20 Ways to Get the Best Scholarships for Current College Students

Advertiser Disclosure

Student Loan Hero Advertiser Disclosure

Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print to help you understand what you are buying. Be sure to consult with a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time.

Editorial Note: This content is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the financial institution.

scholarships for current college students

We’ve got your back! Student Loan Hero is a completely free website 100% focused on helping student loan borrowers get the answers they need. Read more

How do we make money? It’s actually pretty simple. If you choose to check out and become a customer of any of the loan providers featured on our site, we get compensated for sending you their way. This helps pay for our amazing staff of writers (many of which are paying back student loans of their own!).

Bottom line: We’re here for you. So please learn all you can, email us with any questions, and feel free to visit or not visit any of the loan providers on our site. Read less

Every year, the Department of Education and the country’s colleges and universities give out about $46 billion in grants and scholarships, according to Debt.org. On top of that, another $3.3 billion is given out through private sources, such as churches, foundations, service associations, companies, and other organizations.

That’s almost $50 billion in free money up for grabs every single year. And it might be easier than you think to get a scholarship, even if you’re already in school.

Here’s what you need to know about getting scholarships for current college students. We’ve also included a few scholarship opportunities you can pursue.

1. Fill out the FAFSA each year

Before you start applying for scholarships, be sure you’ve turned in the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for the year. Even if you don’t qualify for federal grants, many colleges use the information you provide to decide whether to offer you school-based scholarships.

In fact, because the FAFSA takes into account your family’s changing finances, you might qualify for different types of aid this year. When my sister entered college the year after I did, my family’s money situation was considered different enough that I ended up with additional financial aid options. So, keep filling out the FAFSA.

2. Set up a CSS Profile

Next, consider setting up a College Scholarship Services (CSS) Profile. Your CSS Profile can be used to help you access more than $9 billion in free money, according to the College Board, which manages the profile.

Some schools, such as George Washington University, review your CSS Profile in addition to the FAFSA before doling out financial aid awards. You might have access to a greater number of scholarships from different colleges when you fill out this profile.

3. Keep applying for scholarships throughout college

Even though I was awarded a full-tuition scholarship as an undergraduate, I still continued applying for scholarships for current college students. My financial aid only took care of tuition and fees. I still had to buy books and pay living costs. Even small scholarships helped with those costs.

I’m not the only one, either. Jocelyn Paonita Pearson, the founder of The Scholarship System, amassed a portion of her more than $126,000 in scholarships while attending college.

“Just because you’re in school already, it doesn’t mean you have to stop applying for scholarships,” she said. “In fact, you might have an easier time getting merit-based scholarships because you have more experience and accomplishments now.”

National scholarship competitions are often the most difficult to win due to the number of applicants. However, they also offer you the chance at a large award that can cover multiple years of schooling. Additionally, some of these national competitions focus less on grades and athletics and more on creativity and passion.

However, if you want a better chance, it can make sense to focus on smaller scholarships, even if you’ll need more of them to meet your needs.

4. Live Mas Scholarship from the Taco Bell Foundation

You don’t have to write an essay or submit your grades to qualify for the Live Mas Scholarship. Instead, you turn in a video (two minutes or less) describing your life’s passion.

This scholarship is open to anyone between the ages of 16 and 24. Awards range from $2,500 to $25,000. The Taco Bell Foundation plans to give away $10 million by 2022.

5. Dr. Pepper Tuition Giveaway

If you’re between the ages of 18 and 24, you might be eligible for the Dr. Pepper Tuition Giveaway. In order to enter, you need to have a valid Facebook account and submit a video. You’ll also need to describe in 350 characters or less how you’ll change the world.

If you make it into the grand prize round, you’ll get to compete for an award of up to $100,000. Runner-ups win awards of $25,000 and consolation prize winners get $2,500.

6. Atlas Shrugged essay contest from the Ayn Rand Institute

Are you a fan of Ayn Rand and her works? The Atlas Shrugged essay contest offers you the chance to receive up to $10,000 by writing about this novel. Essays must be between 800 and 1,600 words long and be written in English.

Judges make all the decisions about winners. Grammar, spelling, and punctuation count heavily in the calculations. The Ayn Rand Institute also won’t provide guidance or feedback related to essays, although it does offer a list of resources.

7. Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship

Named after the long-serving senator, the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship offers up to $7,500 per year. To apply, you must be a full-time sophomore or junior. You should be working toward a research career in the natural sciences, engineering, or math.

In order to apply, you need to find a Goldwater campus representative. If there isn’t one for your school, you can call 507-931-8335 for help on next steps.

8. Udall Undergraduate Scholarship

If you’re a college sophomore or junior and passionate about issues related to the environment or Native American nations, you might qualify for the Udall Undergraduate Scholarship. It’s worth up to $7,000.

To apply, you need to contact the Udall representative on your campus for an application. An essay, transcripts, and three letters of recommendation are all needed in order for your application to be considered complete.

9. National Scholarship from TheDream.US

The National Scholarship is a little different since it’s aimed at “Dreamers,” undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children.

You can apply for this scholarship if you’re a Dreamer and have graduated (or are about to graduate) from high school or a community college. This scholarship is intended to help you continue your studies. You need to attend a partner college and have a GPA of at least 3.0 to qualify. You also need to show your DACA or TPS status.

Awards of up to $29,000 are available to help you complete your bachelor’s degree. You can get up to an additional $1,000 per year as a stipend to help pay for books, supplies, and transportation.

10. Check with your college or university for scholarships

Some colleges and universities offer automatic financial aid based on your situation. They might use the FAFSA to include need-based scholarships in your financial package. In fact, there are some schools that let you attend for free, including Harvard and Columbia, if you meet certain income criteria.

Additionally, some universities offer automatic merit-based scholarships based on your grades. For example, BYU-Idaho offers scholarships for current college students if you have at least a 3.75 GPA. The higher your GPA, the more tuition the school will cover.

Other scholarships might be offered, depending on your school. My undergraduate alma mater, Southern Utah University, offers different awards through its departments.

The financial aid office can provide you with information about available funding, and how to apply for school-based money. You might be surprised at what’s available to you through your educational institution.

11. Local service organizations

Check with local civic and affinity groups to see if they offer scholarships. The Daughters of the American Revolution, for example, offers a variety of opportunities, including scholarships for current college students. Depending on your major, year in school, and other factors, you might be eligible for aid.

Other organizations that offer scholarships include:

Local chapters also sometimes offer financial help to current college students, although the aid might be based on location. My city’s Rotary Club offers scholarships to those attending local universities, for example.

Many of these scholarships are small, though. It makes sense to apply for several different scholarships to help you reach your goals.

12. Apply for smaller scholarships

There are a large number of smaller scholarships available for just about anyone, said Olivia Valdes, a college admissions consultant and founder of Zen Admissions.

“From visual artists to scientific researchers to scuba divers, search for scholarships related to your specific interests and goals,” said Valdes. “Remember, small scholarships add up.”

Indeed, a few hundred dollars here and there can go a long way toward paying for school costs. Looking for awards through the National Express Auto Transport or the Western Golf Association can be one way to pay your education costs.

Additionally, we offer scholarships twice a year to students who need help achieving their educational dreams.

13. Fastweb

Fastweb offers you the opportunity to find targeted awards based on your interests and abilities. There are a lot of small scholarships that are easy to apply for.

14. Chegg

Another great place to look for scholarships is Chegg. It offers a robust search feature, allowing you to choose whether you’re looking for scholarships for current college students. Due dates are highly visible, making it easy to prioritize.

15. Cappex

Cappex helps you find money for school with a simple search form and more than $11 billion in results. On top of that, Cappex features some scholarships that you can apply for with a single click.

16. Scholarships.com

Just what it sounds like, Scholarships.com can help you access billions of dollars in funding. You can use the site’s algorithm to find a match, or you can take matters into your own hands and use the database to find awards based on a variety of factors.

17. Scholarship Monkey

Use Scholarship Monkey to search for scholarships in different categories. You can find minority scholarships and awards based on your field of study. You can also set up a profile and have matches emailed to you.

18. College Board

Even though they’re best-known for standardized testing and stats about college tuition costs, the College Board can also help you pay for school. Use the search function to find scholarships, as well as internships and other financial aid that matches your situation.

19. Scholly

While many scholarship search websites are free, Scholly is a little different. You need to pay $2.99 a month in order to join the website. However, once you pay to join, you’re matched with opportunities that can provide you with a variety of awards to help you pay for college.

20. Don’t give up on scholarships for current college students

If you want to reduce the amount of student loan debt you need to get through school, applying for scholarships the whole time you’re in college can be a good strategy.

While federal and private student loans offer you the chance to pay for school, they have to be repaid with interest. Scholarships, on the other hand, are free. You don’t have to repay them.

Pearson said to create a system that helps you apply for more scholarships. “Keep a stock of stories you can use in essays and cover letters,” she suggested. “Get a system down where you can use the same materials over and over again, just tweaking them for each award. It will go faster, making the whole process more efficient.”

Just because you’re already in college doesn’t mean you’re out of luck with scholarships. You can continue getting them as long as you stay organized and remain persistent.

Need a student loan?

Here are our top student loan lenders of 2019!
LenderVariable APREligibility 
2 Important Disclosures for College Ave.

CollegeAve Disclosures

College Ave Student Loans products are made available through either Firstrust Bank, member FDIC or M.Y. Safra Bank, FSB, member FDIC. All loans are subject to individual approval and adherence to underwriting guidelines. Program restrictions, other terms, and conditions apply.

  1. All rates shown include the auto-pay discount. The 0.25% auto-pay interest rate reduction applies as long as a valid bank account is designated for required monthly payments. Variable rates may increase after consummation.
  2. This informational repayment example uses typical loan terms for a freshman borrower who selects the Deferred Repayment Option with an 8-year repayment term, has a $10,000 loan that is disbursed in one disbursement and a 7% variable Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): 96 monthly payments of $179.28 while in the repayment period, for a total amount of payments of $17,211.20. Loans will never have a full principal and interest monthly payment of less than $50. Your actual rates and repayment terms may vary.
  3. As certified by your school and less any other financial aid you might receive. Minimum $1,000.

Information advertised valid as of 4/1/2019. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation.

* The Sallie Mae partner referenced is not the creditor for these loans and is compensated by Sallie Mae for the referral of Smart Option Student Loan customers.
3 = Sallie Mae Disclaimer: Click here for important information. Terms, conditions and limitations apply.

4 Important Disclosures for Discover.

Discover Disclosures

  1. At least a 3.0 GPA (or equivalent) qualifies for a one-time cash reward of 1% of the loan amount of each new Discover undergraduate and graduate student loan. Reward redemption period is limited. Please visit DiscoverStudentLoans.com/Reward for any applicable reward terms and conditions.
  2. View Terms and Conditions at DiscoverStudentLoans.com/AutoDebitReward.

5 Important Disclosures for SunTrust.

SunTrust Disclosures

Before applying for a private student loan, SunTrust recommends comparing all financial aid alternatives including grants, scholarships, and both federal and private student loans. To view and compare the available features of SunTrust private student loans, visit https://www.suntrust.com/loans/student-loans/private.

Certain restrictions and limitations may apply. SunTrust Bank reserves the right to change or discontinue this loan program without notice. Availability of all loan programs is subject to approval under the SunTrust credit policy and other criteria and may not be available in certain jurisdictions.

©2019 SunTrust Banks, Inc. SUNTRUST, the SunTrust logo and Custom Choice Loan are trademarks of SunTrust Banks, Inc. All rights reserved.

  1. Interest rates and APRs (Annual Percentage Rates) depend upon (a) the student’s and cosigner’s (if applicable) credit histories, (b) the repayment option and repayment term selected, (c) the requested loan amount and (d) other information provided on the online loan application. If approved, applicants will be notified of the rate applicable to your loan. Rates and terms effective for applications received on or after 5/1/2019. The current variable APRs for the program range from 4.251% APR to 11.300% APR and the current fixed APRs for the program range from 5.251% APR to 12.00% APR (the low APRs within these ranges assume a 7-year $10,000 loan, with two disbursements and no deferment; the high APRs within these ranges assume a 15-year $10,000 loan with two disbursements). The variable interest rate for each calendar month is calculated by adding the current One-month LIBOR index to your margin. LIBOR stands for London Interbank Offered Rate. The One-month LIBOR is published in the Money Rates section of The Wall Street Journal (Eastern Edition). The One-month LIBOR index is captured on the 25th day of the immediately preceding calendar month (or if the 25th is not a business day, the next business day thereafter), and is rounded up to the nearest 1/8th of one percent. The current One-month LIBOR index is 2.500% on 5/1/2019. The variable interest rate will increase or decrease if the One-month LIBOR index changes. The fixed rate assigned to a loan will never change except as required by law or if you request and qualify for the auto pay discount.
  2. Any applicant who applies for a loan the month of, the month prior to, or the month after the student’s graduation date, as stated on the application or certified by the school, will only be offered the Immediate Repayment option. The student must be enrolled at least half-time to be eligible for the partial interest, fully deferred and interest only repayment options unless the loan is being used for a past due balance and the student is out of school. With the Full Deferment option, payments may be deferred while the student is enrolled at least half-time at an approved school and during the six month grace period after graduation or dropping below half-time status, but the total initial deferment period, including the grace period, may not exceed 66 months from the first disbursement date. The Partial Interest Repayment option (paying $25 per month during in-school deferment) is only available on loans of $5,000 or more. For payment examples, see footnote 7. With the Immediate Repayment option, the first payment of principal and interest will be due approximately 30-60 calendar days after the final disbursement date and the minimum monthly payment is $50.00. There are no prepayment penalties.
  3. The 15-year term and Partial Interest Repayment option (paying $25 per month during in-school deferment) are only available for loan amounts of $5,000 or more. Making interest only or partial interest payments while in school deferment (including the grace period) will not reduce the principal balance of the loan. Payment examples within this footnote assume a 45-month deferment period, a six-month grace period before entering repayment and the Partial Interest Repayment option. 7-year term: $10,000 loan disbursed over two transactions with a 7-year repayment term (84 months) and 8.382% APR would result in a monthly principal and interest payment of $198.61. 10-year term: $10,000 loan disbursed over two transactions with a 10-year repayment term (120 months) and an 8.851% APR would result in a monthly principal and interest payment of $161.70. 15-year term: $10,000 loan disbursed over two transactions with a 15-year repayment term (180 months) and a 9.335% APR would result in a monthly principal and interest payment of $135.68.
  4. The 2% principal reduction is based on the total dollar amount of all disbursements made, excluding any amounts that are reduced, cancelled, or returned. To receive this principal reduction, it must be requested from the servicer, the student borrower must have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher and proof of such graduation (e.g. copy of diploma, final transcript or letter on school letterhead) must be provided to the servicer. This reward is available once during the life of the loan, regardless of whether the student receives more than one degree.
  5. Earn an interest rate reduction for making automatic payments of principal and interest from a bank account (“auto pay discount”). Earn a 0.25% interest rate reduction when you auto pay from any bank account and an extra 0.25% interest rate reduction when you auto pay from a SunTrust Bank checking, savings, or money market account. The auto pay discount will continue until (1) automatic deduction of payments is stopped (including during any deferment or forbearance) or (2) three automatic deductions are returned for insufficient funds during the life of the loan. The extra 0.25% interest rate reduction when you auto pay from a SunTrust Bank account will be applied after the first automatic payment is successfully deducted and will be removed for the reasons stated above. In the event the auto pay discount is removed, the loan will accrue interest at the rate stated in your Credit Agreement. The auto pay discount is not available when payments are deferred or when the loan is in forbearance, even if payments are being made.
  6. A cosigner may be released from the loan upon request to the servicer provided that the student borrower is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident alien, has met credit criteria and met either one of the following payment conditions: (a) the first 36 consecutive monthly principal and interest payments have been made on-time (received by the servicer within 10 calendar days after their due date) or (b) the loan has not had any late payments and has been prepaid prior to the end of the first 36 months of scheduled principal and interest payments in an amount equal to the first 36 months of scheduled principal and interest payments (based on the monthly payment amount in effect when you make the most recent payment). As an example, if you have made 30 months of consecutive on-time payments, and then, based on the monthly payment amount in effect on the due date of your 31st consecutive monthly payment, you pay a lump sum equal to 6 months of payments, you will have satisfied the payment condition. Cosigner release may not be available if a loan is in forbearance.
  7. If the student dies after any part of the loan has been disbursed, and the loan has not been charged off due to non-payment or bankruptcy, then the outstanding balance will be forgiven if the servicer is informed of the student’s death and receives acceptable proof of death. If the student becomes totally and permanently disabled after any part of the loan has been disbursed and the loan has not been charged off due to non-payment or bankruptcy, the loan will be forgiven upon the servicer’s receipt and approval of a completed discharge application. If the student borrower dies or becomes totally and permanently disabled prior to the full disbursement of the loan, and the loan is forgiven, all future disbursements will be cancelled. Loan forgiveness for student death or disability is available at any point throughout the life of the loan.

6 Important Disclosures for LendKey.

LendKey Disclosures

Additional terms and conditions apply. For more details see 

7 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.

CommonBond Disclosures

A government loan is made according to rules set by the U.S. Department of Education. Government loans have fixed interest rates, meaning that the interest rate on a government loan will never go up or down.

Government loans also permit borrowers in financial trouble to use certain options, such as income-based repayment, which may help some borrowers. Depending on the type of loan that you have, the government may discharge your loan if you die or become permanently disabled.

Depending on what type of government loan that you have, you may be eligible for loan forgiveness in exchange for performing certain types of public service. If you are an active-duty service member and you obtained your government loan before you were called to active duty, you are entitled to interest rate and repayment benefits for your loan.
If you are unable to pay your government loan, the government can refer your loan to a collection agency or sue you for the unpaid amount. In addition, the government has special powers to collect the loan, such as taking your tax refund and applying it to your loan balance.

A private student loan is not a government loan and is not regulated by the Department of Education. A private student loan is instead regulated like other consumer loans under both state and federal law and by the terms of the promissory note with your lender.
If you refinance your government loan, your new lender will use the proceeds of your new loan to pay off your government loan. Private student loan lenders do not have to honor any of the benefits that apply to government loans. Because your government loan will be gone after refinancing, you will lose any benefits that apply to that loan. If you are an active-duty service member, your new loan will not be eligible for service member benefits. Most importantly, once you refinance your government loan, you will not able to reinstate your government loan if you become dissatisfied with the terms of your private student loan.

If your private student loan has a fixed interest rate, then that rate will never go up or down. If your private student loan has a variable interest rate, then that rate will vary depending on an index rate disclosed in your application. If the interest rate on the new private student loan is less than the interest rate on your government loans, your payments will be less if you refinance.
If you are a borrower with a secure job, emergency savings, strong credit and are unlikely to need any of the options available to distressed borrowers of government loans, a refinance of your government loans into a private student loan may be attractive to you. You should consider the costs and benefits of refinancing carefully before you refinance.

If you don’t pay a private student loan as agreed, the lender can refer your loan to a collection agency or sue you for the unpaid amount.

Remember also that like government loans, most private loans cannot be discharged if you file bankruptcy unless you can demonstrate that repayment of the loan would cause you an undue hardship. In most bankruptcy courts, proving undue hardship is very difficult for most borrowers.

8 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.

Citizens Bank Disclosures

  1. Student Loan Rate Disclosure: Variable rate, based on the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) published in The Wall Street Journal on the twenty-fifth day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month. As of May 1, 2019, the one-month LIBOR rate is 2.48%. Variable interest rates range from 4.45%-12.42% (4.45% – 12.32% APR) and will fluctuate over the term of the loan with changes in the LIBOR rate, and will vary based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a co-signer. Fixed interest rates range from 5.25%-12.19% (5.25% – 12.09% APR) based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a co-signer. Lowest rates shown requires application with a co-signer, are for eligible applicants, require a 5-year repayment term, borrower making scheduled payments while in school and include our Loyalty and Automatic Payment discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty Discount and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. Subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change. Please note: Due to federal regulations, Citizens Bank is required to provide every potential borrower with disclosure information before they apply for a private student loan. The borrower will be presented with an Application Disclosure and an Approval Disclosure within the application process before they accept the terms and conditions of the loan. 
  2. Citizens Bank Student Loan Eligibility: Borrowers must be enrolled at least half-time in a degree-granting program at an eligible institution. Borrowers must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident or an international borrower/eligible non-citizen with a creditworthy U.S. citizen or permanent resident co-signer. For borrowers who have not attained the age of majority in their state of residence, a co-signer is required. Citizens Bank reserves the right to modify eligibility criteria at anytime. Interest rate ranges subject to change. Citizens Bank private student loans are subject to credit qualification, completion of a loan application/consumer credit agreement, verification of application information, and if applicable, self-certification form, school certification of the loan amount, and student’s enrollment at a Citizens Bank- participating school.  
  3. Co-signer Release: Borrowers may apply for co-signer release after making 36 consecutive on-time payments of principal and interest. For the purpose of the application for co-signer release, on-time payments are defined as payments received within 15 days of the due date. Interest only payments do not qualify. The borrower must meet certain credit and eligibility guidelines when applying for the co-signer release. Borrowers must complete an application for release and provide income verification documents as part of the review. Borrowers who use deferment or forbearance will need to make 36 consecutive on-time payments after reentering repayment to qualify for release. The borrower applying for co-signer release must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. If an application for co-signer release is denied, the borrower may not reapply for co-signer release until at least one year from the date the application for co-signer release was received. Terms and conditions apply. Borrowers whose loans were funded prior to reaching the age of majority may not be eligible for co-signer release. Note: co-signer release is not available on the Student Loan for Parents or Education Refinance Loan for Parents.
Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents

Visit College Ave

4.50% – 11.35%*,3Undergraduate and Graduate

Visit SallieMae

Undergraduate and Graduate

Visit Discover

4.25% – 11.30%5Undergraduate and Graduate

Visit SunTrust

4.50% – 9.47%6Undergraduate and Graduate

Visit LendKey

Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents

Visit CommonBond

Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents


Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print to help you understand what you are buying. Be sure to consult with a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time.

You're on your way...

We'll take you to Lendingtree.com where you'll be able to fill out one form to get multiple personal loan offers.