November 30, 2023

How Do Scholarships Work? Learn How to Earn Them.

College is not getting any less expensive. For the last two decades, prices have increased dramatically, with a 5% increase in tuition at private universities and a 4% increase at public out-of-state universities in the last year alone.

For many students, getting scholarships can be a lifeline. Combined with loans and other financial aid, it can make college accessible and affordable. The challenge is finding these scholarships and making sure a student qualifies.

Increasing Scholarships Available for Students

In the broadest terms, scholarships are financial awards that do not need to be repaid and are meant to attract or support specific kinds of applicants. 

Some scholarships might be based around athletics or activities, meant to help colleges attract talented athletes, musicians, and other accomplished individuals. Others are based around identity and might, for example, help individuals from a particular religious or ethnic background.

The most common (and broadly accessible) type of scholarship, however, is academic. By achieving good grades and high test scores on the SAT and ACT, students can earn money to help them throughout their four years. Studying throughout high school can put students in a position to increase the scholarships available to them.

How to Find Scholarships

But how does one find scholarships and where do you apply? There are two different types of scholarships that students should be aware of.

The first kind, merit-based scholarship, is what you might be most familiar with. It is money offered by colleges, universities, and the government to reward students for being high achieving during their academic career. These scholarships can be competitive, like the US Department of Education’s Presidential Scholarship, which requires students to be among the top 8,000 high-performing students in the country. They can also be automatic. Penn State Beaver, for example, gives at least $2,000 to any student who is accepted with at least a 3.0 GPA.

The second kind of scholarship is outside scholarships. The more unpredictable of the two, outside scholarships are scholarships offered by foundations, businesses, and advocacy organizations. These scholarships exist for the stated purpose of advancing an organizational mission. They tend to be very competitive, time-intensive, and require students to explicitly apply for them.

For instance, the Coca-Cola Company’s Coca-Cola Scholars Program Scholarship Program awards up to $20,000 to high school students who demonstrate exceptional leadership and commitment to their communities in ways consistent with the company’s values.

College is Within Reach, and Class 101 is Here to Help!

With scholarships and other financial aid, college can be accessible to anyone. If the information in this blog interests you, we encourage you to contact a nearby Class 101 for more information. Our advisors are happy to schedule a meeting with you to make sure that the college application process is as easy and affordable as possible.

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