The value of a college degree is undisputed. A 2010 report from the College Board estimates that, among full-time workers, high school graduates earned a median annual income of $33,800; workers with an associate’s degree, $42,000; and, workers with a bachelor’s degree, $55,700.

Chapter 5 | Beyond Federal Aid

The information included on this webpage was excerpted from Chapter 5 of College Access and Success for Students Experiencing Homelessness: A Toolkit for Educators and Service Providers, available in its entirety at

Chapter 5, Part 3 | Scholarship Search Strategies
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check mark thought bubbleScholarship Search Strategies | "The Do's"

Given the multitude of scholarship opportunities available at the national, state, and local levels, it is important to help students have a structured plan of action for finding and applying for scholarships. NAEHCY recommends the following steps for conducting an organized, manageable scholarship search:

1. Take a personal inventory
Students should take a personal inventory of their skills, interests, and connections that could generate scholarship leads. This inventory may include things like:

  • academic performance;
  • athletic ability;
  • artistic or musical ability;
  • student demographics, including nationality and membership in minority groups;
  • desired area of study; and
  • personal or family links to organizations that may provide scholarships, including faith-based, military, community, or professional organizations.

Visit for a sample personal inventory form.

2. Conduct comprehensive research on scholarship opportunities

Students should seek out information from various sources to make sure they are casting a wide net in terms of identifying scholarship opportunities. Because many college-bound homeless students may not come from a family or school with a "college-going culture", they may not be receiving guidance and help with the scholarship search process from an informed adult. This is particularly true for unaccompanied homeless youth, whose family relationships may have been severed. As such, educators and service providers willing to invest time and effort into assisting college-bound homeless youth with the scholarship search process will be providing a valuable support.

Students should consult the following sources for information on scholarship opportunities:

  • High School Counselor
    Most high school counselors maintain a comprehensive list of scholarships available from local and/or state agencies and organizations.
  • State Coordinator for Homeless Education
    Every state has a State Coordinator for Homeless Education. This person oversees the implementation of the federal Education for Homeless Children and Youth (EHCY) Program within the state. State Coordinators may be aware of scholarship opportunities for low-income and/or homeless students. Visit for State Coordinator contact information.
  • College Financial Aid Office
    Many colleges fund merit-based and need-based scholarships for students attending their university. The financial aid office should be able to provide information on any such scholarships.
  • State Higher Education Commission
    Most states have a Higher Education Commission, which alternately may be called by a similar name, including Higher Education Assistance Authority, Student Aid Commission, or Office of Student Financial Assistance. These agencies provide information on grants, scholarships, and other financial aid for college students from the state. Visit for state agency contact information.
  • Organization(s) related to the student’s area(s) of excellence
    Based on their personal inventories, students should explore scholarship opportunities related to areas in which they have excelled, including athletics, music and the arts, community service, and/or student leadership. For instance, many local chapters of organizations like the Fellowship of Christian Athletes or the National Honor Society provide scholarship opportunities for member students.
  • Reputable scholarship search engines
    The internet can be a valuable source of information about a wide variety of scholarship opportunities. However, students must be cautious about which scholarship search websites they use and what information they provide. See Scholarship Search Strategies | The Don’ts  below for information about avoiding scholarship search pitfalls.
    NAEHCY recommends the following scholarship search Websites:
    The College Board: Scholarship Search
    The Office of Federal Student Aid: Finding and Applying for Scholarships:
  • NAEHCY LeTendre Scholarship Fund
    NAEHCY administers the LeTendre Education Fund Scholarship Program, which awards higher education scholarships to homeless and formerly homeless students. Visit for more information.
  • The Horatio Alger Association
    The Horatio Alger Association, in partnership with Give US Your Poor, provides approximately 1,000 scholarships each year to eligible students who have overcome adversity. Visit for more information.
  • Education Training Voucher (ETV) Program
    The ETV program awards grants to current and former foster youth to help pay for college or specialized education. ETV grants are funded by the federal government and administered by states. In most states, eligible students may receive grants of up to $5,000 per academic year. Visit for more information.

cross hash thought bubbleScholarship Search Strategies | "The Don’ts"

Scholarships are an attractive way to help cover college expenses. Unfortunately, scholarship scams do exist. Students should be aware of the following scholarship search don’ts to ensure that they are not being scammed:

1. Don’t pay money to a scholarship search website or to file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
Beware of websites that guarantee that a student will receive aid if using their service.
Avoid providing credit card or bank account information or a Social Security number, as this could open the way to identity theft.

For more information about avoiding scholarship scams, consult the following websites:

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Web Series Navigation  | Chapter 5
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

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NAEHCY 2018 Conference
Anaheim, CA
October 27-30, 2018
The Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015
Homeless Students in ESEA Reauthorization
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