Congressional offices are frequently contacted by constituents who are researching how to pay for postsecondary education. This report identifies various online sources targeted to students and parents that provide information on planning and acquiring funds for postsecondary education. Some resources also contain information on repaying, forgiving, or discharging educational debt.
Students are often in the best position to determine which aid programs they may qualify for and which best meet their needs. Many of the websites listed in this report enable a student to conduct and save scholarship, grant, and loan searches. This list includes both general sources and those targeted toward specific types of aid and circumstances (e.g., non-need-based scholarships; women and minority students; students studying abroad; or veterans, military personnel, and their dependents).
This report is not a comprehensive catalog of resources related to financial aid for students. The selection of a resource for inclusion in this report is based on several criteria, including long-standing history in publishing print guides on financial aid and other college information guides (e.g., College Board, Peterson's, Princeton Review, Reference Service Press), key features or capabilities of the website, or focus on specific topics (e.g., educational disciplines or student characteristics). The resources in this report are provided as examples and the inclusion of resources in this report does not imply endorsement by CRS. Similar guides are available in a variety of formats through libraries, high school guidance offices, college financial aid offices, and on the web.
This report identifies various online sources for planning and acquiring funds for postsecondary education. Some resources also contain information on repaying, forgiving, or discharging educational debt. Students are often in the best position to determine which aid programs they may qualify for and which best meet their needs. This list includes both general and comprehensive sources, as well as those targeted toward specific types of aid and circumstances (e.g., non-need-based scholarships; female and minority students; students studying abroad; or veterans, military personnel, and their dependents). The selection of a resource for inclusion in this report is based on several criteria, including long-standing history in publishing print guides on financial aid and other college information guides (e.g., College Board, Peterson's, Princeton Review, Reference Service Press), key features or capabilities of the website, or focus on specific topics (e.g., educational disciplines or student characteristics). The resources in this report are provided as examples, not an all-inclusive list.
The following information includes general sources on federal student aid (FSA) programs, and on federal departments and agencies' scholarships, grants, fellowships, internships, and cooperative education programs. Federal resources related to health professions and veterans are in the "Selected Specialized Aid Examples" section of this report. In addition, federal departments and agencies may have loan repayment or forgiveness programs available for employees, interns, or fellows.
CareerOneStop. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor
This website provides information on more than 7,500 scholarships, fellowships, loans, and other financial aid opportunities. Users can search by keyword or by category (e.g., Award Type, Residence Preferences, Study Level, and Affiliation Restrictions). http://www.careerinfonet.org/scholarshipsearch/ScholarshipCategory.asp?searchtype=category&nodeid=22
CareerOneStop also provides several ways to access information about occupations, such as job duties, potential earnings, and required education or training. The information on careers is based on the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics' long-standing compilation, Occupational Outlook Handbook, available at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/home.htm.
U.S. Department of Education. Federal Student Aid
This site gives general information on the major federal student aid programs, including grants, loans, work-study assistance, and tax credits. It describes loan deferment, cancellation, and consolidation, and dealing with loans that are in default. An individual who seeks to obtain FSA is to complete the free application for federal student aid (FAFSA). The site includes a link to fill out the FAFSA electronically. The site also provides students an overview on grants and scholarships.
U.S. Office of Personnel Management. Pathways
This website provides information on educational opportunities offered by federal departments and agencies, including, fellowships, internships, and cooperative education programs.
The following information includes general sources on financial planning for college. The sources include explanations on both federal and institutional approaches to determining eligibility for financial aid, calculating college costs, types of financial aid (e.g., scholarships, grants, loans, internships, fellowships), the processes for applying for financial aid, and other financial aid resources (e.g., organizations, foundations). Several of the resources listed below under Financial Aid Searchable Databases also include information on planning for college.
Center for Student Opportunity (CSO). I'm First!
An online community founded by the Center for Student Opportunity to provide first-generation college students with support, advice, and encouragement on the road to and through college.
A free online course to help students and their families learn how to plan for the costs of higher education and gain money. Free registration is required.
An online hub offering prospective students, especially low-income students, personalized college information, including navigating the college-selection process and finding money for college. Free registration is required.
A website providing information on college admissions, types of colleges, financial aid, and college "survival" tips.
Mapping Your Future
Sponsored by a group of student loan guaranty agencies, this site covers selecting a school and planning a career and includes a step-by-step guide on paying for school.
This internet resource guide for students provides information on schools and careers, postsecondary standardized exams and improving test scores, and scholarships and financial aid. Free registration is required. Articles on scholarships and financial aid are at http://www.princetonreview.com/college-advice#s2.
Reference Service Press. Financial Aid Info Center
An internet resource guide for students on schools and careers, including a financial aid timeline, a glossary, a state financial aid directory, and a news center (includes articles on college costs, student aid, student loans, filling out the FAFSA, prepaid tuition and college savings plans, education tax breaks, and scholarship scams).
Sallie Mae Fund. College Planning
This website covers all stages of preparing for and financing a college education (for undergraduate and graduate students) and includes a database of more than 5 million undergraduate scholarships and 850,000 graduate school scholarships. Free registration is required for scholarship searches.
A guide to affording the college of one's choice; comparing college savings alternatives, such as 529 plans, Coverdell education savings accounts, UGMA (Uniform Gift to Minor's Act) and UTMA (Uniform Transfer to Minor's Act) accounts, and taxable investment accounts; transferring assets between accounts; financial aid considerations; and putting a college savings plan together. It includes state-by-state comparisons of all 529 programs.
U.S. News and World Report. Paying for College—Undergraduate
This website provides tips, tools, and articles on paying for college for undergraduate students.
U.S. News and World Report. Paying for College—Graduate
This website provides tips, tools, and articles on paying for college for graduate students.
This site provides "a single, internet-based meeting point linking talented low-income students with colleges, scholarship providers, enrichment programs, employers, and organizations seeking students who have excelled despite obstacles."
The following websites allow students (usually after completing a free registration process) to conduct and save scholarship, grant, and loan searches. Many of the websites can be searched by general eligibility criteria, such as by academic discipline, GPA, gender, residency, race and ethnicity, disability, religion, college type (community, public, or private), location of college, area of study, enrollment level, and by keywords. Some descriptions include information on how scholarships are searched in the particular site. Note that terms may be defined differently across the sites. In addition, included is information on whether the site requires free registration or has a stated site policy on sharing student's information with third parties. Individuals should assess the site policies for themselves before using the resource.
Adventures in Education (AIE)
An internet resource guide for students, parents, and families on planning and paying for college, and managing money. AIE Scholarship database of more than 15,000 scholarships at https://www.aie.org/resources/scholarship-search/ can be searched by exact phrase or any words in the name or description.
Cappex. Scholarship Search
Database of scholarships and merit aid offered by colleges. Free registration is required.
CheapScholar.org. Scholarships Database
Database of more than 3 million scholarships. No login required, but user must begin search by providing information on: gender, state, career goals, interests, religious affiliation and more.
College Board. BigFuture
This is a guide to the college application process, including finding the right colleges and financial aid, preparing for the SAT and other tests, and exploring career options. It includes a search function for undergraduate scholarships, loans, internships, and other financial aid programs from non-college sources. Scholarship Search at https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/scholarship-search is a database of more than 2,200 funding sources, including scholarships, internships, grants, and loans.
Collegedata.com. Pay Your Way and Scholarship Finder
This website provides an overview on paying for a college education. The Pay Your Way section includes a free searchable scholarship database that does not require registration to conduct searches. Registration is required for saving search results. Scholarships can be searched by eligibility criteria, such as by GPA, gender, residency, ethnicity/heritage (category includes race), religion, location of college, area of study, and by keywords.
This site provides an overview of the types of college grants and how to apply for them. Search can be limited by 'study subject,' 'type of student,' 'minorities,' and 'type of grant.'
College Greenlight, a service provided by Cappex.com, is a free online resource that addresses the needs of first-generation and underrepresented students. The website provides support to high schools, community-based organizations, parents, and students throughout the college search and admissions process. The website provides college profiles and enables a student to build and organize a college list, rank colleges based on fit, keep track of important application deadlines, and celebrate acceptance letters. Students can generate a list of scholarships for which they are eligible. Registration is required.
CollegeNET. Mach25 Scholarship Search
This website provides a single personal profile interface to search for scholarships. Free registration is required to permanently save the contents of one's personal profile and scholarship list.
This is a database of scholarships, grants, and loans. It includes a financial aid blog.
Education Corner. Higher Education—College Scholarships, Grants and Fellowships
This site provides information on scholarships, grants, and fellowships organized by category (e.g., athletic, disabled, extracurricular activities, GPA, gender, race/ethnicity/heritage, merit and need-based, military personnel, veterans) and alphabetically.
Edvisor (formerly CollegeToolKit.com)
A website providing information on student financial aid, the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), scholarships, student loans and education tax benefits. The website also offers the free downloadable guide, Filing the FAFSA. Edvisors publishes several free websites to help students and parents plan and pay for college. A summary of these websites is at https://www.edvisors.com/about/web-sites/. The following are selected Edvisors websites.
FastAid Scholarship Search
A free searchable scholarship database. Registration is required.
FastWeb, Inc. FastWeb
A free searchable database of college profiles, scholarship descriptions, and general financial aid resources, including budgeting calculators (e.g., College Cost Projector, Education Loan Payments Calculator, and College Savings Plan Calculator). Registration is required for scholarship search. The individual scholarship search matches students with eligibility requirements for 1.5 million scholarships from around the country based on profile data entered by the student.
A free database of more than 1.7 million scholarships and information on financial aid programs. Registration is required. It includes a financial aid blog. This website has a stated site policy that students may opt out of receiving information from colleges and other marketing partners of the site.
FinAid! The SmartStudent Guide to Financial Aid
This website lists federal, state, and private loans, scholarships, military aid, student profile-based aid, and aid for graduate and professional school. The site includes financial aid forms and calculators, FAQs about financial aid, and an email link for personalized help. As an example, students can search the website using descriptive terms (e.g., adult or female) to locate relevant information on sources of financial aid (e.g., topic overviews, lists of books on aid for specific types of students).
The Foundation Center provides information on the grant seeking process, private funding sources (including national, state, community, and corporate foundations), guidelines on writing a grant proposal, addresses of libraries in every state with grant reference collections, and links to other useful websites. The center maintains a comprehensive database on foundation grantsmanship, publishes directories and guides, conducts research and publishes studies in the field, and offers a variety of training and educational seminars. Information is available in a variety ways, including by subscription, by individual fee, and for free. The center collaborates with libraries and other organizations around the country—called Funding Information Network (FIN) locations—to provide access to its electronic and print resources. Specific FIN locations can be identified using this interactive map.
Although most foundation funding is awarded to nonprofit organizations, the following resources are some examples of the information available for the individual grantseeker pursing financial support for their postsecondary educational studies and research:
Michigan State University. Grants for Individuals
Sponsored by the Michigan State University Libraries, this site indexes financial aid by academic level, population group, and academic subject.
Internet resource guide for parents and students (including international students) regarding preparing for, selecting, and paying for undergraduate, graduate, and online and continuing education, state-sponsored scholarships and college-based awards programs. Free registration is required for scholarship search.
Sallie Mae Fund. Undergraduate School Scholarships
A free searchable database of more than 5 million undergraduate scholarships. Registration is required.
Sallie Mae Fund. Graduate School Scholarships
A free searchable database for current and prospective graduate school and professional students and is home to more than 850,000 graduate school scholarships worth more than $1 billion. Registration is required.
Scholarship America is a provider of private scholarships, having distributed over $3.7 billion to more than 2.3 million students. Free registration is required. The website provides information on local affiliates that support student access to higher education and scholarships managed by the organization. Scholarship America has three major programs listed at https://scholarshipamerica.org/what-we-do/students-parents/.
Scholarship Hunter provides a list of scholarships classified by criteria such as academic major or state. The lists include captions about each scholarship and links to a detailed page of information on the scholarship including how to apply.
Scholarships.com. Scholarship Search
Database of more than 3.7 million college scholarships and grants. Free registration is required. Student establishes a profile of their specific skills, talents, interests, and abilities. Site matches college scholarship and grant awards to individual student. Site asks initially whether student's information may be shared with third parties when registering and when site displays a potential scholarship or grant match. Site also offers information on loans and grants.
Scholarship Sharing is dedicated primarily to helping connect Virginia and Washington, DC, students to resources for paying for college and avoiding loan debt, the scholarships and educational resources listed are for students nationally.
Supercollege.com. Find Free Cash For College
Database of more than 2.2 million scholarship programs for high school, college, graduate and adult students. Free registration is required.
Website provides searchable databases of colleges and scholarships, and information on student loans. Scholarship database of more than 3.6 million scholarship programs. Free registration is required.
The following resources include examples of funding for specialized educational disciplines (e.g., international studies, health, law, and sports) or students (e.g., adults, athletes, individuals with disabilities, women and minorities, veterans, military personnel and dependents). Identifying organizations related to a student's interest or background is another approach to researching sources of financial assistance. Listed below are several examples of scholarships sponsored by organizations or associations. A list of associations (by interest or characteristic) may be obtained from online searches of Gale's Regional, State and Local Organizations of the U.S. and the Foundation Directory. Many public and institutions of higher education's (IHEs') libraries provide access to Gale's publications.
Back to College. Resources for Reentry Students
A variety of tools are provided for adults returning to college, such as information on finding a degree program, the application process, financial aid resources, a free email newsletter, and a moderated forum.
Practical Psychology Press. Adult Student.com
This site provides information for adult students and educators of adult college students on obtaining financial aid and balancing the demands of work and school. Adult Student Connect!, a moderated forum, for returning students and educators, is also available.
Athnet: Get Recruited to Play College Sports
This website is for parents and student athletes for building a student athlete's online recruiting profile, identifying a student's top schools, and finding athletic scholarships. Registration is required by identifying an email address and user as a parent or a student.
College Sports Scholarships (CSS)
This website is for student athletes, their parents, and their coaches. It provides information on college sports scholarships, the sports recruiting process, NCAA and NAIA eligibility, student marketing tips, and how to evaluate college coaches and athletic programs. The website is maintained by former college coaches, college athletes and sports writers.
National Collegiate Scouting Association (NCSA), Athletic Recruiting
This website allows students to create a free student athlete recruiting profile that is then shared in a network college coach network. The student must provide a parent's name, email, and phone number to build the profile.
DO-IT (Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology). College Funding for Students with Disabilities
This website provides a listing of scholarships for college students with disabilities, including learning disabilities. DO-IT serves to increase the successful participation of individuals with disabilities in challenging academic programs, such as those in science, engineering, mathematics, and technology (STEM). Primary funding for DO-IT is provided by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the state of Washington, and the U.S. Department of Education (ED).
HSC Foundation. National Youth Transitions Center
The website provides summary guides to the financial aid process and particular issues of disabled students. See, especially,
Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). Financing Your Medical Education
AAMC provides information on scholarships and government and private loans for pre-medical and medical students and residents.
Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE). Financial Aid
CIEE provides information on scholarships offered directly by CIEE and links to financial aid offered through other sources, including the International Student Loan Program, Rotary International, and the National Security Education Program.
Diversityabroad. International Scholarships & Fellowship Directory
This website provides information on financial resources to travel and study abroad. Scholarships and fellowships can be searched by keywords, country, and subject.
Institute for International Education (IIE)
IIE provides international exchange and training programs around the world administered by the Institute for International Education, including the Fulbright Program.
Kantrowitz, Mark. eduPASS! The SmartStudent Guide to Studying in the USA
Resources for foreign students who wish to study in the United States, including a scholarship search service and information on financing college, passports and visas, English as a second language, and the college admission process.
Law School Admission Council (LSAC). Financial Aid: An Overview
LSAC covers federal and private loans, scholarships, grants from individual law schools and private sources, and loan repayment options.
American Association of University Women (AAUW)
The AAUW Local Scholarships and Awards website is available at http://www.aauw.org/what-we-do/educational-funding-and-awards/local-scholarships/. The site includes the AAUW Branch and State Local Scholarship Clearinghouse Program, a centralized, standardized, online undergraduate scholarship application posting and processing initiative, and information on AAUW Awards. The AAUW Fellowships and Grants website is available at http://www.aauw.org/what-we-do/educational-funding-and-awards/. The site provides information on Career Development Grants for women with bachelor's degrees who are trying to advance or change careers and for mature women re-entering the work force.
American Indian Graduate Center (AIGC)
The American Indian Graduate Center awards scholarships, fellowships, and loans for service to American Indian and Alaska Native undergraduate and graduate students.
Asian American & Pacific Islander Scholarship Fund (APIASF)
APIASF Includes APIASF scholarships and non-APIASF targeted scholarships for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in downloadable PDF compilations, General Opportunities for Asian American and Pacific Islander Students and Opportunities for Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islander Students at http://www.apiasf.org/scholarship_other.html.
BlackStudents.com: Scholarships and More for African American Students
BlackStudents.com provides information on scholarships, grants, fellowships, and internships for African American students and other minorities. The website includes college search capabilities and general financial aid resources, including a loan calculator.
Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF)
HSF offers scholarships to U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents of Hispanic heritage. Free registration is required. HSF's HSFinder Beta at https://finder.hsf.net/# provides information about scholarships, financial aid, careers, and internships.
Jeannette Rankin Foundation Scholarships
The Jeannette Rankin Foundation awards scholarships to low-income women who are U.S. citizens, aged 35 and older, enrolled in or accepted to a regionally accredited school or a school accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS), and pursuing a technical or vocational education, an associate's degree, or a first bachelor's degree.
United Negro College Fund (UNCF). For Students
UNCF covers scholarships awarded by the UNCF and includes an additional scholarship database searchable by major, classification, achievement, and state.
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Post-9/11 GI Bill and Other Programs—Education Benefits
This website provides information on education benefits available to honorably discharged veterans, members of reserve elements of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard, and members of the Army and the Air National Guard. It also covers educational assistance for survivors and dependents. See also the Resources section. Each year the VA publishes a booklet that provides a basic explanation of education benefits for veterans and their dependents. The 2017 edition of VA's Federal Benefits for Veterans, Dependents and Survivors is available at http://www.va.gov/opa/publications/benefits_book.asp.
American Legion Riders. Legacy Scholarship Fund and Samsung American Legion Scholarship
Legacy scholarships, http://www.legion.org/scholarships/legacy, are for dependents of a deceased parent, killed on or after September 11, 2001, while on active duty with the U.S. military or National Guard, or as a federalized reservist; or dependents of post-9/11 veterans having been assigned a combined disability rating of 50% or greater by the Department of Veterans Affairs also qualify.
Samsung American Legion Scholarships, http://www.legion.org/scholarships/samsung, are for undergraduate study only and may be used for tuition, books, fees, and room and board. Eligibility is restricted to high school juniors who attend the current session of either the American Legion Boys State or Auxiliary Girls State program and are a direct descendant (i.e., child, grandchild, great grandchild, or a legally adopted child) of a wartime veteran who served on active duty during at least one of the periods of war officially designated as eligibility dates for American Legion membership.
This website is a general guide to the GI Bill, planning for college, and scholarships for veterans and their dependents. It includes information on state educational benefits for veterans and their dependents at http://www.military.com/education/money-for-school/state-veteran-benefits.html.
Military Officers' Association of American (MOAA). Educational Assistance
The MOAA Scholarship Fund offers interest free loans, grants and scholarships for veterans, active-military personnel, and their dependents seeking undergraduate degrees.
Pat Tillman Foundation. Tillman Military Scholarship Program
The foundation provides scholarships to active-duty servicemembers, veterans, and military spouses to pursue their postsecondary education at a public or private, U.S.-based accredited institution. The scholarship covers educational expenses, including tuition and fees, books, and living stipend.