How to Get Academic Scholarships

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What is an academic scholarship?

Doing well in school brings all sorts of opportunities for students. Students are able to help fund their higher education by working hard in their early academic career. Academic scholarships are college scholarships awarded to students based on their academic achievement. These scholarships look at students' GPAs, test scores, and other academic indicators of success.

Generally, academic scholarships are a form of financial aid that is awarded to incoming college students based on their merit rather than financial need. Often administered by a school's admissions office, rather than their financial aid office, these scholarships are awarded to a very small percentage of students.

While many academic scholarships - also known as merit scholarships - focus on awarding students just leaving high school, each scholarship program varies, giving opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students to earn financial aid through college scholarships.

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Merit-based scholarships require a certain level of excellence. Students with top grades in their classes and great test scores are more likely to be chosen as scholarship recipients. However, what does that mean? How can you know, as a high school student or college student, that you can earn academic scholarships?

If you are considering merit-based scholarships as a source of financial aid, be sure to keep your grades up and study hard for these competitive college scholarships. Additionally, consider applying to other scholarships as well in order to ensure that you find some source of scholarship money.

Click here to learn more about what an academic scholarship is.

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Academic scholarships on Bold.org

On Bold.org, there are a variety of different types of scholarships. Academic scholarships offered are those that have GPA requirements. Many scholarships on Bold.org have a GPA requirement to determine the scholarship winner based on both need and merit. To find academic scholarships on Bold.org, look for scholarship categories that interest you most. Likely, there will be scholarships offered in that category that fit the mold of a merit scholarship, offering their award based on academic excellence. Below are a few examples of academic scholarships on Bold.org:

  1. Mark A. Jefferson Teaching Scholarship
  2. TeluguPeople for America Scholarship
  3. Betty and Louie Dicks SCSU Scholarship
  4. Teaching Technicians Scholarship
  5. Precious K. Hollins Dental School Scholarship

For more scholarships on Bold.org, browse our scholarship search page, which updates with new scholarships every week.

Academic scholarships from universities

Academic scholarships are offered through scholarship programs at most institutions. Students can do research on their prospective schools to see how they award academic college scholarships.

This may look different depending on the location and type of university you are attending. Some schools hold scholarship competitions for high school seniors the year they graduate so that they can assess how much financial aid they would receive from different schools.

At the same time, colleges may examine your college application to automatically choose you for academic scholarships or give you scholarships depending on your success in college. The better your grades are, especially early on, the more likely you are to secure an academic scholarship that lasts through your college career.

As undergraduate students and graduate students, it is important to look into what your school has to offer. Talk to an academic advisor or someone from your school's financial aid office to make sure you're taking advantage of all opportunities available to you.

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National academic scholarship opportunities

Many college scholarships are awarded based on academic excellence in high school. Students who rank higher in their high school class and have better SAT/ACT scores are more likely to win merit-based scholarships since these types of scholarships don't necessarily take financial need into account.

For example, some of the most well-known merit scholarships are the ones given by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation, which awards high school students based on their PSAT scores.

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

What qualifies a student for a scholarship?

Whether or not you qualify for a scholarship is highly dependent on the type of scholarship and what its application criteria are. For academic scholarships, students qualify by having exceptional grades, being in the top percentage of their class, and earning high test scores. These factors attract the attention of scholarship committees looking to award scholarships based on merit.

Every scholarship has a different set of requirements applicants must meet in order to apply, so make sure you know what you are eligible for before diving into the application process.

Visit our scholarship blog for more on how to apply for academic scholarships.

How winners are selected

Because merit scholarships award scholarship money based on students' academic performance, the winners are the students with the best academic record. Extracurricular activities can be a factor for some schools when choosing the winners of their merit scholarships, but if your grades are not above and beyond, you would have a better chance of earning financial aid through a different type of scholarship program.

Academic scholarships for high school students

High school seniors going into college are often awarded academic scholarships when they apply to various schools. Most schools offer some full-tuition scholarships to extraordinary high school seniors, but there are many other smaller scholarships offered that don't cover the full price of tuition.

When you apply for a college, there won't always be a separate application for merit scholarships. Graduating high school seniors who submit their applications to schools are often instantly put in the running for an academic scholarship. Schools with a competitive scholarship program established usually have a process for how they choose the winners of their scholarships.

The bottom line is that if you have good grades in high school, the colleges you apply to will notice and may even award you merit scholarships as a result. Schools are looking to recruit outstanding students for their college education programs, and financial incentives are a good way to get high-performing high school seniors and transfer students to attend.

Academic scholarships for college students

College students looking for academic scholarship opportunities have several options. Students who have received merit-based scholarships already usually have the opportunity to renew their scholarships. This is dependent on the level of competition for the scholarships and if the students continue to perform exceptionally, which can make this kind of scholarship stressful. The process of renewing merit scholarships may look different for private scholarships or for a prestigious merit scholarship program.

Once you get to college, the institution scholarship committee will start to look at more than just grades. If you have community service, for example, you would become a better candidate than someone without community service experience who has the same grades. Explore what scholarship program opportunities are available at your school, especially based on your experience and skills.

Want to start finding the best academic scholarships for you? Sign up here, and starting apply for merit-based scholarship today.

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Frequently asked questions about academic scholarships

Academic, or merit-based, scholarships aren't as straightforward as many scholarships that require a simple application. To help high school students and college students alike understand academic scholarships, this guide has answers to some of the questions asked most often.

What are the easiest scholarships to get?

The easiest scholarships to be selected for are not necessarily the same as the easiest scholarships to apply for.

Easy scholarships to apply for, such as no-essay scholarships, don't take long and are simple to apply to. However, because the application process is so simple, many students apply for easier scholarships. With such a large pool of applicants, it is harder to win.

Sometimes the scholarships that are easier to win are the ones that have more requirements or take longer to apply for simply because fewer people apply to scholarships that aren't "easy." If there is a scholarship that has many requirements, it may take you longer to prepare and apply, but you will have a much higher chance of winning, given that the applicant pool is smaller.

All of that being said, academic scholarships are possible to get if you have excellent grades and test scores. However, getting to the point where academic scholarships are easy to earn takes a lot of effort. Having good grades, exceptional test scores, and an overall great school record isn't easy and takes a lot of hard work and persistence.

So, whether you are looking for a scholarship that's easy to apply for or one that is easy to win, know that getting scholarships isn't easy, especially with how competitive they can get. It's important to keep trying and not be discouraged if you don't win at first.

Do you have to pay back scholarships?

Scholarships are, in essence, "free money." Students earn scholarship money through hard work, academic excellence, and great applications. When you win a scholarship, the money is your reward for the hard work you've put in. Unlike a student loan, scholarship money does not have to be paid back. It is gift aid, which helps college students pay for their schooling.

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