How to Find Local Scholarships

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College scholarships are a great way to help pay for your college education. While there are many scholarships available to students of all ages, you do need to do some research to find the best ones for you.

Ways to Find Local College Scholarships

In fact, there may be several scholarships available in your local community making it important to learn how to find local scholarships. Local scholarships can help help you pay for college.

What’s even better is that you don’t have to wait until it’s time to start college as there are even scholarships for high school sophomores that will help pay the costs of college. It’s never too soon to start thinking about your college education.

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In addition to using Google to find the types of scholarships for college in your state, check out these other resources to find local scholarships and read on to learn some helpful information.

How to Find Local Scholarships

Students searching online for local scholarships

While there are many large, national scholarships, local scholarships are sometimes overlooked, yet they can be just as beneficial. Local scholarships are established to support students in a local community who are on their journey to higher education.

The benefit to local scholarships, while they may be harder to track down, there tends to be a less competitive landscape that is more tailored to the community or organization. Luckily, we’ve put together various ways to track down local opportunities to help fund your college education.

Be sure to check these local opportunities when starting your search for various local scholarships.

High School Guidance Office or School District Foundation

Scholar of School District Foundation, studying in library

It may be a good idea to make an appointment to speak with your guidance counselor at your high school. High schools regularly find out about new scholarships and have knowledge of existing scholarships, their requirements, and deadlines. Plus, most high schools have counselors that are well-versed in the application process and can help you apply prior to any deadlines.

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Your high school may even have some scholarship foundations set up. Some districts award scholarships to their students based on merit or characteristic. For example, a memorial scholarship may be awarded to a student that possesses specific qualities.

Community Foundations

It may not be as well known, but most cities, towns, counties, and other municipalities have established foundations that focus on helping students and providing scholarships. In some cities, philanthropists and entrepreneurs may even work with the foundations to bring awareness and funds to the scholarships.

If you’re interested in checking out what your local area offers, you can start by conducting a Google search. Search for your city, town, or county with the words “community scholarship” or “community foundation.” You may find some great options that are limited to residents in your area.

Local Businesses

Student being interviewed by business owner for scholarship grant

In addition to local foundations, some local businesses may also offer scholarship opportunities. This can include large businesses like your local cable company, credit union, or large corporation within your town.

You can start by making a list of the various businesses within your town, city, or county. Once you have your list established, you can start approaching the various businesses and organizations to ask if they offer scholarships. You may be surprised how many local companies actually have programs in place to help students.

For larger corporations in your area, it may be helpful to Google your city, town, or county with the name of the business and the word “scholarship.” This search may turn up results and online applications. Don’t forget about your local media outlets such as area television and radio stations, along with newspaper companies.

Local Chapters of National Organizations

students looking for local businesses scholarships online

Another great resource when looking for local scholarships is to research national organizations that may have local chapters in your area. Sometimes, the local chapters are very community-based and are willing to help local students achieve their education goals.

If you know of a national organization in your area, you can visit its website to find local chapters and even scholarship information directly on its site. Great examples of national organizations that have local chapters that are very community-focused include your Elks Club, rotary club, American Legion or VFW. The American Legion or VFW can be especially helpful if your family has a current or former member of the military.

State and Local Governments

Sometimes your city or state government may set aside funds for college education in the form of student scholarships.

It’s important to remember that while city-based programs may have fewer applicants, state-based programs are still considered local and may offer more opportunities for scholarships. You may not find a city or town scholarship, but you may be able to apply to larger scholarships available to residents of your state.

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You can start by searching for your area’s department of education, which may point you in the right direction for city-based or state-based available options.

Websites for Colleges in Your State

group of students looking for state scholarships

When searching for scholarships in your area, don’t forget to check out local colleges. Even if it is not a college you are planning to attend, the college website may offer some great guidance and information regarding external scholarship opportunities.

You can start by making a list of the colleges within your state. Remember to include 2-year and 4-year schools. Once you have your list, start researching each school’s website for scholarship information. While you may have to weed out internal scholarships, you may be able to find a few local scholarships that you did not know about.

Local Newspapers

In the age of the Internet, it can sometimes be easy to forget about printed news information. Don’t forget about your local newspapers and publications.

You can even go to the local newspaper’s website to find information on scholarships, but don’t rule out reading the actual newspaper, either. You may notice an announcement of a local scholarship that was recently awarded, and you can take note to apply during the next application window.

Parents’ Employers

Student interviewed by her Parents’ Employer for scholarship offer

Certain companies have scholarship opportunities that are open to employees or their families. Don’t rule out unions either, as unions tend to have scholarships available to their members and their member’s family. A benefit to this route is that even if the company or union is large, the applicant pool is usually limited.

To get started here, you’ll want to research the company or union’s website or talk to the HR office to inquire about available scholarships. Your parent may even want to start the conversation with the union rep or HR manager to obtain the requirements and qualifications of the scholarship.

Past Local Scholarships

Past local scholarship winners are sometimes published in your high school commencement program. If you can obtain a commencement program from last year, you may have some good scholarship opportunities before the deadlines.

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You may be able to find previous programs online via your school or other local high school websites. If they are not available online, you may be able to obtain one through your school office or by emailing other local schools. Be sure to check out local school district’s social media pages as scholarship winners are sometimes highlighted there as well.

Religious Centers

Youth church member with scholarship, attending ministry

Many religious organizations offer scholarships to their members. Religious organizations include churches, synagogues, mosques, and other facilities. If you, or your family, are members of any religious organization, you can ask the leadership if any scholarships or awards are available for members looking to attend higher education.

The applicant pool may be limited, but also may be small, increasing your chances of being awarded. Even if the organization’s leadership does not have any available opportunities, they may be aware of other local scholarships they can share with you.

It’s important to note that many local scholarships may have a strong focus on leadership and community involvement with the goal of educating future community members and leaders. If you have leadership experience or community service hours be sure to include that information in your application.

Advantages of Local Scholarships

Students with local scholarship, doing research in the library

There are a number of advantages of local college scholarships. The application process and the competitiveness can widely differ between local scholarships and scholarships available on the national level.

Some common advantages to applying for local scholarships can include:

  • The applicant pool may be smaller and less competitive
  • Application processes may not be as rigorous
  • Applications might be easier to follow up on and receive feedback

Local scholarships are restricted to certain areas or communities. This means that the number of candidates eligible to apply is significantly reduced compared to scholarships available across multiple states.

Fewer applicants mean that each individual has a better chance of receiving an award. Some large scholarship programs have long and rigorous application steps. Some include essays, a questionnaire, and several other materials.

Local scholarships tend to have an easier application process. This might help the process be less stressful and may leave you with more time to fill out additional scholarship applications. Local scholarships for college students are often awarded by smaller organizations, which can be easier to contact. Following up on your application may show initiative and might be easier for local scholarships.

How to Win Local Scholarship Awards

Student doing research about Local Scholarship Awards

There are several steps you can take to potentially increase your chances of winning local scholarships, such as:

  • Research information about the local scholarship and the organization offering it
  • Apply to as many scholarships as you can
  • Determine whether you’re eligible for the scholarship
  • Submit all materials requested in the application process on time

Learning background information about local scholarships and the organizations that offer the awards can help you get a better understanding of what they might be looking for. You might research previous scholarships offered and how those scholarships were awarded to others.

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To cut your cost of attendance down, applying to as many scholarships as you can increases your chances of winning one or multiple awards. Individuals are responsible for reviewing scholarship applications and only consider candidates who are eligible. Local scholarships typically have specific eligibility requirements that individuals must meet to apply.

Eligibility criteria can usually be found on the website of the organization offering the local scholarship. Creating a checklist of all the materials included in the application process can help you keep track of what you’ve completed. It’s important to submit all materials that are requested when applying to local scholarships to be considered.

You can start trying to earn local scholarships by researching scholarship opportunities that you’re eligible for in your community and state.

What Kind of Scholarships Are Available?

Two students with Merit-based scholarships, discussing

Scholarships can be awarded to eligible applicants based on a number of factors. Scholarships typically target a certain group or community, specific interests, or talents. For example, some scholarships are geared toward military members, women, or high school students.

Merit-based scholarships are a type of non-income-based scholarships that are awarded to individuals with a certain talent or skills. Students who show exceptional academic, athletic, or musical talent may be awarded a merit-based scholarship.

Local scholarships and grants are awarded to individuals within a certain community or state. School guidance counselors and libraries might offer helpful resources on local scholarship information.

What are Local Scholarships?

Students checking on local scholarship options

Local college scholarships are monetary awards that are given to chosen applicants in a particular location. These scholarships are different from other types because they target specific communities.

Some local scholarships may be open to individuals from a certain county, city, or state. This helps reduce the number of eligible applicants, which can make the scholarship less competitive than those available to students located anywhere.

Many local scholarships have smaller monetary awards than those available at the national level, but they can still be useful for cutting down costs of tuition or other school expenses.

What are the Easiest Scholarships to Get?

Student filling out scholarship form online

Application processes vary between scholarships. Some may not require a minimum GPA, test scores, or an essay. Short scholarship applications can make it easier for students to apply.

Some examples of easy scholarships could include the no-essay college scholarships and the Because College Is Expensive Scholarship. Certain no-essay scholarships are available to applicants every month. High school students and undergraduate and graduate students or students enrolling within one year are encouraged to apply.

The Because College Is Expensive Scholarship is a quarterly scholarship. It’s a small scholarship awarded every three months by filling out one form online.

When Do I Apply for Scholarships?

Students taking examination for a scholarship

Many scholarships have deadlines scattered throughout the year. If you’re in high school, you can start considering applying for scholarships as early as your junior year. You might be able to apply for various scholarships year-round whenever you have the chance.

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The important thing to keep in mind when applying for scholarships is deadlines. It might be helpful to take note of scholarships that you want to apply for and when the deadlines are. You can apply for a scholarship as soon as the window opens, but late applications usually aren’t accepted.

Will My Scholarship Affect My Other Student Aid?

Scholarships might affect your financial aid depending on your school. Financial aid policies for scholarships can differ between colleges or universities.

If you’re awarded one or more scholarships, it might reduce the financial aid your college gives you. The amount of financial aid you’re eligible for can also affect how scholarships are applied. It’s up to your college’s financial aid office whether they choose to keep your financial aid or reduce it based on scholarships awarded.

You can inquire about how scholarships affect financial aid by contacting your prospective or current college’s financial aid office.

Applying for Local Scholarships

Mother guiding her daughter on her application for Local Scholarship

Applying for local scholarships and grants may be easier and less competitive than other types of scholarships. Many local scholarships target specific groups or communities, which can reduce the size of the applicant pool.

Earning local scholarships can be helpful in reducing your cost of tuition or attendance. Whether you’re in high school or an undergraduate or graduate student, local scholarship opportunities might be available to you.

Your school may offer resources to help you in your scholarship search. You can also begin reviewing potential accredited universities and scholarship programs you’re eligible for and begin applying.

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Elizabeth Abner
WRITTEN BY Elizabeth Abner

Elizabeth is pursuing a Doctor of Philosophy in Foreign Policy and earned her master's degree in business administration. For her undergraduate studies, she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration with a concentration in international business. Elizabeth's research is focused on universities offering online degree programs.