How to Get Academic Scholarships

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How to Get Academic Scholarships

College tuition is expensive, and any scholarship can make a big difference. Students can choose from many scholarship opportunities, including academic scholarships. Students who score these scholarships can save thousands of dollars every year at their college. In some cases, you can even get a full-ride academic scholarship. Any award can make a big difference, and this guide will walk you through some of the things you can do to increase your chances.

What is an academic scholarship?

An academic scholarship is a scholarship awarded to students who achieve high benchmark grades. Over 1.7 million students receive scholarships every year, and higher grades will increase the likelihood of receiving lower tuition. 

How is academic scholarship different from other types of scholarships?

Academic scholarships are awarded based on a student’s ability to score high grades and do well in their studies. This distinction differs from other types of scholarships. Need-based scholarships focus on the student’s financial needs and only go to people who may have a difficult time affording college otherwise. Athletic scholarships go to athletes who are exceptional at a certain sport and can thrive on the college team. Some scholarships also go to people based on their career paths, skills, and community service.

While there is a lot of variation with other scholarship opportunities, academic scholarships primarily go to students who score well on tests and have high grades.

What are the eligibility requirements for academic scholarships?

The eligibility requirements for academic scholarships depend on whether you are a high school student or a college student. Here are the details you should know. 

For high school students

High school students generally should showcase good grades, high academic achievements, and extracurricular activities for the best chances of securing a scholarship. The necessary grades to receive an academic scholarship may depend in part on the college you are applying to and who else is trying to get an academic scholarship. It’s recommended that you contact your educational institution for exact information. 

For college students

College students may be able to receive academic scholarships, including merit-based scholarships from their educational institution. Colleges may impose requirements such as good grades in college to continue receiving scholarship funds each year. Academic scholarships often lay out the minimum grade-point average (GPA). You should verify with your educational institution about qualifications and how to maintain scholarships. 

For high school students

High school students generally should showcase good grades, high academic achievements, and extracurricular activities for the best chances of securing a scholarship. The necessary grades to receive an academic scholarship may depend in part on the college you are applying to and who else is trying to get an academic scholarship. It’s recommended that you contact your educational institution for exact information.

For college students

College students may be able to receive academic scholarships, including merit-based scholarships from their educational institution. Colleges may impose requirements such as good grades in college to continue receiving scholarship funds each year. Academic scholarships often lay out the minimum grade-point average (GPA). You should verify with your educational institution about qualifications and how to maintain scholarships. 

How to apply for academic scholarships

Applying for academic scholarships gives you a chance to save thousands of dollars on college tuition. It’s a good idea to apply for as many academic scholarships as possible to increase your chances and win multiple awards. You can use these strategies to find and apply for academic scholarships.

1. Research different scholarships

Exploring different scholarship opportunities can help you find opportunities that cater to your grades, interests, and other personal characteristics. Researching scholarship opportunities and compiling a list of scholarships to apply for can save you time and help you submit more applications.

Here are some strategies you can use to help find scholarship opportunities:

  • Scholarship search engines
  • College or university websites
  • High school guidance offices
  • Government websites 
  • Organizations or professional associations
  • Community organizations and nonprofit organizations
  • Local libraries
  • Your employer or parents’ employers
  • Online research

2. Review eligibility criteria 

After finding potential scholarship opportunities, review the eligibility criteria to ensure you have a chance at getting a scholarship. Checking all of the boxes does not guarantee you will get a scholarship. But you don’t want to put all of your efforts into applying for a scholarship that you are not eligible for.

3. Gather necessary documents and requirements

You will likely have to gather supporting documents to submit your scholarship application. It is a good idea to have them readily available. Here are some of the documents you may need: 

  • Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA): You will need to complete a FAFSA to obtain scholarships, grants, financial aid, and other funding. 
  • Academic transcripts: Contact your school and request a copy of your transcript. This document shows your classes and grades.
  • Letters of recommendation: Reach out to three people who can write letters that convey your skills, good character, and other factors. You may want to reach out to teachers, coaches, and other people who know you well.
  • Personal statements: This statement explains why you should receive the scholarship.
  • Essays: Some scholarships require that you write essay prompts. Make sure you include these in your scholarship application and avoid mixing up essays from other awards. 
  • Resumes: Any work experience, community service, or key accomplishments can become a part of your resume. This document gives people a brief overview of your historical achievements and experience.

4. Complete the scholarship application process

Fill out the scholarship applications and review your submission before sending it off. If you are applying for several scholarships, pay attention to the deadlines so you don’t miss any. Staying organized throughout the process can help you submit applications on time and increase the likelihood of receiving an academic scholarship.

5. Apply for multiple scholarships

Don’t stop with one scholarship application. Each scholarship you apply for increases the probability of receiving an award. Don’t belittle the small scholarships, either. Several scholarships that let you save $1,000 on your tuition can add up, and students may overlook smaller amounts in pursuit of a larger award.

3 alternatives to scholarships

You can get the financing you need for college even if you do not secure an academic scholarship. Here are three other paths to consider.

Grants

Just like scholarships, grants do not have to get repaid. Students often receive grants based on their financial needs. If the students or their parents earn enough income, the student will not qualify for a grant.

Federal student loans

A federal student loan is financing you can use to cover tuition. You must fill out the FAFSA before receiving a federal student loan. These loans are issued by the Department of Education. 

Private student loans

Private student loans can also cover tuition and come from private lenders. Students have to apply for a private student loan through the lender’s website. You can shop around and compare rates to see how much you can save on your loan. Some borrowers also refinance their federal student loans into private student loans.

Save money on college tuition

An academic scholarship lightens the financial burden of a college education. Trimming your tuition or getting a full ride with several academic scholarships can help you graduate with little or no debt. The work you do now can put you in a solid financial position when you graduate college.

FAQ

What are the chances of getting an academic scholarship?

The chances of getting an academic scholarship depend on the type of scholarship, your eligibility, and the number of applicants.

What GPA do you need for a scholarship?

A GPA between 3.5 and 4.0 can help you secure an academic scholarship.

Do academic scholarships cover all expenses, including tuition and living expenses?

Academic scholarships can cover all expenses, including tuition and living expenses.

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