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Scholarships: Ways to help your students find—and get—cash for college

Researching, narrowing options and applying for colleges is draining enough. But shortly thereafter the process begins again for students—this time for scholarships to help them pay for that education. While the search for funds can be daunting, there are a few things you can do to help students snag those helpful awards:

1. Decide what’s realistic

Scholarships aren’t just for the students with the highest GPAs. Just like students, there are all kinds of scholarships out there, including ones that are need-based, specifically for minorities, university-based and so on. You can even find video-based applications that don’t require an essay. 

Make sure your students understand there are many options out there so they don’t preemptively count themselves out because they’re not prolific writers or in the top 10%. Ask your students to decide which scholarships they’ll have the highest likelihood of getting based on who they are, what their interests are and where they plan on going. 

Scam alert: Be weary of any organization that assures an award with the completion of an application. A good rule of thumb? If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. 

2. Know where to go

There are so many places to look for scholarships. In addition to the following list of general online sources below, encourage your students to explore other avenues such as their high school guidance counselors, future college or their (or even their parents’) employers. Religious, community and ethnicity-based organizations are other great places to consider as some of them offer grant and scholarship opportunities for members. 

For students who already have a field of interest (such as accounting), advise them to explore professional associations for scholarships. The AICPA, for example, houses a National Scholarship Search tool on, their college-focused accounting hub.

Just a few of the perennial favorites for finding a variety of scholarship opportunities online include:

3. Make it easier

While this might seem like a no-brainer, sharing tips for how to best navigate the process can help students manage their stress levels and avoid potential mishaps. Suggesting things like staying organized, collecting and making copies of all their documentation as they go and creating their own checklists can go a long way. Oh, and as always, remind students not to procrastinate and follow (as well as double check) the directions for each and every scholarship application.

Share any resources you find with your students, particularly ones that discuss best practices for applications and techniques for streamlining the process. Recommend they also share any helpful stuff they find with the rest of the class. After all, knowledge is power. 

4. Sing their praises

Every scholarship has different requirements. Some are as simple as having students submit three sentences while others are more involved and require a letter of recommendation from yours truly. Be sure to carve out some time in your schedule to write those letters so you don’t get overwhelmed either. Your words can go a long way in helping a panel decide between qualified candidates. 

Make it clear to students that you’ll need ample advanced notice to get it done. A week, maybe? After all, this is for their benefit, not yours. Make your mantra during scholarship season “Help me, help you.” 

Speaking of being helpful: Did you know Start Here, Go Places. offers a scholarship, too? That’s right. The AICPA Foundation High School Scholarship is a $2,000 award for high school seniors who plan on majoring in accounting. Get the details and share this flyer with your students. Just be sure to remind them to get their applications in by the April 1 deadline.