While there is a lot of talk about crazy scholarships that literally award everything from having the same last name to being left-handed, it is often hard to start the search yourself in the scholarship money quest. So where should you begin? It doesn’t hurt to look at the top scholarship programs; these organizations are aimed at not only helping kids pay for college, but also helping them learn about more opportunities and choices in funding their higher education experience. Below are three main organizations to look into and opportunities they offer:

1. QuestBridge
One of the largest scholarship providers, Questbridge is a non-profit that aims to give low income students opportunities to explore and attend top ranked higher education institutions. There are two programs in particular that students should look into: the College Prep Scholarship and National Match. Here is a breakdown on important details about each program:

College Prep Scholarship
What: Provides various scholarship awards to help students “successfully navigate the college admissions process.” Awards include: full scholarships to summer programs at Brandeis, Emory, Harvard, Notre Dame, Penn, Stanford, and Yale; Individualized college admissions counseling by QuestBridge staff or college students; All-expense-paid visits to college campuses; chance to win more opportunities
Who: Outstanding low-income high school juniors
When to Apply: The College Prep Scholarships 2013 have passed already, however bookmark this and keep a look out for next year

National Match
What: Provides full four-year scholarships with no loans to students who are accepted to one of the 35 top-ranked partner colleges. Students are provided two opportunities for college admissions, one free application, and a chance to join the national Quest Scholars Network.
Who: Outstanding low-income high school seniors
When to Apply: Applications will open in August 2013

2. Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation – Gates Millennium Scholars Program

Remember good old Bill Gates? The guy who created Microsoft Inc.? Well, he also decide to give back to, well, everyone. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation funds an awesome scholarship program called The Gates Millennium Scholars Program. Here are some quick facts about the scholars program and what it entails:

The Gates Millennium Scholars Program
What: Program provides support for the cost of education by covering unmet need and self-help aid, renewable awards based on satisfactory academic progress, graduate school funding for students who are looking into STEM fields as well as fields such as education and public health.
Who: Nominated by a school faculty, staff, or administrators (teachers, principals, guidance counselors, etc.) and aimed at students who are most likely to succeed in fields of computer science, education, engineering, etc. Requirement include minimum of a 3.3 GPA, person of color, and have U.S. Citizenship or residency status
When to Apply: Applications will open in August 2013

3. Coca-Cola Scholar Foundation
While the title may sound funny at first, the amount of money being offered to students is not a joking matter. Coca-Cola is providing a lot of scholarship opportunities for students to help pay for their college tuition. Here are some quick details on what the scholarship will cover and when to apply:

Coca-Cola Scholar Foundation
What: Fifty $20,000 and two hundred $10,000 scholarships to high school students
Who: High school seniors with a minimum 3.0 unweighted GPA
When to Apply: August of their senior year with the deadline on October 31

 What do you think of these scholarships? Have you found other large scholarships out there for students? Got questions on how to apply? Sound off below!

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