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Most students can figure out how to tap into the scholarships offered by the institutions they attend, but they may not be aware of the existence of many private scholarships. Offered by thousands of organizations, private scholarships are a significant way to fund education. The advantage is freedom: private scholarships allow students to select their own educational institutions. Private scholarship awards are somewhat like cash. Students combine them, mix them, and use them for whatever purposes they have. Private scholarships are not restricted to academics either. There are a wealth of scholarship dollars available for athletes, minorities, the disabled, and students involved in community service, just to name a few.

The sheer number of private scholarships can be a mixed blessing. Accessing and researching millions of scholarships can be a daunting task, especially when students have to look through scholarship books, library files, newspapers notices, and bulletin board postings. Even some high school guidance offices and financial aid offices are difficult to navigate through when searching for scholarship programs to apply for. But scholarship search services are available online to help students and parents sort through the plethora of available awards, like ScholarshipExperts.com, which has an award database with over 2.4 million scholarships worth over $15 billion. A legitimate scholarship search service invites students to fill out a detailed profile then electronically matches qualifications and interests with the current scholarships listed in their database.

Essentially, reputable and accurate scholarship search services can save you time during the research period when hunting for scholarships, but the accompanying application paperwork will have to be handled by the students and/or parents themselves. It is a fact of life that private scholarships will have qualifying forms to fill out. But if someone is going to give you thousands of dollars, that someone usually wants a bit of information from you first. Perhaps the forms seem cumbersome, but students who take the time to complete them may just qualify for enough scholarships to put a sizeable dent in that tuition bill each semester. Remember, don’t be discouraged by the paperwork; keep the rewards of a college or graduate school education foremost in your mind.

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