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Scholarships for College Students: Finding and Applying

Many schoolchildren and college students often face financial difficulties, but it shouldn’t become a reason for your drop-out. There are various types of financial aid to students: grants and scholarships, loans, work-study jobs, aid to military families, and other budgeting programs. When you complete your last school year and going to start a higher education, it’s time to look for scholarships and grants for college. A scholarship is a need-based or merit-based financial aid awarded on the basis of your academic and athletic achievements, special talents and financial needs. It may cover your tuition in full or just reduce your education’s costs.

In the USA, a scholarship may be awarded not only by colleges and universities, but also by the federal or state Government, state grant agencies, religious organizations, foundations or your employer.

Types of Scholarships

First of all, let’s consider the most common types of scholarships:

  • Academic scholarships.
  • Athletic scholarships.
  • Scholarships for minorities or specific ethnic groups.
  • Scholarships for transfer and international students.
  • Scholarships by major.
  • Scholarships for women.
  • Creative or unusual scholarships.

They can also be divided into scholarships for college juniors, college seniors, freshmen, sophomores, etc. Programs are renewed regularly or on a yearly basis. Note that financial assistance and requirements may be different for in-state and out-of-state students.

When choosing tuition assistance, think of what type of scholarship is the most appropriate to you.  No matter what type you opt for, there is always something for everyone. It should be mentioned that a student cannot qualify for more than one program at the same time.

Search and Application Procedure

If you began thinking how to get college scholarships here are the simple steps you should take:

Step 1. Search

Study your college’s website, contact financial assistance office and check all the available information in a public library. If you are familiar with any current students, ask them for advice. You can also consult your school counselor. If you have not found anything, search for professional associations related to your interest or federal agencies.

An online search tool is a fast and free way to find thousands of college scholarships and grants. You can customize your search to find a program that suits your needs, talents, and achievements. Accumulate various scholarships using educational websites. Remember that the earlier you apply the more scholarships you can win. Here is a list of college scholarships you may qualify for: CKSF Scholarship Competition (award amount: 2,500 USD), Opinion Outpost (10,000 USD every quarter), Build U. Scholarship (for engineering and product design students with an award of 2,500 USD), Nitro Scholarship (5,000 USD), Oratorical Contest (2,500 USD) and others.  

Step 2. Find out more about the requirements and deadlines

Some deadlines may be even a year before your college begins. The requirements usually state the maximum age of applications, availability to non-residents, assignments, deadlines and maximum award amount. You may be asked to write an essay, show GPA, participate in quizzes, prepare a speech, draw a painting or simply to complete a short application. Don’t ignore quizzes or contests you are unfamiliar with. The more you take part, the more your chances of winning. Apply to as many as you can.

Step 3. Apply

When should you apply? It depends on deadline. Even if your college hasn’t published the information on scholarships yet, check it regularly and always meet the deadlines. Carefully read all the requirements of the application for a college scholarship and fill it out completely. The awarded money may go directly to your college or given to you in a check. Let your college officials know that you received a scholarship somewhere else so that the amount could be subtracted from other aid.

Step 4. What to do in case of a failure

If your college refused to award you a scholarship for any reason, don’t give up and try to submit your application to other institutions and organizations.

Scholarships for International Students

What if you are an international student who wants to study in the U.S.? The procedure is almost the same. Search for American scholarships by location, your origin, or major. Register on the website and apply for an award. Contact the organization directly to get more information. International students are often asked to pass an English test, submit English-language certificates, i.e. to have a certain TOEFL score, and translate their documents into English. Make sure you are eligible for a scholarship.

Some programs, such as Humphrey Fellowship Program or Foreign Fulbright Student Program are provided by the USA Government. They may cover insurance, airfare, tuition fee and dwelling.

Let’s have a look at some web resources where you can find information about scholarships and education loans: Collegeweeklive, Gotchosen, Mindsumo, Scholars4dev, Sallie Mae and others.

For Asian students, East-West Center Scholarships and Japan-United States Friendship Commission are available. Clark University, University of Iowa, New York University and others offer specific assistance programs for high-achieving students. Some colleges offer 20-90% tuition reduction. Other programs, such as AAUW, assume full-time study or research in the USA for women.

According to an annual survey published in U.S. News, the average scholarship for the international students was about 20,500 USD. In Harvard University, 600 international students got financial aid in the amount of 60,690 USD during 2016-2017. In Yale, 58,870 USD was awarded to 336 students.  

Ivy League Scholarships

Who does not want to study at the prestigious Princeton or Harvard University? All the eight Ivy Leagues Universities get significant funding from the US government and offer financial assistance programs to students. You can find more information on their official web pages.

For example, Dartmouth offers a wide range of grants and scholarships for college students which are need-based and without subsequent repayments. The amount varies from 1,000 USD up to 5,000 USD per each student. In Harvard, the student’s employment and loans are taken into consideration. Princeton does not offer any merit-based scholarships, the financial assistance is determined after considering the family’s income. In Columbia University, a student with a refugee visa may submit an application for a scholarship. The University of Pennsylvania offers Academic, Campus, Administrative Unit and Outside scholarship programs. The award ranges from 700 USD up to 2,500 USD. Yale has various kind of aid to domestic and international students: Federal Work Study, federal grants, Endowment Scholarships and other programs according to demonstrated needs.

Regardless of your grades, artistic passions or background, you can find opportunities to pay for your college or university with a bit of effort. Just follow the steps mentioned above and search for as much information as you can.


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