How are you going to pay for your college tuition? Scholarships can give you the financial support you need so that you can focus on your studies and still be able to eat name-brand macaroni and cheese. They also make it possible to offset student loans so that you won’t be paying off piles of school debt well into your retirement (or, at least not as many piles).
So what’s the downside?
Applying for scholarships is a time-consuming process that will take a great deal of your focus and dedication. A typical scholarship will require you to submit an extensive application and write a brilliant essay proving that you are an exceptional student who is aligned with the donor’s mission and worthy of its financial support.
If that’s where you’ve been focusing your time, hopefully you’re having someone edit those scholarship essays before you apply.
But what if there was an easier way? There are some scholarship opportunities that don’t require much more than your ability to share some personal information. The no essay scholarship works like a sweepstakes or a lottery ticket.
In this article, I’m going to tell you how to find a no essay scholarship, and I’ll lay out the pros and cons of applying for one. I also had a chance to talk with a lucky winner of one of these scholarships, and she’ll give you the inside scoop on what it took for her to win and whether or not she felt like she sold her soul (or at least her info) in the process.
What Is a No Essay Scholarship?
Basically, a no essay scholarship entails the following: the donor company takes your information (such as your email, home address, and scholarly interests) and passes it around to various retailers and institutions (typically colleges that want your tuition or retailers that want to sell you a beanbag chair for your dorm room).
In exchange, it offers you a chance to win some cold, hard cash to put toward your ridiculously expensive, yet necessary, college education. There are quite a number of different no essay scholarship opportunities. Let’s talk about specifics now.
No Essay Scholarship at Colleges.Niche.com
During my research on no essay scholarships, the first website I came across was Niche. It actually has a pretty cool interface that allows you to compare colleges by majors and rankings.
It also allows you to research a database of scholarships based on your career goals, interests, major, state, etc. This is a great tool for you to use to find countless scholarship opportunities that match your qualities, including the no essay scholarship.
As you can see in the above screenshot, the first scholarship listed is the $2,000 “No Essay” Scholarship. Niche itself hosts this scholarship, and it’s been awarding $2,000 to one lucky winner every single month since June 2009 (formerly as CollegeProwler.com). It even provides a list of past winners to reassure you that this is for real.
Just like the title says, there is no essay required. Just fill out the form, and *boom*—you’ve applied! Even better, you can keep applying month after month, even as you are attending school and sweating your tuition money while working the counter at McD’s.
In the fine print, Niche says, “If a scholarship applicant indicates an interest in receiving offers from Niche and its trusted business partners, Niche reserves the right to use your personal information and may sell or share it with selected outside companies. If you express interest in particular schools or affiliates, Niche may sell or transfer your personal information to those schools or affiliates accordingly.”
Basically, Niche admits that it’ll be selling your information to these institutions so that, in turn, the institutions can send you glossy school catalogs.
But you do have the choice of whether to allow your information to be given away.
Niche says, “When submitting an application for the scholarship contest, applicants may opt-in to receive student related offers from Niche and our trusted business partners. The choice is entirely optional and has no impact on the applicant’s submission to the scholarship contest.”
It isn’t just taking your info and running off with it like some no-integrity purse-snatcher; you have control over the process. Just make sure to check the right boxes as you apply if you don’t want to get offers from trusted partners.
It sounds like your personal info is pretty well-respected by this organization.
*HINT* A great way to keep your email inbox spam-free is to create a dedicated email address that you use just for entering scholarship sweepstakes. For example, mine might be [email protected] I chose Yahoo! because it sounds celebratory.
Naturally, the next question I had, and I’m sure you do too, is what are your chances of winning this thing? I mean, it’s easy to apply, and you can apply repeatedly month after month, but are you really going to take home the two grand?
Niche’s website says, “The odds of winning are determined by the total number of eligible entries received. Only one (1) prize will be awarded to any one person and/or e-mail address.”
This isn’t really that informative. I decided to email Niche and ask about the chances of winning.
Here’s what a representative told me:
“While we do get many applicants every month, we do offer access to many other scholarship opportunities on our website. The more opportunities you apply for, the more opportunities you have to get money for school. Hope this helps!”
Hmmm, I’m not sure that does help. Niche is definitely holding its numbers close to its chest. From what Niche says, it sounds like your odds of winning aren’t all that high.
A quick search on Alexa.com ranks Colleges.Niche.com as the 10,792nd most popular website in the United States.
To put this in perspective, Pinterest has a U.S. rank of 12, and the University of Delaware (home to 22,000 students and 4,000 staff members) is ranked around 7,000. So it seems that Niche is a moderately popular website, but not quite as popular as the University of Delaware. You’re probably up against a moderate amount of competition for this money.
Based on this, I think it could be worth it to go ahead and apply—every month for the rest of your student career, even. Think positively, and maybe, just maybe, you’ll win.
No Essay Scholarships at SuperCollege.com
If you’re hesitant to part with your personal information but still want to search for no essay scholarships, you can actually bypass Niche and visit SuperCollege.com.
SuperCollege.com maintains a database of more than 2.2 million available scholarships and has an interface that helps you match scholarships to your unique qualifications—you amazing-sumo-wrestler-cupcake-baker, you!
SuperCollege.com does not sell your information to third parties; it says, “We use the information you provide about yourself when placing an order only to complete that order. We do not share this information with outside parties…”
Well that’s refreshing!
SuperCollege.com makes its money from advertisers, and it sells some interesting books about getting into and paying for college, taking the SAT, and other things students are interested in. It also offers free ten-step guides that cover topics like applying for scholarships, finding colleges, and seeking financial aid.
While SuperCollege.com doesn’t offer a no essay scholarship itself, the site will definitely be able to point you to more no essay scholarship opportunities, including the ones I found at Cappex.com.
No Essay Scholarships at Cappex.com
Cappex (Alexa U.S. ranking 14,137) offers a helpful interface for students seeking to apply for scholarships and learn about schools. You have to sign up for an account to see any information, though. So that’s your first step.
In exchange for your personal information, Cappex offers about $9,500 per month in no essay scholarships that are easy to apply for. For example, the CappexCash Monthly Scholarship gives you a chance at winning $1,000 just for signing up and completing your profile.
It publishes a list of its scholarship winners on its Facebook page. Will you be one of them?
Cappex also keeps a database of scholarships offered by other institutions, and if you ask me, it has the best interface of all the sites that I mention in this post.
After signing up for a Cappex account, you’ll be able to view a list of scholarships that match your interests and qualifications under a tab called “My Scholarship Matches.” The cool thing is that its scholarship database can be sorted by amount, deadline, ease of applying (i.e., how much writing is involved), and the amount of competition you’re up against.
In this example, I sorted by the “competition” column. Check it out:
By checking out the competitiveness of various scholarships, I can see that with a bit of effort, I may have a decent shot of winning the Boettcher Foundation Scholarship (Say what? A $160,000 prize? I’m in!).
But let’s say you want to find the easiest possible scholarships to apply for, with no essay writing involved (the fact that you’re reading this blog post probably means that you do).
Simply sort the scholarship list by the “effort” column. In this screenshot, you can see that I’ve sorted mine so that the scholarships rated one pencil (least effort) appear on top:
You can see that the easiest scholarship to apply for is at ScholarshipPoints.com, where you can win a big, fat ten grand. Notice that the competition on this one is pretty stiff (lots of people apply).
No Essay Scholarships at ScholarshipPoints.com
So I went to check out the deal at ScholarshipPoints.com and found that it offers another essay-free scholarship opportunity. You can win money by taking surveys, reading blogs, and playing games, among other online activities. It’s the perfect opportunity for a professional Internet surfer like you!
By participating in these marketing and information-collecting schemes (because let’s be honest, that’s what they’re all about), you rack up points, and these points are used as entries into the monthly scholarship giveaways.
I asked ScholarshipPoints (Alexa ranking 40,159) what the real odds of winning are, and here’s what a representative had to say:
“I think it’s safe to say that everyone in the ScholarshipPoints program wants to win a scholarship and everyone wants to know how to increase their chances of winning some cash for school!
The best advice we can offer is:
1) Complete AS MANY activities as you can.
2) SPEND those Points!
When it comes the time to enter your points into our monthly drawings, keep in mind that there is no such thing as spending “too many” points.
Note: please make sure when providing any private information during an activity, that you read all the terms & conditions. If you are not comfortable providing specific information, please do not complete the activity.”
I also had the chance to talk to a recent recipient of a $10,000 scholarship award from ScholarshipPoints.com. She asked that she remain anonymous because she’s training to be a CIA operative, or maybe a ninja.
My Conversation with a Real-Life Ten THOUSAND Dollar No Essay Scholarship Winner:
Me: Hi there! Thanks for taking the time to chat with me. I’m sure a lot of people are really interested in hearing about how you won a $10,000 scholarship.
$10k Winner: You’re welcome. Thanks for asking me.
[sociallocker]Me: So, how many activities did you have to rack up in order to win?
$10k Winner: I’m not exactly sure…I think I used between 50-100 points on each drawing that I chose…And each point was worth one entry. (So that’s about 50-100 times.)
Me: How quickly did they pay you?
$10k Winner: They contacted my college pretty much right away, and they called and let me know that I had won, and then sent me an email saying what I needed to do in order to confirm my scholarship…I did what they asked, and they said that it was confirmed. A couple of months later, my school received the money directly.
Me: So the money is real?
$10k Winner: Haha, yes, it’s definitely real.
Me: It sounds like a pretty amazing deal. Would you recommend other students try this?
$10k Winner: Yes, I would definitely recommend it.
Me: So what’s the catch? Have you noticed that you are getting a lot of spam or anything unwanted in your email?
$10k Winner: No, I haven’t really noticed any extra spam in my email. And, as of right now, I don’t know of a catch.
Me: What made you apply?
$10k Winner: I really, really need money for college, and I won’t be eligible for school scholarships until at least next semester. I honestly didn’t expect to win anything though.
Me: Have you also applied for more traditional scholarships?
$10k Winner: I did apply for traditional scholarships when I graduated from high school, but I wasn’t able to find many for people who were already enrolled in college.
Me: Were the traditional scholarships more difficult to apply for?
10K Winner: The traditional ones were definitely more time-consuming.
Me: Can I ask you a weird question? Are you a real person?
$10k Winner: Haha, yes, I am definitely real…I actually had the same question before I applied. I looked up past winners on Facebook to see if they actually existed… they do![/sociallocker]
Thank you, super-secret ninja winner, for sharing your story!
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to finding an easy-to-apply-for, no essay scholarship. Here is one other opportunity that I found while traveling down this rabbit hole:
No Essay Scholarship from Zinch.com
Zinch.com (Alexa U.S. ranking 38,115) offers a weekly $1,000 giveaway. In exchange for a chance to win, it asks you to answer a short essay question (I mean really short, like 280 characters, max; if you can Tweet, you can do this). Here’s a sample prompt:
It also collects your email address and sends you info about schools, scholarships, and other third-party services. You can easily opt out by following the instructions here. And like the other scholarship sweepstakes, Zinch lists past winners on its website.
No Essay Scholarships Are Easy to Apply for and Easy to Win (Sort Of!)
I’ve sorted the no essay scholarship sites I mentioned in this post into a handy table for your reference. If you look at it this way, it seems that the opportunities at Zinch.com and ScholarshipPoints.com might be your best bets. They have lower Alexa rankings and high payouts for little effort. While SuperCollege.com has the lowest Alexa ranking, it’s best used to find no essay scholarships offered by other companies.
No essay scholarships are easy to apply for and are usually a way for companies and schools to collect and share your information. And while real students can and do win prize money all the time, you really can’t put all of your hopes and dreams into winning these types of scholarships.
Go ahead and apply, but make sure to improve your chances of winning scholarship money by also applying for some of the opportunities that require a little extra effort.
When it comes time to write your scholarship essay, the guys over at StudyMode.com have aggregated thousands of essays to help get your ideas rolling (however, remember that plagiarism is a big no-no and won’t help you win any money).
Don’t forget to edit your essay before you send it! We employ some of the best editors in the biz to make sure that your scholarship essay shines brighter than the rest, so make sure to send it over to us for a thorough edit before you send it off to the scholarship committee.
Have you ever won a scholarship? How hard did you work for that money? Share your experiences in the comments below.
*Cover image by thisisbossi. (creative commons license)