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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.
Athnet Sports Recruiting Scholarship 5/1 Due by noon PST. $1000 check will be made out to the winner's school or choice and credited to your academic costs. To eligible to be a current or former athlete at the high school or college level and must be a current student or high school senior entering college. Applicants must submit a 400-500 word essay describing how the lessons you have learned through sports have positively impacted you as you pursue your college education.
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.
Coach Up 5/5 $2000 plus a $500 CoachUp Gift Certificate awarded to winners after they provide proof of enrollment. Applicants must submit an application, a reference, a 500 word essay, and a 1 minute video
Find a Law Scholarship 5/5 $500 awarded to a student who is attending college or university no later than December of 2014 on a full-time basis and must currently be a senior in high school or a freshman, sophomore, or junior in college/university. 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 (i.e.. no batteries or plugins are necessary to use the toy)...and 2) the toy must help the child develop a skill that is beneficial in an educational environment.
MCO Scholarship 5/15 $500 awarded to a student who is attending college or university no later than December of 2014 on a full-time basis and must currently be a senior in high school or a freshman, sophomore, or junior in college/university. 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 (i.e.. no batteries or plugins are necessary to use the toy)...and 2) the toy must help the child develop a skill that is beneficial in an educational environment.
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?
Maple Leaf Dentistry Scholarship 5/30 $500 awarded to a student attending school at the undergraduate level in the fall of 2014 and can be enrolled in any year of their undergraduate program. High school seniors who will graduate in 2014 are considered eligible. If you are attending a trades and/or technical school, the program must be at least 2 years in length. To be eligible the student must have contributed at least 100 hours of volunteer work over the last 2 calendar years. Questions: 1) Why did you choose this organization to volunteer at and what impact did your effort within the organization make? 2) What insights or skills did you gain from volunteering within this organization and, based on your experience, what advice would you give others that would help them gain the most from their own volunteering activities?
LM Scholarship Program 5/31 $500 awarded to a student who is currently enrolled or expected to enroll in a degree program (at least 2 years in length) by September. The student must have a GPA of 3.0 or higher, must be a U.S. resident or a Canadian resident (also attend school in the U.S. or Canada), and submit an answer to the essay topic. Essay Topic: Write an Essay about a situation you have been involved in or someone you know has been involved in where better safety procedures would have prevented an injury. Explain in detail what safety procedures you believe should have been in place to prevent the injury and how they would have prevented the injury.
Odenza Vacations College Scholarship 6/1 $500 awarded to a student who is between the ages of 17 and 24 on September 1, 2014, has a GPA of 2.5 or greater, be a residents of the United States or Canada, and submit an answer to the essay question. Essay Topic (1000 words or less): Why do you want to go to College/University?
Got a Spine Scholarship 6/2 $500 awarded to a student who is attending a college or university (in the U.S or Canada) no later than October 2014 on a full-time basis, has a GPA of 2.5 or greater during the last academic year, be a U.S. or Canadian resident, and answer the essay questions. Essay Topic 1(less than 1000 words): What are three common ways people develop back problems? What are three ways that you can ensure that you do not experience back problems? What are three methods chiropractors use when treating back pain? Essay Topic 2(less than 250 words): Why do you feel that you deserve the Scholarship?
Global Lift Scholarship 6/15 $500 awarded to a student who is currently attending or planning to attend a post-secondary institution no later than the Fall of 2014, must have a GPA of 2.5 or higher, be a U.S. or Canadian resident, and complete a short story. Story Requirements: Less than 2000 words in length, 2 characters in the story, main character is a piece of equipment from their inventory, and use realistic details about the machine.
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
Lift Parts Express Scholarship 6/30 $500 awarded to a current senior in high school or a freshman or sophomore in college/university enrolled or expected to be enrolled by the Fall of 2014. Applicants must be between the ages of 16-21, have a 3.0 GPA, must be a U.S. or Canadian resident, and submit an essay. Essay Topic (no word limit): Write an essay that outlines how much you expect to spend to finish your schooling, how you intend to pay for your schooling, and what you expect your job to be once you are finished your schooling.
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.
Goedeker's College Scholarship 7/31 There is a grand prize of $500 and then two $100 scholarships will be awarded to honorable mention entries for books. Applicants must have proof that they have a 3.0 GPA or higher and are enrolled in accredited college for the spring or fall 2014 semester. Applicants must submit an essay (minimum of 300 words) about why you are attending college and why your field of study is important to you.
Thermo Scientific Pierce Scholarship 8/1 A committee well award two $10,000 scholarships and four $5000 scholarships. Criteria for this scholarship are: 1) Candidate must be enrolled as a graduate or undergraduate student at an accredited college or university for the 2014-2015 Fall semester, 2) Candidate must have a declared major of Biology, Chemistry, Biochemistry or a related life science field, 3) Graduate students must have received an accumulative undergraduate GPA of > 3.0 on a 4.0 scale 4) Graduate students should be maintaining a GPA of > 3.0 on a 4.0 scale during Graduate School, 4) Sophomores and Juniors must have an accumulative college GPA of > 3.0 on a 4.0 scale, 5) Freshman must have an accumulative high school GPA of > 3.0 on a 4.0 scale, and 6) Candidates must complete an application ampersands submit unofficial transcripts. Applications have an essay section. Essay Topic (1000 characters or less): At Thermo Fisher Scientific, we fulfill our mission by working everyday in accordance with our values, which we call the "4 I's" - Integrity, Intensity, Innovation, and Involvement. How have the 4 I's influenced any successes or achievements in your life?
Arctic Physical Therapy Scholarship 8/31 $500 scholarship for students enrolled in any field of study who will be attending a college or university in the U.S. or Canada no later than January 2015 on a full-time or part-time basis, have achieved a GPA of at least 3.0, and submit answers to the essay questions. Essay Topic: In under 1,000 words, write an essay that outlines at least 3 ways Physical Therapy can make a difference in an individual's ability to live an active, healthy lifestyle.
AES Engineers 10/6 $500 intended for future leaders across a wide spectrum of fields of study. It is available to high school seniors and all students attending a post secondary education facility. The scholarship will be awarded on the basis of character, as determined by the essays submitted. Essay Topic: In 500-1000 words answer the following question, "When you look back on your life in 30 years, what would it take for you to consider your life successful? What people, things and accomplishments do you need?" Essays are submitted to: scholarships@aesengineers.com
Bridgat Graduate Scholarship 12/30 $6500 awarded to graduate students who are pursuing an advanced degree (either Masters or Doctoral) in any subject at an accredited institution in the United States and hold a valid ID card. Applicants must have a minimum GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale to apply and must be citizens of an Asian country.
Bridgat Undergraduate Scholarship 12/30 $4500 awarded to an undergraduate student who is now studying in the U.S. at an accredited four-year college or university and holds a valid student ID card, regardless of nationality. Applicants must have cumulative GPA of 2.70 on a 4.0 scale.

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