What is a scholarship?
The simple definition, most people are familiar with. A scholarship is a sum of money that helps someone pay for school. Education is expensive, and a scholarship can help those attend college that otherwise would not be able to. Instead of a loan, a scholarship is given out by universities or organizations than NEVER have to be paid back.
Why are scholarships important for high school seniors?
While many universities offer some type of financial aid, and students can use the FAFSA to apply for governmental aid, college can still be difficult to afford. A shocking 65% of 2019 college graduates took out loans to pay for college. Furthermore, the cost of college has been rapidly increasing, more than doubling at public universities since the 1980s.
The increasing amount of loans that graduates are left with puts pressure on them to immediately find jobs, especially when student loans are compounded with the increase in housing costs. For current high school seniors, this means that scholarships can be critical for limiting student debt throughout college.
What Are the Main Sources of Scholarships and Grants?
There are four major types of free money available to college applicants. Here are the four main sources of scholarships and grants, and the percentage of total grants and/or scholarships that comes from each source:
- Federal grants: 47%
- State grants and scholarships: 8%
- Scholarships and grants from schools: 35%
- Private scholarships: 10%
When searching for money, it’s important to know where to look for help and what grants and/or scholarships you might qualify for. Here is a breakdown of what each type of assistance offers:
1. Federal Aid (47%)
If you are looking for merit scholarships from the federal government, you’re going to be out of luck. Almost all grants from the federal government require demonstrating financial need. To qualify for any federal grants, you must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Here are the two major grants that fall under Federal Aid.
By far, the Pell Grant is the biggest federal grant. The current full grant, which is adjusted annually, is $5,920. Most students who qualify for the full amount have household incomes of less than $60,000. It is possible to qualify for a partial grant.
2. State Aid (8%)
Almost every state education agency has at least one grant or scholarship program available to state residents. Some offer several programs.
States in the South are more likely to award money based on grade point average and possibly test scores. States on the East and West coasts are more likely to provide awards based on financial need.
An easy way to learn more about aid programs in your state is to head to the website of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA).
On the NASFAA website, you can find links to your state aid programs by following these steps:
- Click on Students, Parents & Counselors link
- Then click on Financial Aid in Your State link
- Next, choose the State Financial Aid Programs link
- Once you call up the U.S. map, click on your state
Some state programs, such as those in California and New York, have centralized systems, which means that awards are set by state-level formulas. In other states, the government sets basic criteria but they allow public universities to exercise some discretion when making the awards. States in this category include Texas and Virginia.
3. Institutional Grants and Scholarships (35%)
Here is how the award process often works. A student applies to a school and the admission office decides whether to accept the applicant. If the school gives merit scholarships, the decision typically will be made during the acceptance process, usually based on the student’s grades and test scores.
This often is done before the school knows if a teenager would qualify for need-based aid. When the financial aid form is reviewed, the admission staff decides whether a child still needs assistance, even after taking merit scholarships into consideration.
4. Private Scholarships and Employer Grants (10%)
Outside groups such as foundations, civic groups, companies, religious groups, professional organizations and charities award private scholarships.these scholarships typically last for just one year and most of these awards are under $4,000. The odds of winning a scholarship are about one in eight.
How do I find scholarships?
First of all you should take a look at the websites of the Universities you are interested in and see what scholarships they have to offer. It is not advisable to choose a university or course purely based on what financial help is available but it could be a deciding factor when you come to make your final choice.
The Scholarship Hub is a website which allows you to search a database of all the scholarships available to UK students. There are listings for each university as well as scholarships which are not related to a specific university. To find these select “No specific University” in your search. There is a useful comparison tool, which allows you to select up to six scholarships available for your subject from different universities and compare them.
It is also worth taking the time to research some of the smaller charities, such as Turn2Us and FamilyAction, that give grants for educational support. The Guide, which will also help students find suitable grants from small charities to educational grants, is a book which lists all of these and can be found in larger libraries.
How to qualify for scholarships for high school seniors
Being a high school senior can be a daunting experience as you submit your college applications and make decisions about your college education. It can feel impossible to attend college without taking on significant student loans. At Bold.org, we’re here to help meet the financial need of students.
Meet the requirements of academic achievement scholarships
Many scholarships are open to students regardless of test scores or academic performance, but if you excel academically, put your GPA to good use by applying for scholarships with GPA requirements.
Read the eligibility requirements of each scholarship
Some high school scholarships are open to any high school senior, but others have additional eligibility requirements, such as being open only to women or to racial minorities. Before spending time on your application, make sure you meet the eligibility criteria.
When should a high school senior apply for a scholarship?
While some scholarships are specific to undergraduate or graduate students, there are many that are open to high school seniors, such as those listed above, so there is no need for students to wait to apply for scholarships until they begin college. After students make their college decisions and receive their financial aid packages, they should be able to see what amount of money they will need to pay for their tuition and housing. Applying for scholarships can dramatically reduce the amount of money students will need to take out in loans for the costs of college.
Can you only get scholarships during your senior year of high school?
Some scholarships are open to high school students even before their senior year, so students can begin applying for scholarships even before applying to college. However, there is no need for seniors to worry if they’re just now starting their scholarship hunt as there are many scholarships to apply to, both throughout their senior year and during college. Scholarships can be competitive, so it’s best to apply to as many as possible so that you increase your chances of winning.
How can I find scholarships for high school seniors?
To find scholarships for seniors in high school, go to the scholarships page on Bold.org and filter by education level. You can then browse through scholarships that are open to high school students, and you can also filter by category to find scholarships related to your field of study, hobbies, and interests.
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Popular Scholarships for College
Find free money to help pay for college with this list of scholarships. These scholarships are great options to help high school and college students pay for school. Many of these scholarships offer general eligibility requirements, making them the perfect place to start looking for free money
What are the easiest scholarships to get?
The easiest scholarships to apply for are typically no-essay scholarships since you don’t need to spend the time and energy necessary to craft a winning essay. While these simple scholarships are still great to apply for, they often have broad eligibility requirements and receive many applications.
To increase your chances of winning a scholarship, try to find scholarships with limited eligibility requirements, such as only being open to students of a certain education level or field of study, as these scholarships will have fewer eligible applicants.
What GPA do you need to get a full-ride scholarship?
Most of the scholarships available on Bold.org don’t have any GPA requirements, meaning that you are eligible to apply even if you have a low GPA. For the scholarships that do require a minimum GPA, you will typically need a 2.5 or 3.0 GPA or higher to apply.
Can you apply for scholarships senior year?
Many students begin their scholarship search during senior year of high school, as it’s a great time to start thinking about how you will manage your college costs. However, there is no need to wait until senior year to start applying, as there are plenty of scholarships open to high school students of any grade level.
If you win a scholarship while in high school, we’ll hold the money in an account for you until you enroll in a college. Then, we’ll send the money to your school to offset your tuition.
If you’re already in college and just starting to apply, don’t worry! It’s never too late to start taking control of your finances.
Are scholarships available for high school juniors?
Many scholarships aim to specifically help high school seniors, but there are plenty of scholarships that are open to all high school students, including high school juniors. You can start finding scholarships open to high school juniors here.
How to find scholarships for high school seniors
To find scholarships for high school seniors, filter the list on Bold.org by education level in order to reduce the list to only scholarships open to high school students. Then, read through the descriptions and eligibility requirements to determine which scholarships you’re interested in.
When to start applying for scholarships
It’s never too early or too late to start applying! It’s great to begin your applications in high school in order to maximize the number of scholarships you can apply for and win, but many college students are just beginning their search, so don’t worry if you’re just starting!
What to consider when applying for scholarships
When applying for scholarships, keep in mind that you want to make yourself stand out from other applicants. To do so, make sure your profile is detailed and unique so donors can get a sense of your personality, interests, and goals. Additionally, do everything in your power to increase your chances of winning, such as by following the tips below.
Finally, don’t get discouraged if you don’t win every scholarship you apply for. Many students are looking for financial aid to fund their higher education, so not winning doesn’t mean you’re doing anything wrong.