FastWeb is a well-known scholarship search service whose motto is “We have it all. Find your dream school and a way to pay for it.” Sure enough, there’s a lot of information here. In addition to the ubiquitous college search, which includes surprisingly comprehensive information on lots of colleges, you’ll find a scholarship search, tips, sweeps and promos page where you can enter contents, financial information on FAFSA application and student loans, and career planning information, including a job search feature through Monster.com (the sponsor of the FastWeb site). To access much of this information, you will need to create a personalized Student Profile, but it’s possible to take a peek at what kinds of scholarships the site offers without signing up.
Under the Scholarships tab at the top of the page, you’ll find links specifically for scholarship categories:
- Grad Students
The Featured Scholarships page gives a short list of scholarships with a link to the sponsor, the award amount, and an APPLY NOW button. The sponsors of these featured scholarships are other scholarship search sites, which will likely require you to register with their site before seeing more information about their “scholarship.”
The scholarship articles with synopses on the Scholarship Tips page do include some scholarship category listings. Some of them are new links, some are repeats of links found elsewhere on the site. Some of the listings will require you to create your Student Profile before the scholarship information is available.
The other category links mentioned above (listed on the site under Scholarship News) will take you to individual pages for these categories. The listings found there provide the application deadline, brief eligibility and application requirements, and a link for more information. That link will take you to a restatement of the above plus the award amount, and a note that if you register, you can see more about the scholarship.
Under Scholarship Directory in the links menu at the bottom of each page, you’ll find links for:
- Scholarships by Year of Study
- Scholarships for High School Seniors
- Scholarships for College Freshmen
- Scholarships for Veterans
- Scholarships for Bilingual Students
- Hispanic Scholarships
- African-American Scholarships
These links direct you to pages in these categories that list a number of scholarships with the award amount and deadline. Clicking on the name of the scholarship will once again take you to a brief paragraph on the scholarship eligibility and application requirements, and the message that you need to register with FastWeb to access more information about the scholarship. However, to the right of the scholarship information on these pages is a sidebar with more scholarship directory links based on military service, ethnicity, honors, race, unique situation, and school year. This is an excellent search engine with lots of scholarships and is well worth investing your time to thoroughly explore. But unless you register and create a Student Profile, you’ll be unable to access the complete listing and will have to search the web on your own for more information on these scholarships or set up a Google Alert.
The match by Student Profile is under Scholarship Matches. You’ll be asked to enter your academic and personal information. All questions must be answered in order to move on to the next page. After three pages of information sharing and deflecting ads, you finally get a list of scholarships based on the information you entered. Click on the scholarship link and you will go to the individual scholarship page with award amount, deadline, eligibility requirements, and a link to the sponsoring organization’s website. The APPLY NOW button links you to the scholarship application webpage. (NOTE: If you choose to go the profile route, make sure to have a separate email address just for your scholarship search. FastWeb will bombard you with email at every opportunity. We have gotten an email from them nearly every day since we registered with the site!)
Searching by Student Profile will give you scholarship returns that you won’t get any other way on this site, for instance by major. We searched for graduate art scholarships and got back 23 listings, not all of which were major specific. You can indicate whether you might/will/will not apply, have applied, or are not eligible for each scholarship listed. This information will appear on your Home page on subsequent visits to the site once you log in.
Whether the search by major and the saved scholarships list are worth the information sharing required to build a Student Profile is something to consider given the amount of information required and the constant barrage of advertising. Another consideration is how much actual additional information you gain by signing up. Thinking that we could now see the “more information” for the scholarships listed in the Scholarship Directory links at the bottom of the page, we went back to see what we had missed out on as free agents. We discovered that we had no additional access to information about these scholarships at all. Not one of the scholarships we clicked on for either of our profiles let us proceed to more information (but did sidetrack us to ad pages more than once while we searched). Instead, we got the following message: “Warning – based on the criteria in your profile you do not qualify for this scholarship. You do not meet the following criteria:” Sometimes criteria were listed, sometimes not. The FastWeb site has a lot of potentially valuable information, but at a cost in terms of time spent and personal information required. You may do just as well gleaning what information you can from the site and striking out on your own to learn more—and spare yourself all the hassle and email assault.
Overall, we give FastWeb 3 out of 5: