Private grant and scholarship opportunities occasionally are directed to the attention of the Financial Aid Office. Application information for these opportunities is shared with eligible candidates, assuming they can be identified using query parameters on our current student population.
A wealth of financial aid for graduate education is available through foundations and other organizations. With a little initiative, you can pursue these sources to receive funding for educational expenses. Remember that an award is based on the eligibility requirements, which can vary considerably. First, make sure that the grant or scholarship is for Master's level education and not restricted to undergraduate education or a Ph.D. program. Some grants require research or teaching. Others may specify full-time or part-time study, study abroad, or may have grade point average or other requirements (such as state or town residence, disability, ethnic background, previous education, and past or present involvement in the organization offering aid).
A fairly recent phenomenon is the increasing popularity of web-based, personalized scholarship searches. Most of the scholarship search engines and databases are free, with revenues streaming in either from web-site advertisements or marketing links. For the most part, scholarship searches are offered as inducements so you will visit an organization's web site where you'll find their own offerings of Federal Stafford Student Loans, private, credit-based student loans, and other products and services geared for college students. A word of caution regarding personalized scholarship searches on the web: most of these services require you to register or open an account by providing personal information online. If you are concerned about whether this information is secure, or even whether the organization makes your personal information available to others, be sure to read the privacy statement. This should disclose their information gathering and dissemination policy, and whether or not there is an "opt-out" feature that allows you to decline further communications in the future should you change your mind.
Online scholarship searches also have given rise to a burgeoning number of scholarship giveaways on the web. Mark Kantrowitz, who testified before a Senate Hearing on scholarship scams, includes a section on his web site (www.finaid.org/scholarships) that will help you distinguish between legitimate and fraudulent organizations. His advice: "If you have to pay money to get money, it's probably a scam." The Scholarship Fraud Prevention Act of 2000 requires that the Federal Trade Commission publish information about scholarship scams on its web site (www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0082-scholarship-and-financial-aid-scams). This site, entitled "Scholarship and Financial Aid Scams," provides a list of defendants and an opportunity for you to file a complaint online.
The U.S. Department of Education suggests you avoid scholarship search services that use the following tactics:
- Claim that millions of dollars in student aid go unclaimed every year;
- Charge you money to receive aid;
- Request your credit card or bank account number to hold student financial aid for you;
- Try to get you to send money by claiming you are a finalist in a scholarship contest.
With Internet access, you might want to check out some of the resources mentioned below for general financial aid information and funding sources. Rensselaer’s Cole Library staff also has prepared a guide to resources available in print in the Library and on the web. See this guide on the web at www.ewp.rpi.edu/hartford/library/subject/finaid.htm.
For general information on financial aid, access the following web sites:
- www.nasfaa.org. National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators. This site addresses such questions as: what financial aid is available to students, how financial aid is calculated, how one applies for financial aid, etc. Please click on the tab, "Parents & Students."
- www.finaid.org. "The Smart-Student Guide to Financial Aid" published by Mark Kantrowitz. This site--established in the fall of 1994 as a public service--offers a comprehensive, informative, and objective collection of information about student financial aid. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, it is "the best place to begin a search." This site offers a hypertext link to FastWeb, a personalized scholarship search database. It also offers links to a number of other large scholarship databases. Tips and advice are available by subscribing to the online FinAid Newsletter.
- www.edupass.org and www.edupass.org/finaid/. "The Smart-Student Guide to Studying in the USA," and "Financial Aid for International Students" are also published by Mark Kantrowitz. These sites provide general information for prospective international students, as well as more specific information on financial aid (scholarships and loans) available to international students.
- studentaid.ed.gov/. The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Student Financial Assistance Programs. This site provides general information on federal student aid programs (who is eligible and how to apply). It also includes their brochures, Student Guide and Funding Your Education under "Forms and Publications." Be sure to check out their new student aid portal for an overview of U.S. Department of Education Federal Student Aid programs.
- www.students.gov. This site was developed under the leadership of the U.S. Department of Education as part of the National Partnership for Reinventing Government's Access America initiative. It is designed as a student gateway or portal to the federal government. You can apply for federal student financial aid, consolidate student loans, register for Selective Service, search for national campsites, buy postage stamps online, etc. This site offers links to every major federal government agency, civilian and military.
- www.petersons.com. Peterson's describes themselves as the "nation's leading provider of educational content." This site offers college search and selection, test preparation, lifelong learning, financial aid, and career exploration. Peterson's offers access to Sallie Mae's WiredScholar (see below) and their own scholarship search engines, a free subscription to their Velocity Newsletter, plus an online bookstore selling titles at a 20% discount on specialized topics in financial aid.
Information on sources of funding and/or personalized scholarship searches can be found at the following web sites:
- www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ope/index.html?src=mr. The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Postsecondary Education. This site offers direct links to databases containing non-fraudulent information on public and private financial aid programs. The site is designed to help students make informed decisions when searching for resources to postsecondary education costs and to avoid scholarship scams. It also offers "Tax Cuts for Education," a link to the IRS "Publication 970 Tax Benefits for Education."
- www.fastweb.com. FastWeb (A Monster Company) claims to be the Internet’s oldest and most popular free online scholarship search medium. It is a searchable database of 800,000 scholarships totaling more than $1 billion. FastWeb lets students create a personalized profile that can be matched against its expansive databases of colleges and scholarships. FastWeb also notifies students when new scholarships are added and application deadlines are approaching.
- www.wiredscholar.com. This web site is maintained by Sallie Mae and is designed to provide comprehensive information on planning and paying for college. The wiredscholar scholarship search gives access to 600,000 scholarships, grants, tuition waivers, internships, and fellowships offering a total of over $1 billion in aid. While registering to "get wired," you can check off a box to participate in their monthly $1,000 sweepstake drawing and to receive a newsletter. While Sallie Mae does not share names and e-mail addresses of scholarship service participants to third party vendors, the site is used to feature information on their own financial products and services. And they may use your nonpublic personal information to offer their own or third-party products and services they think you "may find interesting."
- www.finaid.org. "The Smart Student Guide to Financial Aid" (mentioned in the previous section) offers links to scholarship search databases other than FastWeb. A sampling of the links includes: the College Board's Fund Finder (also known as ExPAN Scholarship Search), the Scholarship Resource Network (SRN) database, and CollegeNET MACH 25. Mark Kantrowitz also lists separate major-specific databases in a number of areas of study including computer science and engineering.
- www.petersons.com/finaid. Peterson’s Scholarship Search. Peterson's (a trusted name in education and careers publishing) web site offers access to a financial aid database of over 1.6 million scholarships with over $5 billion worth of scholarships, grants, and prizes. This web site offers information on additional topics under "Articles&Resources." It also offers quick links to its financial partners: American Education Services, Citibank, Educaid, Key Education Resources, and Sallie Mae's WiredScholar.
- www.srnexpress.com. The Scholarship Resource Network Express search engine accesses a database of scholarships containing more than 8,000 programs with a distribution level of over 150,000 awards worth a total of more than $35 million. This web site focuses on private-sector, non-need-based aid and includes information about awards from more than 1,500 organizations.
- www.collegenet.com. This web site claims to have THE fastest scholarship search on the web. Mach25 is a free, web version of the Wintergreen/Orchard House Scholarship Finder database. This database lists awards from 1,570 sponsors and contains over 600,000 awards totaling over $1.6 billion. You can utilize a keyword search to narrow down to a particular scholarship or group of scholarships or enter profile information about yourself to focus in on relevant scholarships. The site also offers secure online admission application forms for hundreds of colleges via eight key Internet admissions services.
- www.scholarships.com. This web site claims to be the Internet's premier free scholarship search engine and financial aid resource. The organization states their website is "devoid of annoying and intrusive promotions." It offers a searchable database of over 600,000 college scholarship awards worth over $1.4 billion culled from over 8,000 sources. You can utilize either the scholarship search engine or view scholarships by category.
- www.scholarship-page.com. A student frustrated by his or her own online search for scholarships claims to have created this web site as a resource for other students in 1997. The Scholarship Page! originally focused on scholarships in the area of electrical engineering but has since grown much larger. The site includes a number of scholarship listservs plus links to other useful web sites on the Internet.
- www.gocollege.com. GoCollege publishers GCNet Corp. state they do not collect personal information and then make it available to others unless authorized by you. Their revenues are generated strictly by advertisers and affiliated vendors. They state that ABC network, in their 20/20 program about college scholarships, explicitly pointed to GoCollege as a reliable source for scholarships. Their GoScholarship Search database (provided by Pinnacle Peak Solutions) contains more than 8,000 funding sources comprised of more than 600,000 individual awards. It provides each funding source's eligibility requirements, due dates, number of awards, award amounts, and contact information. The site also provides information on government programs, loan programs and links to other useful sites in the realm of financial aid.
- www.fdncenter.org. The Foundation Center’s Guide to Grantseeking on the web. Foundations are non-governmental, nonprofit organizations which award grants, primarily to other nonprofit organizations. The individual grantseeker, therefore, should expect very stiff competition for grant dollars. The Center has information on all private foundations (approximately 45,000 exist in the U.S. today). While its primary audience is nonprofit organizations seeking funds, The Foundation Center publishes "Foundation Grants to Individuals" in print, on CD-ROM, and online. This publication lists over 5,400 foundation programs that make grants to individuals for education, arts and culture, general welfare, and more. Currently you can subscribe to this service for $9.95 for one month.
- www.usnews.com/usnews/edu/dollars/dshome.htm. The publishers of US News & World Report offer a web site with information to help students prepare for and find a college. Its content is provided by Pinnacle Peak Solutions (see also www.gocollege.com above). Click on their icon, "Scholarship Search" to access the Scholarship Research Center. The scholarship database consists of 8,000 funding sources, including more than 600,000 individual awards. Information is included regarding the funding source's eligibility requirements, due dates, number of awards, award amounts, and contact information. The site claims that a student's personal information will not be re-sold.
- www.grantsnet.org. Supported by both the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, this web site provides programs that offer training and research funding for graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and junior faculty in biomedical research and science education. The web site offers special tools and resources to help you customize your search, keep you up-to-date with the latest trends in research and education funding, and provide you with information on how to write winning grant applications.
- www.iie.org. The Institute of International Education states it is the world's most experienced educational exchange & training organization. They assist the U.S. Information Agency in its administration of the Fullbright Program. IIE also administers over 250 programs on behalf of sponsors that include the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development, foundations, corporations, government agencies, international organizations and development assistance agencies in the United States and abroad. For a sense of the range and diversity of IIE sponsored projects, please see their "Corporate Awards Programs" under "Corporate and Foundation Programs," as well as "Scholarship Awards & Grants" under "About IIE."
- www.IEFA.org. International Education Financial Aid. IEFA claims to be the premier Internet resource for financial aid information for students wishing to study in a foreign country. Here you will find a comprehensive listing of grants, scholarships, loan programs, and other information designed to help students in their pursuit for international study. Click on their "Financial Aid/Scholarship Search" icon to conduct a search by field of study location of study (country), and host institution. This scholarship search service was created in January 1988 by IEFA and the Director of InternationalStudent.com (see below) and since then has developed a database of over 1,000 programs of financial aid for international education.
- www.InternationalStudent.com. IEFA states that this site offers "everything else an international student needs to know." Links are offered for scholarships (powered by IEFA), discount travel, international student insurance, discount travel cards, etc. The site was created in 1998 and and has since developed into one of the most comprehensive resource sites for international students. The Director of this site is also Director of the IEFA web site (above) and the InternationalStudentLoan. com web site which develops, administers, and markets, student loan programs for international education.