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Understanding Types of Scholarships

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Have you ever wondered if you could earn extra money for college through scholarships?  No matter how good your grades are or how much money your parents make, you may qualify for hundreds of scholarships.  To improve your odds of winning a scholarship, you can start by learning about the different types of scholarships.

The three main types of scholarships are merit, need-based and other.  Here is a brief description of each one and some little-known facts that will give you an advantage over your classmates and competitors.

Merit Scholarships

Generally, merit scholarships are those awarded to students who earn exceptional grades and have a high Grade Point Average (GPA).  Additionally they are granted to students who finish in the top 5% to 10% of their graduating class.  These scholarships are also related to high scores on standardized tests such as the ACT, SAT or those for Advanced Placement classes.  Most people know this much.

Did you know that some merit scholarships are also granted for artistic, leadership or athletic excellence?  Some merit scholarships may only require a 2.0 GPA if you have leadership involvement in your school and/or community.  Your chances of earning a merit scholarship improve if you keep your grades up and do your best on standardized tests and are very involved in extracurricular activities.

Need-Based Scholarships

With the high cost of higher education these days, who doesn’t need extra money for college?  The truth is that need-based scholarships are issued to students based on the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid).   If there is any chance that your family may qualify for need-based aid, make sure that you and your parents complete and submit the FAFSA as soon as possible in January of your senior year and each January that you are in college.  Most need-based aid is granted on a first-come, first-served basis.  The early bird does indeed catch the worm and that worm may be worth a lot of money to you and your family.

Other Scholarships

There truly are scholarships for everyone.  In a quick search for scholarships for my niece, a high school senior, I found scholarships for children of veterans, musicians, vegetarians, and some with no qualifications at all – you simply have to fill in the form and 80 high school students a year will win a $1,000 scholarship by random drawing from a large, national bank.  The trick to finding these scholarships is to use search engines from websites like The College Board or Scholarship America to create a profile, which then produces a list of scholarships for which you may qualify.  You can also have the site send you more information by email as additional scholarships are registered that match your criteria.  Work smarter, not harder!  These websites, and many others like them, can make your scholarship search easier, less time consuming and more effective.

Remember, there are approximately 2.4 million scholarships available which adds up to over $14 billion in aid.  You deserve some of that money for your college future!  Start now and best of luck!

For More Advice

My College Planning Team will host a webinar on How to Conduct an Efficient Scholarship Search on Monday, January 22, 2015, at 7:00 p.m. CST.   Visit our website for more info, and connect with us via social media to keep informed.  My blog next week will offer more details about where to find scholarships.

 

Catherine Zdziarski

Catherine Christie holds a Masters in School Counseling and has dedicated 19 years to education as a teacher, campus minister and a fundraiser for scholarships. A first-generation college student, Catherine is passionate about how higher education can open doors to future success and personal growth. Catherine believes that the college experience can be transformative, and her goal is to partner with students and their families in the quest to matching colleges and universities to the students’ needs and wants both in and out of the classroom.

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