What is a Scholarship?
A scholarship is an award of financial aid for a student to further their education. Scholarships are awarded based on various criteria, which usually reflect the values and purposes of the donor.
Scholarships have three basic components: merit, financial need, and any other miscellaneous components. Scholarships usually have one, two or three of these components. The combination and/or strength of these components will determine how competitive you are for a scholarship.
Merit consists of recent or current grades.
- Very high merit is a 3.75 and above.
- High merit is a 3.5 to 3.74.
- Merit is a 3.0 to 3.49.
There are scholarship opportunities for students who have below a 3.0 GPA; however, for these scholarships, financial need, gender, or ethnicity usually plays a greater role in eligibility than merit.
There are two types of financial need in the scholarship process:
- Financial need which requires FAFSA completion
- Individual scholarship assessment
Financial Need Formula Defined by FAFSA
Financial Aid offices are required to use a government formula for federal and state grant funds and student loans. The FAFSA formula takes into account the student's income and income taxes, the number people living in the student's household, and many other concrete measurements. Some scholarships utilize this formula to determine need.
Individual Scholarship Assessment
The individual scholarship program uses its own assessment criteria to determine financial need.
Community Service/Volunteer Work
Anything you do for others at an organization such as a school, church, youth organization, or nonprofit facility will be considered here. It can also include helping a neighbor or relative who is a senior or who is disabled.
This could include female students, ethnic minority students, first-generation students whose parents don't have college degrees, and students who are single parents.