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9 Easy Search Steps for Discovering Scholarships With Google

This post is from a student, parent, or professional contributor. The opinions expressed by the author are their own and do not necessarily reflect the positions, viewpoints, or policies of Niche.

It might seem obvious that you need to use Google to search for scholarships, but how do you know you’re using the search engine the right way? Here’s how:

Guide to Searching for Scholarships on Google

Here’s our nine-step guide that simplifies searching for scholarships on Google. Breaking it down makes it a much easier process.

Step 1: Outline your goals. 

What are your goals? Do you have a hard time getting started on scholarships? What if you have a lofty goal, like targeting $10,000? Why not? You just might hit it.

Write down your goal, then envision a path as to how you’ll get there. If you’re a junior, you could write down, “Earn at least one $1,000 scholarship per month every year for a total of $12,000 junior year, then increase that to $2,000 scholarships per month senior year for a total of $24,000. By the end of senior year, have a total of $36,000 in scholarship money.”

Whatever that figure may be, discuss it with your family so you know whether those goals make sense for you and whether they fit into the amount your family needs you to earn for scholarships.

Step 2: Start a spreadsheet to track your progress. 

Don’t forget to create a spreadsheet to keep track of your keywords, scholarships you’ve applied for, results and more. 

You want to turn this spreadsheet into a system for keeping track of scholarships. Let’s say you start looking for scholarships starting your freshman year. Looking for scholarships over the course of four years offers lots of opportunities to find scholarships — you don’t want to lose track of what you’ve already applied for — or worse, apply for the same scholarship more than once!

Step 3: Use the Google search bar. 

Look to see what pops up! Type in “scholarships for” in the Google search bar and see what comes up. 

You might see these results:

  • Scholarships for college
  • Scholarships for college students
  • Scholarships for women
  • Scholarships for international students
  • Scholarships for high school seniors

And so on.

Using the Google search bar is a great way to give you ideas. Try different variations, like “scholarships for Latinas,” which offers: 

  • Scholarships for Latinas in STEM
  • Scholarships for Latinas in law
  • Scholarships for Latina women
  • Scholarships for Latina nursing students

For example, maybe you thought of Latina nursing students but never would have thought of “Latinas in STEM.” It could give you a whole slew of scholarship options. Try different versions to see what you can find automatically. 

Keep track of all the different keywords you use in your spreadsheet so you know what you use, and record the viable results.

Step 4: Look at the featured snippets — and beyond.

It’s common to take a look at what the featured snippets say. Featured snippets are the top results in Google, usually the best summarized. They typically exist in an easy-to-read format with a box around them. Featured snippets are one of the first — and sometimes only — things you look at on a page.

But looking at just the featured snippet can be a major mistake! What if there’s a great 14th result on Google, for example? You’d completely miss out! What if you’re missing great scholarship information on page 16 of Google? Don’t just stick to the top results on the first page.  Certain great resources just might not be that well optimized for search engine optimization (SEO).

Read as much as you possibly can until you’ve exhausted each keyword’s usefulness. Then try a new keyword.


Fine More Scholarships On Your Campus

Step 5: Research pertinent scholarships and watch for fakes.

You want to research the right scholarships and not waste time, right? It’s important to make sure you’re looking for reputable scholarships. How do you know what’s reputable and what’s not — especially on the internet? Tricky, right? It can be confusing because all scholarship applications are different and a lot of them contain different scholarship requirements. (Yikes!)

Here’s what you can do to avoid scams:

  • Research the processes for all scholarships.
  • Call the scholarship committee to verify its legitimacy. 
  • Never supply personal information, such as your Social Security number. You also should not pay any money to “enter” a scholarship contest. If one asks for a fee, that’s a red flag.
  • Check for common steps to apply for scholarships: Filing the FAFSA, writing essays and submitting letters of recommendation. (To be considered for some scholarships, you may only need to complete the FAFSA.) 

Verify a scholarship’s authenticity by asking your school counselor for more information about it. School counselors can also tell right away whether a scholarship is legit — and can often sniff around for you if something looks amiss. If your school counselor’s MIA, ask a trusted adult to look into it for you.

Step 6: Apply for the right scholarships.

You don’t want to apply for academic scholarships if you have a 2.5 grade point average. Similarly, you don’t want to audition for clarinet scholarships when you’re the last chair clarinetist in your high school band. Make sure you’re applying for the right types of scholarships. Here are a few that could make it on your search list:

  • Academic achievement scholarships: You can find lots of scholarships based on grades or other academic merit. Search for keywords like “academic achievement scholarships” and “scholarships for good grades” — think of as many variations on these keywords as possible. 
  • First-generation scholarships: You can find first-generation scholarships if you’re the first in your family to attend college. Look for “first-generation scholarships” in Google or “scholarships for first-generation students.” You can find awards for high-achieving, first-generation students from low-income backgrounds. 
  • Underrepresented group scholarships: Are you African American, American Indian, Alaska Native, Asian and Pacific Islander American or Hispanic American? Pop these keywords into the Google search results and be sure to read all the results. Combine your ethnicity with academic achievement or other talents you have in Google.
  • Talent-based scholarships: What are your individual interests and talents? Are you an accomplished oboe player? Do you write really well? Search for scholarships using “writing scholarships” or “fiction scholarships” as a start and build your keywords using your specific interests.
  • Other types of scholarships: Look for “left-handed scholarships” or “scholarships for blind students” — if, in fact, you do have those attributes. Try different ways to describe your unique qualities.

Step 7: If you don’t quite meet the requirements, ask committees if you can apply anyway.

One of the most frustrating parts of looking for scholarships is not meeting all the requirements. You might be one qualification off. For example, let’s say a scholarship is looking for students who write poetry, but you happen to be a short story writer. Email the scholarship committee to find out if you can apply anyway. You never know! The scholarship committee could be short on poetry writers this year but may be blown away by your short story writing skills!

Step 8: Use Ahrefs or SEMrush if you’re really curious.

Using Ahrefs or SEMrush requires a subscription. However, Ahrefs and SEMrush can help you learn more about what’s on the internet because they help online content creators piece together keywords to rank on Google. 

Here’s an example of how it could help you. Ahrefs gives “keyword suggestions” on its site. Yes, it’s based from the standpoint of how “high” a keyword ranks, but it can also give you lots of ideas of how to word types of scholarships differently and could give you ideas on how you can maximize your search results.

Step 9: Start as soon as possible. 

How old do you have to be to search for scholarships? Any age, really! Are you in ninth grade and college seems a million miles away? You’re not far from it, and there’s no reason why you can’t start applying now. 

Type in “scholarships for freshmen in high school” and you’ll get results! You’ll be glad you started looking now. Plus, you’ll just become more expert at navigating keywords over the next four years.


10 Scholarship Tips for International Students

Get Scholarships Using Google — and One More Tip

You can change the trajectory of your scholarship search experience using Google. It’s a matter of being creative with your keywords, outlining your goals, keeping a spreadsheet of keywords you’ve used and applying for the right scholarships.  

Turn getting scholarships into a systematized, streamlined approach and you may find more scholarships than you ever thought possible. Ask an adult to team up with you so you both make it a habit.

Also — you might be tempted to apply for scholarships based on major. However, that could be a major (heh heh) mistake because it’s very possible you will change your major. 

What happens then?

Yes — you could lose your scholarship. About one in 10 students change their major more than once. About 10 percent of associate’s degree students and nine percent of bachelor’s degree holders change their majors. 

Still wanting more? Check in with Niche ambassador Dylan Chidick

as he talks about his scholarships and how he funded his education.

Author: Melissa Brock

Melissa Brock is the founder of College Money Tips and Money editor at Benzinga. She loves helping families navigate their finances and the college search process. Check out her essential timeline and checklist for the college search!