May 7th 2016


Scholarships are classified as need-based and merit-based. The term need-based means that your eligibility must fall below a certain income threshold, and the term merit-based means that your qualifications must exceed an academic, athletic, or professional threshold. Some merit-based scholarships are also need-based, but need-based scholarships are not always merit-based.

Many institutions and private organizations offer scholarships to exceptional students who come from low-income or nontraditional backgrounds. Scholarships help students who experience a socioeconomic disadvantage while providing a reward to students who are high-achieving and hard-working. A school will benefit from higher rankings and an improved reputation if it attracts high achieving students. Schools will also benefit from a student body that is diverse.

Grants and scholarships are financial aid options that are awarded for the purpose of advancing the education of specific groups of people. They also offer an incentive for students to attend a particular institution.

How It Works

Scholarships are available from the government, schools, and independent nonprofit and for-profit organizations. Each entity is funded from one or multiple sources including investments, private donors, grants, and charities. Some scholarship funds operate based on endowment funds or donations, alone.

Typically, schools and organizations will plan to have a pool of funds available for scholarships. The organization will then determine how many scholarships it can distribute.

Donors who fund scholarships will have some control over how scholarship money is allocated. For example, donors might want to fund students who are pursuing a particular branch of study.

An organization may choose to issue a combination of full or partial scholarships, depending on the availability of funds. Institutions, donors, and organizations do not have to disclose available funds; however, this information is frequently documented for public record for nonprofit and public institutions.

Applicants will almost always need to apply for a scholarship by completing supplemental forms, demonstrating financial need, submitting a project, including letters of recommendations, or writing essays. The sponsoring organization or institute will almost always specify scholarship or funding criteria, so it is important that you conduct enough research ahead of time to find scholarships that are a match. Many scholarship programs and institutions have rigid deadlines, so you should remain aware of when your materials are due. For colleges and universities, scholarship deadlines usually come before admissions deadlines.

If a student needs to demonstrate financial aid, he or she will be required to complete and submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. The federal government will use the student's income and tax information to determine educational aid eligibility. Students who are dependents will need to include their parents' tax information.

Scholarships are awarded for a variety of skill sets and types of students including artists, athletes, and academics. Many scholarship programs look for well-rounded applicants who would provide substantial contributions to an aspect of campus life whether it is the classroom or athletic field.


Scholarship benefits are tremendous. In the United States, the cost of education is on the rise, and many students graduate with extensive debt. As a result of interest rates, students may end up spending $250,000 on a $130,000 loan over a 25 year repayment period. With a part-time job, scholarship recipients can graduate from college debt free.

Scholarships tend to be relatively competitive since many applicants apply for limited spots. For this reason, it is important that you apply to as many scholarship programs as possible. Even the highest achieving students may be denied scholarship funding if they do not research options and strategize wisely. There are many scholarship options available for many different types of students, so it is important to put enough effort.


Normally, a scholarship does not cost anything; however, some organizations charge an application fee. Students do not need to pay their scholarships back if they maintain good grades and fulfill their requirements and obligations.


It is advised that you begin your scholarship search at least a year before you plan to apply for college. That way, you have enough time to prepare your applications and develop a strategy for your essays and recommendations.


There are thousands of organizations that offer scholarships for eligible students. Even college financial aid offices are unaware of the programs that exist. Conduct searches so that you can find the right programs and apply early. Seek advice from your high school college counselor or university's financial aid office.


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