What is a Scholarship? How to apply, types and requirements

what is scholarship

It is a financial assistance/aid tailored to help aspirants and students cover costs of their undergraduate, postgraduate, and other academic degrees. Some scholarships from the school level are renewable, offering financial support every year or semester. Some are one-time support programs. These scholarships are not similar to student loans, i.e. they are not repayable. Students may receive money in their names or the institutions may receive the same in some scenarios.

Scholarships are provided on the basis of specific eligibility criteria including financial situation, academic accomplishments and more. They are given by educational institutions, private individuals, governments authorities, businesses, charities, organizations and foundations. They are mostly need-based or merit-based.

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What are the types of scholarships

Here are the various types of scholarships available for eligible applicants:

1. Merit-Based-: These are offered on the basis of academic, artistic and athletic abilities of students. Requirements vary across providers of scholarships.

2. Country of Origin-: There are scholarships offered to international students planning to attend courses in a particular country.

3. Special Backgrounds-: Some scholarships are given on the basis of parameters like gender, race, medical history, religion, etc.

4. Subject-Based-: These are awarded by government bodies and educational institutions to students specializing in a particular area/field of study.

5. Program-Based-: These are presented by educational institutions as per the personal and academic accomplishments of applicants.

How to get a scholarship?

If you are wondering how to get a scholarship, you should know that they are not only awarded to those obtaining high scores or GPAs. There are varying eligibility criteria depending upon the institution/organization/individual/foundation awarding the scholarship.

Here are some general criteria that you may keep in mind:

1. Academic Performance-: High GPAs/academic scores automatically qualify students for various types of scholarships. There are minimum cut-offs that you should keep in mind.

2. Diversity-Based-: Scholarships often have various eligibility criteria like belonging to a particular community, orientation, affiliation, etc. Female applicants may have special scholarships as well.

3. Financial Aspects-: Those with insufficient family income may find need-based scholarships. Source of income proof will be required along with considerable academic prowess.

4. Extra-Curricular Abilities-: Leadership positions in extra-curricular activities and clubs/schools/colleges may help aspirants be considered for various types of scholarships. Contributions to society are essential in this case.

5. Essay-Based-: Some scholarships are awarded on the basis of writing skills or essays. A topic is given, and students have to answer the same with an essay or even more.

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General tips on getting scholarships

1. Check university websites carefully for scholarships.

2. Advance preparation is important. Make a note of interviews, questions, application forms and other aspects beforehand.

3. You should work hard to achieve high grades along with taking part in extracurricular activities.

4. Stand out from regular applicants, cultivate diverse interests, get involved with local community initiatives, etc.

5. Leadership skills and social contributions are highly valued by scholarship providers.

6. Letters of recommendation also help students obtain scholarships on the basis of various criteria, particularly academic, extra-curricular and others.

7. Read instructions with care and make sure you do not miss out any vital document or eligibility guideline. Ask for clarifications if required.

8. Make sure you write a compelling cover letter for scholarship essay with proper formatting, excellent spelling and grammar and a powerful introduction.

9. Keep your expectations realistic since this is a highly competitive space. Many candidates meeting full scholarship guidelines often miss out. Do not let this demotivate you from applying to other places. There are no limits on scholarship applications and awards alike. You can build a full scholarship by getting a couple of smaller scholarships as well. Rejections can be frustrating, particularly if you are a deserving candidate. However, pick up the pieces, keep applying and maintain a positive outlook.

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Grant vs. Scholarship– Key differences

The grant vs. scholarship debate encompasses several aspects. While both grants and scholarships offer specific financial assistance to students, they have their own eligibility guidelines/criteria. People often confuse the two terms although they have subtle differences. Both scholarships and grants mostly have specific requirements for continuing to get funding. This includes maintaining a certain grade/GPA and so on.

On that note, here’s taking a closer look at the major differences-:

1. Funding Sources

Scholarships are provided through multiple sources including organizations, individuals, educational and other institutions, charitable/religious organizations, community bodies, alumni, foundations and more. Grants are mostly given by central or state governments and other governing authorities.

2. Eligibility Criteria

Students may usually have eligibility for both scholarships and grants if they are a part of any recognized university, college, or other higher educational institute. Central and state government grants have specific criteria, i.e. applicants should be citizens of the country. Scholarships have varying requirements like getting a certain score/GPA, societal contributions, membership of any particular community/background, financial hardship, etc.

3. Merit Factors

Scholarships are usually given on the basis of extra-curricular or academic merit. They need an application that clearly outlines why the individual should get the scholarship. Grants take into consideration the financial requirements for working out merit and getting financial support. Recipients of government grants will have to fill out specific application forms which are not based upon academic achievement, skills, and extracurricular activities.

4. Definition

Grants are mostly disbursed by a single party, i.e., the government department, foundation, corporation, or trust to a recipient. Scholarships are financial aids offered to students for higher education. Scholarships are awarded on the basis of varying criteria.

5. Recipients

Grants may be given to students, nonprofit organizations, businesses, educational institutions, etc. Scholarships are given only to students.

6. Categorization

Grants do not have any categories while scholarships may be merit-based or need-based. They are also student-specific and profession/career-specific at times. Merit-based scholarships evaluate academic, sporting, extra-curricular and leadership skills/achievements. Need-based scholarships are based on the background and financial position of applicants. Student-specific scholarships are open to individuals belonging to specific gender, race, religion, family, medical history, or other criteria. Career-specific scholarships require applicants to pursue a specific area/field of study.

Now that you completely understand how scholarships can be obtained, create a list of institutions where you can apply for them. Note down all specific criteria and requirements alongside. The above-mentioned insights will surely help you prepare better.

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