Have you seen the news headlines stating that billions of dollars in student aid goes unclaimed each year? As a college-bound student, reading that probably feels more annoying than helpful. Yes, there is a large amount of student aid — including scholarships — that goes undiscovered, but it can be hard to know where to search to uncover it. We talked to our financial aid experts here on campus to find out what some of the lesser-known scholarships are and how to go about applying for them. We found five major scholarship categories to look into during your scholarship search.
#1: Banks and credit unions
You may not realize it, but most community banks and credit unions award scholarships to local students. Some are limited to members, others are open to all college-bound students in the community. For example, Elevations Credit Union of Colorado has a foundation which provides $130,000 in scholarships each year.
To find these scholarships, check local, state, and even national bank and credit union websites. If you’re not finding anything online, call or stop into a local branch to inquire.
#2: Your local community foundation
No matter where you live, there’s likely to be a community foundation in your area. Community foundations are public charities which award grants to community members, including college-bound students. These foundations most always have a variety of scholarship opportunities available. For example, the Community Foundation of Northern Colorado offers scholarships ranging from $1,000 to the full cost of tuition and fees.
To find these awards, start out by searching the name of a nearby town or area followed by ‘foundation’. You’ll more than likely find your local community foundation this way. Search for scholarships within the foundation’s website. If you’re having trouble finding them, give the foundation a call.
#3: Cultural centers and nonprofits
All across the country, there are a number of nonprofits and cultural centers ready to help those with diverse identities make college a reality. Whether you identify as a member of a particular culture or ethnicity, as LGBT or Queer, as an undocumented American, or as having a disability, there may be scholarships for you.
- The Human Rights Campaign offers an LGBTQ Student Scholarship Database with hundreds of national and state scholarships.
- HACER scholarships for Hispanic students via McDonald’s awards a number of scholarships every year. The Hispanic Scholarship Fund also partners with big-name companies to fund a variety of awards for Latinx students.
- The Bureau of Indian Education provides a scholarship database for Native American students.
- BlackStudents.com offers a comprehensive A-Z scholarship database for African American students, with scholarships connecting to everything from your major to the state you live in.
- Here at CSU, we’ve put together a financial aid guide for undocumented students who reside in Colorado. It includes a list of grants and scholarships.
As you search for scholarships, go beyond local. Include state and national-level nonprofits, too. Need extra help in your search? Contact our Diversity Centers here at CSU for tips and advice.
#4: Religious organizations
If you’re a member of a religious organization like a church, mosque, synagogue, or temple you may be eligible for a scholarship. Check with a leader in your organization for possible opportunities and don’t be shy about telling them that you’re college bound. It may give them an opportunity to create a new award. If you identify with a particular religion, don’t stop at the local level. Check with state and national headquarters, too. Some religious organizations may not have local scholarships, but state and national opportunities instead.
#5: Big-name companies
From Burger King to Dell, most major corporations have foundations whose sole purpose is to give back. These foundations may offer scholarships to any college-bound students or narrow their awards to current employees or their family members. Always check with an employer about scholarships if you’re college bound. When searching for these scholarships, it’s not always easy to locate the foundation within the company website. Instead, search for a particular company name followed by the word ‘foundation’.