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Scholarships help students graduate with less student debt. However, they offer more than just financial aid. Scholarships can also help transform a student’s career opportunities.

But, before you find and apply for scholarships, you may have questions. So, let’s address the top 30 most frequently asked questions related to scholarships. 

Scholarship FAQs

What is a scholarship?

A scholarship is financial aid offered to high school, undergraduate, and graduate students for education purposes. 

How do scholarships work?

There are various types of scholarships with different application processes. Usually, you submit an application and wait to hear from a scholarship committee about the results. If you win, you receive the award money

Where can I find scholarship opportunities? 

Typically, you find scholarships online, at your school’s financial aid office, local library, or through your personal network. Finding scholarships requires strategy and can be a difference-maker in your overall success. 

How do I apply for scholarships?

The application process can vary. Depending on the scholarship program, you may have to submit a personal essay, a video, a letter of recommendation, or just your contact details. Always review submission requirements and get materials in prior to the deadline. 

What scholarships am I eligible for? 

There are literally tens of thousands of scholarships. Eligibility requirements for each may differ so research each award carefully. You may qualify for prizes based on financial need, merit, your year of study, race, gender, ethnicity, hobbies, athletics, and many other student-specific criteria. Given the range of factors for students receiving a scholarship, it’s likely that you are eligible for many awards. 

What types of scholarships are available?

There are many types of scholarships available. Here’s a list of the most common kinds of scholarships offered:

  1. merit-based,
  2. need-based,
  3. student-specific based on personal characteristics,
  4. scholarships by major or career choice,
  5. institution-specific scholarships,
  6. athletic scholarships,
  7. brand scholarships,
  8. creative scholarships. 

What is the difference between scholarships and grants?

Scholarships and grants are similar. However, grants usually have a financial need requirement and are given out by governments or postsecondary institutions. 

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

Can I get a scholarship for online courses?

Yes, you can win a scholarship while enrolled in an online program. Always check terms and conditions to ensure you meet the requirements. 

Are scholarships only for high school seniors?

No, you can win a scholarship for most accredited higher education programs. However, many scholarships are awarded specifically to graduating high school seniors or incoming college/university students. 

What is the average scholarship amount?

Individual scholarship providers offer varying award amounts. It’s standard for values to be $500, $1,000, $2,000, and as high as $10,000 or more.

How do I write a winning scholarship essay?

A winning scholarship essay is one that stands out from the competition. It should be memorable, easy to read, and free from grammatical errors. 

How can I improve my chances of getting a scholarship?

You can improve your chances of winning a scholarship by understanding what a scholarship selection committee is looking for. Always remember, it is people that will read your application. Know your audience and submit an application catered to it. 

Do I need a specific GPA to qualify for scholarships?

Merit scholarships are based on strong academic performance. Consequently, you may need a specific GPA to qualify for these prizes. 

However, there are many non-merit-based scholarships that do not have a GPA requirement. It’s a common scholarship myth that you need perfect grades to win a scholarship. 

Are there scholarships for international students?

Yes! Just be sure to examine terms and conditions to know if you need particular citizenship or residency to qualify for a scholarship. 

Can I get a scholarship for graduate school?

Absolutely! In fact, as a graduate student, you may be able to win prestigious research scholarships only available to students at the master’s or doctoral level. 

Are scholarships available for trade programs?

Yes, many scholarships are offered to applicants in trades programs. In fact, it may be a good idea to look for these specific terms in your scholarship search. 

Can I get a scholarship for studying abroad?

Yes, there are particular scholarships for studying abroad. 

Do I have to repay scholarships?

No, a scholarship is not a loan and does not have to be repaid. 

Can I use scholarships to cover any of my expenses?

How you can spend scholarship money depends on the award’s terms and conditions. Some scholarships disburse money to accredited colleges or universities (i.e., the money goes directly toward your tuition), while others are paid to you. In some cases, money must be spent on tuition or specific education expenses. In other cases, you can spend money on whatever you choose. 

Scholarships for College or University for high school students, undergraduates, and graduate students.

What are merit-based scholarships?

Merit-based scholarships are academic awards based on grades, test scores, or stellar extracurricular activities. 

What are need-based scholarships?

Need-based scholarships are awards based on a student’s personal or family income. 

Can I get a scholarship for sports or athletics?

Yes, scholarships for athletics exist. Depending on your sport and level of achievement, the process of earning an athletic scholarship can vary. 

Can I apply for multiple scholarships at the same time?

Yes, you can apply for multiple scholarships at the same time. However, if successful in your applications, some major scholarships do not allow you to hold more than one scholarship at a time. 

How do I maintain a scholarship once I receive it?

You may receive a scholarship more than once if you maintain your grades, student status (full- or part-time), or other relevant metrics. Not all scholarships are renewable, so do your research. 

Are there scholarships for specific fields of study?

Yes, there are scholarships for specific majors or career goals. 

Are there different types of scholarship applications?

Yes. In some cases, applicants must submit an essay, video, and/or CV. In the case of no-essay scholarships, just their contact details may be required. 

How do I ask for a letter of recommendation?

A strong letter of recommendation matters greatly for applications that require them. Ensure that your referee knows you well and has positive things to say about you and your application. Also, be sure to give your referee plenty of notice prior to the deadline. If you’re successful, write thank you notes to both the scholarship committee and your referee. A little gratitude goes a long way. 

What is a scholarship scam?

Scholarship scams may ask you to pay to apply or may phish for personal details. To be clear, you should never pay to apply for a scholarship. And, if a prize sounds to good to be true, it probably is.

Should I notify the office of financial aid if I win an award?

It depends, but it’s usually good practice to do so. This is particularly true if you’ve received a student loan. Winning a scholarship can change your reported income and you don’t want to be surprised by changes to your funding package. 

When should I apply for scholarships?

You can start applying for scholarships in high school. If you’re a college or university student, there are scholarship deadlines throughout the academic year and summer months, so anytime is a good time to apply!

Going Beyond FAQs

Now that your questions have been answered, it’s time to start searching and applying for scholarships! 

Remember, there are many scholarship opportunities out there for most students.

Given the cost of postsecondary education, it makes sense to apply no matter what your grades or profile look like. Do your research, plan, and submit. Scholarships take time and effort, but the payout is worth it all. Just imagine an award letter with your name on it!