Guide to the External Scholarship Hunt

While your financial aid package might not have been what you hoped, there are still ways to secure more funding for your education.

The hard part is over. You’ve completed your applications, heard back from colleges, and now you’re thinking of what’s next. You juggled your offers before narrowing it down to where you will spend your next four years. Finally!

But now, the reality of college starts to sink in — including the reality of the price tag. While you may be certain about your college choice, you still have looming questions about the best ways to pay for college.

Tuition costs add up, but don’t despair! Institutional aid, or the package provided by the college and the federal government, is just one source of financing your education. If you’re worried about how to cover these upcoming costs, think about outside scholarships. Securing external scholarships can close the gap in your aid package (or at least can help cover book costs and those pesky “miscellaneous fees”).

Do External Scholarships Make a Difference?

For many students and families, the most important factor in the college choice process comes down to finances.  The truth is that sometimes your financial aid package is just not what you were expecting. However, that does not mean there is no way of receiving more aid.

In fact, external scholarships make a real difference when you stack them on top of each other. Most schools will accept external scholarships towards your tuition bills, or you can use the awards as spending money during college. Keep in mind, however, that if you receive an external award, some colleges will reduce the amount of loans for your package.

How Do I Get Started?

There are a variety of resources to hunt down external scholarships. My personal favorite is It matches you with awards that it thinks you’re likely to receive based on your profile. If you are a current NYU student, you even get a free membership!

Make a document tracking deadlines, prompts, and award amounts. You might be surprised at the overlap among the different scholarships. Work smart, plan ahead, and strategize to maximize how many awards you can receive. Prioritize deadlines and compare requirements. Some scholarships may ask for a recommendation letter. Others might ask for a brief brief essay, and some still might ask for both. Keep track of what is needed when to make sure you don’t miss out!

And external scholarships aren’t just for incoming first year students. There are even scholarships for studying away or for research opportunities for when you are an enrolled student — start planning ahead! It’s never too early to think about these opportunities.

Use these resources to gather more funds and make that impending college price tag a bit less intimidating. And remember, we are always here to help point you in the right direction.