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Unlocking the Doors to Education: A Comprehensive Guide to US Scholarships

4 Min Read
August 29, 2023

The cost of college can be a significant concern, but the good news is that there are numerous US scholarships available to help you achieve your academic goals. There are a lot that you can choose: from merit-based scholarships to need-based assistance, athletic scholarships, and creative scholarships. Let’s explore the different types of scholarships that you can pursue as a high school student.

Types of scholarships available in the US

When it comes to pursuing higher education, one of the biggest concerns for high school students and their families is the cost. The good news is that there are various types of scholarships available in the United States that can help alleviate the financial burden and open doors to educational opportunities. Understanding the different types of scholarships and their eligibility criteria is crucial for students looking to secure financial aid.

Merit-based scholarships

When it comes to college scholarships, merit scholarships are at the forefront. These scholarships are awarded based on a student's excellence, and there are various types to consider:

  • Academic Scholarships. These scholarships, funded by colleges/universities or private organizations, are given to students with exceptional grades and/or impressive SAT or ACT scores.

  • Average Academic Performance Scholarships. Unlike solely focusing on grades and test scores, these scholarships take into account a student's overall performance, including extracurricular activities and contributions to the community.

  • Sports Scholarships. Athletic scholarships, regulated by NCAA, NAIA, and NJCAA, are highly competitive. Rules govern how students receive these scholarships, making them a great option for international student athletes looking to study in the United States.

Need-based scholarships

Need-based scholarships provide financial assistance to students based on their ability to afford college expenses. While federal grants like the Pell Grant are commonly associated with need-based aid, there are also numerous opportunities offered by universities, foundations, nonprofits, and businesses. To determine eligibility for federal aid, students must complete the Free Application for Student Financial Aid (FAFSA). However, some colleges and organizations may require additional applications like the College Board's CSS Profile to assess financial need more comprehensively.

In addition to financial criteria, certain need-based scholarships may have specific requirements such as maintaining a minimum GPA or belonging to particular categories like art, science, or underrepresented minority students. It is important to note that unlike merit-based scholarships, which primarily focus on academic achievements, need-based scholarships take into consideration the financial circumstances of students and generally have income limitations, excluding those from higher-income families.

Athletic scholarships

An athletic scholarship is a form of financial aid granted by the college athletic department to student-athletes. These scholarships are based on the individual's athletic abilities and their potential contribution to the team. The decision regarding scholarship recipients and the amount awarded is typically made by the coach.

Both the NCAA and the NAIA provide athletic scholarships to aspiring student-athletes. However, it's important to note that Division 3 schools in the NCAA do not offer athletic scholarships directly from their athletic departments.

Athletic scholarships come in two main types: full and partial scholarships. Some collegiate teams only offer full-ride scholarships, known as head count sports, where a limited number of players receive full scholarships. On the other hand, equivalency sports provide both full and partial scholarships. In these sports, full scholarships can be divided into partial scholarships, allowing more team members to benefit from athletic scholarships.

Creative and talent-based scholarships

Creative scholarships are merit-based awards that focus on rewarding talents rather than academic grades. If you have a passion for expressing your creativity, these scholarships can be a valuable way to finance your college education.

While many creative scholarships are geared towards fine arts students with talents in visual arts such as photography, painting, graphic design, or animation, you don't have to be a visual arts major to apply. Your artistic interests may lie in music, creative writing, dance, theater, or film, and it doesn't necessarily have to be your intended college major—it can be a hobby you're passionate about.

The application process for creative scholarships is often quick and straightforward. You may only need to submit a portfolio, project, photo, short video, or essay to showcase your creative abilities.

Remember, scholarships are more than just financial assistance. They are a testament to your achievements and potential. By earning a scholarship, you are not only alleviating the burden of study costs, but you are also positioning yourself for future success. Scholarships can open doors to prestigious institutions, provide access to invaluable networking opportunities, and enhance your resume.