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Should I Look for National or Local Scholarships?

Hopefully, you’ve already created a personal inventory as explained in our “How Do I Begin My Scholarship Search?” article. If not, we’d recommend taking a few minutes to get it started. It can help as you move into the search step of the scholarship process. In fact, we’ll refer back to it frequently as we continue to talk about where to look for scholarships.

Let’s chat a bit about the difference between national and local scholarships. We’d recommend that you look for both types of programs. Understanding the differences can help you decide how you want to divide up your search time.

National scholarships don’t have a residency restriction so applicants don’t have to live within a specific geographical area to be eligible. These scholarships are usually open to the entire U.S., and may include international students. Instead of location, providers use other criteria (e.g., gender, degree program, GPA, military affiliation, ethnicity, etc.) to select their recipients. Sometimes, it’s just as simple as being a current student. As you can imagine, some of these programs receive hundreds, or thousands, of applications. If it’s a large program, they may be offering more than one award.

National scholarships tend to be easier to find. They’re often offered by large companies or national associations so they have the resources to promote their programs via the internet and marketing campaigns. Here are a few places you can look for national programs:

  • Scholarship search sites (e.g., Scholarships.com, Fastweb, Unigo)
  • National professional associations
  • Company websites
  • Social media sites (e.g., Facebook)

Let’s look at local scholarships. In addition to other criteria, they’re only available to local residents of a specific city, county or state. Since applicants need to be a resident, these programs may only receive 10, 25 or 50 applications. This means that qualified applicants have a greater chance of being selected as a scholarship recipient.

Local opportunities can be more challenging to find as local providers don’t usually have substantial resources to promote their programs. You’re less likely to find these scholarships on the Internet. Instead, you’ll need to dedicate some extra time to search around the community. But, it’ll be worth the effort if you’re selected to receive an award.

Local providers rely on word of mouth promotion. Let people—family, friends, colleagues—know you’re looking for scholarships. If someone hears about an opportunity, he or she can let you know. Here are other ways to find local programs:

  • Community foundations
  • Public libraries (bulletin boards and printed books)
  • Community centers (bulletin boards)
  • Post offices (bulletin boards)
  • Newspapers/newsletters
  • Chambers of commerce
  • Non-profit organizations
  • Local chapters/clubs of national organization (e.g., Rotary Club, American Legion, etc.)
  • Social media sites (e.g., Facebook)
  • Business/organization websites
  • Local colleges’ financial aid offices (website and in-person)

We’d also recommend that you check out the national and local scholarship sections on our External Scholarship list. This can help get you started in your search.

If you have questions, contact your advisor or the scholarship department at scholarships@phoenix.edu.

Center for Scholarship Excellence

University of Phoenix