All students and their families yearn to receive an abundance of scholarship money to fund their college education. However, it is important to know the difference between each type of scholarship and how to potentially receive one.
Institutional Merit-Based Scholarship
Institutional Merit-Based Scholarships are scholarships from a specific college or university that is based on scholastic achievement, extracurricular involvement, etc. These scholarships are not based on one's FAFSA or CSS profile (Income basically). In my experience, these scholarships should be the most sought out of the bunch and should be a goal while you are a high school student. This is because these scholarships are usually the largest and will be renewable (use every year). Also, with a GPA and Test Score in a particular school's range alongside great extracurriculars and essays, these are typically the easiest scholarships to receive. At Mission: Scholarship, we prioritize these scholarships and help students craft applications that can be competitive in this scholarship process.
Need-Based Financial Aid Scholarship
Need-Based Financial Aid Scholarships are scholarships provided to students that are admitted with financial need. Financial need is determined by that student's family income, expected family contribution from FAFSA results, and CSS profile results. It is typically top-tiered institutions such as Stanford and Harvard that do not offer merit-based scholarships, so they award a surplus of financial aid that will make the cost of attendance extremely affordable. If you are someone with extremely high financial need, your goal should be to gain admission to a top-tiered institution that awards 100% need based financial aid. However, this scholarship can change depending on your family income and new FAFSA and CSS Profile results.
Outside scholarships are scholarships awarded by private companies or foundations. These scholarships are typically very competitive and are very difficult to receive. These scholarships also usually award less money than your Institutional Merit-Based Scholarships and Need-Based Scholarships. Outside scholarships can be based on a variety of things such as financial need, community involvement, and scholastic achievement. It is important that these scholarships are your LAST resort and that you should not count on outside scholarships covering the full cost of your education. These scholarships should be used as a supplement to financial aid offers that already include larger merit scholarships. However, applying to a large amount of these scholarships (correctly) can potentially add up and help with the costs of college. It is also important to note that some colleges deduct money from financial aid package if you use an outside scholarship. Mission: Scholarship works with students to help them perfect their applications for these competitive scholarships and helps them prepare for the interviews that come along with them.
Typically, community service foundations in your community will award small scholarships to students that attend a high school in a specific area. These scholarships are usually less competitive and with great applications you are prime to receive some these scholarships.
If your parent has a job within a specific company, try to ask them if that company provides scholarships for employers or children of employers. These scholarships are often easier to win because of the limited competition.
If you work for a specific company, research and see if that company provides scholarships for employees of that company. For example, fast food chains such as Burger King, Chick-Fil-A, and McDonalds all provide scholarships for their employees. However, those scholarships are typically very competitive.
These outside scholarships are sometimes the best ones to receive because you not only receive scholarship funds, but you may even receive an award that you can add to your resume. Typically, career-oriented extracurricular activities such as SkillsUSA, FBLA, DECA, and HOSA, will provide potential scholarship opportunities for students.
Fraternities and Sororities typically have numerous chapters across the entire country. For example, the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity has chapters in numerous urban cities that provide scholarships for students in that area. Research local fraternity and sorority chapters in your community and investigate whether they provide scholarships or not. These scholarships are usually competitive and require interviews.
These scholarships are the MOST COMPETITIVE scholarships of all. These scholarships typically offer a larger amount of money but require an extremely accomplished applicant to receive one. Some notable scholarship competitions are: Coca-Cola Scholars, Ron Brown Scholars, GE Reagan Scholars, ELKS Most Valuable Student Scholarship, Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship, Gates Scholarship, and many more. Visit the scholarship links page on this website for more information on those.
Contribute time and dedication to your community and make a difference in the lives around you. Scholarship committees loves to invest money in students that invest time into their respective communities and make a lasting impact.
Lead an organization or a cause that strives to make great change in the community. Scholarship committees are looking for the "LEADERS" of tomorrow not just participants.
Craft exceptional essays that showcase who you are and what change you plan on continuing to make in the future. Essays should showcase your authenticity and passion for a certain cause. DO NOT BE AFRAID TO TAKE RISKS!