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    Students have a plethora of reasons for needing a scholarship, but they all have one objective in mind – to lessen the cost of education. Scholarships are given to outstanding students and all scholarships are based on merit. There are various types of scholarships. Scholarships can be classified into following categories:

    Types of Scholarships:

    • Academic: Scholarships are primarily awarded to students who have received top grades, performed exceptionally well in exams and have performed brilliantly in class. Standardized test scores and GPA are taken into account while evaluating scholarship applications.
    • University: Student Scholarships are awarded by respective schools and universities to brilliant students to provide them financial aid and ensure that lack of finances do not pose a hindrance to bright young minds from achieving a good sound education.
    • Demographic: These types of scholarships are those that are awarded to certain students who belong to the minority section, are women etc.
    • Need-Based: These scholarships provide money to financially weak students who come from financially weak families and require monetary assistance. Students need to show that they are financially not strong in order to receive financial need from the university. A strong educational background and academic record as well as other attributes are taken into account while considering students for these types of scholarships.
    • Career, Industry or Major: These types of scholarships are awarded to specific students who are studying specific subjects and are in specific fields. Other scholarships which belong to this category are sponsored by the government to promote admission in fields such as education, pre-medicine or nursing.
    • Athletic: Athletic Scholarships are awarded to students who excel at sports, students who are excellent athletes as well and are extremely good in certain sports. Athletic scholarships are mostly given out to students who are exceptionally good at sports and games such as basketball, football and softball.

    Majority of these kinds of academic assistance or scholarships tend to overlap. For example, a business group that is minority in nature might provide financial assistance and give a Demographic scholarship, in terms of monetary assistance to a deserving student wanting to study finance and business. Such types of financial assistance or scholarships are also classified as Career, Industry or Major scholarship. A plethora of scholarships that are Need- Based in nature are also awarded to meritorious students by various universities and are known as University Scholarships. These scholarships are offered to deserving students who are in need of financial aid.

    The Scholarship Application Process

     The process of applying scholarships can be divided into four main steps.

    • Prepare: As majority of scholarships are based on merit, previous academic record and previous academic performance of a student is given prime importance to universities granting these kinds of scholarships to students. Your history of academic excellence, accomplishments should be well documented and various experiences and the teachings that you have learned will be of great use to you when you undertake to write an essay for your application and prepare yourself for interviews with officials from your chosen university. Also try to understand what the various scholarship committees look for. You should also study and prepare yourself for the ACT/SAT. Pursue extracurricular activities, explore service opportunities, and take guidance and assistance from counsellors, scholarship reviewers, counselors and family and friends.
    • Organize: Keep a record of all your activities and the grades that you have obtained as a sound academic record is very important to get a good scholarship. In addition, you should keep a record of all your accomplishments and all other important information for using later during your application process.
    • Search: Search often and search easily. You should lay emphasis on quantity. Begin with your chosen college. Employ the use of scholarship-search resources such as your high school counsellors or university counsellors. Seek guidance from foundations, organizations in your local community, the local businesses or community groups in the place where you reside. Seek assistance and guidance from organizations specializing in your area of study, Federal aid agencies, State grant agencies. It is advisable to target high-value scholarships that are relevant to your subject, interests, financial needs etc. have a high dollar amount and is feasible for you.
    • Apply: In addition to submitting a scholarship application form with your details, applying for a scholarship includes writing essays and submitting letters of recommendations. Several times, officials reviewing scholarships base their decisions not merely on academic record and grades of a student, but base their decisions on the various letters of recommendation provided by a student, essays written by the student as well as the interview of the student to make their final decisions of whether to award a scholarship to a student or not. Writing a good essay that is personal in additional to being thought-provoking in nature and sets one thinking can help you get a scholarship. Another way to stand out from others is to request letters of recommendation from teachers who can guarantee your skills, character and academic record are good.

    Deadlines: Time to start applying for a Scholarship

    Usually the deadline for applying for a scholarship is from six months which can exceed to a year after which a student receives a scholarship, so it is advisable to start the scholarship application as early as possible. Do adequate research to acquire a complete understanding of the various scholarships that are offered to students and scholarships that you can benefit from.

    One should also submit their well written application for a scholarship at least two or three days prior to the prescribed deadline. Applying early will give you some extra time to make amends if you accidentally face a problem. Once you have won a scholarship, remember to notify the financial aid department of your school. If you have received other scholarships, grants, student loans etc. remember the total financial aid cannot exceed the cost that you are required to pay for your tuition at your chosen university. If you require additional funds after getting a scholarship, or scholarships, then you can take student loans.

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