Scholarships help a great many college students pay for their education. Scholarships and grants do not need to be repaid and so, are the best type of financial aid to receive. By the way, the terms “grants” and “scholarships” are often used interchangeably.
Two types of scholarships are provided to students:
Need-Based Scholarships are granted to students based on financial need.
Merit Based Scholarships are grants awarded depending on a student’s academic or extracurricular record.
Start your search as soon as possible to find funds to help pay for college. When searching for scholarships, remember the following:
- Most scholarship money is awarded by colleges and universities.
- Many private colleges and some state schools require you to complete the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE in order to be considered for these scholarship programs as well as for non-federal financial aid.
- Schools may also require their own supplemental application forms.
- Deadlines vary from school to school so keep track of due dates to avoid missing out on any opportunities.
- Any number of criteria including academic, athletic or artistic accomplishments can be used to award merit scholarships.
- Scholarships and grants may be contingent on meeting certain requirements such as maintaining a minimum GPA.
- Scholarships are awarded either as a lump sum up front or may require you to reapply annually.
- Private and public sources also award a great number of scholarships, although they account for a much smaller percentage of the total pool available.
- You may be eligible for scholarships offered by a variety of organizations depending on your personal profile and/or special interests.
- Some scholarships may be career specific – available to students studying to become teachers, while others may be student specific – available to students from a military family or specific ethnic group, and even to students with a unique hobby.
Helpful resources to match you with scholarships include:
- CSS/Profile, short for the College Scholarship Service Profile, is an online application created and maintained by the United States-based College Board that allows college students to apply for non-federal financial aid
- BigFuture: College Board’s college grant and scholarship search tool
- Fastweb: A comprehensive database of scholarships. Perform a detailed search to find one that’s right for you. You can sign up to receive email updates from the site when new scholarships become available
- Financial Aid Finder: Search for scholarships, grants and student loans
- Cappex: Offers a comprehensive list of scholarships available across the US
- Scholarships.com: Search for scholarships and grants
- U.S. Department of Education: Use the funding menu to find money for college
Talk to your guidance counselor for additional information and while in your guidance office pick up scholarship applications and look through the lists of special scholarships available to students in your school district and town
Make a list of scholarships you plan to apply for with their respective due dates and check them off as you complete your applications. Apply as soon as possible to maximize your chance for help funding your college education.