A scholarship is an award of financial aid for college. It is a grant or payment made to support a student's education, awarded on the basis of academic or other achievement. Scholarships are awarded on various criteria, which sometimes reflect the values and purposes of the donor or founder of the award.

Type of Scholarships

  • Merit-based Scholarships: These awards are based on a student's academic, artistic, athletic or other abilities, and may factor in an applicant's extracurricular activities and community service record. Merit-based scholarships may be awarded by either private organizations or directly by a student's intended college. Most often they recognize academic achievement or high scores on standardized tests.
  • Need-based:  These awards are based on the student and family's financial need and usually require applicants to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to qualify if the scholarship is a state or federal award. Private need-based scholarships also often require the results of a FAFSA, which calculates a student's financial need through a formula that looks at the expected family contribution and cost of attendance at the intended college.
  • Student-specific: These are scholarships where applicants must initially qualify by gender, race, religion, family and medical history, or many other student-specific factors. Minority scholarships are the most common awards in this category.
  • Career-specific: These are scholarships awarded to students who plan to pursue a specific field of study. Sometimes the scholarship is awarded based on if the student intends to work in a high-need or at-risk community.
  • College-specific: College-specific scholarships are offered by individual colleges and universities to highly qualified applicants. These scholarships, given on the basis of academic and personal achievement, may result in either a tuition free admission to the college or for a reduced tuition rate.
Some scholarship recipients may be required to work for a particular employer for a specified period of time or to work in rural area; or they are required to repay the awarded scholarship. Education, armed forces, medical and nursing scholarships are some examples of this type of scholarship.
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