As college and university tuition, housing and meal plan expenses continue to rise, paying for one's higher education is a growing challenge for most families. Need-based student or parent financial aid loans are available, in large part from the Federal Government, as would be "grants" (free money not requiring repayment) from both the government and many colleges and universities as well. One last, very broad category of financial assistance may be awarded to deserving or qualified students in the form of a "scholarship".
Students and parents often use the term "scholarship" rather loosely when referring to "grants" because both are funding sources not requiring repayment. However, a true "scholarship" is more often something awarded to the student on a meritorious basis following an application to be considered, and being deemed qualified by one or more individuals awarding said scholarship. When thinking about "scholarships" in a broad sense, one should consider the variety of opportunities for which students can apply. What follows are the more common type of scholarships available:
These would be opportunities from within a college or university.
- For example, "College XYZ" offers merit scholarships for students interested in business, nursing, or music.
- Students are required to submit a scholarship application (separate from, and in addition to their admission application) along with other required documents (an essay, a transcript, letter(s) of recommendation, etc).
- Internal selection committees from the Admission Department, Financial Aid Office, specific academic departments or others on campus review the credentials from all applicants and make the selection(s).
- Some colleges and universities do not require an additional application for consideration of merit monies; all students would be automatically considered at the time their Admission application is reviewed.
- Many NCAA Division I and Division II colleges and universities offer scholarships for some of their recruited athletes.
- Don't wait to be "discovered"; students should take the initiative to contact the Coaching staff at institutions in which they have interest, introduce themselves, and ask direct and pointed questions of the Coaches. "Do you offer athletic scholarships here?", "If so, how many?", and, "Can I get one as a walk-on, or do I need to be an official recruit?" are just a few questions students should ask coaches.
- Athletic scholarships are quite limited, and oftentimes are not guaranteed from year to year; again, more questions to ask a Coach.
- These would be opportunities from the wider world; the local PTA, the Knights of Columbus or Lions Club, Boy / Girl Scouts of America, or Coca Cola are just a few.
- There are thousands of so called "external scholarships" to be had, its simply incumbent on the student to discover those for which they are qualified.
- My last piece of (important) advice for scholarship seekers: do not, under any circumstances and regardless of what claims or promises they make, pay scholarship application fees. If even a nominal scholarship application fee is required, walk away.
If applying for scholarships is necessary for you be sure to schedule an appointment with your College Counselor to discover what may be available and appropriate for you.