While many students use financial aid to offset the cost of school, this can lead to a lifetime of debt. Scholarships are the holy grail of funding opportunities, covering almost everything for the years of study. Your tuition and living costs will be covered by the provider, leaving you free to focus on your studies and social life without worrying about money. Many people rely on some financial support to pay for your education.
There are many scholarships available, and not all of them require you to prove you’re the most academically gifted person on earth. But they are incredibly competitive. So let take a look at how to get a scholarship.
How To Get A Scholarship
For some people, a scholarship could mean the difference between studying and not studying. We’ll cover what you should know before starting your scholarship search, along with best practices for how to get a scholarship.
What is a Scholarship?
Scholarships are financial aid awards for college and university students to help cover the cost of earning an undergraduate or graduate degree. Depending on the scholarship, students may receive a lump sum of money or be paid quarterly, by semester, or annually to provide financial assistance. Scholarship awards may be sent directly to students or to their college of choice to be applied to their account.
What you need to know when looking for a scholarship
Sometimes scholarships can be mistaken for grants or study loans. Although all three terms have similarities (they are, after all, financial aid and have the purpose of helping students), they are quite different. Let’s find out why.
1. Scholarship versus grants
Both of these are gift aids, meaning that you don’t need to pay them back. However, the main difference is that grants are often need-based, which means they aim to help students who cannot afford their studies financially. Meanwhile, scholarships are often merit-based, given to students for their excellent academic and/or extracurricular achievements.
2. Scholarships versus study loans
The most significant difference here is that scholarships are gifts, while study loans… are loans, and you must pay them back. Generally, study loans are offered by the state where you plan to study. The purpose of a study loan is to lend students money to pay their tuition fees, accommodation, and other living expenses. Usually, after you graduate, you need to start paying back the loan, and it sometimes involves paying extra (some loans may include interest).
Types of Scholarships
When starting your scholarship search, you’ll find several different scholarship types or categories. Knowing the categories can streamline your application process as you can search for the exact type of scholarship that you’re most eligible for and likely to receive. Scholarships may be:
- Merit-based: These are scholarships that are awarded on the basis of academic or skills-based excellence. For example, they can be awarded for high test scores, or stellar GPAs, or even athletic dominance.
- Needs-based: Needs-based scholarships are determined according to a student’s financial position and that of their family. It’s common for these types of scholarships to be available for students whose household income sits below a specified threshold.
- Identity-based: These scholarships are intended for specific demographics and groups, such as people from specific cultural backgrounds, members of the LGBTQIA+ community, or those with learning difficulties, for example.
- Government: Besides private scholarships, governments such as the US government offer local, state, and federal scholarships.
- Activity-based: You may be able to find scholarships based on your involvement in groups or extracurricular activities that are sponsored by aligned organizations and groups.
- Employer-sponsored: Employers may also provide scholarships for employees seeking to further their education. These scholarships are referred to as employer-sponsored tuition assistance and are more common when it comes to graduate degrees.
- Now that some general questions are answered, you might still wonder where to scholarships. You can start by looking through the official pages of the universities where you wish to study.
- If you can’t find anything on the university site, consider contacting an official institution representative via email and asking them if they have any scholarships available and how (or if) you can apply for one.
- Another idea is to search for a scholarship depending on the country you plan to study in. You can find many opportunities on the official country’s websites for higher education.
- Moreover, you can continue searching for options on the Internet. Make sure you read the deadlines and application dates well to avoid wasting time on expired offers.
How to Get a University Scholarship
Now that you have a basic idea of the many kinds of scholarships you may apply for, it’s time to discuss how to get your Scholarship.
1. Explore Options
Start by exploring the scholarships available to you. There are many different websites that are dedicated to this exact purpose. You can also perform your own research by using the keyword “scholarship” on your search engine of choice. You’ll likely come across a lot of different scholarship opportunities, so it’s important to stay organized during your search. Consider tracking your applications using a spreadsheet and prioritizing each application based on the nearest deadline.
2. Contact Colleges Directly
Along with online searches and database searches, be sure to contact colleges directly. You can find a college’s financial aid office’s contact details online and inquire about what scholarships they offer. Additionally, it’s common that colleges will list their scholarships on their website, too. For example, here’s a look at the University of the People’s scholarship offerings.
3. Apply Early
Don’t procrastinate the application process! Some scholarships are first come, first serve, so it’s best to start applying as soon as you can. Since many scholarships require a written submission and personal statement, it’s best to begin working on these aspects sooner than later. This way, you have more time to make them as best as they can be before any deadlines approach.
4. Continue Applying During College
Keep in mind that you can apply for scholarships even when you are already a college student. It’s never too late to get financial assistance! Every year you are in school, set aside some time to search for scholarships before your next academic quarter, semester, or year begins. New scholarships are added all the time, so you may find an opportunity that wasn’t previously available.
5. Be realistic
As part of your search, narrow down your list to those scholarships that you are eligible for. The eligibility requirements tend to be rigid for scholarships, so there’s no point in wasting your time on a scholarship you wouldn’t qualify for or one that seems way too far out of reach.
nonetheless, as we mentioned previously, the harsh reality is that there are not very much scholarships available. So many applicants who fulfill and beyond the standards for a full scholarship nonetheless fall short of the mark. Be reasonable with your expectations, but don’t let this stop you from applying. Additionally, keep in mind that there is typically no cap on the number of scholarships you can be given, so you might be able to combine two or more smaller awards to create your own full scholarship.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you apply for more than one?
Spread your net far and wide! You can apply for as much help as you want.
So how can you stand out from the crowd?
Take your time over your application and make sure you include as much relevant information as possible. When you’ve got your application together, get someone to look over it for spelling mistakes and to check all information is up-to-date, including your full address, phone number and email. Once you’ve got that nailed, all that’s left to do is apply.
How do you apply for one?
The first thing you’ll need to do is put in a bit of research. Find out what scholarships are out there for your university, who they’re for and how you can apply for them. When you’re ready to apply, double-check you’ve provided all the information required set out in the application guidelines – missing information will only delay things.