By far, the most lucrative source of scholarship funding for college is the colleges themselves. Having said that, however, there are thousands of scholarships available from organizations outside of the colleges that may be worth pursuing.

We generally call these funds “private scholarships” or “outside scholarships,” and they can certainly make a sizable dent in your college costs. In order to cash in on the wealth of outside scholarship funding that is out there, follow these 10 tips:

Use the web.
I start here because most students do. There are some great scholarship searches on websites like www.scholarships.com, www.bigfuture.org, and www.petersons.com. Understand, however, that any scholarship you find online is going to be found by, likely, thousands of other students. Competition will be stiff. Therefore...

Be specific.
Don’t waste lots of time and energy on scholarships that you are unlikely to win. If a scholarship just requires you to be a “good student,” what are the chances that you are going to be the best student in that extensive applicant pool? If a scholarship requires you to be a vegetarian, woman engineer, or receiving treatment for acne (yup, all these scholarships exist), the applicant pool is going to be narrowed down greatly for you. Think about what makes you unique, and see if there’s a scholarship for it. 

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