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Scholarships are a great way to cut down or eliminate your out-of-pocket college costs. There are lots of scholarship money available, the trick is knowing where to look. The two main types of scholarship are college specific scholarships and non-college specific scholarships. We will give you more information about each type to help you narrow down your search!

College Specific Scholarships

College specific scholarships are offered directly by the college and can only be used for admitted students at that particular college. Be sure to ask every college you apply to whether or not you are considered for all available institutional scholarships based on your admissions application. If the answer is “no,” then be sure to ask where to find their scholarship application(s). Here are the most common types of college-specific scholarships you will find.

Academic scholarships

Academic scholarships are based on the academic credentials within your admissions application. For example, GPA or ACT/SAT scores.

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, ACT/SAT scores, class rank, personal statements, leadership, and community service. Admissions will also closely evaluate your letters of recommendation.

Non-College Specific Scholarships

You can start searching for non-college specific scholarships before your final college list is solidified because these scholarships can be used at the college of your choice. These types of scholarships are going to be more time consuming to find since there are lots of different places you can look. Be sure if you are awarded a non-college specific scholarship you communicate with your college’s financial aid office and the scholarship organization to coordinate the logistics of how the scholarship funds will be sent to your school. Here are some suggestions of sources for non-college specific scholarships.

Organizational scholarships

Organizations such as places of worship, school districts, chambers of commerce, and charities sponsor a number of scholarships for incoming college students. Once you are in college, there may be other organizations that open the door for more scholarship opportunities, so keep your eyes open for these opportunities. 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.

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 employers offer 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.

Some scholarships you earn may be renewable for a certain amount of semesters, or they may be one-time only. It’s important to understand the duration and renewal requirements for your scholarships so you don’t encounter any unpleasant surprises down the road. Remember that your scholarship search shouldn’t just be limited to your first year in college. As you continue in college, your network and understanding of the scholarship game will expand, so keep up that scholarship hunting!