There are three major sources of merit grants and scholarships:
States: Many states, including Florida, Georgia, Tennessee and New Mexico, award grants or scholarships to students with good grades. Your college's financial aid office should be able to tell you if you qualify for any state merit aid.
Colleges: The typical college has hundreds, sometimes thousands, of different merit grants. Call your college's financial aid office to ask about the options.
But don't stop there. Many merit scholarships are specific to a department, sport, or activity. So it also pays to call the department that runs your area of study, and faculty advisors for any activity (such as band or a sport) as well.
Foundations, charities and community organizations: From your local Lion's club to foundations funded by big corporations such as Coca-Cola, private organizations provide millions of dollars worth of scholarships each year.
However, many of the biggest private scholarships, such as the $20,000 Coca-Cola Scholars awards, have such intense competition that the odds of winning are low. You'll have better odds with local competitions. You can find those by asking your high school counselor, as well as any organizations that you might have ties to, such as a church or civic group.
Several web sites offer free searches of scholarship databases, but be careful: Many of them subject you to annoying and sometimes misleading ads.
NEXT: Financial aid tools
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