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In addition to searching the FastWeb scholarship database, students should also search at least one of the other large scholarship databases. It will take you only a few minutes to search each database, and you can then be certain that you've found all the scholarships for which you qualify. You'll notice a significant amount of overlap among the databases - they all use similar methods to compile their listings - but each database includes a few awards not listed in others.

On the other hand, if you're only going to search one database, the FastWeb scholarship search is clearly the best. It is updated more frequently, has the tightest match, and lets you apply online for many awards.

The following list of scholarship search sites does not include any that charge a fee to search their database. FinAid's analysis of scholarship database match quality (match precision and match recall) has found that the paid scholarship search sites are no better than the free scholarship search sites. So why pay money to search a scholarship database, when you can get as good or better results from searching the free scholarship databases?

Warning: Some scholarship databases include awards that charge application fees. FinAid does not recommend applying to any scholarship that charges an application fee. The only database that currently excludes such awards as a matter of policy is the FastWeb scholarship database.

Note that many of these sites make bogus claims as to the number and dollar amount of scholarships included in their databases.

Highest Quality Free Scholarship Search Sites

FastWeb Scholarship Search
The FastWeb Scholarship Search is the largest, most accurate and most popular free scholarship search site, with more than 35 million registered users. It is also the most frequently updated and provides automatic email notification of new scholarships that match the student's profile. The FastWeb Scholarship Search was the first scholarship database available for free on the web and is the most innovative and student-focused of all the scholarship search sites.

College Board's FUND FINDER
The College Board's FUND FINDER scholarship database lists scholarships and other types of financial aid programs from 3,300 national, state, public and private sources. The database is updated annually. LLC
The database has good coverage of awards and a fairly precise match, but some of the scholarship entries in the database appear to contain old information.

Scholarship Search Sites Owned by Education Lenders

Peterson's Award Database
The Peterson's scholarship search lists awards from about 2,000 sponsors. This is the same database used to update Peterson's Scholarships, Grants and Prizes book. The web site was a little slow and the match precision very low, forcing one to dig through a lot of irrelevant awards. Otherwise the coverage of available awards was very good. Peterson's was acquired by Nelnet, an education lender, in July 2006.

Student Scholarship Search
Edvisors Network provides a free scholarship matching and application tracking service. The site also includes topic-focused lists of scholarships compiled by students who use the site, such as scholarships for women, weird scholarships and international scholarships. In addition, Edvisors Network gives away more than $100,000 in scholarships each year through its Scholarship Points program. Edvisors Network was acquired by College Loan Corporation in 2013.

NextStudent offers a free scholarship search as a loss leader to attract students to their student loan products and services. Their scholarship search is based on the scholarship database formerly known as Scholarships101. The search results lists each named award from the same award program separately, leading to a large number of matches that correspond to a single application form.

ScholarshipExperts offers a free online scholarship search and college search service. (ScholarshipExperts dropped their membership fee in December 2005.) The size claims for this database appear to be exaggerated by about a factor of 5 (number of awards) to 10 (total dollar amount of awards). The award listings include detailed information about the awards and also allow one to look at a separate list of expired awards. The web site is supported by advertising. ScholarshipExperts was acquired by Goal Financial, an education lender, in May 2006.

The BrokeScholar scholarship database appears to overlap with the Peterson's scholarship database and may include a licensed subset of that database. The award listings have minimal information, making it difficult to tell whether the student actually matches the scholarship's eligibility requirements. The number of matches was also very low, suggesting either a small database or too tight of a scholarship matching process. BrokeScholar is owned by Collegiate Funding Services, an education lender that was acquired by JPMorgan Chase in December 2005.

The CollegeData scholarship database appears to use a licensed subset of the Peterson's scholarship database. Their site uses a simple one-page profile with keyword search. As a result, the scholarship match is not as precise as the other scholarship databases. Although one initially does not need to create an account to see summary information about matching scholarships (e.g., name, amount, GPA, residency, heritage/ethnicity and area of study), for detailed information one must be logged in. Registration is free and involves completing a two-page profile. CollegeData is owned by 1st Financial Bank USA, an education lender.

Wintergreen/Orchard House Scholarship Database

Most other sites that offer a free scholarship search do not compile their own database, like the sites listed above do, but instead license the Wintergreen/Orchard House (WOH) scholarship database. Although the WOH database is updated quarterly, most of the sites that license it update their copy only once a year. Most of the sites also implement their own engine for searching the database, with varying degrees of tightness in the match. Most offer a very loose match, presumably because it means they initially can claim to provide more matching awards, even if those awards don't really match the student's profile. The WOH database lists awards from 1,924 sponsors.

Some of the more well-known sites that offer free scholarship matching services based on the the WOH database include MyFreeDegree, CollegeNET MACH25 and CollegeView. Note that the CollegeNet MACH25 interface to the WOH database is more a browsing interface than a true search engine. As such, most students will not find it helpful in quickly identifying the awards for which they qualify. CollegeView, on the other hand, offers a profile-based scholarship search in addition to the CollegeView scholarship directory.

More Specialized Scholarship Databases

In addition to the scholarship databases listed above, there are also several other free scholarship databases listed on FinAid. These databases are smaller, but also more tightly focused. The list of Major-Specific Databases provides information for specific majors or career interests, such as art, computer science, journalism, or nursing. FinAid also provides pages describing scholarships and other forms of aid available.


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