There is a pervading myth that you have to be the best of the best—either in athletics or academics—in order to win a scholarship. Such a lofty requirement might scare away some students from even trying to apply for scholarships. The fact is, while good grades and sports skills can earn someone scholarship money, they’re hardly the only traits awarded.
Scholarship Opportunities Galore
Scholarships are as diverse as the people who earn them. There are scholarships for planning to major in a certain field, scholarships for participating in a specific club, scholarships for entering creative contests, scholarships for being a racial minority, there are even scholarships for being left-handed or speaking fluent Klingon!
Merit-Based and Need-Based Scholarships
Those types of scholarships fall under the category of “merit-based“, meaning the award is given out based on who you are and what you do (and how well you do it). Sure, academics and sports can be one of many factors, but there’s also volunteer hours, niche hobbies, essay contests, and so much more that you can earn a scholarship with.
Most scholarships are actually “need-based” and are given out by either the federal government or the colleges themselves. Colleges will give prospective students a financial aid package, also known as an award letter, that outlines what kind of aid they can give to the student. (They want you to attend, after all, and you can’t do that if it’s too expensive).
The government also gives out a number of scholarships and grants. By filing the FAFSA, students can discover what federal aid they’re eligible for, and earn some money from The Man in order to help fund their higher education.
So if you’re not captain of the football team or the ace valedictorian, don’t sweat it. There are plenty of scholarship opportunities for you out there—just take the time to look! (And apply).
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