Besides FAFSA, there are other sources of funding for college. Scholarships are financial aid awards designed to help students pay for their undergraduate or graduate degree. These awards are considered gifts and they don’t need to be repaid. Scholarships are offered by schools, employers, individuals, private companies, religious, professional, and non-profit organizations. A scholarship might cover the full cost of your tuition or it might be a one-time award of a few hundred dollars.
Types of Scholarships
Academic/Merit-Based Accordion Closed
These scholarships are earned by meeting or exceeding certain standards set by the organization, school or individual offering the scholarship. Merit scholarships maybe awarded based on academic achievement, a special talent, skill, or interest, or a combination of academics and special talent or interest. Most college or university scholarships are merit-based.
Non-Academic Accordion Closed
Some scholarships are geared towards particular groups such as women whose focus is on sciences or students coming from a military background. There are scholarships based on the planned focus of study, for example, a scholarship for students majoring in STEM. Scholarships are also available depending on where your parent works or the particular organization they belong to (example, Rotary Club)
How to Find Scholarships
You can find and learn about scholarships in several ways. The following are free sources of information about scholarships. Be careful that your sources of information are legitimate and remember that you don’t have to pay to find scholarships or other financial aid.
- Financial Aid Office at a college/university/trade school/community college
- High school or TRIO counselor
- U.S Department of Labor ‘s free scholarship search tool
- Your library’s reference section
- Foundations, religious or community organizations, local businesses or civic groups
- Professional associations related to your field of interest
- Ethnicity-based organizations
- Your employer or parent’s employer
When to Apply for Scholarships
Look at the scholarship’s deadline or the school’s deadline to submit the scholarship. Some deadlines are early and before you start college. You do not need to wait until you are ready to graduate high school to apply for a scholarship. There are some scholarships that the requirement starts at 14 years of age.
For more information on scholarships, visit the scholarship page at studentaid.gov.