Best Scholarship Websites of 2023
By Ryan Wangman, CEPF | March 27, 2023, 3:46 PM
Even the best student loans and other financial aid items don’t always provide enough to cover all the costs of college. Scholarships are a great way to bridge the gap, with no obligation to repay the money. Finding scholarships you qualify for can be difficult. But there are several great scholarship websites that can help you do it.
Keep in mind, however, that many colleges deduct private scholarships from the amount of gift aid they provide, reducing how much “free money” you can get from the school. That would effectively negate the work you did in seeking out and applying for private scholarships. Therefore, you should consider looking at schools that offer merit-based scholarships or provide generous packages to students with financial need.
Best Scholarship Websites of 2023
We’ve rounded up the best scholarship websites for students looking to save on the cost of college, with an emphasis on those that provide a wide breadth of opportunities. Most of the sites are free to use. Some offer basic features at no cost, with an option to pay for additional functionality.
What to know: Scholarships.com uses an algorithm to pair you with scholarships you may be eligible for, with millions of opportunities available. To put the algorithm to work for you, you’ll need to create an account, inputting your current grade in school, your birthday, zip code, and email address.
You can also search through its database of scholarships yourself, filtering by criteria such as academic major, GPA, and military affiliation. The website is free to use.
What to know: Similar to Scholarships.com, Fastweb has an algorithm that uses your profile on its website to match you each day with scholarships you may want to apply for. Fastweb has more than 1.5 million scholarship opportunities.
Fastweb’s scholarship opportunities are updated daily, so check back frequently to see if you qualify for the latest batch. Professional scholarship researchers vet every scholarship in its database. The website is free to use.
What to know: In addition to a scholarship search, Peterson’s allows you to search for grants, prizes, fellowships, and forgivable loans. Peterson’s boasts a database of more than 1.9 million scholarships, grants, and fellowships. Peterson’s has a host of resources for graduate students, including prep for the LSAT and MCAT.
The website also sponsors “Peterson’s World’s Easiest Scholarship,” which works out to two separate $2,500 scholarships, one for undergraduates and another for graduates. To apply, simply fill out a quick form. Peterson’s scholarship tool is free to use.
What to know: Bold.org partners with donors to create scholarships, grants, and fellowships for students who qualify. The interface is sleek, and the website offers exclusive scholarships you won’t find elsewhere.
You can explore scholarships by category. For instance, Bold.org has a tab for nursing students, women, and students from Texas. Bold.org even has a button you can toggle to search for scholarships that don’t require essays. The website is free to use.
What to know: CollegeBoard is probably best know for its administration of college entry exams and Advanced Placement programs, but it also has a tool to help you find scholarships. Its website has a database of more than 6,000 scholarship opportunities.
After you make an account, you’ll be able to search its opportunities through various filters. This includes scholarships available for children of divorced parents, non-citizens, and students who are members of some community organizations. The CollegeBoard search tool is free to use.
What to know: GoingMerry will autofill some scholarship forms once you’ve input the required information, saving you time in the process and allowing you to apply to multiple scholarships at the same time. Additionally, it will help you keep on top of deadlines by sending you reminders about when applications are due.
The website is also a great source for local awards, which may be harder to find on other scholarship websites. GoingMerry even has a mobile app — perfect for students who want to manage scholarship applications on the go. GoingMerry is free to use.
What to know: Scholly gained a premier reputation after appearing on the hit show Shark Tank. The scholarship search website with pair you with scholarships and give them a score. The higher the score, the better you fit the scholarship’s requirements.
Scholly is partially free. Some of its scholarships are available to anyone who makes an account. But its premium features, including personalized scholarship matches, cost money to use. The pricing ranges from $4.99 for one month to $34.99 for a year subscription.
What to know: ScholarshipOwl is another freemium service. You’re able to use a portion of the website for free, but you’ll have to pay to access some features, including a personal account manager and the automatic submission of applications.
While the premium service can range from $20 to $60 per month, with the highest tier you’ll have access to several hours of college admissions webinars, as well as an expert who will proofread one 500-word essay a month.
What to know: ProFellow is a website that focuses exclusively on funding awards for graduate and professional development. The website has a database of more than 2,400 opportunities that are available.
ProFellow also offers expert workshops, courses, and other events on how to create an application that stands out. It is free to use, and is a great place for people who have already completed their undergraduate degrees to begin their search. ProFellow is free to use.
We consulted scholarship and financial experts to give their insights into finding the best scholarship websites — and when to avoid them altogether.
- Christopher Rim, founder and CEO at Command Education
- Jennifer Ledwith, owner at Scholar Ready
- Neeta Vallab, founder at MeritMore
- Ryan Wangman, loans reporter at Personal Finance Insider
Our Experts’ Advice for Choosing the Best Scholarship Websites
What are the advantages of private scholarships versus scholarships or grants from schools?
“Honestly, there are very limited advantages to using private scholarships over grants directly from schools. Unlike private scholarships, most grants from schools do not require a separate application and are renewable for four years. Additionally, many colleges will deduct the value of a private scholarship from any award they give you. This is called ‘displacement.’ And because this practice is so prevalent, it often leaves students with no net financial benefit, despite the effort they invested in submitting an application.”
“Unlike scholarships from schools, private scholarships can be used at multiple universities. Furthermore, unlike grants from schools, private scholarships don’t have to follow federal or institutional financial aid methodology. Consequently, students can receive private scholarships without regard to other financial aid awards. Furthermore, some private scholarships send the money directly to the student, allowing greater flexibility in using the funds.”
Should you always consider scholarships before loans? Are there any scenarios you should pick a loan?
“No, you should never pick a loan over a scholarship! You always have to pay back loans. Students should bear in mind that they may have their scholarship rescinded if they don’t meet the terms and conditions. They should be absolutely sure to read the terms of their scholarship thoroughly to understand the possible consequences if they fail to meet the set conditions.”
“You’ll need to repay the money you borrow from any lender, so it’s never a good idea to choose a loan over a scholarship, which is money you don’t have to pay back. There aren’t any scenarios I can think of where it is better to pick a loan than a scholarship.
How do you know what scholarships you’re qualified for?
“Many websites will allow students to filter through their databases to find scholarships they are eligible for. Others ask students to create a profile and then match them based on demographic information. Once students find the scholarships on databases, they should be sure to cross check eligibility requirements on the sponsoring organization’s website.”
“Private scholarships will usually have a qualifications section in their description. Some colleges may publish a scholarship grid showing the GPA and test scores required for certain levels of eligibility. Not all merit scholarship information is published however.”
What’s the best way to track what scholarships you’ve applied for and are waiting to hear back from?
“Students should keep a spreadsheet to track their scholarship application status.”
“Like Jennifer mentioned, a spreadsheet is usually the best way to track application status. Make sure you note how far along you are in each process, as well as any awards you have received — both private and from the schools you’ve been accepted to.
Originally published on INSIDER – Personal Finance on March 27, 2023