College Scholarships – The Definitive Guide for Students

College Scholarship Guide
Academic Scholarships
Minority Scholarships
Scholarships for Women
Creative Scholarships
External Scholarships
Community Service Scholarships
Scholarships for Those with Disabilities
Military Scholarships
Athletic Scholarships
Full Tuition Scholarships
Scholarship Application Tips
Scholarship Essay Writing Tips

College tuition is currently at an all-time high and being able to afford college is very important for many families. Scholarships can help offset some of this financial burden while making tuition more affordable. According to NPR, “Many students are accepted by their first choice school but only half actually enroll because of the costs of tuition.” There are many different types of scholarships available for any student that knows where to look. In many cases, you don’t have to be at the top of your class to be eligible.  Scholarships are awarded to students for academic performance, athletic talent and even groups such as women, minorities, military families and even people with disabilities. You can also enter scholarship contests that are set up by private businesses.

When applying for a scholarship, each application has different requirements and you should check carefully to make sure you submit everything necessary in order to be considered for the scholarship. Most scholarships require the following:

  • Academic Performance – Oftentimes, a student’s GPA must be at least a 2.5 to qualify for a scholarship. Certain scholarships may also have minimum SAT scores that students must meet.
  • Essay Submission – Many scholarships require an essay in order to qualify. These essays are usually written about a topic specified by the group or business offering the scholarship.
  • Letter of Recommendation – Some scholarships require a letter of recommendation in order to learn more about a student, including their work ethic in either an educational or professional environment.
  • Attend an Accredited College – Many scholarships also require students to be attending an accredited university or college while some request applicants that plan to study a specified field.

Academic Scholarships

Academic scholarships are a scholarship for students at the top of the class. These are usually reserved for students with a GPA of 4.0 and are often called merit scholarships. This type of scholarship is given to students by the admissions office and do not require an application.

Minority Scholarships

There are a variety of scholarships for minority students depending on ethnicity. The goal is to provide scholarships as a way to help diversify schools. Many of these are general scholarships that anyone within an ethnic group can apply for. You can find scholarships for the following ethnic groups.

African American Scholarships

Hispanic/Latino Scholarships

American Indian/Native American Scholarships.

Asian/Pacific Islander Scholarships

Scholarships for Women

Women are eligible for a variety of scholarships. For example, there are a variety of scholarships available to women with an interest in STEM subjects, which includes majors within science, technology, engineering, and math. The American Association of Women offers a scholarship of between $5,000 and $20,000 to women in STEM fields.

There are also scholarships available for women interested in majors other than those in the STEM fields. Women in healthcare fields can apply for a scholarship from the Health Resources and Services Administration.

Creative Scholarships

If you are creative, you can get a scholarship for doing something you enjoy. There are contests available that offer a scholarship as a prize. Creative scholarships are open to students with an interest in creative fields that include art and similar fields like woodworking. – The Annual Create-A-Greeting-Card contest allows all artists to earn a $10,000 scholarship and 1,000 for your school by designing a greeting card. The winning design will be made into a greeting card. – This scholarship is for students with an interest in studying wood technology, machines, and similar fields.

External Scholarships

External scholarships are given out by a company or organization other than an educational institution. These are awarded by various private business to students that answer an essay question and are usually for around $1,000 or more. Often, these scholarships are open to students from a particular school or students with a similar major to the services offered by the business. Each scholarship is unique and some may require an essay about a topic specified by the business offering the scholarship.

Community Service Scholarships

Do you enjoy helping your community? You can receive a college scholarship for your community service. A student that participates in community service shows that they are committed to helping others while making the community better.

Scholarships for Those with Disabilities

If you have a disability, you can qualify for a scholarship to help you cover the cost of tuition. Potential scholarship recipients may have the following disabilities.

  • Learning Disabilities
  • Speech disorder
  • Deaf or Hearing Impaired
  • Visual Impairment
  • Autism
  • Attention Deficit Disorder
  • Orthopedic Disability

Military Scholarships

US Military Service members qualify for a variety of different scholarships. Often, US Military Spouses and dependents also qualify for military scholarships. You can also quality if you plan to join the US Military or if you are already a member of the ROTC program while attending High School.

Athletic Scholarships

Student athletes have many scholarships available to them. These scholarships cover a range of sports including Baseball, Basketball, Soccer, Hockey, Cheerleading, Gymnastics, Golf, Volleyball and more. To qualify for an athletic scholarship, student athletes must have a specific GPA and SAT/ACT score. This number changes based on the divisional level of the school.

D1 athletes must earn a GPS of at least 2.3 in your core academic courses. Another requirement is a minimum of 400 on your SATs or a 37 on your ACTs.

Full Tuition Scholarships

Full Tuition scholarships are quite rare but these full-ride scholarships are coveted by all students. Skilled athletes can receive a full-tuition scholarship for playing a sport at the school. If you are not an athlete, you are still in luck. There are fewer than 20,000 of these scholarships given out annually. Here are full-tuition scholarships that you can apply for.

Scholarship Application Tips for Students

When applying for scholarships, you want to treat it as if you were applying for a job. There are many resources that list available scholarships, but it’s up to each student to stay organized and maintain which scholarships they’re eligible for and apply to.

To keep track of the scholarships you apply for:

  • Keep a checklist of all scholarships you are interested in. In this list, detail each applications deadline to avoid any missed opportunities.
  • Start looking for scholarships while you’re in high school. This can help you meet all deadlines while having a plan for each application. You can use a scholarship matching tool, like this one, to help you find other opportunities you may not have considered. Network with other students, teachers, parents, and mentors to see if they know of places offering college scholarships. The more opportunities you find, the more funding you’re going to have for school.
  • Apply for as many scholarships as you can. You want as many chances as possible and by not applying, you are limiting your chances of winning a scholarship.
  • Practice your interview skills. Some college scholarships require an interview. Whether it’s over the phone or in-person, you’ll want to be prepared for any question the interviewer may ask. Possible interview questions include:
      • What is your greatest strength/weakness?
      • Why do you deserve this scholarship?
      • What are your goals?
      • Who is your role model?
      • Tell me about a mistake you made and how you handled it.
      • Why did you choose this school/scholarship?
      • What are your greatest achievements?
      • Is there anything else you would like us to know?

Scholarship Essay Writing Tips

When writing an essay as part of a scholarship application, there are several important things to consider to write the best essay that you can.

  • Take your time – A scholarship essay should not be rushed. You want to make sure you have plenty of time to research the topic and plan out your thoughts for the essay.
  • Read the instructions carefully. Some essays may have a required number of words.
  • Create an outline – An outline can help map your thoughts while helping create the structure for the essay. An outline can also help you stay on topic since each paragraph can be planned. In advance.
  • Proofread the article once you are finished. To have the best chance of getting a scholarship, your essay should be free of grammatical errors.

Along with scholarships, there are other methods to finance your education. Maryville University has an informative financial aid guide with additional information for students.

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