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What Are College Scholarships?

A scholarship is a financial award that is granted to a student. Most scholarships that are awarded are tied to performance. However, they are not always related to grades. For instance, there are many colleges that offer sports scholarships for students who have excelled at a sport. The different criteria required (for example, superior academic or athletic performance) usually represent what the donor finds to be important. These monetary awards are intended to assist the student with the cost of education and living expenses while studying. Scholarships differ from bursaries and other financial awards because they do not need to be repaid.

Common Types Of Scholarships

Merit Based

Much as the name suggests, these scholarships are awarded to students who have displayed superior performance. Although there are many different types of scholarships available for different skills, some of the most popular ones are based on strong academic, athletic or artistic performance. These scholarships are offered by the college the student is attending or by a private company. However, students will often need to do an external search on company websites for any available private scholarships.


Unlike merit based scholarships, need-based scholarships are based solely on a student’s financial circumstances. At the time of enrollment, if a student displays financial need they will often qualify for a need-based scholarship. When filling out the application, the student will usually need to provide their financial statements as well as their family’s financial statements. The amount that a student receives will depend on their projected expenses while attending college.


Student specific scholarships are designed so that students who face certain circumstances or come from certain backgrounds can qualify. For example, there are certain scholarships that are only offered to females, or individuals that belong to a certain religious group. There are also student- specific scholarships that are based on medical history. Information on how to qualify for student-specific scholarships is usually available on the college website.


Career-specific scholarships are offered to students who are studying a certain subject in school. They are often provided by private organizations and are granted to students who are studying in a field that is high demand, such as education.


These scholarships are offered by colleges and are granted to students who are qualified based of varying criteria. In many cases, college-specific scholarships will consider both a student’s academic performance as well as community involvement. They will often pay for a large chunk of a student’s tuition or the full tuition amount based on an academic year.

Student Reading

Local Scholarships

Non-profits and charitable trusts

Many non-profit organizations offer scholarships for qualified students. They may be offered to students who face difficult circumstances such as single parents or individuals who come from low-income families. In addition, it is not uncommon for non-profit organizations to offer scholarships to individuals with certain medical conditions.

Teacher and guidance counselor scholarships

Teacher and guidance counselor scholarships are a type of career-specific scholarship. Because these careers are considered to be in high demand, students who study fields such as education often qualify for scholarships that are offered by the college or a private institution.

Volunteer organization scholarships

Many colleges or private companies will consider a student’s community involvement and extracurricular activities when selecting candidates. Therefore, listing volunteer experience on a scholarship application is an excellent idea. Volunteer organization scholarships are usually offered by the institution. However, there are also many that are offered by private organizations such as volunteer groups. In some cases, volunteer experience will be considered alongside academic performance. The specific qualifications will vary depending on who is offering the scholarship, and the type of scholarship being offered.

Disability scholarships

There are many different scholarships available for students who are classified as having a disability. The type of disability can vary from mental to physical depending on the type of scholarship it is. In addition, there are also scholarships available for students who are living with or caring for a family member with a disability. These scholarships are specifically designed to encourage individuals living with a disability to pursue a higher education. The scholarships will often cover the expenses associated with attending college. This often includes tuition, books, rent and, in some cases, groceries. When searching for disability scholarships, there are many different places to look. A good place to start is your college’s financial aid website. This will often direct you to other organizations that offer scholarships for individuals living with a disability.