Where to Find Private Scholarships for College

by Ashley Eneriz

When exploring ways to pay for college, there are many options for funding, such as the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and university scholarships. You can also pursue private scholarships.

Millions of private scholarships are offered nationwide, from businesses and organizations of every size. In fact, Savingforcollege.com reported that “more than 1.7 million private scholarships and fellowships are awarded, with a total value of more than $7.4 billion.”

Where to Start Your Private Scholarship Search

With so many private scholarships available, how do you find the best options for you?

“When you choose to invest in your future by pursuing your college degree at APU, we want to help you get as many resources as possible to support the cost of your education. Outside scholarships are a great tool for that,” said Jon Krimmel, director of financial aid and compliance at Azusa Pacific.

Krimmel recommeds starting with APU’s list of private scholarships. These scholarships have been reviewed by the university in connection with different programs and opportunities APU offers. These represent just a sampling of the many outside scholarships available. If you have questions about any of the scholarships listed, contact your admissions counselor and they can help direct you to additional information.

To narrow down your search and find opportunities that align with your background and goals, consider looking for scholarships using the following factors:

  • Your major or future career
  • Your ethnicity
  • Your religion
  • You or your parent’s military background
  • Whether you’re a new student or a transfer student
  • Your skills or accomplishments, such as your musical talents or your ability to speak a foreign language
  • Your unique circumstances, such as living with a disability

When searching online, be as specific as possible and try different keywords to help explore your options, such as “Christian STEM scholarships.” You can also use online scholarship databases like FinAid or FastWeb, which walk you through the many types of financial aid available to help you pay for college.

“Cast a wide net, but be very specific about who you are as you are searching,” added Krimmel. “Treat it like searching for a job.”

Some other free scholarship databases include:

Narrow Your Options for Better Success

While many scholarships are available, there are also many undergraduate students applying to each scholarship opportunity. To increase your chances of successfully obtaining a scholarship, try narrowing your options. Look at local scholarships or even state-specific aid since that limits the number of competing applications.

If you’re an adult learner, your current place of employment might have a company reimbursement program or scholarships to support continued learning. Talk with your human resources representative to see if your employer might cover a percentage of your higher education.

Additionally, some undergraduates might be able to find scholarships through a parent’s place of employment. If you’re unsure, try searching “[company name] + scholarship” online to see if the company provides information.

How to Apply for Scholarships

Applying for scholarships is relatively straightforward, but each scholarship may have its own set of requirements. It’s important to understand these requirements and follow them closely. Businesses and organizations providing scholarship funds are looking for students who provide thoughtful responses and adhere to the application guidelines..

When rearching scholarships of interest, use a planner to keep yourself organized and write down and track the following details:

  • Application due date
  • Required paperwork
  • Required recommendations
  • Required essays/videos/prompts

Then, for each scholarship you want to apply to, assign yourself a personal deadline for each task. For example, if you have two months to apply, you’ll need to ask for written recommendations from individuals as soon as possible. You’ll also need to block out a day where you can work on your scholarship essay uninterrupted. Be sure to have someone proofread it, and give yourself plenty of time for revisions.

Krimmel also recommends having a foundational essay that you can adapt as you apply for scholarships to help make the process more efficient. Make sure it’s well crafted and get several people to review it, such as family members, guidance counselors, or teachers.

You can do the same for recommendation letters, noted Krimmel. “When you ask for recommendations, try to ensure the recommendation is general enough that it could be applicable to a variety of scholarships. Ask for them to include your merits as a person, your strengths, and your general goals,” he said.

Making Your APU Dreams Come True

When you do receive an outside scholarship, make sure you the university know right away so it can be added to your overall financial aid package. In most cases, the group providing the scholarship gives the funds directly to the school you are attending. “We're happy to work with students to coordinate the receipt of outside scholarships,” said Krimmel.

Azusa Pacific University is committed to helping students reach their education goals, offering funding through scholarships, grants, and loans. In fact, most APU students don’t pay the full tuition cost, and all new students receive some form of financial aid.

Private scholarships can also help fund your APU education as well as your future career goals. Continue to research opportunities throughout your undergraduate education, as you may find more scholarships as time goes on.

Looking to discuss funding options for pursuing a degree program at Azusa Pacific University? Connect with the Undergraduate Admissions team for additional recommendations and guidance.