For high school students and their parents, the process of applying for scholarships can be extremely confusing. Many different scholarships are available but some are not as obvious as others. Students and their families often struggle even to begin the process of finding opportunities, and organizing the applications and responses can be challenging.
Moreover, both parents and students generally have a lot of questions about scholarships. Here are some answers to the most common scholarship questions:
- What different types of scholarships are available?
Many, many different types of scholarships are available for high school students. Specific educational institutions provide scholarships, as well as national, international, and state agencies. Many scholarships are also available from employers, businesses, community organizations, clubs, and places of worship--not to mention many scholarships geared towards specific groups such as women, minorities, international students, moms, or service members.
- What’s the difference between need-based and merit-based scholarships?
Merit-based scholarships are those that are based on academic performance. They also take other factors into account, such as ethnic background, career goals, leadership involvement, participation in activities, and intended major. These scholarships usually have particular eligibility requirements and specific selection criteria. On the other hand, need-based scholarships are based on financial need. Students must file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) in order to find out if they are eligible for need-based scholarships.
- What are the typical deadlines for scholarships?
For scholarship awards that start the following fall academic term, deadlines are typically January through April. Many scholarships are only awarded once a year, so missing a deadline means the student forfeits his or her opportunity until the next time that scholarship is offered.
- Can I get a scholarship even if I don’t have excellent grades?
Juniors and seniors don’t have to be straight-A students in order to obtain college scholarships. A good GPA helps to provide more opportunities but there are still scholarships with no GPA requirements. Many of these scholarships are based on other criteria like creativity and involvement in social justice issues. Others are based on demographics like those for women, moms, and members of the military.
- What does a scholarship application involve?
A typical scholarship application involves completing an application form, writing a well-crafted essay, gathering transcripts, attaching a small photo, and obtaining a letter of recommendation from a teacher or a supervisor at a job or volunteer position. Individual scholarships will have specific requirements defining what to include with the application. It’s important for students to start gathering support materials well before the deadline in order to make sure all of the required items are provided in time.
- Where can I get started looking for scholarships?
Many high schools and colleges provide information on scholarships. Searching online through sites like Fastweb can uncover little-known scholarship opportunities but can also quickly become overwhelming.
A professional college coaching educator can help families develop a clear strategy for choosing the right college and obtaining the necessary college scholarships. Get more of your scholarship questions answered by contacting Rebecca M. Carroll.