Why are Scholarships a Great Financial Aid Option?

Scholarships are a smart and sensible way to pay for your education. What sets scholarships apart from other forms of financial aid is that, unlike loans, they do not need to be repaid. This makes them a terrific financial aid option for college students, and significantly reduces the potential for debt after graduation. Scholarships are often awarded as financial gifts by either private or public sources, and may not be funded directly by the college a student will be attending.

What's the Difference Between a Scholarship and a Grant?

Scholarships and grants share some similarities, but also have some notable differences. While both types of aid are considered “gifts” that do not need to be repaid, scholarships are typically awarded by public, private, and community foundations. They may also be offered by philanthropists, unions, non-profit organizations, and for-profit corporations, and are based on a student’s academic, athletic, or artistic merit. They may also sometimes include a need-based component. Grants, by contrast, are typically awarded by the federal or state government, colleges or universities, and are solely based on need.

  Description Distributed by
Grants Gifted aid that does not need to be repaid; eligibility is based on financial need federal/state government
Scholarships Gifted aid that does not need to be repaid; eligibility is based on merit, or merit and financial need private/public organization

How do you get a Scholarship?

While applying for a scholarship is not necessarily difficult, scholarship organizers usually award students who have followed directions precisely and met all submission criteria for their scholarship. Every scholarship has different qualifications and requirements, so the first step is to ensure you meet all eligibility criteria before committing to the application process. Once you have identified a scholarship that interests you, confirm the deadline and leave yourself plenty of extra time to complete the application before the final submission date.

Make a checklist for your scholarship application process. If a scholarship simply requires you to submit transcripts, test scores, and/or proof of enrollment in a college program, research the school’s preferred method of delivery and begin the process of collecting this information. For scholarships that require an essay or special project, leave yourself plenty of time to organize your thoughts and capture them clearly in your submission. Experts recommend being thorough, honest, and proactive throughout the application process -- don’t ignore any “extra credit” opportunities that may be “highly recommended” by the awarding organization. And, above all else, submit your application on time!

Are there Scholarships out there for me?

Today, there are more scholarships available than ever before, and designed for college students in all programs and from all walks of life. However obscure your academic interests or program of study, you may be surprised at the number of available scholarships from niche organizations that cater to students just like you. While scholarships in all disciplines are increasingly diverse and tailored to minority students, women, and students with disabilities, there are countless scholarships for nearly every interest and skill, even if you are not a member of one of these historically underserved groups.

Unique Scholarships

How Many Scholarships Should I Apply for?

One of the many benefits of scholarships is that there is no such thing as “too many.” Students are free to apply for as many scholarships as they are eligible for, which is, likely, a lot. A simple online search for scholarships in your intended field of study is a sensible first step. You should also search for general scholarships that may apply to you, depending on your ethnic background, ancestry, place of residence, or previous experience in higher education and/or the military. Generally, there is no limit to the number of scholarship applications you can submit and, therefore, the amount of financial aid you could receive. A good rule of thumb is to apply to as many scholarship as you can to improve your odds of receiving as much funding as possible for your education.

Scholarships by Subject

Can I get Scholarships for Online Classes?

Unless otherwise specified, most scholarships can be used for both on-campus and online programs. There are some scholarships, however, that do not extend benefits to online students, and are reserved for traditional students in programs on campus. Conversely, there are scholarships designated specifically for online programs, and assist with not only tuition, but technology costs and other fees that may be mandatory for students earning a distance degree. Online-specific scholarships tend to follow the general criteria guidelines of other traditional scholarships, with many offering financial aid to students in a particular program of study, those who belong to a minority group, or those who are planning to work in a particular field or industry after graduation.

Financial Aid Resources