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"I need a scholarship!" As students begin planning for college, the question of how to pay usually comes up. The preferred kind of aid is gift aid, which, unlike a loan, is money that doesn't have to be paid back. So the scholarship search begins!

Where can you find scholarships? The first place to look is always the college or university you plan to attend. Most offer institutional scholarships, and you can often find information about scholarship requirements, award amounts, and application deadlines on the college's webpage. Start here--institutional awards are frequently the biggest single scholarship a student will get.

For local scholarships, visit your high school counselor's office. All of the Madison County Schools senior counselors have scholarship info and applications. Follow them on social media, too, as they frequently post scholarship opportunities online.

Other places to look for scholarships:

  • Student workplace/student's parents' workplace(s)
  • Alumni associations
  • Any affiliations the student has: clubs, extracurricular activities, religious institution, volunteer organizations, professional organizations for chosen major...

And of course, you can search for scholarships online.

Achieve Alabama: Powered by Cappex, this is the ALSDE-sponsored site where Alabama students can search for state-specific scholarships.

Kuder: The Alabama Career Planning System has a scholarship seach engine! It's free to use, and there are opportunities for students as early as 7th grade.

Going Merry: A free scholarship search that allows you to save your application information, streamlining the application process.

JLV College Counseling: Subscribe to Jessica Velasco's blog posts and you'll get "Scholarship Saturdays" in your inbox. These emails list upcoming scholarships, with new opportunities each week. 

Scholly: A paid scholarship search app. While you can sign up for a free account, a paid account is the only way to access a meaningful scholarship search through Scholly.

Avoid scholarship scams online! Be mindful of sharing your personal information and never, ever pay to be considered for a scholarship. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Searching for scholarships is a lot of work, but the payoff can be huge when it comes to funding your college education!