How to Get Scholarships for College

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How to Get Scholarships for College

College continues to get more expensive, but scholarships make it more affordable. Colleges use scholarships to minimize tuition for some of their students and make their institutions more enticing than competing schools. This guide will examine the different types of college scholarships and how to increase the likelihood of paying less for tuition.

Understanding college scholarships

A college scholarship is an achievement-based award that lowers your tuition payment. Approximately 12.5% of college students receive scholarships, with the average award being $4,200. You can also receive a grant alongside a scholarship. While scholarships are based on merit, grants are based on the student’s financial need.

10 common types of college scholarship programs

Colleges offer several types of scholarship programs, giving more students the opportunity to reduce their tuition. These are the types of scholarships available.

1. Academic scholarships 

Colleges offer academic scholarships to students with exceptional grades. Academic scholarships may have an SAT score and GPA requirement. You may also be expected to uphold a minimum GPA in college as a full-time student to maintain the academic scholarship.

2. Athletic scholarships 

An athletic scholarship is based on a student’s athletic ability. Students who demonstrate exceptional talent in a particular sport may receive a scholarship. The student is expected to play that sport for the college’s team to maintain the scholarship.

3. Merit-based scholarships

A merit-based scholarship is based on a student’s academic and extracurricular ability. Students who receive this scholarship may have had a notable leadership role, served their community, have an artistic talent, or demonstrated mastery of another special skill.

4. Career-specific scholarships

A career-specific scholarship is based on a student’s path in a profession. Students striving to be in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields; healthcare; business; education; and other professions may qualify for a career-specific scholarship.

5. Creative scholarships

Creative scholarships go to students who demonstrate creative skills, such as visual arts, music, dance, theater, creative writing, and other forms of artistic expression. These scholarships ignore the student’s grades and focus on creative talent. 

6. Need-based scholarships

Need-based scholarships are awarded to students who show promise but cannot afford tuition. A need-based scholarship looks at the income of the student and their parents. If the income falls below a certain threshold, the student may qualify for a need-based scholarship.

7. Community service scholarships 

The community service scholarship goes to students who demonstrate an exceptional commitment to community service. These scholarships may require students to perform several hours of community each week while enrolled in college.

8. Minority scholarships

Minority scholarships help give underrepresented ethnic groups an easier path to college. These scholarships give African American, Hispanic, Native American, Asian American, and other groups of people more affordable options.

9. Full-ride scholarships 

A full-ride scholarship is a type of scholarship that covers the entire tuition. Full-ride scholarships come in many forms, such as merit-based and athletic scholarships.

10. Essay scholarships

Essay scholarships go to students who write the best essays during an essay writing competition. These scholarships may require the student to write 250 words to 2,000 words on an assigned topic. Some of these scholarship awards are as high as $20,000.

How to find college scholarship opportunities 

Colleges offer scholarships to draw in more students, but you’re missing out on a vast pool of opportunities if you limit yourself to scholarships from colleges. You can use these strategies to find additional scholarship opportunities that can make tuition more affordable.

1. Use scholarship search engines and websites

Incoming students can use several scholarship search engines and websites to find opportunities. These search engines compile thousands of scholarships and make them readily accessible. You can use sites like, FastWeb, and to find scholarship opportunities.

2. Check local organizations and community groups

Some local organizations and community groups offer college scholarship opportunities. Your school counselor should have files of national, state, and local sponsorships.

3.Research scholarships specific to your field of study or interests

A Google search can help you find scholarships based on your field of study or interest. BigFuture lists scholarships based on your field of study, interests, and other areas.

Tips for applying for college scholarships

You can use these strategies to find scholarship opportunities. However, you can only get scholarships if you apply for them. Here are some tips for applying for college scholarships.

1. Read and understand the eligibility criteria for each scholarship

Each scholarship lists eligibility criteria. Make sure you fulfill these criteria before applying for a scholarship. If you are not eligible, you do not want to waste your time applying for the opportunity. You can use the same time to apply for a scholarship that aligns with your skills.

2. Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

Some scholarships require you to fill out the FAFSA to obtain the award. It is a good idea to fill out this form now so you have it ready to go when it’s time to claim an award.

3. Meet the academic and extracurricular requirements

Review a scholarship’s academic and extracurricular requirements to ensure you meet them. If you have time to meet those requirements before applying for scholarships, do your best to close any gaps. Working hard on your academics and extracurriculars can expand your pool of scholarship opportunities.

4. Gather and review necessary documents 

Scholarships list the required documents you need to submit your application. You may have to provide transcripts, a letter of recommendation, essays, a portfolio of achievements, and other resources. Checking all your documents for grammar and clarity will give the entity offering the scholarship another reason to give you the award.

5. Pay attention to application deadlines

You don’t want to miss out on a great scholarship opportunity because you lost track of the deadline. If you are applying for multiple scholarships, order them based on their deadline and award amount. Getting a head start on your scholarships instead of submitting your application the day before the deadline will increase the likelihood of being on time for each scholarship.

Keep Applying for Scholarships

Each scholarship gives you the opportunity to lower your tuition and make student debt more manageable. Continuously applying for scholarships can help you save a lot of money and set you up for a better future after college.


What’s the difference between scholarships and grants?

Scholarships are merit-based while grants are financial-based. Both scholarships and grants lower your tuition without requiring repayment.

Can you apply for multiple scholarships at the same time?

You can apply for multiple scholarships at the same time. Doing so can increase your odds of receiving awards and lower your tuition.

Is it necessary to be a straight-A student to receive a scholarship?

It is not necessary to be a straight-A student to receive a scholarship. Some scholarship opportunities have more generous grade requirements or focus on other criteria.

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