About Myrriah Lavin

When I was putting myself through art school while working full time, I wish I'd realized that I could have been signing up for scholarships; it would have made college a lot easier. These days I live and garden in South Carolina, read constantly, study my family's history, and herd cats.

USDA: A Surprising Source for Scholarships


United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Scholarships


The USDA has an extensive list of scholarships for students majoring in agriculture, animal sciences, botany, horticulture, soil management, and other related disciplines. There are also a number of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) and business scholarships listed.

Use the search window at the top of the page for a keyword search to locate scholarships. We typed in “scholarships for women” then selected “USDA.gov Only” from the sidebar on the Search page. We had 22 results returned. We ran a second search using “college scholarships” and had 18 results. If you click on “All USDA,” you will have many more results. We suggest that you re-run the search using a variety of search terms that apply to you (e.g., minority, disabled, LGBTQ, veteran, first-generation, nontraditional, your major, college standing, etc.). Each result is a link and a brief text clip from that link. When you click on a scholarship link, you will be taken to a page that may have more scholarship listings and links. (Some of these links are for Word, Excel, or PDF documents instead of web pages.) You will also find results and links for internships and fellowships.

Searching for scholarships on this site will especially benefit any students majoring in an area that falls under the purview of the USDA, and finding scholarship leads here is pretty straight-forward. You may have to do a little digging around to find all the scholarship links you want to look at, but if you’re majoring in any plant- or animal-related science or business, this site is very much worth exploring.

We rate USDA.gov 3 out of 5:

3 Mortar Board Rating

In the Zone or Not Even Close? (UPDATED March 27, 2015)



ScholarshipZone.com and its sister site, FreeCollegeScholarships.net are scholarship contest sites, both offering entry into a $10,000 scholarship contest for the price of filling out their “registration” or “profile” forms. Here are another two sites that fail to reveal anything about their ownership. Since the sites are registered with a privacy screen, ownership can’t be determined from whois.net. In our searches for information on these companies on the Net, however, shows these sites seem to be owned by Nili Malach, who also is co-founder of Vinyl Interactive, a lead-generation company. In addition, a 2009 online forum at University Web Developers discusses ScholarshipZone’s potentially fraudulent use of college and university logos in their advertisements that suggest a connection between the site and the schools. All of this rates ScholarshipZone pretty low on our trust scale.

You won’t find a database of scholarships here, just a form to fill out and the hope that you’ll win. That the scholarships are actually given away is not in doubt. From all appearances, they are. But if you decide to register for this giveaway, expect your information to be sold to marketers who will likely start to email, text, and call you. We don’t think the odds of winning are worth it.

At the time of this udate, the ScholarshipZone blog and Twitter account have not been updated since 2013.

Related Links:

Vinyl Interactive

University Web Developers forum

ScholarshipZone Privacy Statement

FreeCollegeScholarships.net Privacy Statement

Better Business Bureau (for FreeCollegeScholarships site; we cannot locate a BBB listing for ScholarshipZone)

Overall, we give ScholarshipZone 1 out of 5:

1 Mortar Board Rating

With Scholarships360, You Can Jump Right into Your Scholarship Search

Scholarships360: A Fast & Easy Way to Jump Into Search for Scholarships


Go straight to the “Search for Scholarships” box on the right side of the page. Choose your grade level (“College Students,” “Graduate Students,” or “High School Students”) from the drop-down menu. Then choose the month of the scholarship deadline. Think at least one month ahead to allow ample time to complete the application process and collect the required documents (what we call your Scholarship Porfolio). Then click the SEARCH button. Of course, if you have a Scholarship Portfolio, you can apply immediately.

We selected “College Students” and “January Scholarships” and had 31 results…a very manageable number to explore in one sitting. Although the bulleted list doesn’t look like it has any links, it does. Just click on the scholarship name and you’ll learn about the award amount, eligibility, required documents, and the deadline date. In some cases, there is also a link to the funding organization’s online application.

On each scholarship detail page, you can see more links at the right under “Popular Scholarships.” You can choose links to “Fall Scholarships,” “Essay Scholarships,” “September Scholarships,” “Video Scholarships,” and “Science Scholarships.”

You can subscribe to their blog and read posts reminding you of upcoming scholarship deadlines with valuable links as well as general tips and tricks to help you rock the application process.

We found this site a fast and easy way to jump into searching for scholarships. It didn’t require a Student Profile or return a massive number of search results to wade through.

We rate Scholarships360 3 out of 5:

3 Mortar Board Rating

Scholarship Mentor: A Feast for Hungry Scholarship Hunters

Scholarship Mentor Web Portal


Scholarship Mentor is a web portal containing links to scholarships of all kinds. There’s no indication of who runs the site or where the information comes from. But that seems to be not so much a reluctance to provide this as it is that the site doesn’t seem to be entirely active. The dated information that we came across for the most part goes back to 2011, although the Home page has a list of scholarships whose deadlines are current. In any case, you’re not required to provide any information to use this site, so even if you don’t know who’s behind the scenes, you’re not giving away personal information. You’ll also find articles about the scholarship process, getting into college, choosing a college, and others in the same vein.

The lists of scholarships on Scholarship Mentor provide a potential feast for the hungry scholarship hunter. They are generally broken out into category—fast food scholarships, science scholarships, local scholarships. There’s a list of current scholarships whose application deadline is on the immediate horizon. The essay, poster, and photography contests are even gathered into their own categories so you don’t have to pick through them if you don’t want to. The lists do tend to be narrowly focused (as one would expect) and not all-inclusive, but if you find a category that describes you, you’re in for a treat.

We liked this site. It has its limitations, certainly, and parts of it aren’t current. But most of the links still work or at least take you to the site where you can explore further. Do be sure to check the deadline dates on the sponsor site for the most current information. You won’t get made-to-order results from this site, but the information looks genuine and meaty, and we think Scholarship Mentor is worth the visit.

We rate Scholarship Mentor 3.5 out of 5:

3 1/2 Mortar Board Rating

Finding Scholarships with the Scholarship Detective

Scholarship DetectiveScholarshipDetective


ScholarshipDetective was established in 2007. This is another site whose owners fail to identify themselves upfront. We think, based on IP address, that the site belongs to Gen Tanabe, who also owns MoolahSPOT and, apparently, CollegeIsPower, SuperCollege, and the Gen and Kelly Tanabe Scholarship sites. One wonders why the site owners are so shy about stating clearly who they are.

ScholarshipDetective is a straight-up one-page search feature. Enter your grade level, what year you need the scholarships for, your keywords, and away you go. Of course, in many instances, what you see is what you get, and that holds true with this site. We entered “engineering” as our keyword and got six listings, the first four of which were recognizable “scholarships” from other search sites. Using “women” as a keyword netted us 10 listings (with the same first four as above). Not a great return.

Clicking on the name of the scholarship takes you to the sponsoring organization’s website. It’s up to you to find the scholarship information and application page. Of note, clicking on the scholarship name to go to the website is kind of an odd experience. You expect something to happen—the page to change or another window to pop up, and nothing does. Until you discover that another tab has opened up in your browser and there’s your site.

With the paucity of results and the fact that almost 50% of those meager results are “scholarships” offered by other search sites, there’s really not much here worth spending your time on.

We give ScholarshipDetective 2 out of 5:

2 Mortar Board Rating