Iowa Student Loan program encourages and offers tips for pursuit of scholarships

For families that will have a new college freshman next year, there is never a bad time to look for scholarships that will help offset the cost of furthering a family member’s education. Scholarships are considered “gift aid,” meaning that they do not need to be repaid at a later date. Some are one-time awards that can be used while a family’s college savings continues to grow; others are renewable as long as the student remains eligible within the qualification guidelines of the particular scholarship.

Here are some tips from the Iowa Student Loan (ISL) program for finding and applying for educational scholarships:
• Use free scholarship aggregator sites online. There is no need to pay for a scholarship search service with so many free tools available. Sites like,, College Board and FastWeb all offer free searches for available scholarship funding. Students can often create profiles or filters to make the search for such scholarships easier.
• Use school and community resources. The school counselor’s office generally has a list of local scholarships available to students. Parents’ employers, civic organizations, area businesses, and religious and community groups are all potential scholarship funding sources. Colleges themselves often provide scholarship awards, so it’s well worth the time to explore the admission, financial aid and departmental pages of the student’s top college choices to see what may be available for scholarship funding through the school or its affiliates.
• Complete the first application as soon as you can. Once one application is in, it may be easier for students to complete others. It may help to set aside time each week to search for and apply for awards. One to start with is Iowa Student Loan Education Lending’s Iowa Financial Know-How Challenge: Senior Scholarship, which can be found at In an hour or less, Iowa high school seniors can complete the required steps to be considered for one of 25 college scholarships in the amount of $2,000.
• Don’t give up. It’s important to keep looking for scholarships because sponsors make their opportunities available at various times. The search should continue during the college years too, as students may become eligible for departmental or industry-related awards later on in their education.
• See the big picture. While smaller awards may seem insignificant compared to the total cost of college, remember that every scholarship earned allows savings to go further and reduces the need to take out student loans that have to be repaid with interest. Small award amounts can add up as well.