A scholarship is an award of financial aid
for a student to further education. Scholarships are awarded on various
criteria usually reflecting the values and purposes of the donor or
founder of the award.
The most common scholarships may be classified as:
- Merit-based: These awards are based on a student's athletic,
academic, artistic or other abilities, and often factor in an
applicant's community service record and extracurricular activities. The
most common merit-based scholarships, awarded by either private
organizations or directly by a student's intended college, recognize
academic achievement or high scores on the ACT and SAT standardized
- Need-based: These awards are based on the student and
family's financial record and will require applicants to fill out a
FAFSA to qualify if the scholarship is a federal award. Private
need-based scholarships will also often require the results of a FAFSA,
which calculates a student's financial need through a formula looking at
the expected family contribution and cost of attendance at the intended
- Student-specific: These are scholarships where applicants
must initially qualify by race, gender, religion, family and medical
history, or many other student-specific factors. Minority scholarships
are the most common awards in this category, and not all are based in
the United States. For example, students in Canada may qualify for a
number of aboriginal scholarships, whether they study at home or abroad.
- Career-specific: These are scholarships awarded by a college
or university to students planning to pursue a specific field of study.
Often the most generous awards are given to students pursuing careers in
high-need areas such as education or nursing. Nursing students are in
high demand, and many schools will give future nurses full scholarships
to enter the field, especially if the student intends to work in a
Some scholarships have a "bond" requirement. Recipients may be
required to work for a particular employer for a specified period of
time or to work in rural or remote areas; otherwise they may be required
to repay the value of the support they received from the scholarship.
This is particularly the case with education and nursing scholarships
for people prepared to work in rural and remote areas. The programs
offered by the uniformed services of the United States (Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration commissioned corps, and Public Health Service Commissioned Corps).