Scholarships for College Students: Types and What You Need to Know

May 31, 2024
2 min read

Are you seeking a scholarship for a college within or outside your residential city? Discover the myriad of opportunities available in this guide. 

Scholarships are vital resources that offer financial aid, invaluable support, and opportunities. This article will explore the different scholarship types and what you need to know to pursue these opportunities effectively. 

Types of Scholarships for College Available 

There are various scholarships for every type of student, no matter your financial status, academic achievements, experience, or needs. Here’s a list of the various types of scholarships for college students:

Merit-Based Scholarships

Merit-based scholarships are scholarships for students with exceptional GPAs plus an impressive involvement in extracurricular activities. A part of the requirements is top scores in high school and college exams. 

The National Merit Scholarship is awarded to high school students with top scores in PSAT/NMSQT (Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test). 

This scholarship is highly competitive, with about 15,000 applicants from different schools. The winners receive a one-time payment of $2,500, covering most of the fees, including tuition, books, and other fees.

Need-Based Scholarships

Need-based scholarships are designed for students based on their financial needs rather than academic achievements. To qualify for this type of scholarship, you must demonstrate that you come from a low-income background. 

There is no specific income threshold that prevents students from winning need-based scholarships. Some organizations assess financial needs based on family income, while others may consider the number of dependents in the family. 

For example, the Herbert Lehman Education Fund Scholarship is open to US citizens with a combined family income of $70,000 or less. 

Athletic Scholarships

Colleges award athletic scholarships based on the athlete's performance in several sports. Institutions target students who excel in sports and academics. 

These scholarships can cover tuition, fees, and sometimes room and board. Nearly every sport has specific scholarships, from football to volleyball and gymnastics. While some schools seek recommendations from coaches, others seek students with national or international participation.

The American Legion Baseball Scholarship offers between $22,000 and $25,000 to deserving baseball teams each year. The school's Baseball Committee selects a player to receive the outstanding scholarship. While each player receives $500, the most outstanding member of the All-Academic Team gets a $5,000 scholarship.

Art Scholarships

This scholarship category recognizes students with exceptional talents in music, dance, visual arts, crafts, theatre, or other artistic fields. The selection process is highly competitive, so students participate in competitions, auditions, or exhibitions to showcase their skills and increase their chances of success.

While some art colleges fund these scholarships, others are funded by private organizations, like the Jazz Society of Fairfield County’s Micky Golomb Memorial Scholarship. This scholarship offers up to $5,000 for tuition assistance to students enrolled in a music degree program or interested in jazz education.

Scholarships for International Students 

If you choose to study outside your home country, quite a few scholarships are dedicated to international students. These opportunities are sponsored by various institutions, including colleges and universities, private foundations, non-profit organizations, government programs, and individual donors.

International student scholarships provide financial support, facilitate cultural exchange, and strengthen global ties. To qualify, some schools may require applicants to take language proficiency tests, like the TOEFL, submit strong recommendation letters, demonstrate leadership skills, and maintain a high academic profile.

Major-Based Scholarships

Major-specific scholarships are offered to students with outstanding performance and absolute dedication to excellence. Scholarships for specific majors support students in emerging fields and promote research in specific areas.

These scholarships can cover a range of disciplines, including STEM majors, arts, business, and others. STEM field scholarships, for example, aim to develop talent in science, technology, engineering, and math

An example is the GeneTex Scholarship Program, which will award $2000  to students pursuing a STEM undergraduate or graduate degree. The scholarship will be awarded to one student twice a year. 

Scholarships for Transfer Students 

If you have to move from one college to another, there are various aids to ease your transition. These scholarships help reduce the financial burden during your transfer. 

Transfer scholarships have varying requirements, including academic achievement, financial need, extracurricular involvement, community service, demographic background, and specific major. 

Schools like Minnesota State University Moorhead offer three types of scholarships for transfer students: automatic, competitive, and need-based. These scholarships are sponsored by the MSUM Foundation, alumni, businesses, and private foundations. 

State-Specific Scholarships 

Specific states in different countries provide scholarship opportunities for their residents. They may be need-based, merit-based, or college-specific. The scholarship usually covers tuition and other expenses between six to twelve months. 

For example, the state of Texas has many scholarships available for residents. To be a recipient, you must meet the state's requirements. Some scholarships require a certain GPA, and others require that you enroll in a specific college.

Community Service Scholarships 

Community Service Scholarship rewards students who participate actively in community and civic duties. The sponsors are usually Federal Work-Study programs and Non-profit social organizations like The American Red Cross. Providing these aids is a compensation for students' passion and a way of giving back to the community. 

San Marino Woman’s Club is a generous philanthropic organization with a mission to help needy women, children, and the disabled in the San Gabriel Valley region of Los Angeles. The club awards annual scholarships to students who exemplify similar values. 

Scholarships for Underrepresented Groups 

Scholarships aimed at the underrepresented or minority create a path to empower people from marginalized backgrounds. They allow them to participate fully in an educational system like any other student. 

Underrepresented groups include ethnic and racial minorities, students with disability, the LGBTQ+ community, first-generation students, and adult learners. To be a recipient, you must submit proof that you belong to any of these minorities. 

An example is the Pride Foundation Scholarship. The Pride Foundation offers scholarships to LGBTQ seniors from one of these states: Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, and Montana. 

Scholarships for Women

Today, women have greater chances of studying with scholarships. There are scholarships for single mothers, high schoolers, women who were victims of violence, and women in different fields of study. These scholarships prevent women from getting into bad debt and provide them with support and motivation. 

An example is the Fresh Start Scholarship Foundation, which provides scholarships to women across Delaware returning to school for an undergraduate degree after an educational break. The winning woman receives up to $2,500. 

The Otto Bear Memorial Scholarship is another scholarship for women that offers $5,000 to two female high schoolers who want to pursue a STEM major. 

Religious Scholarships

Certain religions offer scholarships to students with an affiliation. Some religious scholarships may be academic, merit-based, or based on active involvement in religious activities. 

These scholarships can have sponsors from religious denominations, private organizations, or colleges affiliated with a specific faith. 

Students of the College of Wooster receive $1,000 to $3,000 per year via the covenant scholarship. Incoming first-year students are privy to this scholarship. They must be Presbyterian Church (USA) members who have demonstrated academic achievement and active involvement in the church and community.

FAQs: Scholarships for College Students

You may have questions about how to get scholarships for college undergraduates. Here are some answers to FAQs:

1. What Are the Common Types of Scholarships?

The common types of scholarships include merit-based scholarships, need-based scholarships, minority scholarships, major-specific scholarships, athletic scholarships, and community service scholarships. 

2. Which Type of Scholarship Is Recommended for College Students?

College students should search for scholarships according to their needs, for instance, students with disabilities or learning impairments. If you excel academically, we recommend merit-based scholarships. If you belong to a minority group, you need a scholarship for underrepresented groups, and if you have financial constraints, need-based scholarships could be the best option.

3. What Is the Easiest Type of Scholarship to Get?

The easiest types of scholarships are those with few requirements. Several private colleges have automatic scholarships, which usually use academic performance as the criterion. These may be competitive. On the other hand, athletic scholarships are easier to obtain because they have narrow eligibility criteria.

4. Can Someone Help Me Apply For a Scholarship?

Yes, you can work with a college admissions consultant who will help you find and apply to college, including scholarships. In fact, our admissions counselors at Foundation Learning Group have secured over 23 million dollars in Scholarship Awards.

"The scholarship application advising is so top-notch that your child can apply the lessons learned from a few applications to every single scholarship they pursue. My son has won over $100,000 in awards AND secured admission to Duke University! That is more than 10 TIMES what I paid for the program." - Andie, Parent


There is an aid for the genius in Maths and the talented player. No matter your grades, interests, leadership skills, or background, there are specific scholarships for college students.

Seek a scholarship unique to you through readers and a proper understanding of the available opportunities. After a thorough research, consider and follow each requirement carefully. Submit your applications and wait for the good news. 

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