Different Types of Scholarships

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College is expensive, so it's important to look for financial aid sources to help you prepare to pay for higher education. One of the best ways to help pay for a college education is through college scholarships. Bold.org exists to help students pay for their schooling, offering scholarships for all students. But with so many scholarships out there, it can be hard to know where to start.

The best way to maximize scholarship money is to choose the best scholarships for you. In order to find these scholarships, it's helpful to know the different types of scholarships available for students. Sign up for a free profile and gain access to hundreds of scholarships. To see what types of scholarships you can apply for, see the categories of scholarships on Bold.org that help you find scholarships in your state, for your education level, for your major, and for your background, ethnicity, and identity.

Merit-based scholarships

Merit scholarships are scholarships awarded based on academic performance. The better a student's grades are, the more likely they are to earn academic scholarships. Merit-based scholarships are for students with exceptional grades and test scores, supporting students in the top percentiles of their class. Merit scholarships are not based on financial need, but rather support students that exemplify academic excellence throughout their schooling.

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Academic scholarships require students to have a certain GPA in order to be applicable. On Bold.org, merit-based scholarships are those with GPA requirements. Many scholarships have a minimum required grade point average in order for students to apply. These scholarships help students who have significant academic achievement. If you want to learn more, check out this guide on understanding merit scholarships.

different types of scholarships image: merit scholarships

How to apply for merit-based scholarships

Scholarship websites, such as Bold.org, are excellent places to find academic scholarships. Bold.org has many scholarship opportunities for students with exemplary academic work, some of which are listed on this page dedicated to merit-based scholarships. Applying for a merit scholarship isn't any more difficult than applying for a normal scholarship. By being applicable for merit aid, you've already done significant hard work that is reflected in your GPA.

Sample merit-based scholarships

With so many merit-based scholarship opportunities on Bold.org, students with excellent academic records don't have to look far to find scholarships available to them. To give some examples of what a merit-based scholarship looks like, here are a few merit-based scholarships you can apply for by creating an account on Bold.org.

  1. Focus Forward Scholarship
  2. Cliff T. Wofford STEM Scholarship
  3. V.C. Willis Foundation Scholarship
  4. Hester Richardson Powell Memorial Service Scholarship
  5. Stefanie Ann Cronin Make a Difference Scholarship

Private scholarships

Private scholarships are financial aid opportunities offered by various organizations, groups, companies, and individual donors. These scholarships, which are funded by private individuals or businesses, often reflect the group or person creating the scholarship. For example, a company that specializes in technology might create a private scholarship that is open specifically for technology or STEM majors.

The scholarships offered on Bold.org are primarily private, given that donors fund scholarships of their own creation that are geared specifically to the demographic of students they want to support. Donors may be individuals, organizations, or groups of people. Bold.org gives credit to our donors and allows them to create scholarships for specific students.

Public scholarships are more closely associated with federal student aid, which helps provide larger-scale federal financial aid to students attending or planning to attend college. Federal and state governments give out various student grants throughout the year.

How to apply for private scholarships

Most people don't think of the scholarships they apply for as private scholarships and therefore may not even realize how many private scholarships they've already applied for. Nothing is different about the application for private scholarships when compared to public scholarships. The only thing to keep an eye out for is that private scholarships usually have more eligibility requirements, tailoring the award to students of specific backgrounds and interests.

Sample private scholarships

Bold.org is packed full of private scholarships, so under every category and every education level, you will find examples of private scholarships available to students. Below, there are a few examples of private scholarships currently listed on Bold.org. Some are supported by businesses or organizations, while others are funded by private individuals.

  1. GIST Sports Media No-Essay Scholarship
  2. Cat Zingano Overcoming Loss Scholarship
  3. @ESPDaniella Debt Grant
  4. Learner Scholarship for High School Seniors
  5. Doan Foundation Arts Scholarship

Activity-based scholarships

There is a wide range of activity-based scholarships given to both high school students and current college students. "Activities" qualify as many things, from athletics to community service to hobbies. To support activities of all kinds, Bold.org offers scholarships that fit students' interests and experiences.

How to apply for activity-based scholarships

Depending on the activity you are interested in, the number of available scholarships may vary. For example, athletic scholarships are some of the most highly coveted college scholarships available for students. There are many student-athletes who want to continue their sport in college, and therefore seek out scholarships to do so. Check out this list of athletic scholarships to find the best opportunities for you. It is important to note that athletic scholarships given out by schools and the NCAA are extremely competitive, so using a third party source like Bold.org can be helpful to students looking for athletic scholarships to alleviate their financial need.

On Bold.org, you can also find community service scholarships that support students who give back to their communities. Additionally, on the scholarship search page, you can find a section for “Creators,” which offers various creative scholarships, as well as sections for “Hobbies,” and “Study Abroad." All of these scholarships exist to support your various interests and activities. Donors award scholarships to students who are well-rounded and have interests outside of academics.

Sample activity-based scholarships

Since activities vary greatly, the list of activity-based scholarships could go on and on. Included below are scholarship opportunities that range from athletic scholarships to community service awards to scholarships for student hobbies. Students attending college have the opportunity to apply for all sorts of scholarships year-round that cater to their activities outside of school life. Some of these are listed here:

  1. Peter T. Buecher Memorial Scholarship
  2. Marcarelli Community Spirit Scholarship
  3. Terry Masters Memorial Scholarship
  4. Health & Wellness Scholarship

Major-based scholarships

More types of scholarships are awarded to students pursuing certain degrees. Major-specific scholarships are those that give scholarships based on what major a student is pursuing. Institutions often offer scholarships for different majors. Depending on the popularity of your major, there may be more or less money allocated to students of your degree. On Bold.org, there are scholarships for students of all majors. The scholarship categories give you an idea of what majors have exclusive scholarships available.

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Choosing a college major can be difficult since it will help determine your career path after college. To help students who want to know more about choosing a major, the Bold.org scholarship blog offers insights into what to major in and the most popular majors.

How to apply for major-based scholarships

There are hundreds of college majors out there, so finding scholarships for your specific degree isn't always easy. However, oftentimes your major fits within a broader field. For example, a student studying electrical engineering would have better luck finding STEM scholarships over scholarships specifically for electrical engineers.

The categories page directs students to groups of scholarships that match their major. You can find pages for education scholarships, nursing scholarships, law school scholarships, MBA scholarships, and scholarships for various other degree programs.

Sample major-based scholarships

So many majors have scholarships associated with them, but some are more frequent than others. Here are a few scholarships for popular majors:

  1. Minority/Women in STEM Scholarship
  2. Elevate Women in Technology Scholarship
  3. Mark A. Jefferson Teaching Scholarship
  4. Dashanna K. McNeil Memorial Scholarship
  5. YourLife YourStory Foundation Scholarship

Identity-based scholarships

While some scholarships are offered based on your academic achievements, interests, or majors, others are awarded to students based on their background. Identity-based scholarships are given to students who identify a certain way, in terms of gender, ethnicity, sexuality, parental status, citizenship, mental health, first-generation college student status, etc.

Depending on a student's background, they may be disadvantaged or not have the same resources as other students their same age. Scholarships exist to help support these students with financial need as they pursue higher education.

How to apply for identity-based scholarships

Some scholarships are specifically for minorities, giving minority students of varying races and ethnicities an equal opportunity to fulfill their education. Scholarships also exist for women, first-generation college students, and international students.

These scholarships, along with LGBTQ+ scholarships and mental health scholarships, help celebrate students' differences and recognize how they have worked hard and persevered through life challenges. On the categories page, you can find identity scholarships under both the sections "Scholarships by Ethnicity" and "Other Types of Scholarships." Here, you will have access to groups of scholarships for students of all backgrounds.

Sample identity-based Scholarships

Scholarships exist under each different identity category. Here are some scholarships from various identities supported on Bold.org.

  1. Small Seed Big Flower Scholarship
  2. Desiree Jeana Wapples Scholarship for Young Women
  3. Ryder Collections Scholarship
  4. Pride in Diversity Scholarship
  5. Ethel Hayes Destigmatization of Mental Health Scholarship

Wondering if scholarships expire? Check out this blog to learn more!

Frequently asked questions about different types of scholarships

Given that there is such a wide range of scholarships out there, it is understandable that students come across certain questions regarding the different types of scholarships available. Below are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about various types of scholarships. To learn more about scholarships in general, see this post about how scholarships work.

What are the most common types of scholarships?

The most common types of scholarship applications are essay scholarships. Since it is such a broad category, most scholarships offered are those that include an essay question to be answered in the application.

Additionally, most scholarships on Bold.org are associated with a major, and many others are based in part on merit. The most common types of scholarships are those that are specific to a major or have a GPA requirement.

What are some of the easiest scholarships to get?

The easiest scholarships to apply for are not necessarily the easiest ones to win. Easy scholarships only take a few clicks to enter. However, because they are open to such a vast group of people, your chances of winning them are very small. You will have a better chance of winning scholarships with more eligibility requirements. The more criteria there are, the fewer people will apply, and therefore it will be easier to win. Keep in mind that scholarships are competitive and it isn't "easy" to win them, but if you use your time wisely and choose scholarships that are right for you, you will give yourself the best chance possible of winning.

Do you have to pay back scholarships?

Unlike a student loan, a scholarship is akin to "free money," meaning that you get the money for free, with no payment required before or after receiving it. Scholarships are gift aid, given because of a student's exemplary record or application. They are not like student loans, in that they do not ever have to be repaid.

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How do you get a full-ride scholarship?

Getting a full-ride scholarship is not an easy thing to do, primarily because there are so few of them offered. If you are curious as to how you can get a full ride to your school, speak with the financial aid office to find out how many full-ride scholarships they give out and what is required of students in order to get one.

It usually takes exceptional grades and top-notch applications in order to qualify for a full ride. Sign up today to gain access to hundreds of scholarships and useful resources. If you want to improve your applications, check out this guide on how to write a scholarship essay. From there, visit the Bold.org scholarship blog to learn more about how to get a full-ride scholarship.