What is a scholarship?
Scholarships help students cover their college costs and, like grants, recipients generally do not have to pay them back. This type of financial aid can be awarded once or be renewable each semester or year depending on the awarding organization’s criteria.
Scholarships are often contingent on certain criteria. They can be based on need or merit, depending on the institution’s or organization’s criteria. Students can also receive scholarships for athletics, arts and academic performance.
Who offers scholarships?
Foundations, corporations and religious groups also award scholarships for higher education. These scholarships can be based on need, merit, participation or other specific criteria.
Thousands of scholarship opportunities are out there from organizations ranging from nonprofit foundations to Fortune 500 companies. The U.S. Department of Labor has an online tool for researching scholarships with nearly 9,000 entries. Not surprisingly, these options run the gamut, from scholarships supporting women in the steel industry to scholarships designated for nontraditional students.
Colleges and universities also offer scholarships, as well as different programs within these institutions, like specific financial awards for teachers, technology students and more. They also often have scholarships for certain demographics, like military family members or first-generation college students. Like grants, scholarships often cover tuition, fees, books and housing. However, unlike grants, some uses of scholarship money may be taxed.
How does a student apply for a scholarship?
Every scholarship opportunity differs by institution, foundation and organization. Some colleges and universities automatically offer scholarships when students with certain grades or test scores apply. Others may require a separate application. Scholarships from corporations and organizations may have different due dates, requirements and application materials.
Some scholarships are as simple as filling out a form, while others require additional steps such as submitting an essay or financial documentation. Do your research and stay organized so you don’t miss a deadline. Avoid applying for scholarships you are not eligible for so that you focus your energy on creating thoughtful, well-rounded scholarship applications.