How to Get Academic Scholarships

While essential in today's job market, a college education is an incredibly expensive investment. One way to help cover the cost of higher education is by obtaining a scholarship. A number of scholarships are available to students, some of which cover full tuition plus books and living expenses. What's best, you don't have to pay back the money that scholarships provide.

What are Scholarships?

Scholarships are intended to help college and university students fund their education. Scholarship money can help pay for tuition, books, housing and everyday essentials like food and clothing. Sometimes scholarships fund only a portion of these expenses. However, other full-ride scholarships pay for everything.

A number of scholarships are available, including specific scholarships for women, African decent scholarships, Native American scholarships and more. Sometimes these scholarships are awarded based on merit or achievement. Other scholarships are awarded based on need.

Types of Scholarships

Literally thousands of scholarships are available to students, including:

  • Academic Scholarships: Academic scholarships are awarded to students who have performed exceptionally well in their studies. Colleges often recruit promising students with academic scholarships in the hope that the students' academic contributions will earn recognition for the institution.
  • Athletic Scholarships: Colleges often recruit talented athletes to their institutions via athletic scholarships. Athletic scholarships are available for football players, dancers, golfers, tennis players and more.
  • Background Scholarships: These scholarships are awarded to students of various backgrounds. Often, these scholarships are used to make a college campus more diverse and culturally interesting. Background scholarships include Native American, Hispanic and African decent scholarships.
  • Unusual Scholarships: A multitude of unusual scholarships exist, from scholarships for lefthanders to scholarships for twins. Think you don't have a marketable talent? Guess again. There is almost certainly a scholarship out there with your name on it waiting to be discovered.

To find scholarships, try searching online or visit the financial aid office of your high school or college.

How to Apply for Scholarships

The application process for scholarships varies greatly, depending on the scholarship. Some scholarship applications are simple, involving a basic application and perhaps an essay explaining why the student deserves the award. Other scholarship applications are much more complex and may involve quite a lot of paperwork. Expect to submit transcripts, a series of essays and several letters of recommendation. In addition, you might have to complete a personal interview.

When applying for scholarships, remember that you'll be competing with many other well-qualified students. If you want to increase your chances of receiving a scholarship, apply for several. However, don't apply for so many scholarships that you submit inferior application packets. Take the time to produce quality to ensure your applications is not discarded.