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Different Types of Scholarships
We all know college is expensive. That high price tag can be a real bummer when all you want is a good education and a high paying job—believe me, I know. So where do you look when paying those lofty sums is out of the question? Scholarships, of course. And the beauty of scholarships is that there are so many different types of scholarships that you could end up getting money for college for just about anything.
It can get a little (or a lot) overwhelming when searching for scholarships, considering that there are so many different types of scholarships. Something that may help ease the stress of it all is knowing what to search for. Knowing the Scholarship types can help you narrow your searches and give you better chances at finding the right scholarship opportunity. Here are some of the different types of scholarships that you should be looking into:
Need-based scholarships are given based on, you guessed it, financial need. Typically, these come from the federal or state government and the school or Institution you are planning to attend and can be found on the financial aid package that they give you before the school year begins. Make sure you look it over carefully and bring any questions you may have to the financial aid department of your school.
Merit-based scholarships make up a much larger pool of scholarship options. This can range from Academic accomplishment to Athletic skill, and even include Artistic ability. For the most part, this sort of scholarship opportunity will require students to maintain a certain GPA or academic standard to keep the reward.
These scholarships are given based on student-identity rather than ability, though typically the maintenance of a certain GPA is necessary to keep the award. A common category for this type of scholarship opportunity is minority scholarships. Other kinds of scholarships in this area can be given for culture, ethnicity, background, gender identity, family situation, and more. These scholarship types often come with other requirements, such as a specific area of study.
Scholarships are also available for specific majors or fields of study. This type of scholarship opportunity can be given by all sorts of sources like private businesses, institutions, or the government, often with the goal of encouraging students to study in a specific field. If you know what major you are interested in pursuing, the next step is to check out what sort of scholarships are available for that specific major. As with most scholarships, it is likely that students will be expected to maintain a certain GPA to keep the scholarship.
Military Scholarships are offered to students currently serving in any branch of the military or with a veteran status. Though not as common, they can even be given to students with a family member (or spouse) in the military. These can be given by private or government sources and can also vary based on financial need.
First In Family Scholarships
If you are the first member of your family to go to college, first of all, congratulations. Secondly, there are plenty of scholarships that are geared specifically to students just like you. First-in-family scholarships often have a level of need-based to them as well, but there are plenty of scholarships out there to choose from with this scholarship opportunity.
The other side of that coin is the legacy scholarship, typically given out by a specific institution. This scholarship can be given to students by the school that their parent(s) or other family members attended. It’s a way for schools to build loyalty with families and offer some additional financial assistance. This scholarship opportunity comes from the university, so you will have to check with the financial aid department if you qualify.
Leadership is a desirable quality trait to colleges and scholarship vendors. Many private and public sources offer scholarships to students who have some experience in leaderships roles, such as team situations, class or student government, or certain clubs.
Community Service Scholarships
Like Leadership, a record of community service is sought after in students and can result in many rewards, scholarships among them. Volunteering, outreach, and ministry are just some examples of community service that can help you big time when looking into this kind of scholarship opportunity.
Unique (or Weird) Scholarships
As life goes, there is always room for the unexpected. There are scholarships out there for the most unusual or out-of-the-box things you can think of. Strange talents, weird hobbies, and unique interests absolutely can pay off—and in this case, pay for college. For example, if you can write about how you might escape a zombie army storming your high school, you may be able to win some scholarship money.
No Essay Scholarships (Drawing Scholarships)
This kind of scholarship is possibly the easiest to apply for, but difficult to get. No essay scholarships, also known as drawing scholarships, don’t require essays, and the application process is usually just putting your name and maybe contact information in. Sometimes they are accompanied by one or two other questions, but typically the winner is chosen at random, so not much information is required.
However, even though the chances may not be high, I recommend doing as many of these as possible, because well—you never know, and you’ll never win if you don’t try.
With so many different types of scholarships come different types of scholarship applications, too. It’s important to read the description for each scholarship opportunity very carefully; not completing a step in the process or doing part of the application improperly is a sure way to be rejected.
Also, with each scholarship opportunity comes requirements, and if you do not meet all the requirements, do not apply for the scholarship. Even if you meet most of the requirements for the scholarship opportunity, if you are missing even one, it would be a waste of time to apply for it. You will most definitely be rejected. With all the different types of scholarships out there, there are bound to be plenty that you can qualify for, so don’t get hung up on the ones that you don’t.
Where to Find Scholarships
At the risk of sounding cheesy, you can find scholarships all around you. A good place to start, if you are still in high school, would be your guidance counselor. Sit down with them for a few minutes to talk over the best options for you and what different types of scholarships the school or community can offer.
After that, go to the great, big internet. Of course, you can google all the individual scholarship types or just “scholarships” in general and sift through all the results yourself. It will be time-consuming, but you’ll probably find some good options, and a lot that you don’t qualify for (such is life).
Or you could use a database that will do most of the sifting for you. There are several great websites that will take your information and find scholarships that you qualify for. That way, you can spend the majority of your time perfecting the applications instead of finding the scholarships.
Here are some good scholarship-finding websites:
Another great place to look is on your state’s website for higher education, especially if you are planning to go to college in your home state. The college board website also has some options for scholarships that are definitely worth a look.
And of course, we at The Christian Connector offer several great no essay scholarships (and they only take a minute to apply to).
When Should you Start?
Immediately (if not sooner)! It’s never too early to start the search for free college money. There are even scholarships out there for 14-year-olds.
For high schoolers looking to grab some scholarships for their freshman year of college, “crunch time” starts around the end of Junior year. A lot of scholarship applications are due between October and December (like college applications). There are still some in spring and summer, and the deadlines will be clear in the Scholarship Opportunity description. Make sure that you pay close attention to when each deadline is and mark it down. A sure way to lose out on a scholarship is to miss the deadline.
If you are already in college, there are still plenty of scholarships that you can apply for. In fact, some scholarships are specific to students that are already in college or in a certain year of classes.
Search for Scholarship Opportunity
Scholarships are everywhere. There are so many different types of scholarships out there and so many great options to help make the cost of college more affordable (or even nonexistent). Not to mention, there is no limit on how many you can have or apply to. Putting in the work now to get those scholarship applications in gives you a much greater chance of not having to put in the money later—trust me, that’s a blessing.
As always, for information on Christian colleges or to apply for one of our no essay scholarships, visit us here.