Did you know you can get a scholarship just for being enthusiastic about the number 5? Or for being tall? Or well-rounded? Or wearing a dress made from Duck Tape to prom? While the vast majority of scholarship dollars on any college campus come from the school’s own funds and donors, there are plenty of other scholarships out there for students willing to track them down and apply. Summer– when school-related writing is on hiatus– is a great time to apply for outside scholarships. Here are some of the best ways to find them:

  • Scholarship websites Fastweb and Scholarships.com are among the most established and comprehensive scholarship databases and match students to potential scholarships.
  • Cappex adds college merit scholarships to its database and lets students see their likelihood of getting admitted to schools offering significant merit aid through a proprietary calculator.
  • Your high school guidance counselor or college/career center. Many high schools maintain lists of scholarships available to local students. (After all, the scholarship donors want to make sure that students apply, and where better to find high school students than at high schools?) If you are in the not-entirely-unique situation of having a high school student who does not share this type of information with you, you might reach out to your school’s college/career center or your student’s guidance counselor.
  • Individual departments within the colleges you’re looking at. If your student has a field of interest, check with that department about any additional scholarship funds available to students in that major. This is more likely for less-popular fields, but can often add up to substantial amounts of money. Even better, it’s generally treated as an institutional scholarship, not an outside one.

Two tips, before you get started:

  • If you register for one of these scholarship sites, be prepared to be bombarded with emails. Students would do well to set up a separate email address just for this purpose.
  • Remember that outside scholarships– those not provided by the institution or the government– are reported as student income for FAFSA/CSS PROFILE purposes. That means that one-time awards can reduce the student’s financial aid package in future years. The student still comes out ahead, since it’s a 50% reduction, but the family should at least be aware of this.