Find Your State's College Scholarships

Your State Government Provides a Wide Net of Funds

Factors that have led to the growth and visibility of state and local government scholarship programs include the ubiquity of the Internet and the outcry for more government assistance. State lottery programs can be credited with drawing millions of dollars into state and local governments, many of which earmark monies for student grants and scholarships.

While scholarships are gifts, everyone is not eligible to receive; they are carefully targeted to various types of student populations. This alone makes a scholarship search frustrating. Websites maintained by state governments may well provide comprehensive education information and sources, but many remain clumsy and counter-intuitive.

Access to State Scholarship Funds

Part of the national outcry over the unchecked inflation of college costs immediately impacts state governments. Constituents demand answers from local politicians and seek signs of relief, not just with increases in student loans, but in the form of scholarships. Lottery programs have been instituted in nearly every state, primarily to generate critical funding for student grants and scholarships.

Access to your regional government scholarships begins with your high school guidance or career counselor. He or she should be able to provide you with a list of applicable scholarships that include relevant state programs. Otherwise the U.S. Department of Education maintains an alphabetical list of state higher education agencies, those that administer their state’s pertinent education information, which includes scholarships.

Where You Qualify

A big mistake many students make is confining their state scholarship search to their particular state of residence. Include the state where you will be enrolled in college if applicable. Some include out-of-state students attending college within the state, besides state residents.

Spotty Local Funds

If you think state government information is a challenge you will perhaps find your local municipality’s website more like Alice in Wonderland’s rabbit hole. One of the leading limitations to a scholarship search at this level is the Internet maze of interlinked local departments and directories. The best advice I have is spend a while navigating links. However, scholarships are not commonplace at this level. Your best bet is to spend your time on state awards that apply to you.

Types of Scholarship Criteria

Scholarship criteria can be a blessing and a curse. Fortunately, at the state level scholarships tend to embrace a wider net of student demographics than those at the federal. Less emphasis is placed on elite students and more on the general student population at large. Leading delimiters include:

Make Your Application Count

The “how” and “when” of scholarships are imperative. Scholarships are administered on a deadline basis. The biggest mistakes students make on applications include missing the deadline, leaving out required information and general sloppiness and disregard for the process. Many state scholarships are awarded based in part on information you include on your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form, so do not fail to complete one in time for the earliest deadline.

Avoid mistakes: keep a log of scholarships and deadlines, read all the instructions and make a list of the requirements, give yourself plenty of time to complete the application and write the obligatory essay, and don’t wait until the last minute.