FAQ - Common Scholarship Questions- Scholarship America

FAQ Have a Question? You’re in the Right Place.


If you’re still scratching your head over this whole paying for college thing, scroll through some of the questions we get most often.

When it comes to scholarships, here are some of the most commonly asked questions.

What is a scholarship?

A scholarship is a financial award for a student to further their education and is not required to be repaid. The scholarships you’ll find on Scholarship America are privately funded, meaning they don’t come from the government, colleges or universities.  These scholarships are intended to be added to other financial supports you receive.

I don’t even know how to start looking for scholarships. Where do I start?

You’re in the right place! Scholarship America administers scholarship programs for many companies, foundations and organizations around the country, which you can find on our Browse Scholarships page. We also provide student resources to expand your search, and our blog has lots of scholarship advice.

You should also check out scholarship search sites like Fastweb, Cappex, Scholarships.com and MyScholly, as well as the U.S. government’s Student Aid center. If you have a college picked out (or one you’d like to attend), their website will have lots of scholarship and financial aid information too.

How many scholarships can I apply for?

As many as you are eligible for. There is no limit. Scholarships are awarded independently, so applying for multiple does not decrease your chance for any individual scholarship. You can be awarded more than one scholarship.

How do I receive my scholarship funds?

An awarded scholarship is paid directly to the college you designate – you don’t need to worry about coordinating or transferring any funds.

Do I have to fill out a FAFSA to get a scholarship?

Not always, but you should anyway. Colleges base their financial aid decisions on your FAFSA information, and many scholarships take this information into account. You do need to fill out the FAFSA to be eligible for government grants.

How do I figure out what college will cost me?

Paying for college is a big and complex process that changes every year. There’s too much to include here. That’s why we put together the free ebook “How Much Does College Really Cost?”—between your hard work and our expertise, we can work together to ensure you know the details of the financial aid process.

Download the book to learn the ins and outs of the Net Price Calculator, a variety of other tools to help you figure out budgeting, loan impacts and total costs — and what’s not included in the numbers your college sends you.

Can I get scholarships if I took a break from school?

Yes. While some scholarships are only available to high school seniors or incoming college freshmen, many scholarships are open to anyone attending college, regardless of age or time off.

Are there scholarships for community college or technical/vocational college students?

Absolutely. Some private and federal programs are specifically designed for two-year college students, and many more offer awards to two-year and four-year students alike.

My immigration/citizenship status is complicated. Can I get financial aid?

Yes, but it depends on your specific status. Undocumented and DACA students are not able to access federal or state grants, but individual colleges and private scholarship providers may be able to help.

Can I apply for a Scholarship America Dream Award?

The Dream Award is a unique scholarship program that gives renewable awards to students who have completed at least one year of college, but who face financial obstacles as they work to graduate.

Applicants for the 2020-21 Dream Award must:

  • Be at least 17 years of age.
  • Be U.S. citizens, U.S. permanent residents (holders of a Permanent Resident card), or individuals granted deferred action status under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA).
  • Have received a high school diploma or the equivalent from a U.S. school by September 2019.
  • Have completed or expect to successfully complete a minimum of one full year of postsecondary education by June 2020.
  • Plan to enroll in full-time undergraduate study at the sophomore year level or higher at an accredited two- or four-year college, university or vocational-technical school in the United States for the entire 2020–21 academic year.
  • Be studying to obtain an associate’s or first bachelor’s degree.
  • Have a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale (or its equivalent).
  • Demonstrate financial need.

Applications open in August. Click here to be notified when they are available.

I live outside the U.S. Can I get scholarships for college in America?

It’s sometimes complicated, but YES, you can attend college in the United States and even find scholarships to help. For an overview of all of your options, download our free ebook “College in America: A Guide For International Students.”

How do I tell if a scholarship is legitimate?

Scholarship scams are a fact of life when you’re searching for ways to pay for college, and it can be hard to tell the difference sometimes! We recommend you follow two main rules to avoid nearly all scholarship scams: never pay to apply for a scholarship, and if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Beware of “guaranteed” scholarships, or any unsolicited offer — scholarship programs will never just offer you money out of the blue!

Legitimate scholarship programs will also always have an email address and/or phone number to contact them — if you’re in doubt, talk to a real person.

Read our blog on scholarship scams for more!

Do I have to pay to search for scholarships?

No. All legitimate scholarship search providers (like Fastweb, Cappex and Scholarship America) provide their services free. Never sign up or pay for a service that claims it can find you “secret” or “hidden” scholarships — these are another form of scholarship scam.