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How do I find free money to help pay for college?

The short answer is to get money; you have to ask for it. Columbia College students have applied for and won scholarship money from non-military outside sources to the tune of over $200,000 this year alone.

You can be considered for a scholarship for any of the following reasons (and more):

  • Academic performance
  • Athletic achievement
  • Financial need (The FAFSA will be needed)
  • Religious affiliation
  • Minority status
  • Major of study
  • Heritage
  • Community affiliations
  • A unique set of criteria that's important to the organization providing funds

There's a lot of advice out there on the best way to apply for scholarships and it comes down to using common sense and following directions carefully. We have linked what we believe are the best scholarship sites, search engines, and helpful tips to assist you in searching for and winning scholarships.

The Financial Aid Facts site is an unbiased, summarized, comprehensive review of the who, what, when, where, and how of obtaining scholarships.

There are many independent sites full of tips and advice on how to have your application stand out in the crowd. Because scholarships can be difficult to find, apply for, and win, you may need some guidance. The FreSch site gives you real-world advice, suggestions, tips, hints, tricks, and information, written by real students who have won scholarships and by scholarship judges! This is all intended to help you improve your odds of winning a scholarship.

The College Board is a mission-driven, not-for-profit organization that connects students to college success and opportunity. Founded in 1900, the College Board was created to expand access to higher education.

This Quick Reference Guide from Fast Web is one of the most known scholarship finder services. It provides practical advice for students on how to win a scholarship, as well as common mistakes to avoid, and a list of key scholarship resources.

Sallie Mae offers free access to an award database that contains more than 3 million scholarships worth over $16 billion. Individuals can browse scholarships or utilize Sallie Mae's scholarship search. Please note: you must register to be able to use the scholarship search.

Once you've located possible scholarship opportunities, it's time to apply. All scholarship applications will require you to tell something about yourself. Some ask for greater detail than others, but the important thing to remember is to spend your time wisely. Apply for those scholarships that afford you the best opportunity to win.

Outside Scholarships

The scholarship listing is intended as a reference to help students find external scholarships. Columbia College cannot guarantee availability of the external scholarships listed. Students should contact the scholarship awarding agency or links provided for additional information regarding eligibility requirements, application procedures, and terms and conditions.

ProgramDeadlineDescription
Talbots 1/3 The Talbots Scholarship Foundation will award $180,000 in college scholarships for the 2012 academic year for women, including up to seventeen (17) $10,000 scholarships and one (1) $30,000 scholarship to an extraordinary finalist demonstrating courage, conviction and an insatiable entrepreneurial spirit.
The Foundation of the National Student Nurses' Association 1/14 The NSNA Foundation awards over $345,000 annually in the general scholarship and promise of nursing programs. Scholarships range from $1,000 to $5,000. The scholarships are based on academic achievement, financial need, and involvement in nursing student organizations and community activities related to health care. Additional criteria may be required by some sponsors. Scholarships are awarded in the spring for use in summer school and the following academic year.
Jimmy Rane Foundation 2/15 The Jimmy Rane Foundation is dedicated to providing college scholarships to deserving students and strengthening our communities through education projects and grants.
Ronald Reagan Scholarship Program 2/17 Honoring the legacy and character of our nation's 40th President, the GE-Reagan Foundation Scholarship Program rewards college-bound students who demonstrate exemplary leadership, drive, integrity, and citizenship with financial assistance to pursue higher education.
Phillips University Legacy Foundation Scholarship 3/15 The Phillips University Legacy Scholars program is an educational outreach program of the Phillips University Legacy Foundation. The program provides scholarships and opportunities to educate and develop leaders who embody Christian values in their lives, service, and work. Program grants annual awards of up to $5,000 to full-time undergraduate students pursuing a liberal arts education at any of the 17 colleges or universities affiliated with the Christian Church (Columbia College is affiliated). Also provides a four-day all-expense paid Leadership Development Conference for scholarship recipients.
COWL Scholarship 3/31 $2500 scholarship (for tuition, books, and fees) for women (age 25 or older) of all income levels who show evidence of furthering their education in order to make a contribution to their government, children, families, and community. Other requirements include: Woman must be an Illinois resident and plan to attend an accredited on-campus school in Illinois for at least six semester hours (no online schools). Application materials required are application form, two reference letters, personal background and goals essay (one to two page essay on the importance of this scholarship to you), official transcripts from the last two academic years attended, list of all institutions of higher education you've attended, and signed waiver form with notary public signature and seal.
Jack Isgur Foundation 3/31 $1,000 per semester to students studying at colleges and universities who indicate a interest in teaching courses in the humanities, such as literature, fine arts, music, art, poetry, and dancing school districts located in the State of Missouri, preferably rural school districts. It is available to the junior and senior levels of undergraduate college students , as well as graduate students.
Masonic Merit 3/31 A $1000/year scholarship available to students in any degree program. Criteria for all Masonic Scholarships: 1) Grade point average of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale (or equivalent). 2) Position in class (with some thought to size of school). 3) ACT, SAT-or equivalent-test score. 4) Involvement in extra-curricular activities. 5) Financial Need. 6) Current Recipients, providing proper re-application, to be continued before new applicants are selected. 7) Graduate of a Missouri Public High School. 8) Conditioned on enrollment as a full time student (12 hours credit per semester or term) at an accredited college or university in the United States. 9) Selection is made without regard to race, creed, sex or country of origin.
Ruth Lutes Bachmann Scholarship 3/31 A $1,000/year scholarship for students seeking a degree in the education or healthcare fields. Criteria for all Masonic Scholarships: 1) Grade point average of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale (or equivalent). 2) Position in class (with some thought to size of school). 3) ACT, SAT-or equivalent-test score. 4) Involvement in extra-curricular activities. 5) Financial Need. 6) Current Recipients, providing proper re-application, to be continued before new applicants are selected. 7) Graduate of a Missouri Public High School. 8) Conditioned on enrollment as a full time student (12 hours credit per semester or term) at an accredited college or university in the United States. 9) Selection is made without regard to race, creed, sex or country of origin.
Samuel Smith Steward Masonic Scholarship 3/31 An $8000/year scholarship available to students in any degree program Criteria for all Masonic Scholarships: 1) Grade point average of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale (or equivalent). 2) Position in class (with some thought to size of school). 3) ACT, SAT-or equivalent-test score. 4) Involvement in extra-curricular activities. 5) Financial Need. 6) Current Recipients, providing proper re-application, to be continued before new applicants are selected. 7) Graduate of a Missouri Public High School. 8) Conditioned on enrollment as a full time student (12 hours credit per semester or term) at an accredited college or university in the United States. 9) Selection is made without regard to race, creed, sex or country of origin.
US Bank 3/31 The USBank Scholarship Program is available to high school seniors and college undergraduates. There are 40 $1,000 scholarships. Winners will be selected at random.
Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. 4/14 2 ($1,000) scholarships will be awarded to ethnic minority students attending a university or college within the Mid-Missouri area with a minimum 2.5 cumulative GPA. Applicants must submit the enclosed application, copy of their certified school transcript, a 500 word essay and a bio. Essay Topic: Why it is important to set and achieve goals. To apply for a Foundation General Scholarship prospective students need to contact the Foundation office
Women's Network: Carrie D. Francke Memorial Scholarship 4/15 Each year, Women's Network provides a $1,000 scholarship in memory of Carrie D. Francke who served on the Women's Network Steering Commitee. To be eligible, applicants must: be a Boone County resident, be a female student, be 21 years of age or older, have a GPA of 3.0 or higher, have at least a sophomore standing. Primary consideration for the scholarship is based on financial need.
Consumer Affairs 4/25 $1000 scholarship will be provided bi-annually in December and April to the winner of an essay contest to assist with the costs of studying abroad. Essay Topic: Discuss, in 1,000 words or less, your motivations for studying abroad in the UK, your expectations of culture shock and how you anticipate the experience changing your life perspectives. The essay cannot be plagiarized, applicants must be able to provide proof of enrollment at an accredited two- or four- year college or university, and applicants must be non-UK citizens currently studying outside of the UK.
PennyStocks 4/30 $1,000 scholarship for students who are interested in a career in finance, penny stocks, investing, or trading can submit an essay for a chance to win the scholarship. Essay topic: Discuss, in 1,000 words or less, whether you think increased activism is necessary, and if so, what changes you would make.
The Fruit Company 4/30 As a third generation family owned business, The Fruit Company is committed to helping the next generation of entrepreneurs, visionaries and leaders. The Roy Webster Memorial Scholarship Fund is a $1,000 award is for a graduate of an Oregon or Washington high school. The Gift Basket Entrepreneur Award is a $4,000 scholarship which will be given to a U.S. high school graduate who is a new major in business or agriculture and has the drive and vision to make their mark on the business world.
Missouri Council of the Blind 5/1 Organized in 1956, Missouri Council of the Blind (MCB) is the state of Missouri's largest consumer based assistance organization. With the help of 700 plus members, MCB works for causes that affect people who are visually impaired and strives to improve their quality of life.
Orchid Care Scholarship 5/1 $500 scholarship available to a qualified undergraduate or graduate student pursuing a program in Botany, Horticulture, Environmental Science, Conservation, or related field with a focus on orchids. Essay required as part of the application. Essay Topic: Please tell us, in two pages or less, about the specific research or project you are working on to advance the study of orchids. How will the funds be used if awarded?
MassMutual Scholars 5/3 A national scholarship program for high achieving college students of Aftrican American, Asian/Pacific Islander, or Hispanic decent interested in pursuing careers in the insurance and financial services industry.
Mission Creek Orthodontics Scholarship 5/15 $500 scholarship for students who will be attending a college or university no later than December of 2014 full-time, currently in their last year of high school or a freshman, sophomore, or junior in college/university, and submit an essay. Essay topic: The year is 2014. You have been asked to buy a toy for an 8 year old child in the local elementary school. Your only guidelines are the following: 1) The toy must not require power to operate and 2) the toy must help the child develop a skill that is beneficial in an educational environment.
B. Davis Scholarship 5/26 $1000 scholarship for high school juniors and seniors as well as all students currently registered in any post secondary institution. Students can submit an essay for a chance to win the scholarship. Essay topic: In 1,000 words or less, pick a controversial problem on high school or college/university campuses and suggest as solution.
GreenPal 5/30 $2000 open to any graduating high school senior, college freshman or sophomore who owns and operates his/her own small business, or has put together as business play to start a business while in college. The $2000 will be awarded equally over 4 semesters. Funds will be awarded to the student's institution, upon evidence of registration in classes. There is the following criteria for this scholarship: 1) Applicant must be graduating High School's Senior Class in 2014 or currently enrolled in a college of business with a 3.0 or higher GPA 2) Applicant must demonstrate high ambition and desire to be an entrepreneur or business owner. 3) Applicant must have a declared major in the college of Business. 4) Funds must be used for full-time enrollment at accredited two or four-year colleges, Universities, vocational or technical schools in the United States. Students must submit an application (contains 300-600 word essay) and statement of accuracy. Essay Topic: Why do you want to be a business owner? What is your idea, and how will get it started?
AlgaeCal 6/30 $1000 scholarship of students enrolled at a college/university in the 2013-2014 school year, or who are enrolling the upcoming semester. To be eligible, applicants must be 1) currently attending a post secondary institute in the United States or Canada and 2) carrying a minimum 3.00 GPA. Applicants must download and complete an AlgaeCal Health Scholarships Application Form and write an essay up to 750 words, describing "If you could, what, if any, changes to programs, policies, and education etc. would you implement for the general health/well being of the average modern person?" Applications are sent to: scholarships@algaecal.com
Second Chance Scholarship 7/1 Zonta Club of Jefferson City, a member of Zonta International, an international organziation of executive women, has instituted a scholarship program to benefit females who have a high school diploma or G.E.D. and who desire to begin or continue a post-high school education or technical training program with the intent of acquiring the skills necessary to enter or advance her status in the workplace. The monetary dollar amount of this award shall be up to $2,500 per semester and may be renewable for the next consecutive semester.

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