what is a scholarship?
A scholarship is a monetary award for a student to further their education, whether it be at a 2 or 4-year university, vocational school or other educational institution. Scholarships are awarded based upon various criteria, which usually reflect the values and purpose of the donor or founder of the award. Scholarship money does NOT have to be repaid by the student.
types of scholarships
The most common scholarships may be classified as:
- Merit-based: These awards are based on a student's academic, artistic, athletic or other abilities, and often factor in an applicant's extracurricular activities and community service record. 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 standardized tests. Most such merit-based scholarships are paid directly by the institution the student attends, rather than issued directly to the student.
- Need-based: Some private need-based awards are confusingly called scholarships, and require the results of a FAFSA (the family's EFC - estimated family contribution). However, scholarships are often merit-based, while grants tend to be need-based.
- Student-specific: These are scholarships for which applicants must initially qualify based upon gender, race, religion, family, and medical history, or many other student-specific factors. Minority scholarships are the most common awards in this category.
- Career-specific: These are scholarships for students who plan to pursue a specific field of study. Often, the most generous awards to students who pursue careers in high-need areas such as education or nursing. These awards can also be available for vocational and trade schools.
- College-specific: College-specific scholarships are offered by individual colleges and universities to highly qualified applicants. These scholarships are given on the basis of academic and personal achievement.
- Athletic: Awarded to students with exceptional skill in a sport. Often this is so that the student will be available to attend the school or college and play the sport on their team.
- Brand Scholarships: These scholarships are sponsored by a brand that is trying to gain attention to their brand, or a cause. Sometimes these scholarships are referred to as branded scholarships.
- Creative Contest Scholarships: These scholarships are awarded to students based on a creative submission. Contest scholarships are also called mini project based scholarships where students can submit entries based on unique and innovative ideas.
It is common for students to find scholarships in within their communities. Typically, local scholarships are less competitive as the eligible population is much smaller.
- Non-profits and charitable trusts: Many non-profit organizations have at some point of their history founded scholarships for prospective students.
- Community foundations: San Diego county has many local foundation dedicated to giving money in the form of grants and scholarships to students within the county.
- Labor/trade unions: Major unions often offer scholarships for members and their dependent children.
- Houses of worship: The local house of worship may or may not have any scholarships for their members, but the religious organization or headquarters may have some available.
- Chamber of commerce: Many chambers of commerce offer (usually small) grants to students in the community, especially those planning on careers in business and public service. Even if they do not offer any themselves, one can usually get a listing of members, and many of them may offer small scholarships to local students.
- Other volunteer organizations: Many organizations offer scholarships or award grants to students whose background or chosen field overlaps the field of the organization. For example, local chapters of professional societies may help the studies of exceptionally distinguished students of the region. Similarly, charity organizations may offer help, especially if the late parent of the student was a member of the organization (e.g., a Masonic lodge might help the orphan of a lodge brother.)
- School: Often local elementary school Parent/Teacher Associations offer scholarships to former students.
- University: some universities may have funds to finance the studies of extremely talented students of little means. Eligibility often requires that a student belong to some special category. However, universities provide information on scholarships and grants, possibly even internship opportunities.
- PSAT/NMSQT: In the United States, students are offered the opportunity to take the PSAT/NMSQT test, usually in their junior year of high school. National Merit Scholarship programs are initially determined by the scores received on the PSAT/NMSQT test. Some private scholarship programs require applicants to take the PSAT. The test can be used as preparation for the SAT.
- Disabilities: Students with disabilities may be able to apply for awards intended for people with disabilities. Those scholarships may be intended for disabled students in general, or in relation to a specific disability.
When do i apply for scholarships
That depends on each scholarship’s deadline. Some deadlines are as early as a year before college starts, so if you’re in high school now, you should be researching and applying for scholarships during the summer between your junior and senior years. But if you’ve missed that window, don’t give up! Look at scholarship information to see which ones you can still apply for now.
How do i apply for scholarships
Each scholarship has its own requirements. The scholarship’s website should give you an idea of who qualifies for the scholarship and how to apply. Make sure you read the application carefully, fill it out completely, and meet the application deadline.
How do I get my scholarship Money
That depends on the scholarship. The money might go directly to your college, where it will be applied to any tuition, fees, or other amounts you owe, and then any leftover funds given to you. Or it might be sent directly to you in a check. The scholarship provider should tell you what to expect when it informs you that you’ve been awarded the scholarship. If not, make sure to ask.