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Scholarships provide millions of dollars of free college money to students that they don’t have to pay back. The Internet makes searching for the right scholarships easy, if you know where to look and what questions to ask.

Warning: Do not pay money to any company that offers to match you with scholarship opportunities for a fee. There are plenty of free sites that can connect you with the same information.

Tip: Bookmark your favorite web sites and check back often for new scholarship opportunities.

Remember: Create a profile. Many scholarship search sites operate by matching students with scholarships based on interests and background. Be prepared to answer questions about your ethnic/cultural background, religion, organizations to which you and your parents belong, sports and hobbies, favorite subjects, and career plans.

  • Learn the steps I need to take when applying for a scholarship. – Talk to your high school guidance counselor about what you may need from your high school when applying for scholarships (transcripts, letters of recommendation from teachers, etc.). The following web site can provide you with helpful information: This site breaks down the process of applying for a scholarship, tips on writing scholarship application essays, and ratings of scholarship search sites.
  • Ask at least two teachers to write letters of recommendation for me. – Do this early in your senior year. Give them give them several weeks’ advance notice of scholarship application deadlines.

Remember: You are not the only student for whom they are writing letters-be respectful of their time. You don’t want to miss an important scholarship deadline because you waited too long to request a letter.

  • Complete the FAFSA by the deadline recommended by my state. – Whether or not you think you will be eligible for financial aid, be sure to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Many scholarship-granting bodies require applicants to have a FAFSA on file. You don’t want to miss out on free college money because you skipped this step.

Tip: Adopt the EduGuide Goal “Complete the FAFSA” to learn how to properly complete the FAFSA. And visit to find a College Goal Sunday site in your community where you can get personalized help with the FAFSA.

  • Create a system to keep track of scholarship applications. – Scholarships have different requirements and deadlines. If you don’t have a way of keeping track, you may miss important deadlines or required steps and miss out on the chance to win a scholarship.

Remember: The best system is not necessarily the fanciest. The best system is the one that works for you, whether that’s programming deadlines into an online calendar or making an Excel spreadsheet showing the name of the scholarship, what you need to do, deadlines, and when you applied.