10 Sites to Kick Off Your Scholarship Search

Through these sites, students can begin to tap into the billions of dollars in scholarship money awarded each year.

By Deborah Ziff, Contributor |Sept. 14, 2017, at 9:30 a.m.

10 Sites to Kick Off Your Scholarship Search

Don’t overlook your high school’s website, which may list local scholarships with less competition. (Hoxton/Tom Merton/Getty Images)

If you’re hoping to fund some, or all, of your college career with scholarships, you’re in luck: There are billions of dollars in scholarship and grant money awarded each year.

You don’t need to be a valedictorian or football star to win scholarship money – there are scholarships for all types of students. But you do need to put some effort into your search.

“What I find is that the students who are most successful – they treat this almost like a mini job,” says Kim Stezala, author of “Scholarships 101: The Real-World Guide to Getting Cash for College.”

“They are looking at multiple sites. They are entering profiles on different sites. They’re assessing, ‘Is this a good match? Is there too much competition? Do I have a good chance of winning?’”

Stezala recommends picking just two sites to start, then expanding your search if you don’t find what you’re looking for. Here are 10 sites to choose from to get started.

1. Scholarships.com: The free scholarship search is one of the most established and robust, tracking a reported $19 billion in scholarships. “It’s basically like an eHarmony site for money,” says Elizabeth Hartley, an independent education consultant and owner of Scholarship Gold Consulting.

After you fill out a profile, the site will use your criteria to filter through all scholarships to generate a short list.

“Based on your answers, it’ll try to match the student to scholarships that may be a fit,” Hartley says.

2. Fastweb.com: Fastweb, owned by parent company Monster.com, is also a free scholarship search provider that claims to have more than 1.5 million scholarships in its database. Like scholarships.com, the site will find scholarships in its database and email you matches, deadlines and newsletters.

“I like it because it’s got such a huge database,” says Monica Matthews, who helped her son win more than $100,000 in college scholarships and is author of “How to Win College Scholarships.”

Expect a flood of emails as you begin your scholarship search, Matthews says. She also recommends creating an email address specifically to field scholarship searches.

3. Chegg.com: Chegg is a textbook website that has a scholarship search function, offering more than 25,000 scholarships. The site also offers online tutors to help students with their scholarship essays.

“They’re definitely trying to stay on top of what’s new on the market in terms of scholarships,” Hartley says.

4. Cappex.com: Cappex allows students to search both schools and scholarships, with a database of more than $11 billion in scholarships. A proprietary calculator also allows students to gauge their chances of getting into prospective schools with user-generated data.

And while the site doesn’t break down students’ chances of getting a scholarship, Stezala says she likes it because it provides a “reality check” on whether they may get admitted to schools that give out a lot of scholarship money.

5. JLV College Counseling: Jessica Velasco, a former admissions officer, started JLV College Counseling, which offers information on various scholarships. Velasco also posts scholarships every Saturday on her Facebook page with upcoming application deadlines. Via her blog, Velasco offers scholarship and college admissions tips and advice.

6. The College Board: The College Board’s comprehensive BigFuture site helps students look up information about colleges and how to pay for school. Its scholarships search engine provides information on more than $6 billion in scholarships, financial aid and internships.

7. Niche.com: On Niche.com, students can gain a sense of each school’s “personality,” Hartley says, by reading student reviews. They can also search for scholarships. Niche pairs students with the scholarships that match their qualifications, with student-friendly categories like no-essay scholarships.

8. Your high school website: Don’t overlook your own high school’s website, which may have a list of local scholarships. These scholarships can have less competition than those posted to national databases, Matthews says.

Stezala adds that if your high school doesn’t have a list, you should check websites of other area high schools. “Some will post it publicly, and some won’t,” she says.

9. Community foundation website: Like your high school website, families should check local community foundations’ websites, which may also host a list of area scholarships.

“You have to look at what is available in your local community, which may not show up on these large national websites,” Stezala says, adding that there are lots of local scholarships from social organizations, like the Elks Lodge, or veterans groups such as the American Legion.

10. College websites where you’re applying: Although not all schools award merit-based scholarships, those that do are very valuable because they’ll likely renew all four years.

But the process for giving out scholarship money varies from school to school. You should also check the department of the major you’re considering, which may have its own scholarships and process for awarding them.

“Go to the college’s website, type in the word ‘scholarships’ and see what process the college will be using to give out their scholarship opportunities,” Hartley says.

Deborah Ziff is a Chicago area-based freelance education reporter for U.S. News, covering college savings and 529 plans. You can follow her on Twitter.

Should I Claim Scholarships & Other Awards on My Taxes?

Your scholarship may be taxable – discover how to report your scholarships on your taxes.

By Elizabeth Hoyt
February 16, 2017
Taken From Fastweb- Your connection to scholarships, colleges,
financial aid and more

If you’ve won a scholarship, grant or fellowship, congratulations are in order!  You’ll surely want to share the great news with Mom, Dad, Grandma…and Uncle Sam.

Why?  Because, your scholarship, grant or fellowship may count as income and, if so, that means that it’s taxable.

It’s important to find out if your award is taxable and, if so, figure out how to correctly report it when filing your annual tax return.

We’ve compiled a guide to help you decipher which category your educational award falls under – taxable or tax-free.

Additionally, if your award is taxable, we’ve included instructions in order to help you figure out how to claim it on your taxes.

Tax-Free Scholarships, Fellowships & Grants

A scholarship is tax-free if:

  • You are a full-time or part-time candidate for a degree at a primary, secondary or accredited post-secondary institution.
  • The award covers tuition and fees to enroll in or attend an educational institution.
  • The award covers fees, books, supplies and equipment required for your courses.

The award is tax-free only as long as you use it for the purposes outlined above.

Taxable Scholarship, Fellowships & Grants

Your scholarship is taxed if it was used to cover any of the following:

  • Room and board
  • Travel
  • Research
  • Clerical help
  • Fees, Books, Supplies and Equipment (Not required for the course or attendance)

If your award covered both tuition and room and board, the amount you use for tuition is tax-free.  However, the amount you used for room and board is taxable.  Remember, if you need to make this adjustment, you may have to adjust other parts of your return as well.

For example, if you are filing a deduction for educational expenses, you must reduce the amount of your deduction by the tax-free amount of the award.

Note:  Items that are required for your course or for course attendance are generally not taxable.

Finding the Right Form

When it comes to taxes, if you’re not savvy about it, finding the right government form can be a challenged in itself!

Which is no longer an issue, because the only form you need to think about in terms of claiming scholarships, grants and fellowships are the following:

  • 1040– U.S. Individual Income Tax Return
  • 1040A – U.S. Individual Income Tax Return
  • 1040EZ– Income Tax Return for Single and Joint Filers With No Dependents
  • 1040NR – U.S. Nonresident Alien Income Tax Return
  • 1040NR-EZ – U.S. Income Tax Return for Certain Nonresident Aliens With No Dependents

Making It Legal: Reporting Taxable Awards

If your only income is a tax-free scholarship or fellowship, you’re in the clear. You don’t have to file a tax return or report the award. However, if all or part of your scholarship is taxable and if that money is not recorded on your W2 form, you must report it.

To help you figure out the exact amounts that should be reported as taxable and non-taxable of your award, check out the IRS site section on tax benefits for education, where they have implemented an interactive tool to discover whether you’re eligible to claim an education credit.

In order to help save time, we’ve compiled information included within the packet for you. However, if you have additional questions, we suggest you refer to the IRS site before any panic attacks ensue.

Note: Any tuition reduction that is taxable should be included as wages on your W-2 form.

Here’s a quick guide detailing how to report your scholarship, fellowship or grant income depending on which return form you are filing:

If you are filing a 1040EZ form: If you file Form 1040EZ, include the taxable amount in the total on line 1. If the taxable amount was not reported on Form W-2, also enter “SCH” and the taxable amount in the space to the left of line 1.

If you are filing a 1040 form: If you file Form 1040, include the taxable amount in the total on line 7. If the taxable amount was not reported on Form W-2, also enter “SCH” and the taxable amount on the dotted line next to line 7.

If you are filing a 1040A form:  If you file Form 1040A, include the taxable amount in the total on line 7. If the taxable amount was not reported on Form W-2, also enter “SCH” and the taxable amount in the space to the left of line 7.

Any Questions?

If you’re not sure if your award is taxable, ask the organization that sponsored the award. They may have information from the IRS regarding your award’s tax status.

If you have questions, ask as soon as possible to get your answers before the end of tax season, when they are likely swamped with questions.  You can also seek information directly from the Internal Revenue Service. Find help understanding education benefits and taxes on the IRS web site detailing ways to contact your local IRS office with questions.

Or, find your own answers by checking out the IRS Tax Benefits for Education, which covers information on education tax benefits.