If you need proof that education is becoming a luxury; just check the cost of your desired course. It is true that the cost of education is – to put it mildly – quite high, and that is why many organizations today are aiming to make tuition more accessible through various means. One way they do this is by offering college scholarships. To say that you bagged a scholarship may sound elite; but what if we told you that securing one is easier than you might think it is? 

There are a number of scholarships available today, and it is quite likely that you are either already eligible or can attempt to apply for many of these. 
Let’s start with the basics.

A college scholarship is essentially financial aid that is awarded to eligible students to help them bear the expenses of their education. They are usually offered by the government, private organizations, non-profits, and even educational institutions. Most scholarships offer monetary relief to recipients, which may either be paid directly to the students, or to the educational institution of the recipient’s choice. They may also be conducted in the form of contests, sweepstakes, and/or based on student performance. Scholarships can be merit-based, need-based, or have specific eligibility criteria depending on the organization sponsoring them. 

Scholarships differ from Grants. Grants are mostly need-based and funded by the federal or state government, like the Pell Grant. One common factor between scholarships and grants is that they are both forms of financial aid that do not require repayment.

Related: What are College Grants?

Scholarships can either be offered by the government or by private organizations such as non-profits, corporations, local communities, and colleges. 

Broadly speaking, there are primarily two kinds of scholarships that are typically offered: 

  • Partial scholarships and
  • Full-ride scholarships.

Partial scholarships are more common in nature and cover a percentage of the total cost of education or tuition that the awarded student has to incur. Full-ride scholarships are not as common but cover all expenses, which can include housing, meals, study material, and more.

To figure out which scholarships you can apply for, it’s best to start by considering the immediate level of education you wish to pursue. This will help you identify scholarships that you can benefit from in the short run:

High School Scholarships

Comparatively, scholarships for high school students looking to enroll in an undergraduate degree are incredibly common. This is because many scholarship providers aim to invest in the future generation early on. Some scholarships are competitive and allow students to enter or apply even before their senior high school year. So, the sooner you prepare for scholarships, the better. 

Undergraduate College Scholarships

Scholarships for undergraduate students pursuing further education or careers in various fields are also fairly common. Some of these scholarships may require you to have a proven track record or interest in particular areas of study, based on the eligibility criteria for such scholarships. These scholarships can prove to be beneficial as they reduce your debt to a great extent. Since most scholarships do not require repayment, securing one can ensure a future with fewer liabilities. 

Graduate College Scholarships

While scholarships for graduate students exist, they are not the most popular of the lot. While certain professions/degree courses offer fellowships, these aren’t available to all students. So, certain philanthropic, government, and private organizations also offer scholarships to graduate students. At this level, a scholarship would be of significant value, considering the cost of education at the graduate and postgraduate levels are astronomical.

As with everything else, do a fair amount of research to check available scholarships in your state, university, and field of interest. 

Apart from searching for scholarships for your specific grade level, you should also look for scholarships based on eligibility criteria and those awarded for specific activities. These include:

Academic Scholarships

Scholarships for academic excellence are quite common. Such scholarships are based on factors such as high school GPA, standardized test scores, etc. Academic scholarships may also require you to maintain a certain minimum GPA after you secure them. They are typically awarded by private colleges and even the federal/state governments. 

Athletic Scholarships

There are several scholarships awarded to students who show great prowess in sports and athletics. Typically, these scholarships are awarded by organizations through university coaches for sports such as basketball, soccer, football, gymnastics, etc. Athletic scholarships can be full-ride or partial. If a student-athlete is awarded a full athletic scholarship, all expenses such as tuition, residency, meals, cost of equipment, training and travel, medical insurance, etc. are covered. Partial scholarships, on the other hand, only cover a predetermined percentage of the overall expenses.

If you are a student-athlete, a scholarship can be the key to ensuring both – your academic and athletic success.

Demographic College Scholarships

Demographic scholarships can be merit-based or need-based and are awarded to students from minority communities or underrepresented groups such as students of color, women, LGBTQ+ students, students from ethnic minorities, etc. Such scholarships attempt to promote campus diversity and uplift the communities they cater to.

Workplace College Scholarships

Certain companies offer scholarships to their employees or to the children of their employees. In some cases, companies also offer other financial aids such as employer tuition reimbursement, which can be of immense help to the child seeking a scholarship. 

Military College Scholarships

The government, certain philanthropic organizations, and universities often award scholarships to military veterans, military service members, and their families. These scholarships enable students to serve in the armed forces after college or enlist after high school. Often, they also cover tuition expenses once the student is honorably discharged from active duty.

College Scholarships for International Students

To help make education in America more accessible to international students, a number of institutions offer scholarships that cater specifically to them. These scholarships can be full-ride or partial, and can even be awarded to students from specific developing countries. If you are an international student, you can search for available scholarships for education in the U.S., either in your home country or in the American universities of your choice. These scholarships may require you to get certain minimum scores on standardized tests such as ACT, SAT, etc.

Unusual College Scholarships

There are certain scholarships that are awarded to students who meet very specific criteria.
These include scholarships such as:

  • Scholarships for Creativity  – awarded to students who display creative skills in certain areas such as knitting, illustration, writing, etc. 
  • Scholarships for Hobbies – awarded to students with specific hobbies such as crossword puzzles, or even Minecraft.
  • Scholarships for Physical Attributes – awarded to students who meet highly specific eligibility criteria for physical characteristics such as red hair, height, etc. 

It is best to start by reaching out to the most accessible resources: your high school academic counselor, local organizations and charities, and even your parents. Many institutions that accept external financial aid require you to fill out the Free Application for Student Federal Aid (FAFSA). Additionally, you can also find information on scholarships through websites that keep comprehensive directories of various scholarships.

Scholarships may have different criteria and requirements. Ideally, the scholarship’s website will provide you with essential details such as the application process, deadline dates, required documents, and the benefits offered. Certain scholarships may require you to submit transcripts, test scores, and even essays. Go through the due process for each scholarship carefully and give it your best shot!

It’s important to note that if you secure a scholarship in addition to other financial aid you may have, you must inform your college/university well in advance. Your financial aid cannot exceed your overall cost of attendance. So to reap the benefits of your scholarship and other aid such as loans, deferred payments, or grants, be sure to disclose all the necessary information to your college.

Scholarships for students in the U.S. are quite common and can significantly reduce your student debt. This medium of financial assistance does not require repayment. You could earn scholarships for different grade levels based on your academic performance, extra-curricular activities, hobbies, background, and even attributes. In the end, it is important to go through the eligibility criteria and application process thoroughly and carefully before applying.

By this point, you’ve probably understood that you’re likely to be eligible for a few scholarships. All you have to do is find them, go through their requirements, and then apply for them.
Best of luck!

How common are scholarships for undergraduate students?

Scholarships for undergraduate students are quite common in the US. According to recent data, over 1.7 million scholarships are awarded annually in the US. Also, first-time undergraduates who receive government grants and scholarships at a 4-year college receive about $14,890 annually. These numbers prove that if you’re considering applying for a scholarship, and have understood that you’re eligible for one, you must give it a shot.

What are the requirements for athletic scholarships?

While the requirements for athletic scholarships vary depending on the division level and the specific sport, there are some common requirements that most athletic scholarships present. These include:
– Having a strong GPA
– Standardized test scores, such as the SAT or ACT
– Graduation from high school
– Athletic Prowess
– Dedication and Team-Oriented attitude
– Meeting specific scholarship requirements