College Scholarships FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions about College Scholarships

We have aggregated a list of the most popular scholarship questions below in a continuing effort to provide the best, most comprehensive information for your college future.  The basics of scholarships is may not be intuitive and must be understood to get the most out of your financial aid package.  The top questions we receive about college scholarships included the following topics:

College Scholarships Defined

A scholarship is money paid to you or on your behalf for qualified college expenses that does not need to be repaid.  A scholarship is a type of financial aid to help a student continue their education without the requirement of repayment.  College scholarships can be general awards or based on specific criteria such as geography, military affiliation, special interest, need, gender, and college major to name a few.  Of the myriad scholarships available in the United States for current and prospective college students, they will generally fall into one of the following categories:

Student: A student specific college scholarship is a type of award based upon individual characteristics including race, gender, family, religious affiliation, or other such factors.

Need: A need-based scholarship is a type of college scholarship that considers the financial need of the college applicant.

Merit: A merit-based award is a college scholarship accounting for an applicant’s academic success, abilities, achievements, and community involvement.  A merit-based scholarship is the most common type of scholarship and are paid directly to the college or university.

College:  A college specific scholarship is awarded by the college or university to highly qualified candidates.  The basis for the scholarship can vary from school to school but generally will be rooted in academic success or personal achievement.

Career: A career oriented scholarship is awarded to applicants intending on studying within a specific field.  Awards will vary from scholarship to scholarship but are often skewed by academic major and community need.  More specifically, an applicant seeking to pursue a college degree in education or nursing to help serve a high-need community can see a higher rate of scholarships with larger awards.

Brand: A brand-based scholarship is a college scholarship created by a corporation or individual to benefit the applicant and the brand.

Athletic: Athletic scholarships are awarded to college students with an exceptional degree of talent in a given sport or activity.  In most cases, the student will be expected to play for the college or university while others receive athletic scholarships to compete internationally.

Creativity: This type of catch-all college scholarship is awarded to applicants based on a creative submission.  A creative college scholarship can vary greatly in terms of requirements and award level.

Last Dollar: A last dollar college scholarship was created by private entities and government institutions to help cover the final outstanding dollars of a student’s costs for college after deducting all other financial aid.

What is the difference between grants and scholarships?

The primary difference between a grant and scholarship is that a grant is often based on financial need while scholarships for college are often merit based.  Even though a grant and scholarship is often used interchangeably, there is a difference between the two types of financial aid or gift aid.  While a grant or scholarship does not need to be repaid, a student loan does need to be repaid under specific terms and conditions provided by the lender.

What are the different types of college scholarships?

At last count, there were nearly 2 million different scholarships available to prospective college students.  Given the vast number of scholarships, the type of college scholarships can vary from academics, athletic, ethnicity, religious affiliation, state of residence, need, merit, and college major.  The scholarships can come from a college, state agency, government organization, corporation, individual, religious group, or non-profit organization.

What is the best way to find the scholarship right for me?

The best way to find a college scholarship that is right for you is to perform research.  Performing a simple search with our affiliate will give you access to billions of dollars of scholarships from colleges, universities, and organizations around the country.  Simply complete a profile and receive access to the entire database in one fell swoop.

What are private scholarships?

A private scholarship is a college scholarship from an individual, corporation, entity, non-profit, club, or organization that is privately held.  Private scholarships have specific objectives with targeted criteria so make sure to carefully review the eligibility requirements.

What is the difference between need-based scholarships and merit-based scholarships?

A need-based college scholarship is awarded to applicants based on financial need which is essentially the resources you and your family have available to pay for college.  On the other hand, a merit-based scholarship is awarded based upon academic qualification, leadership, community involvement, talents, and an array of other achievements.  As a rule of thumb, merit-based scholarships are often less competitive than need-based scholarships.  Both need-based scholarships and merit-based scholarships can be found in our database.

Do military members qualify for special college scholarships?

The free, easy to use database from MatchCollege includes a number of military-specific college scholarship opportunities.  Please remember to read the eligibility qualifications as awards and scholarships will vary depending on your military affiliation.  Scholarships can be divided by any military service affiliation from the Air Force, Army, Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard.

What is the easiest college scholarship to obtain?

There are millions of scholarships available by searching with MatchCollege.  Certain college scholarships require qualification by academics, talent, college major, ethnicity, and more.  Each scholarship sponsor establishes criteria for the application from lengthy essays to video submissions.  You will also find many scholarship opportunities with MatchCollege with easy application guidelines and nominal competition.

What is the difference between scholarships and financial aid for college?

A college scholarship is a subset of financial aid.  A scholarship is a type of financial aid that does not need to be repaid; unlike other types of financial aid such as student loans, a scholarship has no repayment terms.  It is incumbent upon you to find the scholarships that you qualify for and complete the applications for them prior to the prescribed deadline.

Top College Scholarship Resources

For additional research, you can continue to learn about financial aid and college scholarships via additional research articles.  The most popular articles relating to scholarships include the eight articles below:

  1. Scholarship Basics
  2. Finding College Scholarships
  3. Avoiding Scholarship Scams
  4. Debunking Scholarship Myths
  5. Scholarship Tips
  6. Inside Scholarship Essays
  7. Scholarship Guide
  8. Graduating Debt Free from College

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