Why FastWeb is a Complete Waste of Time

I stepped onto campus in 2003 as the first child to go to college on either side of my family. Leading up to that point, my parents had pushed me to apply to every college I was remotely interested in.

They also pushed me to apply to every scholarship that I could find. I did both of these, ended up being accepted to every school that I applied to, and ended up getting paid to go to school for my freshman year.

My number one tip for finding and winning scholarship? Avoid FASTweb like the plague!

FASTweb gets a lot of attention because they have over $3 BILLION in scholarships. They have a snazzy website, and are often featured in the press. However, for every one person I have encountered that has actually won a scholarship through FASTweb, I have met 50 who have not.

The concept behind FASTweb is excellent. You create a profile based on your unique skills, experiences, and credentials. FASTweb then matches this profile with its extensive database of scholarships to find ones that match your qualifications. They will then continually monitor their database for you, and email you updates as often as you would like.

This all sounds great until you actually get your first list of scholarships that FASTweb has determined you qualify for. For the purpose of research, I actually created an account on FASTweb with the information that I would use, if I were about to enter my senior year of high school.

My Results

My first scholarship: Vacancy dot com blog contest. They want me to write a blog post about my experience getting an apartment from their site. I’m a rising senior in high school. I still live with my parents. Fail.

Second scholarship: Womenetics Essay contest. Requirements? Be a woman. I clearly stated I was male in my profile. Fail.

Third scholarship: MonsterCollege sweepstakes. Requirements? Enter your contact information. The company will randomly select one $2000 winner per month (and sell your contact information to endless marketing agencies). Fail.

Final scholarship: Siemens Foundation Competition. This is a legitimate competition where you can win up to $100,000 in scholarship money by entering a math, science or technology project and competing against thousands of other student projects from across the country. For the time it would take to focus on this one scholarship and the infinitely small chance of success: Fail.

The main problem with using FASTweb is that all of the scholarships you find are either sketchy sounding websites offering “essay challenges” and sweepstakes, or large nation wide scholarship competitions with millions of applicants. The FASTweb marketing materials make winning a scholarship seem like something you can do on a whim.

There is no auto-pilot for winning scholarships. FASTweb has created the illusion that scholarships are rewards for little or no work, which is simply not true.

The Good News

Before you take me to the cleaners and call me a debbie downer, let me be clear. I work in college financial aid, so I have seen the frustration that countless students have had with trying to find scholarships on FASTweb. I have also seen the elation that students have when they actually DO win a scholarship. My purpose for writing this article is to show you the most effective way to search, apply for, and win scholarships!

Search Local

My number one piece of advice for any student or parent interested in applying for scholarships: start searching local. Just like produce, local scholarships are the best (bad analogy I know, please forgive me). The two main benefits of local scholarships are that the applicant pool is exponentially smaller than any scholarship you would find through FASTweb, and a local scholarship granting organization likely has a personal relationship with your high school, or the in-state college you might be planning to attend.

For example, the town I graduated in had a club exclusively for graduates of the college I was planning to attend. They offered a scholarship and I applied. No brainer! My Dad had friends in the local Shriners club which provided scholarships to students from my high school. I had spoken to the local Ruritan Club for a high school project which created another scholarship opportunity. My Dad’s employer offered a scholarship to employee’s children. I applied and won.

Be Thorough

You should apply for every local scholarship opportunity that you can put your hands on. The best source of local scholarships will be your high school guidance counselor. Most local organizations send their scholarship notices and applications directly to guidance offices. If you exhaust your own office, then ask around to other local high schools.

My senior year of high school I entered a local scholarship competition for the Carolina Tall Club. Requirements were that males be over 6’2. I wrote an essay about what being tall meant to me, and won $1000 after a round of interviews.

The possibilities are endless!

I would also suggest that you check out your local library. Local scholarship organizations often put up notices for their scholarships in the bulletin boards when you first enter the library. Your local librarian will be happy to help you search.

Scholarships do exist, and they can be won. It takes tenacity to apply for every scholarship you can find, and perseverance to see it through to the end.

The end result however, is free money for college; which is pretty awesome!

Have you had any success in searching for local scholarships?

Am I completely wrong about FASTweb?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

13 thoughts on “Why FastWeb is a Complete Waste of Time

  1. STRONGside Post author

    @Dave – I am very glad that your local high school guidance office was a real help. That is encouraging!

    FASTweb can definitely be frustrating. The scholarship search can be painful enough, without having to wade through millions of scholarships that don’t pertain to you in the slightest.
    STRONGside recently posted..Why FastWeb is a Complete Waste of TimeMy Profile

  2. Little House

    Excellent tips. I’m still a member of FastWeb and I know that many of their scholarships are over-saturated contests. Thinking locally is a great idea. Also, hitting up your major’s department is another good tip. Every semester, the education department offers a few thousand in grants that hardly anyone applies for. Less competition means a higher chance of getting one.
    Little House recently posted..Savings Strategies for Non-SaversMy Profile

  3. My University Money

    This is a major theme for us on My University Money. Scholarships, bursaries, and grants, go unclaimed every year because they are simply in places where few people look. Any association you have with any business or organization can be taken advantage of in most cases. Your financial organizations, sports clubs, any volunteer groups your parents belong to etc. After a few essays, they are usually relatively similar anyway and you can write them fairly quickly.
    My University Money recently posted..What Other Bloggers Are Saying #18My Profile

  4. Pingback: The Carnival of Financial Camaraderie | | My University MoneyMy University Money

  5. Pingback: Financial Aid for those Whose Parents Make Too Much Money | Smart Family Finance

  6. Tuba C

    FastWeb is a mind-numbing site. I had enough financial aid to help me through my first year of study, but tuition rates drastically went up my second year. What advice did everyone in the financial aid office give me? “Go to FastWeb.” There literally was no other attempt to help me than to go to FastWeb, which at that time I had been a member of for 2-3 years. I ended up dropping out because I couldn’t afford it. Now, I have every intentions of attending a better-suited college for me and hope to have more luck with scholarships.

    Thank you for the informative article!

    1. MoneyforCollegePro Post author

      @Tuba C – I am sorry to hear that. Yes, FastWeb is a difficult site to navigate, but hopefully you will find the FInancial Aid office at your next schol much more helpful. Ghey are often one of the best sources of financial information on campus. Hope it works out for you!

  7. Marissa

    This was a great article. I am not in financial Aid but I have 8 kids,, 3 of which I have sent off to college and the rest on their way, I was and am very proactive in their education and college education and FastWeb is a complete waste of time. They do sell your information or you have to agree to getting notifications in order to apply or receive. I have done thousands of research for grants or free money for college. The local research is the way to go. There is money out there you just have to do the homework.

  8. tmdelisph

    I totally love the idea of searching locally and I make sure to do that and apply to every scholarship my school and community have to offer. However, I do also use FastWeb a ton. along with other search engines. I know that chances are slimmer when using it, but if you go for the scholarships that you don’t think will be entered much, there is a higher chance you will win. I have only been using FastWeb for a couple months I have won one scholarship so far from using it and none from my community, so I think FastWeb is still a solid choice. Plus, I know a ton of students that feel much more comfortable communicating over technology, which I know is not good, but online scholarship search engines makes applying to scholarships possible for them. Just my thoughts, thanks for the advise!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge