academic scholarships are common, but if your high school grades aren’t good enough for you to qualify during your first year, don’t fret.

During your first year or two in college, you’ll have the chance to earn better grades which can give you the ability to qualify for scholarships in future years.

In addition to scholarships provided by your school, you can also apply for scholarships from private companies and organizations. Websites like Scholarships.com and Fast Web list millions of scholarships that you can apply for. While you won’t be eligible for all of them, you may still be able to get a significant amount of cash to help you cover your costs.

How to Apply for Grants

Grants are available everywhere, but you need to know where to look. For starters, you’ll need to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This allows your potential college or university to determine how much financial aid you need, including grants.

Grants and scholarships are given out on a first-come, first-served basis. The sooner you fill out the FAFSA, the more free money you could receive if you’re eligible.

Aside from government-issued grants through FAFSA, you can apply to specific grants that will award you based on a separate application process.

Types of Grants Available

01 Federal

In your financial aid package, you may receive federal grants. The Pell Grant is one of the largest federal grants awarded. The maximum Federal Pell Grant available is set each school year, and how much you receive is based on your expected family contribution, the cost of attendance, and your status as a student (full-time or part-time). There’s also the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) available for undergraduates. Not all schools participate so you’ll need to check with your financial aid office to see if you’re eligible. Amounts range from $100 to $4,000 and how much you’re awarded is based on your financial need. Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants are available to students who parents or guardian died from serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. These grants aren’t needs-based, but there are special requirements to qualify, including:
  • You aren’t eligible for the Federal Pell Grant based on your family’s expected family contribution.
  • You do meet the rest of the Federal Pell Grant criteria.
  • Your parent or guardian died in Iraq or Afghanistan as part of the U.S. armed forces after 9/11.
  • You were younger than 24 years old or enrolled in college at least part-time at the time of your parent or guardian’s death.
TEACH grants are specifically available for students who are planning to become teachers in a low-income area in a high-need field. You’ll complete the FAFSA and you must be enrolled in a school that has a TEACH Grant program. You can receive up to $4,000 a year through the program, but there are a few major caveats of the grant, like:
  • You must teach in a high-need field after graduation
  • You need to teach at an elementary or secondary school or educational service agency that services low-income families
  • Must teach for at least four years within eight years of completing your degree
If you don’t meet all of these requirements, your grant turns into a Direct Unsubsidized Loan, which means you’ll end up repaying the loan — including interest — after you graduate. There are a couple other federal grants you may qualify for, including Academic Competitiveness Grants and National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent (SMART) Grants.

02 State

You have the opportunity to earn state-sponsored grants if you qualify. Most state grants request a completed FAFSA and determine eligibility based on the financial aid you’re already receiving. But you can see what your state’s grants are by searching for your state’s grant agency. Many state grants go through the college you’re attending, and you may have additional requirements to meet depending on the school you’re going to.

03 Local

It might be a bit more work, but you have a better chance of winning grants at the local level since those are less in demand compared to federal grants. You can search for grants from a few different local spots, including:
  • Nonprofits
  • Professional organizations
  • Private businesses
  • For-profit institutions
  • Private citizens, celebrities, and philanthropists
Some grants at the local level don’t require a FAFSA completion but rather, a separate application process. This is helpful in case you need extra funds outside of tuition and fees, like cost of books, supplies, and travel. Search grants in your area to see if you match with those available. Pay attention to those who have grants based on gender, race, ethnicity, religion, or your potential major and field of study. And don’t leave out grants from your school. Check with your school’s financial aid office to see if you qualify for additional grants that weren’t in your award letter.

How to Pay for College - FAQ

Scholarships are typically merit-based (like academics or athletics) and can be provided by your college, private businesses, non-profits, professional organizations, and other entities.

The best part? They don’t have to be repaid like student loans do. They’re awarded to those who apply and are selected — so make sure you get your name out there as much as possible.

There are tons of scholarship opportunities that you could qualify for at the local, state, and federal levels. Read all about scholarships and how to find the right ones for you.

There are so many college scholarships available that the list can feel endless and overwhelming. The best place to start is in your local area.

Search for college scholarships in your city, county, or even state before hitting the federal level. Local scholarships are less in-demand, which means you might have better chances of qualifying for them.

When browsing through local options that offer college scholarships in your area, review the requirements, including:

  • What you need to apply, like GPA, a possible essay, or transcripts
  • How much you’ll be awarded
  • If it’s a one-time scholarship or ongoing
  • If you need to reapply each year
  • The deadline for your application
  • If you need references
  • Any restrictions, like if you’re limited to an in-state university, for example
  • Whether you’ll receive the money personally or it will go directly to your college of choice

Applying to many different scholarships for college can be a huge undertaking. It’s best to keep track in an organized way to make sure you aren’t missing out on something important. Use a spreadsheet that includes the information above along with the name of the scholarship and who is presenting it. You’ll avoid duplicate applications and can easily tell how much you’re awarded if you win.

After you’ve exhausted local scholarships, it’s time to search for federal scholarships or those available in other areas. Rather than sifting through thousands of scholarships available, narrow your search by a variety of different options, like:

  • Where you attend school
  • Your potential major
  • Race, ethnicity, gender, age, or religion
  • Standardized test scores (SAT, ACT)
  • Grade point average
  • Student or honors organizations
  • Military affiliation
  • Award amount

Many different sites offer scholarship searches, so make sure you vet your results as much as possible before applying. Popular scholarship websites include Big Future, CareerOneStop, and Student Scholarships.

The requirements for college scholarships vary quite a bit based on who is offering it. There is no minimum standard and what you need can shift and change with every application you complete.

Before you start applying, get your documents in order. You might need copies of your transcripts, which means you’ll need to head to your school’s administration offices to see how those are handled.

You may also need to provide verification of your current grade point average, affiliations with specific organizations, or your religion, depending on the scholarship you’re applying for. Be prepared to have those documents ready when the time for your application is due.

Also, keep in mind that you may have to complete an essay or provide references for your application. Both of these might be more difficult than you may be initially prepared for. While it’s important not to rush the essay part, reach out to your resources for help. Do you have a friend or family member that can help you sort through your thoughts to put on paper? Is there someone who can read over your draft before you submit? Find out who’s available to help make sure your application is in the best possible shape.

As you’re making a list of references, ask each person if they are willing to serve as one before submitting your application. If they don’t know they are your reference, it’s difficult for them to be prepared to answer questions on your behalf. Prepare them as much as possible beforehand so they’re ready just in case.

Make sure the information you provide for references is accurate and up to date, including emails, phone numbers, and personal addresses, if necessary. If someone is reviewing your application and can’t contact your references, you might be disqualified.

Grants differ from scholarships in that they’re usually based on financial need rather than merit — but they also don’t need to be paid back.

Just like scholarships, applying for grants can be a smart way to get more financial help while avoiding borrowing money.

The place to start is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA. This lets colleges know how much financial aid you need, including grants.

Grants are often distributed on a first-come, first-served basis, so get your FAFSA completed early to find out the amount you qualify for. Besides these government-issued grants, there are other grants out there that you can apply for separately.

Check out our comprehensive guide to grants which includes the best places to find them.

If your family will struggle to send you to college and otherwise can’t afford to foot the bill, either in full or partially, grants are a great way for you to get to school.

As of June 2019, graduates are facing more than $1.6 trillion in student loan debt, according to the Federal Reserve. To limit how much you need to borrow in the form of student loans — or to eliminate your need for loans completely — free money is your best bet. That’s why grants and scholarships are so important.

Grants and scholarships don’t need to be repaid. That means when you graduate, you don’t owe money to the federal government or private lenders. You can concentrate on building up your career in the field of your choice without the stress of repaying student loans.

Like scholarships, grants don’t need to be repaid. The Department of Education provides a number of grants based on financial need — a crucial reason to fill out the FAFSA — and other requirements.

Additionally, you may be able to find state- and school-based grants, along with grants from private companies and organizations, to help you pay for college. Take some time to search for grants that can help you achieve your goal.

To qualify for financial aid, you must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). It’s what the federal government and colleges use to determine your aid.

It’s free to complete the FAFSA, but it’s a good idea to submit your application as soon as possible. The earlier you complete it, the more likely you are to qualify for financial aid, including grants.

Each year’s deadline for the FAFSA is different, so it’s important to check their website to see when your application will be due based on when you’re attending college.

You can complete the FAFSA online. You’ll need to create a Federal Student Aid ID, which you then use to access your application in the future.

Once you finish the FAFSA, you’ll receive a Student Aid Report. This is a summary of your financial information and provides your Expected Family Contribution (EFC), or how much your family is expected to pay toward your education. If you notice a mistake on the Student Aid Report, log into your FAFSA to update it right away.

The Department of Education doesn’t charge an application fee for the FAFSA, and if someone tries to charge you to help you fill it out, it may be a scam. If you have questions about the process, contact your school’s financial aid office to get free assistance.

Also, note that fafsa.gov and the myStudentAid mobile app are the only ways to submit your application. Avoid any other websites and mobile apps that claim to be authorized to do the same.

To qualify for federal student loans, you’ll need to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). After grants, scholarships, and other aid is awarded, the federal government will determine how much you can receive in federal loans.

There are a few different types of federal student loans you may qualify for:

  • Direct Subsidized Loans: These are loans that you can get if you demonstrate financial need as an undergraduate student.
  • Direct Unsubsidized Loans: These loans are available to any type of student and aren’t based on financial need — anyone can receive them.
  • Direct PLUS Loans: These are available to graduate and professional students, as well as parents of undergraduate students, to pay for education expenses that aren’t covered by other aid. You don’t need to show financial need to qualify, but a credit check will be done. The interest rates and loan fees for PLUS loans tend to be significantly higher than for subsidized and unsubsidized loans.
  • Direct Consolidation Loans: These types of loans are available to consolidate all your existing federal loans into one loan with one monthly payment. This is usually done after graduation.

Federal student loans have interest rates set by Congress. You’ll keep that rate for the life of the loan — even if interest rates increase or decrease for future students. Most federal loans have a grace period, allowing you to start paying your loans back six months after graduation, instead of right away.

If you’re struggling to pay your federal loans back, you may qualify for alternative repayment plans, including:

  • Income-Based Repayment (IBR): Your monthly payments are based off 10 percent or 15 percent of your discretionary income. The payments are restructured every year based on your income and family size. Any balance left over after 20 or 25 years is forgiven.
  • Pay As You Earn (PAYE): Your payments are 10 percent of your discretionary income and based on your income and family size. As with IBR, those details need to be updated annually. Balances are forgiven after 20 years.
  • Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE): Monthly payments will be 10 percent of your discretionary income and remaining balances will be forgiven after 20 or 25 years.
  • Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR): Your payments will either be 20 percent of your discretionary income or the amount you would pay over 12 years, adjusted for your income (whichever is less). Remaining balances are forgiven if you haven’t paid it off in 25 years.

The type of alternative repayment plan you qualify for is based on the type of loan or loans you have, what you earn, and your family size.

If you’ve exhausted all your federal student loan options and still need to fill in some funding gaps, private student loans may be a good option.

These loans can be offered by banks, credit unions, or other private institutions, like online lenders. Private lenders will do a credit check to determine your rates and eligibility, which might be difficult for new borrowers, such as college students. Most students will likely need a cosigner, like a parent or other relative with a strong credit history, to cosign on their loan.

Private student loan interest rates vary by lender. They’re calculated based on your credit score (or your cosigner’s), and by other factors like income and even the type of degree you are pursuing. This is to ensure you are likely to have the money to pay the loan back.

You can use Purefy’s rate comparison tool to compare and select a lender. Once you’ve decided which lender if your favorite, you will be taken to their application.

You can apply at any time, but keep in mind it can take up to 30-60 days for the funds to be disbursed to your school — so make sure you leave enough time to meet your tuition due dates.

The student loan application process itself will typically take less than 15 minutes to complete, and will consist mostly of personal information about yourself and your cosigner (if applicable). After you apply, you also will be asked for a few documents to certify the information listed on your application.

Federal and private student loans both offer students temporary funding assistance to pay for the college or university they’ll be attending.

Federal student loans come from the U.S. Department of Education. Private student loans come from private institutions, like banks, credit unions, and online lenders.

In general, federal student loans should be your first loan choice. They tend to have lower interest rates that are set by Congress and offer more protections and benefits to you, the borrower.

Private loans differ from federal loans in a few ways:

  • Private student loans typically charge higher interest rates than undergraduate federal loans.
  • Private loans require a credit check, and your interest rate can vary based on your creditworthiness.
  • If you can’t get approved for a private student loan on your own, you may need a creditworthy cosigner to help you qualify.
  • Private loans generally don’t provide access to loan forgiveness programs or income-driven repayment plans. Also, forbearance and deferment options may not be as generous.