Federal student loans and Pell Grants are the most talked about forms of student financial aid, but state financial aid programs are loaded with opportunities for grants and other aid. Better yet, because they aren’t quite as well-known, they may be a little easier to snag.
We’ve got the scoop on how to apply and where to look for the best opportunities.
1. You have to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
The FAFSA gives states the information they need about your finances to determine financial aid you or your child may qualify for. Aid available can come in the form of student loans or scholarships and grants. Best of all, state financial aid generally is given in addition to any federal student aid you might receive.
2. Consult your state’s Department of Education.
You can find your state’s deadlines for financial aid on the federal government’s website. Make sure you check your state’s Department of Education website, too. Here’s why: certain scholarships may have earlier deadlines than those listed on the federal site. You don’t want to miss out on an opportunity because one detail slipped through the cracks.
3. Apply early —state funds can run out.
Federal financial aid never runs out but financial aid from your state can. If you apply later in the cycle, there may not be any money left for you. Fill out the FAFSA as soon as it becomes available. Intimidated? We get it. That’s why we have a whole article to ease the process.
4. Read the rules carefully — and follow them.
Overlooking one detail such as a required essay or recommendation letter can cost you thousands of dollars in financial aid. Make sure to read all requirements carefully — and make note of any outliers, such as scholarships with earlier deadlines or unique requirements. It’s complicated, so make sure you have a system to keep track of it all.
5. Fill out all forms needed.
The FAFSA is a necessity but so are the forms listed on your state’s website. Along with supporting information such as essays and recommendation letters, don’t forget to fill out required forms. An otherwise scholarship-nailing application can get tossed if you didn’t include a form the state/organization requires.
State-based grants and scholarships can be great resources to help you pay for college. The money is out there if you know where to look. And we can help you find it. Start by selecting your state below and then explore the resources
Don’t forget non-state-based scholarships… like ours! Sign up for a chance at the Nitro Scholarship.
Select Your State:
Alabama students can find applications for multiple state funded grants and scholarships. These scholarships are available specifically to Alabama students, and are based on financial need.
The Linly Heflin Scholarship is given annually to women pursuing a four-year degree at an Alabama college or university accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. The award is $7,000.
The Junior and Community College Performing Arts Scholarship program provides awards based on demonstrated talent determined through competitive auditions — not financial need. Full-time students attending public junior and community colleges in Alabama are eligible.
The Alaska Education Grant provides need-based financial assistance to residents of Alaska attending approved colleges or universities in Alaska. Grants range from $500 to $4,000; students of any major are welcome to apply.
The University of Alaska Scholars program allocates as many as 1,000 scholarships to Alaska high school juniors in the top 10% of their class, who are intending to study at the University of Alaska. These scholarships are given in the amount of $12,000 spread across eight semesters of college.
Attending an Alaska institution for higher learning? If you are majoring in science, technology, math, or engineering you are eligible to apply for the Alaska Space Grant scholarship. This stipend promotes research related to NASA’s interests, and is available to all undergraduate students in STEM programs.
The state of Arizona provides scholarships and grants to students demonstrating significant financial need. Find out more about the Leveraging Educational Assistance Partnership and other Arizona grant programs.
The Arizona Elk Society is offering multiple scholarships to students pursuing a degree in, or closely related to, wildlife sciences. Applicants must be Arizona residents planning to attend any accredited college or university in the US. Scholarships for current college students, and high school seniors headed for college are available.
The Project Management Institute Phoenix Chapter is offering a scholarship to students pursuing degrees in project management at any accredited college or university in the country. To be eligible to receive the scholarship, students must be Arizona residents, and be pursuing a career in project management at an institution for higher learning. Read more
The state of Arkansas offers many resources to state residents to help learn about and finance college. Visit the website to explore scholarship and grant opportunities, and apply for federal and state aid.
The Law Enforcement Officers’ Dependents Scholarship provides a waiver of tuition, fees, and room at any public college, university, or technical institute in Arkansas for dependents and spouses of Arkansas law enforcement officers, some Highway and Transportation Department employees, and other public employees, who were killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty.
The Arkansas Farm Bureau as well as County Farm Bureaus, offer a variety of scholarships for members and their children or grandchildren. Eligible students must attend an Arkansas college or university and be either a junior or senior studying agriculture; scholarships are awarded based on both academic achievement and financial need.
On the California Student Aid Commission page learn about financial aid programs for California residents, and access other state and federal financial aid resources.
The California Association of Winegrape Growers Foundation Scholarship provides seven scholarships of up to $8,000 to California students whose legal guardian is employed by a wine grape grower in the state. Applicants may be enrolled in any major.
The Association of California Water Agencies awards two $3,500 scholarships to students pursuing degrees in water-resource related fields. Eligible students must be a California resident and attending an accredited, University of California or California State University school.
Colorado residents can find resources detailing the costs of college and providing guidance on how to apply for grants, scholarships, and financial aid to help cover those costs.
The College Opportunity Fund provides state scholarships to students seeking to attend private or public colleges in Colorado. Students should demonstrate financial need and must meet the standards of the Colorado Commission for Higher Education.
The Rocky Mountain Coal Mining Technical School Scholarship awarded 16 scholarships of either $1,000 or $5,500 to Colorado technical school students pursuing a career in the coal industry. Applicants must be a U.S. citizen and a resident of either Arizona, Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Texas, Utah, Wyoming.
Connecticut’s Office of Higher Education provides resources to students in Connecticut to help learn about and apply for financial aid to cover college costs. The site shares federal and state scholarship and grant programs available to Connecticut students and resources to discover what aid you may be eligible for.
The Connecticut Society of Professional Journalists Foundation Inc. provides scholarships of between $1,000 and $2,500 to students pursuing careers in Journalism. Applicants must be either enrolled at an accredited university in Connecticut or be a Connecticut resident enrolled in an accredited university in any state or country.
The Minority Teacher Incentive Grant provides grants of up to $2,500 (for four years) to minority juniors or seniors enrolled in a Connecticut teacher preparation program.
The Delaware Department of Education offers several scholarships available to Delaware residents continuing their education. Explore the official state website to learn more about eligibility requirements and apply.
The Delaware Community Foundation offers scholarships annually to Delaware students continuing their higher education at postsecondary institutions. Visit their website to learn about scholarship requirements and application deadlines.
The Diamond State Scholarship provides approximately 50 renewable grants each year of $1,250 for state residents. Applicants must be high school seniors with an unweighted cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 and a score of at least 1290 on the SAT (or equivalent score on the ACT) who are enrolled full-time students in an undergraduate degree program at a nonprofit, regionally accredited institution.
Students can learn more about federal and general financial aid options such as scholarships and grants by exploring the Florida Department of Education Office of Student Financial Assistance. These links explain the financial aid process and how to make the most of your options.
The Community Foundation of Palm Beach and Martin Counties offers more than 100 scholarships worth approximately $1 million yearly to eligible Florida residents. A common application allows you to apply for all of them at once.
The College Fund of Pinellas county offers a grant program available to Florida residents attending an undergraduate institution in the Southern Association of Colleges & Schools. Eligible students must be full-time and have a permanent residence in Pinellas County.
The Georgia Student Finance Commission provides students with financial aid resources to help plan for college. Learn about state and federal financial aid options and explore scholarships and grants to help pay for college.
The state of Georgia offers several scholarship and grant programs available to Georgia residents such as the HOPE grant and the Tuition Equalization Grant. Eligibility requirements may vary, but students should be Georgia residents attending accredited Georgia colleges or universities.
The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta offers Georgia residents hundreds of scholarships with varied eligibility requirements. Follow the links to find the ones that suit you.
The Hawaii State Department of Education provides information on how to prepare for college and resources for scholarships, grants, and other financial aid.
The Hawaii Community Foundation has a number of grants and scholarships for Hawaiian residents. Scholarships are available based both on need and merit.
The OHA Native Hawaiian Science & Engineering Mentorship Program provides scholarships and other services for students who have native Hawaiian ancestry. Priority is given to non-traditional students and those pursuing a STEM degree.
The Idaho State Board of Education provides information on filling out the FAFSA, state financial aid options, and more for Idaho residents planning to continue their education after high school.
Learn about a variety of need- and merit-based state scholarships for Idaho residents attending accredited colleges and universities.
The Steele Reese Foundation’s Idaho Scholarship Program supports Idaho students continuing their education with scholarship endowments at 12 colleges and universities in the western United States.
The Illinois Student Assistance Commission offers several need-based scholarship and grant opportunities to eligible Illinois residents continuing their education.
Back 2 School Illinois offers 16 scholarships of $2,500 to high-achieving high school seniors headed to four-year colleges to continue their education. Applicants must be Illinois residents and graduating high school seniors.
The Community Foundation of Northern Illinois offers more than 90 unique scholarships and awards with varied eligibility requirements for Illinois residents.
The Indiana Commission for Higher Education offers information on filling out the FAFSA as well as how to apply for several scholarship programs for Indiana college students.
The 21st Century Scholars program provides need-based aid of up to four years of undergraduate tuition for eligible students at colleges or universities in Indiana. The program also includes guidance and support to help ensure recipients’ success in college.
Students who are Indiana residents planning to teach in a high-need field such as special education or certain math and science programs are eligible for grants of up to $4,000.
The Iowa College Aid provides information on applying for financial aid, navigating student loans and searching for scholarships and grants.
The Robert D. Blue Scholarship provides grants of $500 to $1,000 to Iowa residents attending an Iowa school who have demonstrated literary and scholastic ability as well as excellent character.
Students with an interest in the mortuary sciences can apply for scholarships from the Iowa Funeral Directors Association. Multiple scholarships are available and are awarded, based on criteria including citizenship and academic achievement.
The Kansas Board of Regents offers a variety of scholarships and grants to eligible students. State scholarships and grants are based on financial need and are available only to Kansas residents.
The Greater Kansas City Community Foundation offers several undergraduate scholarships to Kansas City area residents. Eligibility requirements vary among the scholarships—explore the list for opportunities that fit.
Kansas students attending an accredited Kansas college or university to study accounting are eligible to apply for 17 merit-based scholarships of up to $3,000 from the Kansas Society of CPAs.
The state of Kentucky offers multiple need-based financial aid programs to students such as the Kentucky college access program and the Kentucky Tuition Grant. Applicants must be Kentucky residents attending an eligible Kentucky college or university.
Learn about and apply for state-based grants and scholarships for Kentucky residents enrolled in teacher certification programs.
The Community Foundation of Louisville awards up to $1 million in scholarship funds to Kentucky students each year through a variety of scholarships. Eligibility requirements vary widely among the available scholarships, so scroll through to find the best ones for you.
The Louisiana Department of Education site provides information on how to apply for federal and state specific grants available to students from Louisiana. Award amounts and application requirements vary. Read more
The Baton Rouge Area Foundation offers a number of scholarships to students from the state of Louisiana. Scholarship eligibility varies but includes various criteria including need, merit, your high school and program of study.
The Community Foundation of Southwest Louisiana awards a number of scholarships to students who are Louisiana residents.
Maine residents have access to several state grants through the Finance Authority of Maine. The grants are targeted at a variety of students, including adult learners and students pursuing degrees in education, dentistry, medicine, and more.
Mainely Character awards several scholarships to Maine High School seniors pursuing a post-secondary education. This scholarship is awarded primarily based on the character of the individual applicants, including courage, integrity, concern and responsibility. The awards don’t take into consideration financial need or academic, athletic, or artistic achievement.
The Maine Community Foundation provides various scholarships available to all Maine residents. Eligibility requirements may vary across scholarships.
The Maryland Higher Education Commission provides information on planning for college and state financial assistance programs and applications. Grants and scholarships are available based on financial need, intended career, and more.
The Chesapeake Bay Art Association awards a college scholarship to a talented graduating senior who plans to further their education in the arts.
The Baltimore Community Foundation offers several scholarships to Maryland residents pursuing higher education. Explore the site to find opportunities for which you might be eligible.
The Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts awards scholarships and no-interest loans to hundreds of Massachusetts residents, totaling millions of dollars each year. There are scholarships that are need- and/or merit-based and are available to full-time and part-time students.
The General Federation of Women’s Clubs of Massachusetts offers several scholarships available to Massachusetts women pursuing higher education.
Student aid is available to residents of Michigan in the form of several scholarships and grants. State scholarships are primarily need based, however eligibility requirements vary.
The Grand Rapids Community Foundation offers hundreds of scholarships with varied eligibility requirements to students.
The Michigan Retailers Association offers college scholarships of $1,000 to $1,500 to the families of employees of member businesses. Scholarships are merit based.
Minnesota grants are available to state residents attending an accredited college. Grants are based primarily on financial need to help cover the costs of college.
Minnesota Masonic Charities offers a variety of scholarships of up to $5,000 per year to Minnesota residents. Scholarships are available for students attending four-year or two-year programs as well as vocational/technical/trade programs.
Community Giving, a shared framework for several local community foundations, offers a multitude of scholarships for graduating high school seniors and current college students. Eligibility requirements vary; explore the site to find the options that best suit you.
Mississippi residents are eligible to apply for grants, scholarships and forgivable loans through the Mississippi Office of Financial Aid. Eligibility requirements vary across scholarships and grants.
The Mississippi Eminent Scholars Grant provides financial assistance to Mississippi residents attending state-approved public and private schools. The grants are available for students attending both two-year and four-year colleges and universities.
The Mississippi Tuition Assistance Grant is aimed at Mississippi residents attending state-approved two-year and four-year colleges and universities and who do not already receive federal need-based aid.
The Missouri Department of Higher Education offers several grants and scholarships to Missouri residents. Eligibility requirements vary; scholarships are awarded based on financial need, merit, athleticism, and more.
The Community Foundation of the Ozarks offers a variety of scholarships with varying eligibility requirements for Missouri residents only.
The Advanced Placement Incentive Grant is a nonrenewable grant for public high school students in the state who have earned grades of three or higher on Advanced Placement tests in mathematics and/or science.
Montana’s University System contains information on preparing for college, budgeting and links to scholarship and grant opportunities. You can also find information on various tuition waiver programs and forgivable loans.
The Montana Community Foundation provides scholarships ranging from $500 to $5,000, as well as renewable scholarships for support throughout college.
The Central Montana Foundation provides approximately $200,000 in scholarships per year for local high school seniors to help pay for college.
Nebraska’s financial aid website includes links to federal funding options as well as scholarships from the state. It also includes a link to ScholarshipQuest, a free database with more than 2,000 Nebraska-based scholarships and other funding programs.
The Nebraska Community Foundation announces scholarships they offer, including the Youth Scholar College Scholarship Fund for students who are pursuing a postsecondary degree and live in specific areas of Nebraska.
The Community College Gap Assistance Program provides financial aid to community college students enrolled in credit or non-credit programs which could lead to jobs in high-need fields.
Nevada’s Office of Grant Procurement, Coordination, and Management provides links to information on financial aid as well as a comprehensive list of scholarships and grants available to Nevada students.
The Nevada Community Foundation provides scholarships and grants for Nevada residents. Search the site to see which ones may be suitable for you.
The Community Foundation of Western Nevada provides a variety of scholarships with varied eligibility requirements. A handy eligibility quiz helps you pinpoint which ones you may qualify for.
The NHHEAF Network is composed of three nonprofit organizations that help students reach their college dreams. The site provides resources and a list of available scholarships to help you plan and cover college costs.
The Fisher Cats Scholarship is given to New Hampshire graduating high school students based on academic achievement, athletic achievement, or citizenship.
The New Hampshire Charitable Foundation allows students to fill out a single application that is automatically matched to a variety of scholarships worth more than $5 million that they are eligible for.
New Jersey provides a variety of links to financial assistance, grants and scholarships, student recognition and awards programs, and educators and agencies to help you plan, and pay for college.
This state’s Higher Education Student Assistance Authority provides information on how New Jersey students can find and apply for grants and scholarships such as the NJ TAG, NJSTARS, and more.
For students with an extensive record of volunteering, the state has a page dedicated to scholarship opportunities specifically for you.
New Mexico’s Higher Education Department offers many scholarships and grants for state residents attending New Mexico public colleges and universities. Other options include favorable loan programs for students pursuing certain careers such as in health or education.
The New Mexico Community Foundation provides several scholarships for students who are graduating from certain high schools within the state.
The Albuquerque Community Foundation has a diverse range of scholarships and grants including some specific to your field of study. A single application allows you to easily apply for multiple scholarships.
New York’s site is a one-stop-shop to help you easily apply for both state and federal aid, including the New York State Tuition Assistance Program, NYS Educational Opportunity Program, NYS Math and Science Teaching Incentive Scholarship, and more.
The New England Society in the City of New York provides scholarships to students who live in one of New York’s five boroughs and are entering their freshman year at a qualifying college in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
The New York City Dance Alliance provides scholarships of up to $25,000 for students pursuing a course of study in dance or musical theater.
The College Foundation of North Carolina, provides information on both need and merit-based scholarships and grants including North Carolina-specific programs, such as the Florence Kidder Memorial Scholarship.
The North Carolina Community Foundation’s scholarship search is a great tool for students looking for financial aid assistance for college.
Scholarships are also available through the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina which awards students who have financial need, a record of academic achievement, a background in being an active member of the community, and strong moral character.
North Dakota University System site offers information and applications for a variety of grants and scholarships, as well as information to help you plan and budget for college.
The North Dakota Community Foundation has a huge variety of scholarships that are open state-wide, county-wide, or community based. Explore the site to see which scholarships you may be eligible for.
The ND Scholars program provides merit-based, full-tuition scholarships to qualifying North Dakota high school graduates who stay in North Dakota to earn their first bachelor’s degree
Ohio’s Department of Higher Education provides information on individual college and university grants and scholarships, as well as several state programs that administer financial awards.
The Akron Community Foundation provides information on scholarships specifically for students who are from high schools in Akron, Ohio.
The Community Foundation of Western PA and Eastern Ohio offers scholarships specific to students from Eastern Ohio. Many of these scholarships are for students graduating from certain high schools or pursuing specific fields of study.
Oklahoma’s State Regents for Higher Education site includes helpful links to financial aid information and scholarships/grant information to help prospective college students understand the logistics of applying and going to college.
The state’s Oklahoma’s Promise program provides 8th, 9th, and 10th graders with financial need the opportunity to apply for college scholarships which can cover tuition at an Oklahoma public college.
The Oklahoma City Community Foundation has a Scholarship Directory to help students find scholarship opportunities. Be sure to browse through each scholarship to see which may apply to you!
Oregon’s Opportunity Grant is a state-funded, need-based grant program providing grants of up to $3,600 for state residents attending an approved Oregon college.
The Oregon Community Foundation provides approximately 3,900 grants and scholarships worth nearly $12 million. Explore the site to find the scholarships that best suit you.
The Oregon Office of Student Access and Completion provides a list of scholarships that give a combined $18 million to students.
The Pennsylvania State System of Education provides information on tuition costs, budgeting, and how to navigate the financial aid process.
Pennsylvania also offers the “Ready to Succeed Scholarship Program” (RTSS), which gives grants of up to $2,000 to students whose annual family income is less than $110,000 and who are academically successful.
Rhode Island’s Office of Postsecondary Commissioner provides information on college saving tools, budgeting as well as links to a variety of financial aid resources.
The Rhode Island Foundation has a variety of scholarships and grant opportunities available for students.
The Red Sox Foundation provides scholarships for high school seniors graduating from specific public schools in Rhode Island. Eligible students must be academically successful, dedicated to community service, and need financial aid.
The South Carolina Commission on Higher Education maintains a list of scholarships and grants South Carolina students can apply for as well as a calculator to help you estimate your college costs.
Some of these include the Palmetto Fellows Scholarship, the LIFE Scholarship, the HOPE Scholarship Program, as well as the SC Need-based grant. Read more
South Carolina’s state website also provides information about colleges and universities in the state, as well as financial aid.
Check out the Central Carolina Community Foundation’s scholarship opportunities. They offer scholarship information based on geographic location, field of study, and specific schools.
South Dakota offers several scholarships including the South Dakota Opportunity Scholarship, which is a merit-based scholarship for academically outstanding students to attend a South Dakota school. Additionally, the state provides information for applying for financial aid.
The Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation has a variety of regional scholarships for eligible students.
The South Dakota Community Foundation helps students locate scholarships available to them.
Tennessee’s Higher Education Commission offers information regarding grants and scholarships as well as other financial aid tools.
Scholarships are available through the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee. Explore the site to learn about the opportunities you may be eligible for.
The Community Foundation of Greater Memphis maintains an updated list of more than 25 scholarships for students of Tennessee.
The Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts site contains information on various college funding tools including college savings plans, such as the Texas Tuition Promise Plan and various scholarship and grant opportunities.
The Communities Foundation of Texas is a great way to find out about scholarships available to Texans looking for financial assistance in paying for college. The foundation also provides important questions and answers students may have about scholarships.
Students can browse a variety of scholarships available through the Community Foundation of West Texas’ website. Click on this link to see if any apply to you!. Read more
The Utah State Board of Education provides a list of scholarships and tuition awards as well as information regarding financial aid, help with FAFSA, and budgeting for college costs.
Talent Ready Utah offers information and resources, including tuition reimbursement programs, for students looking to pursue careers within the state.
College juniors and graduate students pursuing a degree in occupational safety and health or a closely related field may be eligible for a scholarship from the Utah chapter of the American Society of Safety Professionals Foundation.
The Vermont Student Assistance Corporation provides information about financial aid, grants, and scholarships to help you pay for college.
The University of Vermont has external resources and scholarships for Vermont students.
The Samara Fund Scholarship is given to students who show a “dedication to the interests of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, and questioning community.”
The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia helps students explore Virginia’s colleges and universities and connect them to information regarding financial aid.
The Community Foundation for a Greater Richmond serves Central Virginia and Richmond with an updated list of scholarships and grants that Virginia students might be eligible for.
The University of Virginia offers a variety of scholarship opportunities for students attending the school.
The Washington Student Achievement Council’s website, Ready. Set. Grad. connects you to information about scholarships, grants, financial aid, and work study programs.
The Community Foundation of North Central Washington has many local scholarships available to browse on their website. This is a great place for students from Washington to get an idea of the scholarships that they might be able to apply for.
Similarly, the Community Foundation of Southwest Washington provides successful students with financial resources to make paying for college more manageable.
The West Virginia Department of Education provides scholarships to students who are state residents, including the PROMISE Scholarship.
The College Foundation of West Virginia is a great place to look for students who are just starting to explore scholarship options.
The Eastern West Virginia Community Foundation can help local students find scholarships to put towards pursuing a degree in higher education.
Wisconsin’s Higher Educational Aids Board includes a guide to scholarships and grants Wisconsin students might be qualified to receive.
The Community Foundation of Central Wisconsin grants up to $4,000 of scholarships to individual students.
The Community Foundation of North Central Wisconsin provides more than 125 scholarships with varied eligibility criteria to students who are residents of and/or attending schools in the state.
Wyoming’s state scholarships provide financial assistance to students furthering their education.
If you’re interested in community college, Wyoming’s Community College page directs students to the financial aid websites for each college.
The Community Foundation of Jackson Hole offers a variety of scholarships worth more than $750,000 for students from Teton County.