There are many different factors that can qualify someone for a scholarship. Some scholarships are based on financial need, while others may be based on academic achievement or extracurricular involvement. There are also many different types of scholarships available, so it is important to research the specific requirements for each one.

In addition to determining the requirements that applicants must meet, eligibility terms and conditions can actually influence your chances of winning a scholarship.

Some scholarship providers have very open eligibility criteria. For example, common requirements may say something like, “this is an American scholarship for any American student enrolled at any college or university. It is open to college freshman, sophomores, juniors, and seniors.”

As you can see, there are few restrictions on who can apply. What does this mean for you? Well, in these cases, it’s likely that this scholarship award will be very competitive. Since there are so few restrictions on applicants, many college students will likely enter for their chance at winning the scholarship. If you have applied for scholarships like this already and didn’t win, this may be why.

On the other hand, some scholarship funds will have very restrictive scholarship requirements. The potential eligibility criteria here are literally endless. For example, there are many competitions out there – like engineering scholarships, scholarships for Hispanic students, scholarships for juniors, scholarships for veterans, scholarships based on ethnicity, race, gender, merit-based scholarships, athletic scholarships, needs-based scholarships, and, even weird scholarships given away for incredibly diverse reasons – all of which award students scholarship money based on highly specific conditions. If you qualify for a scholarship for one of these reasons, that’s good because many other students will be ineligible. 

Now that you have some knowledge of what qualifies you for a scholarship, here are some other insights that may help you assess prizes that you’re looking to apply for.

Scholarship Eligibility Requirements – Read Carefully!

As you can probably gather from the section above, selecting scholarship prizes that you are likely to win should start with a thorough examination of the eligibility criteria. On this front, always be sure to read carefully.

As noted, eligibility criteria can be diverse. There are college scholarships for just about anything. For example, there are leadership scholarships, scholarships for full-time enrollment, community service scholarships, no essay scholarships, health professions scholarships, financial need or financial aid scholarships, scholarships by major, local scholarships for living in a certain county or region, perseverance scholarships, ancestry, travel scholarships, future ambitions, weird scholarships based on talents or quirks, advocacy scholarships, scholarships for languages, scholarships for women, graduate students, scholarships for high school seniors, scholarships for veterans, scholarships for Hispanic students, athletic scholarships, scholarships based on race, ethnicity, and gender, and many more.

Each of these types of scholarships require students to participate in an application process. Some require that applicants write an essay, have a certain GPA, are registered in a particular school year, are from a certain demographic, or are planning to enter a certain career.

Ultimately, you are a unique person. You likely have some traits or defining characteristics that will disqualify other potential applicants from a scholarship award that you apply for. However, you will be uniquely positioned for that scholarship prize. So, when you’re examining scholarship programs and constructing your own scholarship list, always read the eligibility criteria. It will offer a quick way for you to determine whether you are eligible or ineligible for a prize.

Academic Requirements for Merit Scholarships – Grades (GPA) & Test Scores

One of the most known qualification criteria for scholarships is grade point average – GPA. Merit scholarships are typically centered on good 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 3.6 or 3.7 cumulative GPA. Some more competitive scholarship prizes may require that you have even higher grades, but this depends on the level of competition from other applicants.

If you don’t have stellar grades, you should still feel empowered to submit scholarship applications. Strong grades will always help your chances to win a scholarship, but your GPA isn’t the only thing that will qualify you for an award.

Requirements for Scholarships Based on Extracurricular Activities, Hobbies, and Your Characteristics

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

Among the thousands of college scholarships that exist, there are numerous eligibility criteria that are incredibly diverse. Knowing this should promote the following action. Take a look at who you are and dissect every angle of your identity. Then see if there is a community out there that is investing in students like you.

You can use your college or university database (if one exists), scholarship websites, scholarships lists, scholarship databases, or even do a Google search to find prizes based on your profile. Put simply, if you’re doing anything outside of class, it may mean that there is money available for you to apply to.

So whether you 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, or whatever you do, look for scholarships based on your profile.

Weird Scholarships & Endless Eligibility Requirements

In addition to extracurriculars and hobbies, it’s always a good idea to assess what is highly unique – or weird! – about you and do a scholarship search based on that criteria. There is no shortage of potential prizes out there for some of the most obscure reasons you can think of.

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 do a search for whatever makes you unique – or weird. If you do end up winning a scholarship of this nature, not only will it help you pay down your tuition or credit card bills, but you’ll also have a great story to tell family and friends. Imagine being able to tell people that your height earned you a scholarship! That might be the best check you ever get to cash.

Another Type of Scholarship: Needs-Based or Financial Aid

Need-based scholarships are awarded based on personal or family income. These prizes are designed to ease the burden of college costs for students who have the hardest time paying for college. A common requirement for these types of scholarships and grants is the completion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Given that these scholarships typically have strict financial requirements, the FAFSA application is a way to verify your or your parents’ financial information.

It’s important to know that there are many scholarship prizes 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 many financial aid packages exist to help you, so do your research and apply as often as possible. Scholarships could make a huge difference in the amount of student debt and credit card debt that you take on.

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. Your high school, college, or university may have a scholarship directory to help you with finding scholarships and connecting you with scholarship providers. Also, there are numerous scholarship websites and scholarship finders online. There are even apps designed to help match you with relevant college scholarship opportunities. 

The great thing about these options is that by entering some information with a few clicks, much of the sorting work is done for you. In other words, the work of determining which scholarships you are eligible for is done for you. With assignments, readings, and everything in between, this time saver can be a real difference maker.

These tips are designed to help you better understand common requirements for scholarships. Now that you do, it’s time to start finding scholarships, submit applications to scholarship providers, and wait for that award letter!

In short, here’s what you need to know about what qualifies you for a scholarship:

Summary: Always Read the Fine Print to Determine Scholarship Requirements

  • The eligibility criteria for college scholarships are very diverse
  • Some scholarships have few eligibility constraints while others have many more – this makes some scholarship awards more competitive
  • College life can be expensive and college costs are continually on the rise. You can offset private student loans or federal student aid by finding scholarships with unique qualification requirements
  • Always read the eligibility criteria before you apply to a scholarship. If you have applied for scholarships in the past without success, try finding scholarships with less-common requirements. 
  • You are usually qualified for a scholarship opportunity based on merit or GPA, extracurricular activities, hobbies, or financial need