Outside scholarships are typically given by individuals or groups (non-profits, local organizations, companies, etc.) to students. Most students seek out outside (or private) scholarships to reduce the amount of loans that they may need. “Outside” in this case just means that these scholarships are not awarded by your university or college.
Completing the FAFSA does not automatically qualify for consideration for these types of scholarships. So students must complete these applications individually. It will take some research and time, but can be well worth the effort.
These scholarships can range in value from small amounts of $500 all the way to full-tuition scholarships. Also, unlike FAFSA, these scholarships can and will have their own deadlines and requirements. It’s important to stay organized and mindful of different dates and deliverables to stay on track. Consider applying for multiple types and amounts – keep in mind, even small amounts can add up.
Where to find private scholarships?
Here are some tips and strategies to help find outside and private scholarships.
Start local first
- Reach out to local businesses and groups in your own backyard. Sometimes their websites will have a page for scholarships. Email or call to find out more if it isn’t publicly listed. Don’t be afraid to ask!
- Ask your teachers and counselors. For example, you can ask: “What outside scholarships have local students won before?”
- Consider reaching out to alumni from your school. Or look up recipients of scholarships you’ve found and try to ask them for advice.
Narrow your search online
- Read our post on how to use search engines to your advantage to find specific scholarships based on your interests, intended career path, personal hobbies, etc.
- Look up your city/state with keywords like “outside scholarship” and “private scholarship.”
The benefit of outside scholarships
The goal for private scholarships is to help avoid student loan debt. By winning more scholarships, you will need to take out fewer loans. This helps you graduate from school with less debt and save money for the future.
It is worth noting: external scholarships can affect your financial aid package. It’s worth reading this article if you have been awarded external funds and how to communicate that with your college’s financial aid department. For example, when you receive an award letter detailing your scholarship, you will typically forward a copy to the Financial Aid Office.