Girl holding smart phone outsideScholarships provide money for college that usually does not have to be paid back. Some scholarships are based on academic or other types of achievements, while others are geared toward specific groups of students.

Scholarships vary in amount, from one-time awards of a few hundred dollars to full tuition worth thousands of dollars.

Every scholarship you receive will help reduce the cost of your education, so it is important to start looking early and apply for as many as possible. You can start looking for scholarships as early as middle school.

Find scholarships

Scholarships are offered by thousands of local, regional, and national organizations – you just have to find them. To learn about scholarship opportunities:

Apply for scholarships

Applying for scholarships is similar to applying to college. Be sure to check the eligibility requirements before spending time to apply. Once you have determined you are eligible, read the application carefully, fill it out completely, and submit it by the application deadline.

The application form usually asks you to highlight your personal and academic achievements and provide letters of recommendation. Many scholarship applications also require you to write an essay. Some may request an interview, audition, or portfolio.

Keep track of the scholarships for which you have applied and scholarships you have been awarded. Be sure to keep renewal information since some scholarships are good for multiple years.

Be aware of scams

As you search for scholarships, be aware of scholarship scams. Do not provide credit card information to use a free scholarship search. Be sure to read the fine print before providing too much information, as some companies may send you unwanted information about other services they offer or sell your information.

Visit studentaid.gov/types/scams for more information about scholarship scams.