Applying for Outside/External Scholarships

After you have completed your FAFSA and applied for Tennessee Tech scholarships, you may wish to continue to look for additional funds to help pay for school in the form of external scholarships. "External" or "outside" scholarships refer to any scholarship(s) awarded to a student by an outside agency such as a church, civic organization, high school, business, private donor, foundation, or any number of external (non-Tennessee Tech) agencies. Typically, these are scholarships that are not administered by Tennessee Tech.

A huge variety of external scholarships are available year-round and can be an excellent way to help you pay for school. However, because each scholarship has a separate application, deadline, and requirements, they can take a lot of time and effort to complete. Below we offer some tips and advice for successfully applying for outside scholarships.

Start the Search in Your Home Town

National scholarships may be easier to find, but they come with nation-wide competition. Many local organizations in your own community may offer scholarships but struggle to publicize these opportunities. Check with civic organizations (ex. Rotary Club or Chamber of Commerce), veterans organizations (ex. VFW or American Legion), churches, businesses, and any organizations that you or your family are members of. Local organizations want to support local students!

Check with Your (or Your Parent's) Employer

Many employers offer educational benefits to employees or their dependents. Check with the office of human resources where you or your parents work to find out whether there is a program you qualify for and for information on how to apply.

Use Scholarship Search Engines

FastWeb and Scholarships.com are two popular online scholarship search engines. Students can provide profile information such as major and be matched with possible scholarships they may be eligible for. Be sure to read each scholarship's criteria carefully, as you may be shown scholarships you do not actually qualify for.

If you create an account or build a profile with an online scholarship search engine, pay extra attention to the site's privacy policies and how your information will be used. Your information may be used to advertise various college-related content to you via mail or email.

Beware of Scams

Every year, several hundred thousand students and parents are defrauded by scholarship scams. Be wary of scholarships with an application fee, scholarship matching services that guarantee success, advance-fee loan scams, and sales pitches disguised as financial aid “seminars." If you are asked to provide a credit card number, bank information, or social security number, these are red flags. Consider whether you know and trust the organization that is requesting the information. Use your best judgment and consult with your parent or guardian about what information you are willing to share for the chance at a scholarship.

Stay Organized

Applying for outside scholarships can be overwhelming for students. Use a planner, calendar, or whatever works best for you to stay on top of important deadlines. Save a copy of each essay you write, as you can often re-use essays or portions of essays for other applications.

Focus on the Essay

For most scholarships you apply for, there will be many other applicants with identical or similar grades, test scores, or other criteria. If there is an essay question, consider that your opportunity to stand out. Read the prompt closely, and think about what the question is really getting at. Take time to reflect on your personal history, interests, passions, and goals. Scholarship committees are looking to get a glimpse of the unique person behind the application. Try to connect the dots between where you are going and where you have been.

Look over your finished essay for typos, and consider asking a parent, teacher, or friend to read over it and provide feedback. Be sure to save any essays you write, as you may be able to re-use parts of them for other applications.

If You Receive an Outside Scholarship

If your hard work and dedication have paid off, congratulations! External scholarships are processed by our Office of Financial Aid. Visit their External Scholarships webpage for instructions on how to have the scholarship applied to your student account.


The tips and advice on this page are offered for informational purposes only. Outside scholarships are by their very nature, independent of Tennessee Tech University. We do not vet or endorse specific outside scholarships or scholarship search engines.

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