The What, Where, and How of Scholarships
Where do I find scholarships that are right for me?
Most scholarship opportunities can be found online using powerful search engines based on a personal profile you complete on the site. When you apply to some Oregon colleges and universities, your college application also serves as a scholarship application for merit-based scholarships at those institutions. Most colleges and universities in Oregon and across the country also offer numerous scholarships that require additional applications, so check the scholarship section of each college’s website carefully. Local organizations also provide scholarship opportunities for students. Places of worship, philanthropic organizations, schools, etc., are excellent sources of scholarships
How do I avoid scholarship scams?
Unfortunately, there are people who prey on aspiring college students with scholarship scams. Here are some red flags to watch for:
Winning a scholarship that you didn’t apply for
Companies that request personal identification information, such as a Social Security number or bank account information
Scholarships that require a fee to apply. If you are unsure about a certain company or opportunity, check with your College Coordinator or School Counselor.
Where can I find Oregon State Aid information?
To find information about Oregon’s financial aid, visit the OSAC (Oregon Student Assistance Commission) website. OSAC provides over $118 million in grants and scholarships to thousands of Oregonians each year to help offset the costs of vocational, two-year college, four-year college, and graduate programs.
OSAC programs include:
Oregon Promise is a state grant that helps to cover tuition costs at any Oregon Community college for recent high school graduates and GED test graduates.
The Oregon Opportunity Grant helps Oregonians based on financial need (including US citizens, eligible non-citizens, and members of Native American trips with ties to Oregon).
The Chafee Grant helps current and former foster care youth to pay for postsecondary education and training.
The Childcare Grant helps students with children or legal dependents pay for childcare while the student is enrolled in postsecondary education or training.
Scholarships are available for a wide range of criteria. OSAC administers many private scholarships from organizations such as labor unions, Oregon businesses, and individuals. Also, many high school-specific scholarships are administered through OSAC
Where should I look for scholarships?
We made a list of the best scholarship websites to begin your search.
We also recommend visiting the Oregon Goes to College Scholarship Website, where you will find Oregon and national scholarships with upcoming deadlines on their Oregon Goes to College Scholarship Calendar. You can filter results to find ones that fit your needs including Oregon-specific vs national, scholarships for undocumented students, and any keywords you have in mind. thoroughly vet and update often!
When should I start applying for scholarships?
We recommend starting your search the summer before your senior year. If you find scholarships that aren’t open yet or aren’t due for a few months, be sure to save them to apply to later. By starting your scholarship research early, you can familiarize yourself with typical scholarship requirements, begin brainstorming and drafting any required application essays, and give your educators plenty of time to write you letters of recommendation. This preparation will leave you feeling more confident to begin applying in the fall!
Should I apply for scholarships before or after I’m admitted to colleges?
We recommend applying to as many scholarships as possible before being admitted or committing to any college or university. More time spent applying can lead to receiving more money for college!
Do I need to complete the FAFSA or ORSAA in order to apply for scholarships?
Yes. Almost all scholarships will require you to have completed the FAFSA or ORSAA before applying. Even if you don’t think you’ll qualify for need-based aid awarded through the FAFSA/ORSAA, it’s still important that you complete it, since it’s a requirement to receive other forms of financial aid like scholarships, loans, and grants.
Does taking a gap year hurt my scholarship chances?
Potentially, yes. Some scholarships are only awarded to students transitioning directly from high school to college. If you already received a scholarship and now are considering a gap year, be sure to communicate clearly with the scholarship organization about your plans. They may not be able to award you the money until you begin school.
How can I best stay organized when applying for lots of different scholarships?
You're in luck! We made a scholarship application tracker to help you stay organized during your scholarship search.
Do I have to re-apply for scholarships every school year?
It depends on the scholarship. Some are one-time scholarships, while others can renew each term or school year depending on your grades or any specific requirements the scholarship has for students to keep it. If you receive a scholarship, be sure to ask about any renewal requirements you will need to follow.
Are there scholarships for students with a GPA less than 3.0?
Of course! Google “scholarships with no GPA requirements” or check out Niche’s list to start looking.
Do most scholarships require test scores?
All scholarships will have different submission requirements (like essays, test scores, etc.) so it’s super important to thoroughly read the requirements of each individual scholarship. Some may require SAT/ACT scores, while others won’t.
For scholarships that require a letter of recommendation, can you reuse past letters of recommendation?
Typically yes - but ALWAYS:
Check in with the person who wrote you a letter of recommendation to give them a heads up before submitting it. This way they’ll be prepared in case someone from the scholarship organization reaches out to them to talk.
Be sure the letter of recommendation doesn’t reference a different scholarship
Scholarships Resources for Parents/Guardians and Educators:
Supporting Students Searching for Scholarships from Jenn Satalino and the College Place (ECMC)