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Four Basic Groups of Scholarships

Merit-based
    -These scholarships are generally given to students who have shown outstanding academic achievement or have made important community or academic contributions. Scholarships such as these look not only at grades but test scores as well. Students must be well rounded with extra-curricular programs and teacher recommendations as well. Merit based scholarships can also be given to extraordinary student athletes or someone with a special talent such as great artistic potential. Oftentimes, a detailed application, including a personal essay, is required and the scholarships are very competitive. Contact your potential colleges’ financial aid office. They will have information on merit-based scholarships available for those schools. Also, companies the student’s parents work for could often have merit-based scholarships available. National Merit Association and local organizations such as churches, associations, and clubs like the Knights of Columbus often have merit-based scholarships available.

Need-based
    -Need-based scholarships is exactly what it says, scholarships based on need. If you can demonstrate your financial need to someone other than the Federal Government, you can get a need-based scholarship. Most often, your FAFSA form will alert the proper channels when a need-based scholarship should be awarded, however, if you search the web, numerous instances were found when “Need-based scholarships” was Googled. For example, we came across a need-based scholarship for someone in a plumbing or HVACR apprentice program. So this doesn’t mean you can’t receive a need-based scholarship, even if you didn’t qualify for a federal grant or special scholarship. Sometimes, private companies and organizations see some lower-middle class families whose Estimated Family Contribution may be too high to qualify for Federal Aid but not enough to pay for the actual college education. Also, always check the specific college’s Financial Aid office when looking for a need-based scholarship.

Ethnicity-based
    -Recipients must qualify for the scholarship based on race, religion, or nationality. After a student initially qualifies for an ethnicity-based scholarship, additional factors most likely will be taken in to consideration. Let’s say you are an African- American who wants to major in physics, there is a scholarship out there for you. We found one for a Hispanic Journalist and scholarships available for women who pursue a bachelor’s degree in computer science. There are also scholarships available for students with disabilities. Ethnicity-based scholarships are plentiful and are generally given away by private corporations or organizations. Filling out your FAFSA can alert these organizations on your behalf, but more often than not, you will have to apply directly to the organization giving the scholarship. Also, don’t forget that these scholarships have strict deadlines that are often very early, and you must be on the ball with applying for these types of free money.

General Scholarships
    - General Scholarships are scholarships that don’t fall into any other category. Let’ say you are one half of a twin set. There is a scholarship out there for you! Also, pageant contestants are able to win scholarships for their time on the pageant circuit. Veterans of Foreign Wars give away money for college and there is even money for left-handed people! Are you a foster child? There is money set aside for you to go to college. Home schooled? Non-traditional? Military? All of these, plus more, have money set aside for you to attend college. All you have to do is research, fill out at application, turn it in on time and wait for the company or organization to contact you! Also, some general scholarships may come with a “bond” agreement, where a corporation will fund your way through school in exchange for a certain amount of time working in that company after you graduate. As you can see, there is a lot of money out there for students to attend college. It is not an impossible feat, but the sticker shock on the price tag can be a little scary, but there is help! The list goes on and on with organizations willing to help students further their education. After all, higher learning makes this world a better place, and you, a better person!




Where to look

  • Colleges.com - Click on our Scholarship Search and go crazy with the list we have complied for you of almost all of the available scholarships out there!
  • High School Guidance Counselors and Career Centers - They usually have information on scholarships, and web sites where you can find scholarships.
  • Community Organizations - Rotary, Kiwanis, Chamber of Commerce, Boy and Girl Scouts of America
  • Church - Diocese headquarters, Religious Youth Groups
  • Explore Fortune 500 and local companies
  • State Department - Oftentimes, if you live in a certain state and plan to attend college in that state, there may be money set aside for you. It never hurts to ask!
  • World Wide Web - After you have thoroughly searched the colleges.com scholarship search page, feel free to do your own research on various websites! There is more than enough information out there, and if you look hard enough, you will find what you are looking for!