Can this freemium service help you win scholarships? (2023)

I went to college for five years and graduated with a Bachelor’s, a Master’s degree, $35,000 in student loans but also a job. I had a Computer Science degree but timed my graduation with the dot com bubble bursting. Yay me.

So I stayed an extra year, picked up an M.S., and managed to score a decent job.

I was thankful that my loans were only $35,000. Back in the late 90s and early 2000s, a year of college was a staggering $30,000 a year.

Today, the cost to attend Carnegie Mellon is north of $70,000.


I’d be lucky to graduate with a five-figure debt.

One of the reasons why my debt was lower was scholarships. I wasn’t one of those scholarship geniuses that won a lot of scholarships. I wish I knew the game back then.

I did manage to score a few thousand dollars in scholarships thought. A few thousand is better than nothing. I considered myself lucky.

Many companies offer scholarships to their employee’s kids. Some professional organizations offer scholarships to students entering their field of study. Many of these private academic scholarships are hard to find. You only hear about them through word of mouth.

If you are looking to win a scholarship and for a competitive advantage, you need to know about Scholarship Owl.

So is Scholarship Owl legitimate? Is it worth the money?

Table of Contents
  1. What is Scholarship Owl?
  2. Signing up for Scholarship Owl
  3. No Essay Smart Owl Scholarship
  4. What do you pay for?
  5. Types of Scholarships
  6. Is ScholarshipOwl a Scam?
  7. Is Scholarship Owl Worth It?

What is Scholarship Owl?

Can this freemium service help you win scholarships? (1)

ScholarshipOwl is a scholarship application and search engine.

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You fill out a basic profile and template of information. Based on that information and your own research, you can quickly apply to multiple scholarships without filling out the same information over and over and over again. The search engine will help you find scholarship awards that are similar to the ones you’ve applied to.

The competitive advantage you get by using a platform such as ScholarshipOwl is enormous. You will save time, discover scholarships you never knew about, and apply to them very quickly so you can increase your chances of winning the scholarship.

There are many scholarships that will demand more than what was in your profile. For those, provide more information like writing an essay or answer a few more questions specific to that award or organization.

After you’ve submitted an entry to a scholarship, ScholarshipOwl keeps track of your applications so you can follow up if you don’t receive confirmation. Sometimes forms don’t get sent, sometimes errors happen, it’s nice to know they’re on top of it so your hard work doesn’t go to waste.

Signing up for Scholarship Owl

The basic profile asks for your level of education, gender, DOB, ethnic background, citizenship, name of your high school, enrollment status, enrollment date, college, GPA, graduation date, major, degree, career goal, online study interest, military affiliation, whether you played sports, and your address (they accept PO Boxes). I created myself from 20 years ago (but with a Maryland address, rather than a New York one) to see what it would show me.

As you sign up, you may see this pop up where you can directed to another site (I suspect these are partnerships based on what you enter on the first screen):

Can this freemium service help you win scholarships? (2)

By doing so, you’re entered into their “No Essay Smart Owl Scholarship” that is worth $7,000. Every month, Scholarship Owl awards this scholarship to a US resident age 16+ and enrolled (or will be within 3 months) in a qualified high school, college or university in the United States.

As for the other scholarships, ScholarshipOwl found:

Can this freemium service help you win scholarships? (3)

When you take away the massive Barbizon College Tuition Scholarship Program, you’re left with a more realistic $334,289 in available cash on 226 scholarships.

You don’t have to pay for a membership to see this list of scholarships. You can click on View T&C and it’ll take you to the website hosting the scholarship for more details.

No Essay Smart Owl Scholarship

When you sign up you’re automatically entered into the monthly $7,000 scholarship. Those who sign up for an account on ScholarshipOwl are entered for that month’s drawing. It’s more of a sweepstake than a scholarship though there’s no entry fee. It is open to all US residents who are 16 years or older and enrolled in a qualifying high school or university within three months.

The odds of winning change because you’re up against people who sign up that month. It’s hard to know how many sign up.

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Search for Scholarships

What do you pay for?

Can this freemium service help you win scholarships? (4)

As we learned, ScholarshipOwl is free to use but it isn’t free if you want to use the platform to apply to scholarships. They have a 7-day free trial on each of their plans so you can give it a test run before paying. The screenshot shows four columns but it’s three payment plans for one paid service tier plus the Elite service.

The paid service has three payment plans. If you pay monthly, it’s $20 a month. If you pay quarterly, it’s ~$15 per month. If you pay twice a year, it drops the price down to $10 per month. For those plans, you get access to the scholarships and the ability to apply online.

The Elite package is $499 and they only have 100 spots each month. You get a personal admissions coach, access to training sessions and tutorials, a professional essay review, plus unlimited applications each day.

Types of Scholarships

To really understand scholarships, it’s important to understand the different types.

There are a lot of different types of scholarships:

  • Need-based Scholarships: These are scholarships awarded based on financial need. Eligibility is based on the financial situation of the student and his or her family. This takes into consideration their assets and their income. Your athletic ability and your grades don’t factor into these scholarships.
  • Merit-based Scholarships: Merit-based scholarships are based on a student’s talents and interests, which could range from academics to artistic to athletics. This is the most common type of scholarship. Any student can apply because it does not have any needs-based component. It is awarded based on merit though, so if you aren’t an accomplished oboe player then I wouldn’t apply for an oboe scholarship.
  • Athletic Scholarships: Athletic scholarships are a subset of merit-based scholarships awarded to students who are looking to further their athletic careers to the next level.
  • Artistic Scholarships: Artistic scholarships are a subset of merit-based scholarships awarded to students who are looking to further their artistic careers to the next level.
  • No Essay Scholarships: No essay scholarships just refer to a scholarship with no writing requirements and are less common because it requires very little work on your part. It also means there’s less opportunity for you to differentiate yourself since an essay gives you a chance to explain or illustrate something about yourself.
  • Minority Scholarships: These are scholarships where there’s an added requirement beyond merit or need, like a particular background or family heritage that makes you eligible.
  • “Unusual” Scholarships: This is not technically a “type” of scholarship but these unusual and obscure scholarships are just hard to find. By definition, anything on ScholarshipOwl’s website is likely no longer “hard to find” (since they found it!) but they may have requirements that make them obscure.
  • Employee Family Scholarships: A lot of companies will offer scholarships to the children of their employees. When I was younger, my dad’s employer offered half
    a dozen merit-based scholarships where the awardee had to be the child of a full-time employee.

This is not an exhaustive list of the different types but can give you ideas for where else to look.

Search for Scholarships

Is ScholarshipOwl a Scam?

This is a 100% legitimate question but Scholarship Owl isn’t a scam. It’s a paid service that facilitates scholarship applications. They don’t require you to pay to use it and they even give you a list of scholarships with links to the scholarships. You could use it for searching and then apply for them manually.

The “No Essay Smart Owl Scholarship” doesn’t require you to have a paid membership, you can win it without paying.

For those reasons, I don’t think they are a scam.

Whether they are worth it is another question…

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Is Scholarship Owl Worth It?

I don’t give Scholarship Owl a rating in this review because I can’t use it myself. I’m now over twenty years removed from applying to colleges so I don’t want to spend time applying (and potentially winning but then declining) to scholarships.

You are paying for a scholarship search engine with a tracking feature that will keep you up to date on the status of your scholarship applications. For those scholarships where you don’t need to write an essay, you can mass submit them and use the tool to follow up.

It seems like you could try it for 7-days to see if you like the service. If you do, it’s cheap at $10-$20 a month. Just remember to cancel if you don’t want it anymore because the fees are non-refundable.

There are alternatives to ScholarshipOwl including Chegg Scholarships, Scholly, Scholarship America, Scholarship Points, and Cappex. Some have fees (like Scholly at $2.99 per month) and others don’t. You can give them all a try to compare their offerings.

Check out Scholarship Owl

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  • Keeps track of scholarship applications
  • Quickly apply to multiple scholarships
  • Hundreds of scholarships


  • Free search is limited

Learn more


How to answer the question how will this scholarship help you? ›

Your response to this question should lay out a plan for your future. Explain what or who inspired you to pursue a particular field and why. Include how this scholarship will help you on your career path and what you would like to do once you have completed college or the program.

How do you answer why I should win this scholarship? ›

Tips to Consider
  1. Link your passions to the scholarship. ...
  2. Show your grit. ...
  3. Share what you plan to do with the scholarship award. ...
  4. Treat it like a résumé, in paragraph form. ...
  5. Treat it like a personal statement. ...
  6. Treat it like a career and/or academic goals essay.
Aug 12, 2020

How will receiving this scholarship help you achieve your goals? ›

Personal Benefit

A scholarship can make a big difference in your education. The money from a scholarship helps by allowing you to be more selective in how you spend your free time. You'll be able to maximize the college experience through service-learning, volunteer opportunities and internships.

How can I win scholarships easily? ›

Top Tips for Winning Scholarships for College
  1. Create an accomplishments resume. ...
  2. Don't miss deadlines. ...
  3. Complete the scholarship matching profile thoroughly. ...
  4. Apply to as many scholarships as possible. ...
  5. Look for scholarship listing books. ...
  6. Find local scholarships on bulletin boards. ...
  7. Tap into family connections.

How would you benefit from a scholarship *? ›

Scholarships teach students the value of giving back

By providing financial assistance, educational institutions give students the opportunity to reach and complete their higher education.

How do you stand out in a scholarship interview? ›

Talk about the things that make you stand out - academic or athletic achievements, service or leadership experience, and special interests. These qualities and successes make you unique. If you've completed a senior research project on a topic that you're passionate about, talk about it with the interview committee!

Why you think you deserve to be awarded this scholarship? ›

You Deserve This Scholarship Because You Have Passion and Persistence. Letting your passion show through in your answer allows the committee to see your dedication. You deserve this scholarship based on your love of learning, your enjoyment of your field, or your passion for growth.

Why you deserve this scholarship example? ›

I deserve this scholarship not just because I won't be able to go to my dream school without it or due to my moderately high GPA. Instead, I believe that I am a perfect fit, a uniquely deserving candidate because all of my aptitudes and endeavors have come together to get me where I am at this moment.

How will receiving a scholarship make a difference to you *? ›

Stories Shine a Light on Impact of Generosity

For students, receiving a scholarship can mean working two jobs instead of three, cutting back on hours working to pay the bills and investing that time into their studies, which certainly will pay dividends.

How this scholarship will affect your life? ›

Scholarships Impact can go from reducing the financial burden of the rising costs of a college education to allowing students to find more time and energy to focus on studies rather than part-time work, scholarships are one piece in the puzzle of what creates a strong foundation for supporting students in their success ...

How are scholarship winners chosen? ›

Once the judges have reviewed the applications, they'll take remaining contenders and compare them against one another. Down in the nitty gritty, judges will compare GPAs, test scores, experiences, essays, in order to see which candidate is most suited for their scholarship award.

What are the 5 easy steps to get a scholarship? ›

How to Get a University Scholarship
  1. Explore Options. Start by exploring the scholarships available to you. ...
  2. Contact Colleges Directly. Along with online searches and database searches, be sure to contact colleges directly. ...
  3. Apply Early. ...
  4. Continue Applying During College. ...
  5. Be realistic.

What is one way someone can increase their chances of being awarded a scholarship? ›

While you should definitely file the FAFSA anyway in order to apply for federal financial aid, many scholarships also require you to complete the FAFSA forms to measure financial need. This is, perhaps, the easiest of the ways to increase your odds of qualifying for scholarships—so go file it!

What is the purpose of scholarship program? ›

A grant or payment made to support a student's education, awarded on the basis of academic or other achievement such as sports, cultural inclination and arts. Financial assistance or financial aids are given by a company or an organization for the purchase of its shares or those of its holding companies.

What are some reasons you might receive a scholarship or grant for college? ›

There are several types of scholarships awarded to students based on several scenarios:
  • Academic excellence.
  • Students studying an in-demand field.
  • Exceptional athletic performance.
  • Students of a specific ethnicity or group such as Native Americans or the LGBT community.
  • Scholarship competitions.

What should you not say in a scholarship interview? ›

They're not asking for your life story. Don't waste time talking about what's on your resume or scholarship application – they already know that information. This is your opportunity to tell them something about you that sets you apart from other applicants.

How would you describe yourself for a scholarship example? ›

These may include:
  • Your current degree, as it applies to your overall career goals. ...
  • Your short-term and long-term professional goals. ...
  • Past experiences that sparked your passions. ...
  • Something about you that relates to their organization. ...
  • Something unique that sets you apart from other applicants.
Sep 28, 2022

How do I write a motivation letter for a scholarship? ›

How to write a Motivation Letter for Scholarship Application (With Sample)
  1. Start by understanding the scholarship program. ...
  2. Brainstorm before writing. ...
  3. Use a professional and formal tone. ...
  4. Keep it concise and to the point. ...
  5. Use concrete examples to illustrate your points. ...
  6. Title and Header. ...
  7. Introduction. ...
  8. Explain Who are you?
Dec 28, 2022

How do you start a scholarship essay? ›

The best choice is to write an attention-grabbing sentence. It should be something persuading or intriguing that will make a person continue reading your essay with great interest. Avoid long explanations or introductions. Instead, this sentence should be short and clear.

How do you introduce yourself in a scholarship? ›

When introducing yourself in a scholarship essay, start by introducing yourself and your educational status. Then, discuss how the scholarship will help your educational pursuits and how your education can help your career.

Why do I deserve this award answer? ›

The answer to why I think I deserve this award will be as under: One of the reasons that I think I deserve the award is because of the hard work that I put in. I am a passionate person at heart and whatever I do I do to the best of my capability. I do not leave any stone unturned when I want to achieve something.

How do scholarships benefit students? ›

Scholarships provide financial support for students to help pay for a college degree. These funds enable students to obtain education they may not have access to otherwise. Scholarships go further than being financial aid for many students. They reward deserving students with the ability to afford higher education.

What would you do if you won a scholarship? ›

What to Do After You Win a Scholarship
  1. 1 – Accept the Scholarship Award Officially. ...
  2. 2 – Express Your Gratitude for the Award. ...
  3. 3 – Carefully Save All Necessary Paperwork. ...
  4. 4 – Report the Scholarship to the School's Financial Aid Office. ...
  5. 5 – Receive and Use the Money to Pay Tuition Bills.

How do you end a scholarship essay? ›

Your Conclusion:

This should make the essay feel finished. Wrap it up with just a couple of sentences. You can show how your education has made a difference so far, thank the committee for considering your application. Avoid anything too lofty or idealistic like "with this scholarship, I can change the world."

Should you introduce yourself in a scholarship essay? ›

Introduce yourself and why you're applying

Begin the first paragraph of your application letter by introducing yourself to the scholarship review committee. Include information such as your current or prospective college major, your professional goals and what potentially receiving the funding means to you.

What are my chances of winning a scholarship? ›

Odds of Receiving a Scholarship

What is this? 7% or 1 in 8 students are likely to receive a scholarship. Only 0.2% of students receive upwards of $25,000 in scholarships. 5% of students in bachelor programs got enough of scholarships to cover 100% of costs.

Who is most likely to get a scholarship? ›

Learners with a 3.5 or higher GPA (17%) are the most likely to receive private scholarships, followed by those with a GPA of 3.0 to 3.4 (13.1%), 2.5 to 2.9 (10.4%), 2.0 to 2.4 (8.3%), and less than 2.0 (7%) (Kantrowitz, 2019).

What do scholarships look at? ›

Academics—It's important to have a competitive GPA. However, providers also consider how challenging your course load and school are. They also check to see if you're taking the right courses to reach your goals and how well you did in those courses.

How will a $3000 scholarship for education make a difference in your life? ›

$3,000 is enough to make a dent in college costs. It's enough to feed a family of four for multiple months. Yet often, $3,000 will not cover one dose of cancer medication. The pharmaceutical world is racked by high costs, and for cancer patients who require frequent treatment, medication is often cripplingly expensive.

How do you respond to a scholarship? ›

How do you respond to a scholarship offer? The best way to respond to a scholarship offer is to send a letter. This would be in the form of a thank-you letter. When writing this letter you should address it to the scholarship donor, include the name of the scholarship, and show your gratitude for the offer.

What do you write in a personal statement for a scholarship? ›

The statement should present a picture of you as a person, a student and a potential scholarship recipient. It is an opportunity to share your story. your family background. State any special personal or family circumstances affecting your need for financial assistance.

Why is this scholarship important to you example? ›

Example One – Academic Goals:

I believe I deserve this scholarship because it will help me achieve my future plans and long-term goals. By furthering my education in biology, I can work towards my career goals in the medical field.

How much do most students get in scholarships? ›

The average scholarship award was $6,041 in 2022 — a 22 percent decrease from last year. During the 2021-22 academic year, 60 percent of American families used scholarships to pay for college.

Why do I deserve a scholarship essay sample? ›

I have faced several challenges over the years, from dyslexia to homelessness; yet I continued to earn exemplary grades and graduate at the top of my class. I deserve this scholarship because I have the strength and determination to achieve my goals, no matter what hurdles I have to overcome.

How do you argue for a scholarship? ›

Contact your school's admissions office and complete the necessary paperwork. Ask the school if it can offer more scholarship money to make your attendance more feasible. Applicants should use family circumstances as compelling reasons for the school to reconsider.


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