Paying for College: Outside Scholarships

No matter where you are applying to college, we recommend applying for additional, outside scholarships. An “outside scholarship” is money from an outside organization (not the college) that does not need to be repaid.

Outside scholarships are an excellent way to cover expenses such as book and supplies, a new laptop, or even to cover your expected work-study contribution. Keep in mind that each college has a different policy on how outside scholarships impact student’s financial aid packages.

Finding Scholarships

When searching for scholarships, it’s best to use a variety of methods. Large scholarship search websites will let you know about many scholarships -- but those scholarships might be very competitive, or they might not match with your interests. Supplement using search engines with meeting with your college counselor and asking about local scholarships. Schools, towns, and local organizations often offer scholarships to local students, which might be less competitive than national scholarships.

Below is a list of some reputable scholarship search services currently online (remember, you should never pay for these services). In comparing services, don't get too caught up in the claims about the number of scholarships or total amount of awards (e.g. $1.2 million scholarships and over $3 billion in totals awards) in a service's database. There is no industry standard for counting, so comparing these is like comparing apples to oranges. We suggest that you try out several of these engines, and then utilize the two or three that work best for you. Well regarded search engines include: Cappex, FastWeb,, and Niche.