As tuition costs rise, scholarships and grants for students have never been so important. A scholarship search for educational grants is absolutely essential, and in most cases, free! We offer tips for finding the best scholarships for students to pay for college.

If you’re ready to jump right in, you can skip reading this article and start using the free scholarship search tool. But, we suggest you take a moment to review the following tips about scholarships and grants, and then dive in.

Once you start using the free scholarship search tool, to begin with, you simply select from the menu that you’re a student seeking funding for your freshman year at college, then enter your zip code. They’ll then ask your age, what year you are in high school, and what your intended major is in college. This is one of the fun parts – because even if you’re not sure, just start typing something – anything – for your intended major, and up will pop a whole list of related areas of concentrated study.

Next, you’ll provide more information. This isn’t about being snoopy. How much information about yourself you choose to share is totally up to you – but you must remember that the key to finding free scholarships and grants is to paint as richly detailed a portrait of yourself as possible. For better or for worse, this is one those areas in life where your ethnicity matters. So sure, you can skip that portion on whatever grounds, if you like, but you’re possibly cheating yourself out of untold thousands of dollars earmarked for students of specific backgrounds.

So you’ll want to take your time and list everything: the Ivy League schools you’re considering attending (as well as any other colleges), your possible career paths, your GPA, your SAT/ACT score, the sports you currently play, and that’s pretty much it.

Again, just to remind you, this free scholarship search service is provided to you completely free of charge!

Once you’ve filled in all of that info, you’re instantly presented with a list of scholarships and grants, plus essay contests and other related opportunities for free money for college. Everything is neatly organized for you – and instead of wading through thousands of possible sources of free scholarships, you have a list tailored specifically for you – they even remind you of upcoming deadlines, and provide you with online entrance forms, or whatever other information you need to apply to each of the scholarships and programs.

It’ll take you about three minutes tops to get started, but just to give you a taste of what to expect, a typical high school student hoping to get into an Ivy League school will find anywhere from 20 to 50 selected scholarships, essay contests, etc., with values ranging from $1500 to $100,000.

Once you reach the page where these scholarships and grants are displayed, our advice is to hold off on clicking on any of the scholarships or filling out any applications. Why? Because you’ve only scratched the surface – there may be quite a number of other potential college scholarships available to you. How do you find those?

Easy. On the right side of the screen, you’ll see the words, “Complete Your Profile Now!” (You’ve seen similar messages on Facebook, etc. so you should be pretty familiar with the concept.) Right below it is the word “edit.” Click on it. Here’s your chance to fill out much, much more detail about your student activities, organizations you might belong to, hobbies, churches, you name it.

Also, it’s extremely important that you fill out the section on your parents. You’ll have a chance to enter information about where your parents went to school, what field they work in, organizations they belong to, etc. This section is critical for finding the best scholarships and grants. A vast number of scholarships are for children of people matching certain criteria.

And, one last very important note – we mentioned Facebook earlier. Here’s where this service is completely different. This profile you’re creating, with all of this personal information? It is not public. It is completely private and viewable only by you – so again, make sure you are as thorough as possible in filling out your profile.

Now, once you’ve taken time to do all of the above, you can finally go back to your list of scholarships and grants they’ve selected for you. Now start reading about all of them. Last tip: as you make your way through the list – remember they may be dozens of them – prioritize your reading by putting the list in order of upcoming deadlines. Read the ones you’ll need to act on fast first.

Good luck in your search for free money for college! Oh, and since you took the time to read this whole thing, we’ll give you the link once again so you don’t have to scroll back to the top. Now that you know everything you’ll need to begin your search, click here to begin your free college scholarship search.