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Understanding how you or your child match with eligibility requirements is central to the scholarship process. 

But, strong command of eligibility criteria isn’t just about knowing if you or your child qualifies for an award. A close investigation of who may be eligible for an award can also give you a good sense of how much competition you’ll face as an applicant. 

Below, we’ll cover what every serious scholarship applicant needs to know about eligibility for scholarships, grants, and bursaries. 

What Are Eligibility Requirements? 

Eligibility requirements are strict terms that a student must meet in order to be eligible for an award. 

College and University scholarships for high school students, undergraduate students, and graduate students.

Are All Eligibility Requirements the Same? 

There are many different eligibility requirements and every scholarship, grant, and bursary has its own. 

Some scholarship providers have very open eligibility criteria. For example, requirements may say something like, “this scholarship is open to any Canadian student enrolled at any college or university.” As you may have guessed, this prize would likely get a lot of applicants. It’s open to virtually every student in Canada. 

On the other hand, some scholarship funds have restrictive eligibility criteria. For example, an award may be open to graduating high school students only. It may be open to females in STEM. Or to students enrolled in a specific major or program of study at a specific school

The list of potential eligibility criteria is literally endless. 

How Scholarship Eligibility Requirements Can Work For You

Every student is a unique person. You or your child likely have some traits or defining characteristics that are rare. In the world of scholarships, grants, and bursaries, this is a good thing!

Unique character traits disqualify other potential applicants from a scholarship award. This means less competition for you or your child. So, when you’re examining scholarship programs and constructing your own scholarship list, it may be beneficial to get detailed. Try to find scholarships suited to your or your child’s profile. Understanding the various types of scholarships can be a huge help here. 

Common Requirements

Below are some common eligibility requirements. 

Grades (GPA) Eligibility Requirements for Merit Scholarships

One of the most known qualification criteria for scholarships is grade point average – GPA. Merit scholarships are typically centered on strong grades, high test scores, or some other form of high academic achievement.

For the most part, merit scholarships require you to have a strong academic standing. Likely something above a 3.5 cumulative GPA for college or university students. An average above 90 percent is likely necessary for high school students. Some more competitive scholarship prizes may require that you or your child have even higher grades, but this depends on the level of competition from other applicants.

Requirements for Student-Specific Scholarships 

Searching for scholarships based on your extracurriculars or hobbies is a great way to find prizes that you or your child qualify for.

It’s impossible to list all the potential eligibility criteria for student-specific awards here. However, you should know that many communities invest in students via scholarships. Any volunteering, leadership, hobbies, or traits like gender, race, and ethnicity can qualify a student for an award. 

So whether you or your child volunteer, work part-time, participate in a club, play chess, dance, act, play an instrument, play on a team, travel, blog, take photographs, write, paint, build, create, code, among many other things, look for scholarships based on your profile.

A Note About Unique (and Sometimes Weird) Scholarships

Did you know that there is actually a scholarship specifically for tall people? That’s right, the eligibility criteria states that you have to be over a certain height (without wearing shoes) in order to apply. Fascinating, right?

What this should tell you is that no matter how inconsequential or weird you may think one of your characteristics is, it may qualify you for a scholarship. So, examine everything and look everywhere! A scholarship could be lurking around the corner for a reason you never thought possible. 

Need-Based Scholarships, Grants, and Bursaries

Need-based scholarships are awarded based on personal or family income. These prizes are designed to ease the burden of tuition and education costs for students who have the hardest time paying for college or university.

It’s important to know that there are many awards out there that are centered on financial need. The point of these prizes is to provide access to higher education for students who may otherwise be unable to afford the cost of attendance. If you’re in this position, know that options exist to help. So, do your research and apply as often as possible. Scholarships, grants, and bursaries could make a huge difference in the amount of student debt that you take on.

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Find Scholarships Using Scholarship Lists, Scholarship Databases, Scholarship Platforms

If all of this sounds intimidating or daunting, know that there are resources available to help you find scholarships. Your high school, college, or university may have a scholarship directory. Also, there are numerous scholarship websites and scholarship finders online.

The great thing about these options is that you can use the information above to find scholarships catered to your or your student’s profile. 

These tips are designed to help you better understand common requirements for scholarships. Now that you do, it’s time to start applying for awards! 

Final Word: Read the Fine Print to Determine Scholarship Requirements

  • Eligibility requirements for postsecondary scholarships are diverse.
  • Some scholarships have few eligibility constraints while others have many.
  • The type and amount of eligibility requirements is usually a good indicator of how much competition you’ll face when applying for a scholarship.
  • Common eligibility requirements include GPA, extracurricular activities, hobbies, or student-specific traits.
  • Always read the eligibility criteria before you apply for a scholarship. If you have applied for scholarships in the past without success, try finding scholarships with requirements unique to your profile.

Christopher Grafos, Ph.D., is the founder and chief scholarship mentor at BridgesEDU Scholarships.

He’s a first-generation university graduate whose life was transformed by education and winning scholarships. 

Scholarships help students financially, but they also help advance a student’s career. It’s his life’s work to champion this message and share the secrets to finding and winning scholarships. 

Read more about Christopher’s journey here