How to Find Scholarships
Most assistance for college comes through the college itself in the form of either need-based aid or merit aid and so comes as a result of filling out the FAFSA or WASFA. On average, outside scholarships only cover 2-7% of a student's college costs.
However, outside scholarships can help ease the burden, and, on occasion, a student gets an amazing outside scholarship that pays for a lot of their education after high school.
Scholarships are offered by private corporations, charitable foundations, community organizations, schools, private individuals, and other entities. Since the offering organizations vary widely, and each organization can set its own criteria, there are very few characteristics that apply to all scholarships. There is really no way to avoid spending time looking for scholarships, but you can strategize to make the most of your time.
Here are a few suggested steps.
First, a basic ground rule: don't pay money to get money. Don't pay to join a scholarship group or buy a membership only for access to a scholarship. In schemes like this, families are essentially paying for the "scholarship" that they have a chance of getting.
1. Sign up for the WashBoard
thewashboard.org is Washington State's search engine. It is highly regarded as reputable, and we recommend that all students register. You create a profile and select how often you would like to receive notices of upcoming scholarships.
We recommend this tool over others for two reasons:
- theWashBoard includes many regional scholarships, so our students have a better chance than for national scholarships
- theWashBoard will not sell your information like many other scholarship sites will
2. Try the SW/ SC Scholarship Sheet
Thanks to a group of dedicated parent volunteers, we have a sheet of scholarships curated for our students: Scholarships for SW/SC Students. One tab has featured scholarships, and the next tab has university-based scholarships.
3. Know How Scholarship Sites Work
Before you proceed, please be aware of how scholarship sites work. Most scholarship search engines make money off of your information by selling it to other parties.
The scholarship tools are free to use, but you are giving away your information. It may be that this is no big deal to you--most of us are on many consumer lists--or it may be that this is serious enough matter that you decide not to use the search engines. It is your choice. For more, read:
- How scholarship websites sell students' information to colleges and publishers, an article on the Hechinger Report 3.10.2017. Basically, you make a trade while using the sites: your information is valuable to them, so you give them that--which they sell--and you get matched with possible scholarships.
- Applying for Scholarships: Do You Know What Happens to Your Information? Road2College 8.17.20. Describes typical practices and offers tips for keeping your data private.
4. Consider WUE/ Western Undergraduate Exchange
If you are interested in public schools in Western states, you might qualify for Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE, pronouced woo-eee) scholarships. Some universities in Western States (and at some schools, only selected programs) offer qualified out-of-state students a tuition rate of 150% of the in-state rate rather than the usual 300% of the in-state rate.
Requirements vary. See the WUE Home page for information, and use the WUE Savings Finder. Be sure that you look into the requirements for each school, since they vary quite a bit. Colorado State, Montana State, Boise State, and Oregon State all participate and each has their own criteria or procedure for Non Resident First Year Scholarships, including WUE. Be sure you check the details.
5. Use the WSU Search Tool (not only for WSU-specific scholarships!)
WSU has done an excellent job compiling a list of scholarships. You enter a bit of your information--high school grade level, GPA, citizenship type--and you will get a list of scholarships. It may be a very long list, but you can sift through at your convenience. WSU Scholarship Search
6. Look According to Identity or Specialized Interest
You want to find scholarships that connect with who you are, something that you do, or a circumstance of your life.
If you have a particular hobby and want to pursue that as a career, look up related professional organizations and see if they offer a scholarship.
If you have a certain family heritage, use that in your search. Many community organizations offer scholarships for young people who identify with a particular group.
8. For Students with Alternate Immigration/ Citizenship Status
Use specialized resources:
- The MALDEF Scholarship Resource Guide is a long list of scholarships arranged by month they are due along with good advice.
- Scholarships Open to Undocumented Students an excellent list of scholarships by deadline and a links to other resources.
9. Check for College-Offered Scholarships
There is not a quick way to do this. You will most likely have to check individual college websites.
Do an internet search with the college name and "scholarships" or try on the website try a sequence like Admission > Financial Aid > First-Year Students > Scholarships and Grants. Here are a few colleges' pages:
- For Shoreline Community College, apply in January/ February so that you can fill out the scholarship application by early March. See www.shoreline.edu/foundation/scholarships
- Central Washington University has a Scholarship Central general application that will match you with scholarships.
- Gonzaga University has generous Scholarship Opportunities.
- Seattle University, like most private universities, has several generous Seattle U Scholarships and has a reputation for being generous with aid.
- Washington State University has a Scholarship Application that all seniors applying to WSU should fill out.
Scholarship Spotlight: LGBTQ+ Fall 2023 Several organizations offer scholarships for LGBTQ+ students. This slideshow has links to some of them with 2023-2024 information. Most deadlines are between January and March.
Scholarship Spotlight: Students of Color Winter 2023-24. Highlights several scholarships for student from historically underrepresented groups. Most deadlines January - March.
A curated list of scholarships for Shorewood and Shorecrest students.
Washington State's Scholarship Search Engine. Many local scholarships can ONLY be found on the WashBoard. Create an account and the system will match you up with options.
From UW: Husky Promise is our guarantee to Washington state students that we will not let financial challenges stand in the way of discovering their potential or achieving a UW degree.
Use this month-by-month guide for scholarships that do not require citizenship.
List of scholarships primarily for LGBTQ+ students.
Scholarship & Financial Aid Links
www.studentaid.gov Reliable information about all types of financial aid for college. This is the official Federal site that administers the FAFSA and Federal Student Loan Program.
WUE Savings Finder Western Undergraduate Exchange searchable list of public colleges in the western U.S. that participate in the discounted tuition program.
www.thewashboard.org Washington State Scholarship search engine. Has many regional scholarships and does not sell student information.
Road 2 College Site for reliable information about paying for college. The site & Facebook group often have free events and resources.
Big Future Pay for College information and tools on the College Board site.
Big Future Scholarship Search on the CollegeBoard site
Paying for College Info from Washington State Community & Technical Colleges.
College Success Foundation Scholarships for low-income students in Washington State
Hispanic Scholarship Fund Info about the annually offered Hispanic Scholars program for seniors. Application usually opens in January.
International Education and Financial Aid Scholarship search and information on studying abroad.
Military.com Information on Educational Assistance for dependents of members of the military.
www.studentscholarships.org free to use database of scholarships