When we're asked for basic scholarship advice, two things immediately come to mind. One is to search early and often for college scholarships, and the other is to avoid paying a company or a person to help you match to scholarships. You can find plenty of free scholarship searches, and they're often better than available paid services.
A while back, we highlighted five useful scholarship search engines. All of those resources continue to be excellent places to start your search. They're reputable, free and comprehensive, so be sure to take advantage of them.
In addition, there are other great scholarship search engines that you might not know as well, all of them free to use.
[Check out additional paying for college resources.]
1. Zinch: Zinch may not be the first scholarship search engine you think of when starting your hunt for money for college, but it's a unique resource to turn to and includes more than $1 billion in scholarships. But scholarship information is only the beginning.
The college admission process involves much more than just finding free money. Creating a student profile on Zinch allows you to learn about, interact with and be recruited by hundreds of colleges and universities around the world.
Another advantage to Zinch is that it was created by college students, so they're good at knowing what future college students need.
2. ScholarshipExperts.com: Created in 2000 by a group of parents, education professionals and students, ScholarshipExperts claims to specialize in getting accurate and current scholarship information to students without compromising on user privacy.
In order to get tailored results, you need to create a user profile, but it's easy to do and your information is kept secure. The inclusion of instant access to scholarship applications right from the website is one unique feature of ScholarshipExperts. If an application is not available electronically, you can even request it be mailed to you.
3. Peterson's college scholarship search: Peterson's may not seem like a catchy name for a scholarship search engine – but that's because it's a lot more than just a place to find scholarships. Founded in the 1960s, the company offers free online test prep, school searches and career tools, as well as a database of scholarships from 5,000 providers, in addition to the books and services it sells.
Their website is straightforward and easy to use, and within seconds you can be matched to a variety of scholarships, without having to go through the hassle of creating a profile. You can find more than $1.5 million in scholarships, grants and prizes.
Peterson's is currently giving away a $5,000 scholarship prize, but students must enter before the Dec. 31 deadline.
[Keep an eye on these hot scholarship trends for 2014.]
4. FindTuition.com: As with Zinch and ScholarshipExperts, you must create an online profile in order to find scholarships through FindTuition.com. FindTuition claims to have a database of more than 1.7 million scholarships worth a total of $7 billion.
Though their main focus is matching students to scholarships, FindTuition also offers college application tracking, scholarship deadline reminders and information on other types of financial aid and loan consolidation.
Michelle Showalter joined Scholarship America in 2007 and is an alumna of Luther College in Decorah, Iowa.