As the university bill is often one of the most taxing parts of a student's college experience, the search for scholarships can seem like a daunting task. Try breaking it down into these three categories:
1. Admission-based scholarships
This type of merit scholarship is offered by universities around the country (although sometimes they go by a different name). These scholarship awards are determined based on the strength, or merit, of your admission application. Institutions might take into account your SAT or ACT test scores and your GPA, and possibly other factors. Students are automatically considered for these scholarships, and generally, no separate application is required.
2. University-specific scholarships
These types of scholarships require you to fill out a central application through the university once you've applied or been accepted (depending on the institution). Sources for these scholarships might include internal funding or external donations, but they're awarded by departments or colleges on campus. Some scholarships may require additional application materials, so be sure to read the requirements thoroughly.
3. Private or external scholarships
This type of scholarship is provided and awarded by donors and organizations outside of the institution. For example, these can be awarded by clubs, organizations or companies that you may have had experience with in the past. You apply for these scholarships on your own, outside of your university's financial aid system (although any scholarship money, external or internal, will be factored into your final financial aid package). These scholarships often have the widest range of criteria, including but not limited to academic performance, activity involvement and personal background or circumstances.
One final word of advice: Apply for anything you meet the criteria for. Donors are looking for students to give to, and you may be the next!