5 Places to Find Local Scholarships

Tips & Tricks

Every year, countless local scholarships go unclaimed, leaving a wealth of untapped resources. We've identified 5 key places within your neighborhood or nearby areas that are ready to invest in your academic future with scholarships.  Many students overlook these local opportunities, and as a result, some scholarships are at risk of being discontinued due to a lack of applicants. Don't let these valuable financial aid options slip through your fingers.

Here are 5 places in every neighborhood or surrounding area that offer scholarships:

  • College Alumni Associations
  • Divine 9 Fraternities and Sororities
  • Community Foundations
  • Credit Unions
  • School Counselors

College Alumni Associations

College alumni associations are a valuable resource for students who are either planning to attend college or those who are returning for further education. These associations often have local chapters in various cities and towns, and they can be particularly beneficial for students planning to attend college out-of-state. These local chapters frequently offer scholarships, which can be a significant help in managing the costs of higher education.

To locate and connect with a local alumni chapter, here are some steps you can follow:

  1. Contact the Alumni Relations Office: Reach out to the college's Alumni Relations office. They can provide information on local chapters and how to get involved. This office is typically responsible for maintaining relationships with graduates and can provide direct assistance.
  2. Visit the Alumni Website: Most colleges have a dedicated alumni website page with information about local chapters, upcoming events, and scholarship opportunities.
  3. Do an Internet Search: Use a search engine to find the local chapter by including the college name, "alumni chapter", and the city or state where you live. This can lead you to specific information about chapters in your area, including contact details, events, and application processes for scholarships.

These steps can help you tap into the network of alumni who are often eager to support new and returning students, providing not only financial support through scholarships but also mentorship and networking opportunities that can be invaluable throughout your college experience and beyond.

Divine 9 Fraternities and Sororities

The Divine 9, officially known as the National Pan-Hellenic Council Members, comprises nine historically Black fraternities and sororities. These organizations are known for their commitment to community service, academic excellence, and the fostering of brotherhood and sisterhood among their members. They play significant roles in their communities offering support and networking opportunities for members and non-members.  One of the ways they contribute to their communities is through scholarship programs offered by their alumni chapters.

The alumni chapters of these organizations extend scholarships ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 to deserving students. To be eligible for these scholarships, applicants must reside within the designated county of the alumni chapter offering the scholarship. Notably, these scholarships are inclusive, open to both male and female students, and do not require the applicant to be a member of the fraternity or sorority.

Here is a list of the Divine 9 fraternities and sororities:

* Links are to organizations' national websites

Students interested in these scholarships should contact the local alumni chapters of these organizations in their area to learn about the application process, deadlines, and specific criteria that may be required.  Engaging with these organizations can provide not only financial assistance but also a network of support and mentorship that can benefit students throughout their academic and professional lives.

Community Foundations

Community foundations are key institutions in the philanthropic landscape of the United States, acting as public charities that focus on addressing local community needs. With over 700 community foundations across the nation, these organizations provide a wide range of financial support for community projects, including scholarships for local students.

The scholarships offered by community foundations can greatly differ in amount, ranging from modest awards of $500 to substantial sums of up to $25,000. These scholarships may be one-time gifts for a single academic year, or they might be renewable, providing ongoing support throughout a student's educational journey. Additionally, some community foundations go beyond traditional scholarships by offering 0% interest student loans—a significant boon for those looking to minimize debt while pursuing higher education.

Eligibility criteria and application requirements for these scholarships are as diverse as the foundations themselves, often tailored to address the unique characteristics and needs of the community they serve. This could include factors such as a student's field of study, academic achievement, community service involvement, or financial need.

To benefit from these opportunities, students and their families can use the Community Foundation Locator—a tool designed to help identify and connect with the nearest community foundation. This resource allows individuals to search for foundations by geographic area, ensuring that they can access local scholarships for which they may be eligible.

Engaging with a local community foundation can not only provide financial assistance but also connect students to a network of local leaders, resources, and potential mentors, all while investing in the educational growth of residents within their own community.

Use the Community Foundation Locator to find the location nearest you.

Credit Unions

Credit unions are member-owned financial cooperatives that often extend benefits to their members beyond traditional banking services. One such benefit is the provision of scholarships for members who are heading to college. These scholarships typically range from $1,000 to $2,000 and can significantly aid in covering educational expenses.

To be eligible for these scholarships, applicants are generally required to have either a checking or savings account with the credit union, and the account must be in good standing. This requirement underscores the community and member-focused nature of credit unions, where the financial well-being and education of members are prioritized.

For members who are interested in applying for these scholarships, or for those who wish to join a credit union in anticipation of such benefits, they can utilize the Credit Union Locator. This tool helps individuals find credit unions in their vicinity, allowing them to explore the specific scholarships available, along with other member services and products.

The support from credit unions for educational pursuits reflects their commitment to community development and member education. These scholarships not only provide financial assistance but also demonstrate the value that credit unions place on investing in the future of their members and the communities they serve.

Use the Credit Union Locator to find a location near you.

School Counselors

School counselors often serve as invaluable resources within educational institutions, particularly when it comes to identifying scholarship opportunities for students. They often have access to a plethora of information about local scholarships, some of which may not be widely advertised or known to the general student population.

Local organizations, businesses, and benefactors interested in supporting the education of students in their community frequently send scholarship information directly to school counselors. These scholarships might be smaller in scale compared to national awards but are no less significant in helping students manage the financial responsibilities of their education.

To maximize the likelihood of being considered for these opportunities, it's crucial for students to maintain regular communication with their school counselors. Staying connected ensures that a student’s name is likely to come to mind when counselors are informed of new scholarships for which the student may be a good fit. It is also helpful because counselors can provide tailored advice and guidance based on their knowledge of a student's academic performance, extracurricular involvement, and post-secondary aspirations.

Students are encouraged to be proactive in approaching their counselors, not only to inquire about scholarship opportunities but also to discuss their future plans and educational goals. This ongoing dialogue helps counselors to better understand each student’s unique needs and interests, allowing them to more effectively match students with appropriate scholarship opportunities as they arise.

Updated: November 5, 2023. This article was originally published February 15th, 2021 on hbcuinfominute.com

An HBCU student with scholarship application