In the US, over 50 billion dollars is awarded in scholarship funds annually. The vast majority of those funds are awarded by the state, with businesses typically contributing the rest. In 2012, 82.3% of US students received some form of financial aid for their studies. As such, scholarships play an important role in the US education system. The best part? You don’t have to pay any of it back. Fortunately, there are numerous types of scholarships awards with varying criterions – and it’s easier than ever to find the right one for you.
What types of scholarships might I be eligible for?
The most common type of scholarship is based on merit, such as a student’s academic, athletic or artistic achievements. If a student has exceptional grades, for example, they might earn a scholarship from the college in which they intend to enroll.
There are also student-specific scholarships, for which a student may qualify depending upon their financial history, medical history, race, religion or gender. If a demographic group is disproportionately represented in one particular field for lack of equal opportunity or any other reason, these scholarships are designed to encourage their enrollment.
Furthermore there are career-specific scholarships, whereby the student is awarded funds based on the understanding that they will pursue a particular field of study or, in many cases, agree to work for a set number of years with a specific company. For instance, some schools might offer scholarships to those studying to become nurses considering it is such a vital profession and many medical centers lack sufficient nursing staff.
Finally, there are brand scholarships. Businesses will often draw attention to their brand or cause by offering financial aid to students. Typically, a student will have to demonstrate knowledge or skill in an area related to the brand’s industry. For example, Java Coffee Scholarships ask applications to write a 3,500 word essay on how the company can improve one of their products. PokerListings Scholarships require applicants to submit a 1,000 word essay on the effects of gambling legislation in the United States.
Whilst there are other types of scholarships, these are amongst the most common and it is worth you considering your eligibility for them.
How can I apply for scholarships on a local level?
Talk to the financial aid office at your college or high school for more information on how to apply for scholarships. You can also get in touch with federal agencies, grant agencies, local foundations, religious organisations or civic groups to find out what they can offer you. Consider also local businesses – especially those in an industry related to your intended field of study. If you already have work experience in a field related to your interest, talk to your employer about scholarship opportunities. Finally, seek advice from the college or university at which you intend to apply and see what they can suggest.
Where can I find scholarships online?
The internet has made it easier to find scholarships – and not just ones limited to the US. Google is your best friend in this case, but sites such as CareerOneStop and USAToday also provide specific scholarship search tools (for free), along with other resources that could aid you in your search. Often, these will let you search according to your field of study or geographical location. Be cautious of scams – you should never have to pay to search for scholarships.
How can I increase my chances of acceptance?
Having good grades is one of the most obvious means through which you can increase the likelihood of being successful in your application. Whilst excellent test results might not be necessary for all scholarships, they will be seen as evidence of your intelligence and dedication – thereby increasing your chance of being awarded scholarship money. If you don’t have relevant work experience, then make sure that your application details any volunteer work you might have done. Hobbies and interests in which you have partaken are also important to mention.
Besides that, you should show that you are enthusiastic about the field in which you hope to study. Scholarships have various different application processes, and most of which will be designed to let your passion and personality shine through, so don’t be humble – convince them of how amazing you are!