Merit, need student or career specific scholarships

November 8, 2009

Sorting out the confusion...

The most common scholarships may be classified as:

  • Merit-based: These awards are based on a student's athletic, academic, artistic or other abilities, and often factor in an applicant's community service record and extracurricular activities. The most common merit-based scholarships, awarded by either private organizations or directly by a student's intended college, recognize academic achievement or high scores on the ACT and SAT standardized tests.
  • Need-based: These awards are based on the student and family's financial record and will require applicants to fill out a FAFSA to qualify if the scholarship is a federal award. Private need-based scholarships will also often require the results of a FAFSA, which calculates a student's financial need through a formula looking at the expected family contribution and cost of attendance at the intended college.
  • Student-specific: These are scholarships where applicants must initially qualify by race, gender, religion, family and medical history, or many other student-specific factors. 
  • Career-specific: These are scholarships awarded by a college or university to students planning to pursue a specific field of study. Often the most generous awards are given to students pursuing careers in high-need areas such as education or nursing.  

Get your scholarship forms and registrations in several weeks before the deadline. Because If you miss the deadline, no money will be coming in. Be extremely careful to follow all the guidelines. Some guidelines are more ridiculous than others, however if you don’t follow the guidelines you will be out of the runnings.

Make a copy of the entire packet and keep it on file in case your packet goes astray.  Make sure your name (and student ID, social security number, if applicable) appears on each page of the material to ensure that nothing is lost. 

Lastly, a great place to start looking for private money scholarships is:

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