A scholarship is a form of financial aid for school that you will not be expected to repay. It is awarded to a student based on certain qualities such as financial need, educational merit, involvement in community service, or membership in a certain group. However, each scholarship will have its own specific requirements. Scholarships vary in amount. Always look for scholarship opportunities first as there are thousands available – maybe even one specific to your achievements or course of study.

There are literally hundreds of thousands of scholarships out there, and many go unused year after year. This is because finding a scholarship requires a significant amount of time and research. This is true for online college scholarships as well as traditional college scholarships.

There are many ways to find online college scholarships. First, students should check with their online school and find out if the financial aid department has a list of scholarships that are awarded solely to students of that school. This is a good way to investigate available scholarships because students know that they already meet one of the scholarship’s requirements. However, if you cannot find or receive a scholarship through this, you’ll need to venture out into your community and the Internet.

Other outside scholarships may be available to students whose parents work for a particular company or to students who are eligible for scholarships sponsored by church or civic organizations. You should become familiar with any scholarships available through your company or community.

Browse Scholarships

While college-based scholarships can be very generous, don’t forget about private college scholarships from outside organizations that may be just as generous and often less competitive. Look locally and nationally.

Consider your talents and unique abilities. If you’re a writer, target the essay scholarships. We can’t say it enough: apply early and apply often to maximize the free money you’re able to get through college scholarships and to minimize the amount of student loan debt you’ll face post-graduation.

Type of Scholarships

Scholarships are generally classified into three major groups: merit based, need based and ethnicity based.

  • Merit-based Scholarships

These scholarships do not use financial need to determine the recipient. The beneficiary may be determined by students’ athletic, academic, artistic or other abilities. The actual monetary value of some scholarships may be small, but the award is meant to motivate the student and promote the study of a particular subject. Some of the largest scholarships, however, are almost always merit-based.

  • Need-based Scholarships

This is financial aid for which the student and their family’s financial situation is a key factor in determining the recipient. These kinds of scholarships often cover all or part of the tuition and may even cover living-costs. Need based private scholarships often require that the awardees to be distinguished students.

  • Ethnicity-based Scholarships

These scholarships require candidates are awarded based on race, religion, or national origin. After sorting the applicants based on their ethnicity, additional factors such as merit and special interests are taken into consideration to determine the final recipients.

Scholarship Application Preparation

The college scholarship application process can be time-consuming and stressful. With a few tips and strategies you’ll feel much more prepared to send in a winning, organized scholarship application.


Research the scholarship opportunities available to you. You should have a good idea about what your options are before you begin submitting scholarship applications. There are millions of scholarships available, but you won’t qualify for all of them. Gathering information about your options should help you prioritize the offers in which you are interested.


Research should give you an idea of the criteria for the scholarships for which you qualify. If you fall short in any areas like community service or extracurricular activities, get involved while you have the chance, and establish a background in these areas.

Additionally, build your writing skills. This is critical because most merit scholarships require that you respond to an essay question or submit a writing sample. Prepare a couple of solid essays on vanilla topics like your future goals or interests. These are good practice, and you might even be able to use them for some of the essay scholarships for which you are applying.


Many scholarships will require you to submit the following articles:

  • Letters of recommendation from teachers or employers
  • A small photo
  • Cover letter
  • History of community service
  • School transcripts
  • An essay

Have these items compiled ahead of time so that when you find a scholarship you are interested in you are prepared to apply for the scholarship as soon as possible.


Submit your portfolios to the scholarship providers in whose awards you are interested. If you choose to send your scholarship application by mail, be sure that the address is correct. Follow the guidelines, and be certain that you meet all of the criteria for a specific scholarship so that you don’t waste your time.