Scholarships 101

The myOptions Team

Let’s be real - a big part of college planning (and worries) surround paying for school. A college’s “sticker price” AKA the price before any sort of financial aid is applied, can be enough to make you want to cross a school off your list immediately. However, you shouldn’t allow costs to restrict your search or discourage you from applying to more expensive institutions because there may be the opportunity for scholarships and grants to come to your rescue. Scholarships and grants are considered gift aid. Gift aid is the best kind of aid you can receive because it’s free money that you do not have to pay back. Definitely, take note that some gift aid is just a one-time thing whereas some may be renewable awards. Grants are typically based on your financial-need determined by your FAFSA application, so be sure to fill that out each year you are in college. Scholarships are usually based on certain qualifications that are not based on your financial need.

Before you begin your scholarship search, here’s a quick breakdown of common categories/types of scholarships to aid in your search and understanding of the scholarship world:

Academic scholarships

Academic scholarships are based on the academic credentials within your admissions application (i.e. GPA, ACT/SAT score etc.). You will typically be considered for this type of scholarship just by submitting your application for admission.

Athletic scholarships

Athletic scholarships are available at Division I and Division II schools and are determined by your athletic ability and your prospective college’s athletic needs. If you are interested in becoming a student-athlete, here is more information about athletic recruiting.

Merit-based scholarships

Merit scholarships are awarded to the strongest candidates in the applicant pool and typically consider a wide range of criteria/requirements like your grades, rigor of high school coursework, SAT/ACT scores, class rank, personal statements, leadership, community service and recommendations will all be closely evaluated. Usually, you are considered for this type of scholarship just by submitting your application for admission.

Corporate scholarships

Corporate scholarships are awarded by companies to support employees and their families. These are more common in larger companies. It’s always a good idea to ask your parents if their employer offers scholarships to children of employees. If you work as well and want to continue with the same company while you are in college, it is smart to check with your employer to see if they offer any sort of tuition reimbursement or scholarship programs.

Private organizations

Private organizations such as places of worship, school districts, chambers of commerce, and philanthropic organizations also sponsor a number of scholarships. If you are involved in any of these types of organizations, it never hurts to ask around, the answer will always be “no” if you don’t ask.

Searching for scholarships takes time, patience, and effort on your part. You will thank yourself later for all of the effort you put into this when those scholarships come your way. We’d recommend setting aside a little time each week to do scholarship research and/or applications to work at it little by little. Be sure to use your school counselors as a resource as well, a lot of times they will have great insight into where you can be searching for scholarships. Don’t be afraid to use those googling skills as well, you never know what you may find. With that being said, unfortunately, there are scholarships scams. Please keep in mind that you should never have to provide your social security number or pay for an application.

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