My son will graduate from high school this spring and paramount on our minds is how we are going to pay for his college. As he is a white male without an overwhelming demonstrated financial need, he is not eligible for many of the scholarships offered at his chosen schools. So, as we continue to wait by the mailbox and by his computer for answers regarding the limited scholarships available at these schools, we are also investigating private scholarships. We have started this investigation by using the many available college scholarship search sites.
I spent several days researching 16 different scholarship search engine sites and the scholarships listed on these sites. I found these sites by searching on Google and by reading many online articles about search sites. Many sites link to other sites, so investigating one site often led to investigating three more.
The number one thing I noticed is that every one of the sites could use some improvement. Today's consumer is accustomed to significantly better information and better sorting, filtering, and saving capabilities than is offered on any site I visited. Considering that most of the sites force you to register to search for scholarships, they should all be ashamed of their user experience. 9 of the sites were so bad that I have placed them on my “Don't Waste Your Time” List. I gave 3 sites a score of B+. None received an A. I can't give an A to sites that do not have formatted printing or downloading of the lists. It's 2017. Time to modernize and step up their games.
In the end I compiled a spreadsheet of 38 non-sweepstakes scholarships for my son to consider entering. The requirements for the scholarships I saved were essays or videos, although there are many other types available, such as poetry, art projects, and service challenges. Most of the sites will offer a few sweepstakes. In return for your contact information, they will enter you in a random drawing for a scholarship. I sacrificed my e-mail address to the cause because I figured someone has to win, but overall, it is not a great “paying for college” strategy.
I evaluated each site in several categories. Accuracy of the information provided was the most important consideration. It is a supreme waste of time to click through to sponsors' websites only to find that the information provided is inaccurate or there is no scholarship to be found or the scholarship is from a previous year.
The next most important consideration was the ability to filter, sort, and save the results. The ability to print a list is also helpful. Many searches included scholarships that were very narrow, meaning the applicant must belong to a particular club, live in a particular city, or have a specific major or interest, etc.. A good search engine should filter out these scholarships if the searcher is not eligible.
Here is my list and the site ratings:
The best overall sites (receiving top honors of a B+ rating):
Unigo gave 81 matches in my initial search. I eliminated everything that he was not qualified for, was need-based, had a deadline in the next 2 weeks or over 9 months from now or was not in his “wheel house” (ex: required an art project), then saved 13 non-sweepstakes possibilities. The matches were easy to sort by award amount, deadline, etc. However, trying to print a usable list was impossible. The information printed on top of itself.
Fastweb yielded 15 possibilities from an initial search result of 66. The award information was mostly accurate and the site was easy to use. A printed list was usable, but not great.
This site made my top three because it did the best job of matching my son (a future film major with considerable video experience) to video scholarships. I found 6 video scholarships that were not on the other sites. It was easy to remove scholarships from consideration or to favorite the ones I wanted to save, which was good because the initial search included 93 options including many with a deadline over 9 months from now. There was also some very narrow scholarships listed (the “you need to be in a particular club, live here, have experience in the footwear industry, be an amateur radio operator….. yes, really). Annoying to have to take the time to read each one and eliminate the non-qualifying ones.
Sites worth your time, but not the best:
I saved 4 scholarships from this site. I appreciate that the initial search only yielded 32, so not as many to weed through. The printed list was easy to read and contained the pertinent information. I downgraded this site to a “B” instead of a “B+” because it has sent 4 e-mails in the last 3 days. Several of these e-mails are recommending colleges. We are past that part of the game.
Chegg will allow you to do an initial search without registering, but you will have to register to save the results or to access some of the information about the scholarships. The initial search without registering included 81 options. Many of those had inaccurate information or were in the “too narrow” category. After registering, the search was reduced to 47 options, which were much more accurate and applicable. I saved 6.
No registration is required for this site. It was not particularly easy to use, but did allow me to filter by type of scholarship. I was able to find 2 video scholarships that I had not seen on any other site.
A Possibly useful site:
The “search” option on this site takes you to a list of other search sites. I went through the list. I had already found most of them by searching Google or from links from other sites. Many of the links were broken. Many were for very narrow searches (a particular state, major, career interest, etc). Most of the sites that I had not already found were pretty lousy. I did find Scholarships360 on this list, so worth looking at, but it's not an actual search site.
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Don't Waste Your Time:
All results were very narrow or out of date.
Big Future (College Board):
This website has lots of good uses, like registering for the SAT. There is also tons of valuable information, but it does not have a scholarship search engine that was helpful at all.
Most scholarships were very narrow or were sweepstakes easily found on other sites.
Their search engine is a small pop-up with over 3500 results. No way to sort or print.
Link was broken to create a profile or conduct a search. All scholarships viewable without the search were offered by schools and were not private scholarships.
This site is operated by the Department of Labor. The search yielded narrow scholarships and much of the information was out of date.
No scholarships listed for current high school students.
Every scholarship listed on the first page was out of date.
I hope this list will help you in your search for scholarship dollars, whether you are an aspiring college student or a parent. I will be sure to write some follow up posts about our journey further through the scholarship process. I have also created a printable with this information for your use in your search.
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