A scholarship is money for college that you do not have to repay. Scholarships are often provided by colleges for students who fit a particular profile (earned a specified grade point average, enrolling in a specific major, bringing special talent in athletics or music, etc.). Scholarships are also offered through the military or private organizations, such as foundations, companies or civic organizations. Following are some examples of scholarships.
Academic Awards - These merit-based scholarships are awarded by colleges for academic achievement. Inquire about these awards at the school's financial aid office, though you may not even have to apply for an academic award. They are often wrapped into the financial aid package offered by the college.
College-Specific Awards - Colleges often have scholarship money available that they use to develop the financial package offered to a student who has been admitted to the school. These scholarships may include terms such as maintaining a certain GPA or pursuing a specific major.
Departmental Awards - Specific departments at a college may offer scholarships to attract or retain students in the department's field of study. If you know what your major will be, contact the appropriate department at schools to inquire about scholarships.
Athletic Scholarships - These scholarships are highly competitive and the application process takes some marketing skills by the athlete and their coach.
Military - The military is a well-known source of college scholarships. The ROTC program can pay up to full college tuition, plus a stipend for books. Military scholarships are awarded in return for a tour of duty with the branch of the military supporting your education. Be sure you're prepared to fulfill the terms of your scholarship agreement. If military service is in line with your goals, a military scholarship may be an excellent way for you to underwrite your college education.
Private Organizations - There are thousands of private organizations that offer scholarship awards. Within the "private" category, there are many types of organizations to consider:
- Corporations may offer scholarships to attract and retain employees, support communities where their business is located, and encourage entrants into specific lines of work. These scholarships often go unawarded for lack of applicants.
- Religious organizations may award scholarships to help their members afford college.
- Unions may offer scholarship funds to children of their members.
- Local school districts may offer scholarships to graduating students.
- Local civic organizations, such as the Chamber of Commerce, Kiwanis Club, Rotary Club, Lions Club, etc., may have scholarship programs and/or be great sources to learn about local businesses that offer scholarships.
Research Your Options - Check with colleges and local community organizations to explore what scholarships are available. FinAid is a helpful online tool for researching college scholarships.