FinAid Scholarship Site Review

FinAidWhat FinAid.org Has to Offer Scholarship Hunters

http://www.finaid.org

FinAid.org was founded in 1994 as a public service by FastWeb’s creator, Mark Kantrowitz. The site provides a lot of information: how to obtain loans, calculate the cost of attending college using their Loan Calculator, a Parent’s Guide to Financial Aid, a Student’s Guide to Financial Aid, military aid for veterans, FAFSA instructions, as well as information on navigating the application process and obtaining scholarships while avoiding common scholarship scams. This site is not to be confused with the www.finaid.[name of college].edu pages that a lot of colleges have.

Click on the Scholarships link in the left-hand sidebar and you will be taken to a page detailing how to search for scholarships. The first section of this page is taken up with a discussion of why you should use the FastWeb search engine—no big surprise. You can access this search engine through the Scholarships page on FinAid, or you can go to it directly through FastWeb. (See our FastWeb blog post for information on using this search engine.) But this page also has a number of embedded links that do list some scholarship categories (along with a good deal of data) that you may want to check out. These categories include unusual scholarships, prestigious scholarships and fellowships, full-tuition academic scholarships, scholarships for average students, community service scholarships, scholarships for Hispanic and Latino students (the link takes you to the FastWeb page for this category), and, if you’re starting your scholarship search really early, college scholarships for students under age 13 and in grades K-8. Clicking on any of these links will take you to that scholarship category’s page, which has general information and a list of scholarships with eligibility criteria, award amount, application deadline, and a link to the sponsoring organization’s webpage. Some of these links appear not to have been updated in a while, so you may have to surf around the site or Google the scholarship to find the latest information.

This site is well worth spending time exploring, although we think that its value as a web portal for college and scholarship information far outweighs its usefulness as a search engine.

We give FinAid 4 out of 5:

4 Mortar Board Rating

 

 

 

Related Links:

Sources of Money: FinAid.org

FastWeb Scholarship Site Review

Scholarship Site Review: FastWeb Fast WebSearching for Scholarships with FastWeb

http://www.fastweb.com

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:

  • Featured
  • Women
  • Weird
  • African-American
  • Grad Students
  • 2014

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:

3 Mortar Board Rating

 

 

Related Links:

Sources of Money 3: FastWeb

FastWeb Site Review on YouTube

FastWeb YouTube Channel

BBB Business Review & Alert

FastWeb Site Review

fastwebFastWeb

http://www.fastweb.com

FastWeb is a well-known scholarship search service where you can create a personalized Profile and locate scholarships that match your Profile. It is a division of the job search company Monster.com, so be prepared to be presented with numerous “job opportunity” ads.

The tabs along the top of the page contain links to a variety of important topics including “Colleges,” “Financial Aid,” and “Career Planning” (which includes internship opportunities). The “Sweeps and Promos” tab is new and, at a quick glance, is unimpressive. If you’re looking for scholarships, stick with the “Scholarships” tab at the top. Clicking on this tab, presents you with a drop-down menu containing more choices. “Featured Scholarships” is a short list of scholarships that rotate depending upon the deadline and have a simple APPLY NOW button. However, they contain NO eligibility requirements and you will have to continue clicking through various pages and signing up for accounts to finally discover if you’re eligible to apply. In our opinion, this requires an investment of time for which there is little payoff. “Scholarship Tips” and “Scholarship Videos” are two other menu choices you might wish to explore.

Continue reading