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Did we just say FREE money? Yes, we did: There are countless ways to find money for education through various scholarships and grants – including many available to all Americans, not just those in dire financial straits.
Just like in the nonprofit world, grants are funds that do not need to be paid back. They are usually awarded based on financial need. Scholarships are also “free,” commonly awarded based on academic merit, with some designated for those pursuing special interests or specific fields of study, for writing a winning creative essay, or for other criteria.

But even though the money is free, that doesn’t mean it comes without a cost: You’ll spend time and effort finding and applying for the opportunities that are right for you, your interests, and your area of study. It shouldn’t be surprising that there are many to consider, so be prepared to approach your scholarship-and-grant search in the same way you would a job hunt. It will take many hours, much energy, and a bit of a thick skin, as you are bound to get rejected by some.

Even though the money is free, that doesn’t mean it comes without a cost… It will take many hours, much energy, and a bit of a thick skin.

Some quick tips to remember when applying for scholarships:

1. Seek guidance from the pros. Talk to your high school guidance office and/or the financial aid office at your target college for leads and advice.

2. Think local. Many civic, church, and community-based organizations, as well as big businesses, offer scholarships. Inquire at your place of worship as well as the local Rotary, Lions, Eagles, and Elks clubs.

3. Tap into government resources. Nearly every state offers scholarships specifically intended for residents. Interested in a public service or government career? You may have an advantage. (Search for scholarships specific to your state through this page.)

4. Network. Just like in a job search, the more people who know you are looking for scholarships, the more doors will open. Don’t be shy. Ask anyone and everyone if they know of scholarship opportunities.

5. DO NOT PAY for any services promising leads or opportunities. There are too many free options to go the pay-for-play route, and they may not be legitimate, regardless of claims to guarantee you scholarships.

6. Pay close attention to deadlines, and don’t miss them!

7. Utilize the internet. Start with these reputable scholarship search engines:

In terms of specific scholarships, we can’t possibly list all of the opportunities available, but we can point you to those that are more common or geared toward nonprofit professionals. Keep in mind, however, that there are many others you could qualify for.

Common federal grants:
Federal Pell Grants
Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)
Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant
Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant
GI Bill benefits

Nonprofit Expert Scholarships
Scholarships for Military Families
Listing of grants, scholarships, and fellowships from
Scholarship America
Samuel Huntington Public Service Award
for graduating college seniors

The content on provides general information and does not constitute legal, tax, accounting, financial, or investment advice. You are encouraged to consult with competent legal, tax, accounting, financial or investment professionals based on your specific circumstances. We do not make any warranties as to accuracy or completeness of this information; do not endorse any third-party companies, products, or services described here; and take no liability for your use of this information.

© Georgia Center for Nonprofits 2019

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