Today, a college education can come with a hefty price tag. If you’re looking for ways to decrease the amount you’re expected to pay out of pocket, applying for academic scholarships may be a viable solution. Regardless of the degree type you’re seeking – associate, undergraduate, graduate, doctorate – scholarships can help pay for your education. This kind of aid is non-repayable, meaning you won’t be responsible for paying it back after you’ve graduated. There are thousands of scholarships available each year and, in many cases, the awarded money can be applied to tuition, room, board, and/or textbook costs.
Scholarships and grants are commonly confused, as both are commonly considered “gift aid.” They also frequently stipulate certain academic behaviors, such as maintaining a designated GPA or completing education within an established timeframe. While neither of these options must be paid back, they are distinctly different types of financial aid. Scholarships are usually merit-based, whereas grant money is most often awarded based on financial need. It’s important to realize that receiving one does not preclude you from receiving the other.
There are several different types of scholarship available each year.Some of the most common include academic scholarships, academic performance scholarships, athletic scholarships, creative scholarships, and community service scholarships.
Academic scholarships are available to students who have and continue to excel academically. Most have strict GPA requirements, but review boards often expect candidates to be highly involved in extracurricular activities as well.
Not all students can maintain a 4.0 GPA and that’s okay. There are still scholarships available, especially for those who have been active in community service and leadership roles. Essay submissions also carry heavy weight in the application process.
Students who are athletically skilled may qualify for athletic scholarships. Almost every sport offers some sort of scholarship to aid talented students.
Similarly, students who are artistically talented may qualify for creative scholarships. There are aid options for those with a passion for and talent in dance, art, music, theater, and similar areas.
Community service looks good on most scholarship and college applications. Being actively involved with various community service organizations can also qualify students for specific service scholarships.
Additionally, there are scholarships specifically designated for women and minorities. Qualifying criteria for these aid options vary, but there are plenty of scholarships available.
You should begin looking for and applying for scholarships as early as possible before starting college. You’ll also want to continue applying for aid each year you’re in college, as there are numerous scholarships available to current college students.
Begin your search by speaking with your school counselor. In most cases, a professional can help point you in the right direction. They’re also likely to know which scholarships are available in your specific community. There are also scholarship websites and apps to help you find out which scholarships are out there and help you narrow your search. Additionally, spend time considering your personal hobbies and consulting with organizations you’re involved with. You can often find related scholarships this way.