Every scholarship counts when you’re looking to ease the burden of tuition—especially now when the cost of college is on the rise. So what are the best scholarships to pay for college? Let’s dig in.
At private colleges, the average college tuition cost increased by about 4% over the past year. While public college tuition remains more economical than private tuition, costs have risen 2% for in-state students and 1.4% for out-of-state students.
To ease the cost of a college education and limit the burden of student loans, it’s important to find the best scholarships to pay for college. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover all about scholarships—including how to get a scholarship, the best scholarships for college students, and where to find scholarship opportunities.
How to get a scholarship
Scholarship opportunities are often quite competitive, so it’s important to be proactive and put your best foot forward. Here’s our best advice for getting a scholarship for college.
Keep Track of Deadlines
Scholarship deadlines are firm; if you want to win a scholarship, your application must be on time. Free tools like Evernote and MyStudyLife can help you remember application deadlines, take notes, and keep track of which scholarships you’ve applied for.
If you tend to be forgetful, a physical calendar might be a better option. Create a scholarship calendar and place it somewhere you’ll regularly see to ensure you meet all deadlines. Missing a deadline will cost you the scholarship opportunity, so plan ahead and find ways to stay organized.
Refine your Application
Craft a compelling personal statement that highlights your achievements, aspirations, and the qualities that make you a unique and strong candidate. But, be sure to read the scholarship guidelines closely, as many scholarships will require a unique essay that fits their prompt. Your scholarship essay should address the prompt and highlight your experiences, challenges, and how you’ve grown.
Make sure that your application materials—including your resume, personal statement, and essay—are error-free. Don’t forget to proofread and edit your essay meticulously. A free proofreading tool, like Grammarly, can help you find and fix typos before you submit your application. After all, you want your essay to stand out for the right reasons, not because of spelling and grammar mistakes.
Submitting the best scholarship applications can help you improve your chances, so be sure to put your best self forward.
What are the best scholarships to apply for?
Applying for scholarships that genuinely resonate with you will make your application more compelling. So, it’s best to select scholarships that align with your goals, interests, and qualifications.
After all, why not get recognized for all the amazing things you bring to the table? Here are the different types of scholarships for college, and some free scholarships to apply for.
Types of Scholarships
There are three main types of scholarships for students: Merit-based, need-based, and niche scholarships.
Merit-Based College Scholarships
Merit-based scholarships are usually awarded based on excellence in academics, athletics, music, art, and more. Here are some merit scholarships for students:
- The Coca-Cola Scholars Program Scholarship is one of the top scholarships for high school students. This achievement-based scholarship is awarded to high school seniors.
- The National Merit Scholarship Program is another top scholarship for high school students. This scholarship functions as an academic competition, so there are several steps required to apply.
- The National Honor Society also offers a scholarship for high school seniors who are members of the organization.
Need-Based College Scholarships
Need-based scholarships are granted to students who demonstrate financial need. These scholarships consider factors like your family’s income and expenses. Here are a few need-based scholarships for students:
- The Horatio Alger Association Scholarship is one of the largest need-based college scholarship programs in the United States. This scholarship is for high school students who have a financial need and have overcome adversity in their lives.
- The Dell Scholars Program goes a step further than other scholarships by providing winners with personalized support, a computer, textbook credits, and therapy in addition to the scholarship funds.
- The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Scholarship is designed to support students who work hard and have financial need.
Other College Scholarships
There are several other types of scholarships available. Some of these scholarships are for students with particular interests, in specific fields of study, with particular demographic backgrounds, or with military experience. Here are a few unique scholarships for students:
- The Gates Scholarship prioritizes minority high school seniors from low-income households.
- The Aysen Tunca Memorial Scholarship is awarded to a female undergraduate student pursuing a STEM degree.
- The Student Research Group Scholarship is offered to high school students who are involved in their communities.
Where to Find the Best Scholarships for Pay for College
There are several different ways to find college scholarship opportunities. Here are the steps we recommend:
- Talk to your guidance counselor about local opportunities.
Local organizations, businesses, memorial funds, and community foundations often provide scholarships to local students. These opportunities are likely to be exclusive to high school seniors in your area, meaning the applicant pools will be small; that gives you a good chance to win!
- Browse scholarship opportunities through your university.
Most colleges and universities offer institutional scholarships, as do many departments within universities. Contact your institution’s financial aid office, or your department head, to find out about these opportunities. Scholarships that are exclusive to your university or to your department will have limited applicant pools, improving your chances of winning.
- Browse scholarship opportunities on search engine sites
Whether you opt for a Google search or browse a scholarship-specific website, there are an endless amount of scholarship opportunities out there! To increase your odds, be sure to only apply to scholarships that you fit the criteria for and tailor your applications accordingly.
Find more free scholarships on StudyLab!
Find the best scholarships to pay for college through StudyLab’s Scholarship Finder. Whether it’s academics, hobbies, or those secret talents you’ve got—there’s a scholarship for it.
Applying is easy: StudyLab provides direct links and straightforward instructions to guide you through the application process. And if you join the notification list, you’ll never miss an opportunity. We’ll let you know whenever you’re a good fit for a new scholarship opportunity.
Get started with your scholarship search by signing up at StudyLab.me and navigating to the Scholarship Finder tab. Then, simply swipe through scholarships that fit your goals and hit apply!