Searching for Scholarships with Scholarship Monkey
We were asked to re-review the newly revamped scholarshipmonkey.com site, since our last review indicated that the previous site was broken. The address has changed to the one mentioned above, and sure enough, Scholarship Monkey has morphed into a clean, professional-looking site. In our last go-round, we stated that Scholarship Monkey was operated by the Student Loan Finance Corporation, an iHELP student-loan servicing company working with the Independent Community Bankers of America, holders of the loans. Now, however, there is no sign at all of who’s backing this site with no contact information of any kind in sight.
The Home page features three ways to search (scholarship lists, keywords, and a personalized search), a section of the “latest” scholarships (all five of which are contests or surveys from the “usual suspects” and look very much like ads), and two “Glowing Endorsements” (one of which states simply “ditto”) from two young ladies who look enough alike to be twins. But the feel of the page is very sleek and nicely done.
The list search consists of a list of 60 majors in a wide variety of fields, some of which aren’t usually seen on scholarship searches such as tourism, culinary arts, and broadcasting. Clicking on the major link takes you to a list of scholarships in that field. We tried a couple majors and we were pretty impressed with the results. We received a list of 20 Art scholarships when we clicked on that major. Nearly all of these are college-specific scholarships, but it’s an interesting list nonetheless. The list search isn’t so much a set list of scholarships, but a keyword search with preset keywords for each major that are plugged into the keyword search feature.
The individual scholarship listings give award amount, application deadline, required SAT score and GPA, specific schools and majors, and a brief description. Other majors we looked at contained the same sort of result—good-looking scholarships from specific schools.
Along the left side of the scholarship results page is a list of schools and how many scholarships each school offers in this field. This is particularly valuable if you already have an idea which school you’ll be attending.
The keyword search is much the same as the list search but you add your own keywords. We searched for “women” and got 20 decent-looking results. Same number with “woman” (different results). So we clicked on a school in the left-hand tool bar that listed 32 scholarships for women and got 20 results. It appears that the keyword search will only give you 20 results no matter how many potential results are in their database.
The personalized search is not really a search. Before you click on the “See More” button, read the text: “Spend one minute creating a profile and get email updates of scholarship matches based upon your specific circumstances.” The profile will ask you for your name, address, GPA and test scores, majors, and school choices. We weren’t sure that this level of information sharing was worth the promise of an email (containing what and from whom?).
We found that the site isn’t entirely stable, wavering in and out of working condition, generating “internal server errors” or no results at all at different times during our test drive. This was true for all three browsers we tested. It happened often enough and took long enough to resolve that had we been personally looking for scholarships, we would have abandoned the site in frustration.
Scholarship Monkey isn’t a bad site. Its scholarship listings look good and the list/keyword search is easy to use and requires no information sharing, although you only get 20 out of potentially hundreds of results. But the site has its drawbacks too. A biggie is the lack of any contact information. The personalized search seems like a ploy to get your information with no real return. The limited access to the scholarship database is puzzling, and the scholarship results are mainly school specific. If you know which school you’ll be attending, then you may find some scholarships worth looking at here. If not, you can sift through whatever information you’re dished up to see if any fit. Beware the personalized search and know what you’re getting before you fill in the form.
We give Scholarship Monkey 2.5 out of 5: