Personal Finance Student Debt

10 Insider Tips for Getting the Most College Scholarships

Elizabeth Aldrich

Did you know that plenty of scholarship and aid money goes unclaimed every year?

In fact, in 2014, $2.9 billion of federal grant money went unused. And many scholarships got only a handful of applicants, if any.

Did you know that everyone from Pizza Hut to your local Rotary club offers scholarships?

And, you don’t have to be a straight-A student with a perfect SAT score to win money for college.

You can win a scholarship for giving a good speech, submitting an essay on the book Atlas Shrugged, getting a lot of likes, writing about your love for coffee, or even donating feminine hygiene products to women’s homeless shelters, among millions of other ways.
Take it from a former admissions officer at both public and private universities – there is a lot of FREE MONEY out there, and you almost surely qualify for at least some of it. All you need is dedication and a little creativity. Here are some tips for getting started.

1. Do what you love – and keep track of it.

Of course, you need to be active in high school. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you need to take all the hardest math courses and join clubs that don’t interest you. Instead, get involved in things you love.

When students ask me what courses look best on their application, I always tell them to do two things:

  • Challenge yourself – If you’re deciding between different courses or activities – say, advanced literature and advanced chemistry – pick the one that excites you most!

The truth is, you want your application to show passion more than anything else. And you have a better chance of succeeding rather than burning out in something that interests you.

If you can fail at something you don’t like, you might as well pursue something you do. Also:

About the author

Elizabeth Aldrich

Elizabeth Aldrich

Elizabeth is a freelance writer and “digital nomad” specializing in small business, entrepreneurship, career advice, real estate, travel, arts, and culture. She’s written for outlets as varied as Rawckus Music and Arts Magazine, Itcher Entertainment, Sweden Tips, Houzz, Hometalk, JobHero, Tico Times, and Eugene Weekly. Thanks to a three-year stint in a travel job, a knack for mining great deals, and credit card churning, she has not paid for a single flight since 2012, despite her constant travels. You can find her on Twitter @LizzieAldrich or her website,

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