Scholarships are free money that is available to students to offset or pay for the cost of college. Why pay for college with loans and out of pocket money if you can write a few essays and go for free?
Students have to apply for scholarships, which are awarded on a case-by-case basis and are often based upon merit. They do not Have to be paid back!!! I repeat, they do not have to be paid back.
Each scholarship has an application process and particular things that the are looking for- students interested in science, hispanic students interested in graduate education, and so on. You may have to include some financial information if the scholarship is need-based, but do not despair, most of that information is needed for your FAFSA anyway.
You can make the process easier by beginning to write an essay on why you want to pursue your chosen field of study and what makes you unique. Then, when you see a particular application that you want to apply for, tailor the essay to those specific requirements that you meet. It is also a good idea to have a writing sample, resume, sealed transcript, and at least one letter of recommendation on hand. If you start obtaining these items now, it wont be so hard to respond to a good scholarship opportunity. Its worth it to be debt free.