Need help paying for school? Here are the best scholarships for students in college.
As a form of gift aid, scholarships for students in college are awarded to help cover the costs of a higher education. Unlike a loan, scholarships do not have to be paid back, so there are a great way to reduce student debt.
With so many scholarships out there, you’ll want to understand your options to maximize your chances of landing the gift aid.
So, how are scholarships awarded? While some are based on merit and academic achievement, others are based on certain requirements, eligibility, and can even be granted for athletic ability. Scholarships will differ in their application process, so it’s recommended to do your research and find out what each requires so that you don’t miss a deadline.
Let’s get started by looking at the types of scholarships available, tips on how to apply, and alternative options to help afford your higher education.
1. Know Your Options
Fill out FAFSA
FAFSA is the free application for student aid. It is meant for students seekings their undergraduate or graduate degrees. Many scholarships will require this documentation to consider your application as it provides financial data that helps to assess need.
Complete a CSS Profile
Continue Applying as a Student
Some scholarships are awarded before school begins, while others can be given during the school year. That’s why it’s important to continuing researching scholarships and filling out applications when you’re enrolled.
Sources of aid:
There are various sources of financial aid and scholarship-funding groups, which include:
- Federal, State and Local Government Agencies
- Colleges and Universities
- Professional Organizations
- Charitable Foundations
- Advocacy Groups
Here’s a list of useful websites to help locate scholarships that you may be eligible for winning.
2. University-Specific Scholarships
Consult with your financial aid office. Most universities offer scholarships that are specific to their institution. You can find these by going to their website or contacting their financial aid office via email, phone or in person to ask about the available scholarships.
3. Consider an Online Degree
While scholarships are a great way to reduce student debt, you can further minimize costs of earning your higher education degree by considering online college.
Online universities are becoming increasingly popular as they offer a lower-cost alternative to traditional universities without sacrificing educational quality. Additionally, they can be accessed from anywhere, anytime, so the barriers to entry have been lowered, thanks to technology.
For example, at University of the People, you can earn an Associate, Bachelor’s or Master’s degree that is tuition-free. If you’re interested in studying Computer Science, Health Science, Education or Business Administration, University of the People could be the perfect place for you! There are many reasons why UoPeople is offering a groundbreaking education revolution, and to top it all off, there are still many scholarship options available to help cover the course assessment fees while the application fee can be waived for those unable to afford it.
4. Types of Scholarships
Scholarships are considered and awarded based on eligibility requirements. This means that the scholarship funder will provide a list of requirements so it’s important you check each box before wasting your time and trying to apply anyways.
Here’s a look at some common types of scholarships, along with an example of each.
Scholarships are awarded to females pursuing their higher education. An example is the Jeannette Rankin Women’s Scholarship Fund, which awards low-income women ages 35+ who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents money to pursue their vocational education, associate or bachelor’s degree.
Based on ethnicity, these scholarships can be broad or specific. The Ford Foundation Fellowship Program is designed to maximize the diversity on college campuses by offering assistance to individuals who are interested in a career in teaching or research at the university level. Applicants must be U.S. citizens, DACA, or refugees.
If you can demonstrate outstanding athletic ability, you can get a scholarship! Scholarships vary by sport — here’s a list to find the sport you play and see if there’s one that is right for you.
If you’ve sought political asylum and have refugee status, you can still get help paying for your education. For example, the Wheaton Refugee Scholarship is offered to those who fled their home to escape conflict, and is preferential towards refugees from Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Syria, Sudan, Yemen and Libya. If you’re a refugee who wants to attend a quality online American university, read stories of how University of the People has changed refugees’ lives for the better with the revolutionary model of accessible, affordable, and quality education.
As an adopted child herself, Simone Biles created the Legacy Scholarship Foundation at UoPeople which awards students who were adopted with financial aid to pursue their higher education.
Many scholarships are awarded based on where you’re studying. For example, the Commonwealth Scholarships are granted to students from developing countries who are earning their Master’s in the United Kingdom.
As a student who started at a community college and is now looking to transfer to a 4-year institution, there are scholarships designated to help cover the costs. Take the Bridgewater College Transfer Grant as an example, which offers $5,000 to students transferring with at least 12 credits.
Depending on what you choose to major in, there’s money awarded by people invested in said field. Scholarships by major are easy to find, with some examples here.
5. Tips to Apply
Be on time:
If you miss a deadline, you’re out of the running. Make sure you have everything organized and ready to apply.
Consider creating a spreadsheet with scholarship names, requirements and deadlines so that you don’t forget any piece of the moving puzzle.
Have all your documentation ready:
From resumes, transcripts, letters of recommendation, personal essays, and more, there’s a lot of documentation required when applying for scholarships. Compile a file with what you need.
Get a list of references:
Scholarships will likely require either a list of references or letters of recommendations, so reach out to an employer or professor who knows you well enough to speak on your behalf.
Want more? Here are some additional useful tips to help you get a scholarship.
As you continue throughout your college career, continue to apply for scholarships as often as you can. Some scholarships provide the aid upfront to cover the school year, whereas others will disperse it prior to each billing period.
When you do receive scholarship money, make sure you use it towards your education as the whole point is to graduate debt-free or with as little to pay back as possible, so it’s useful to remain aware of costs and allocate the money wisely towards tuition, books and living expenses that are related to attending school.