Like grants, scholarships are basically gift money that you never have to repay. There are hundreds of different kinds of scholarships, from special scholarships for left-handed people to scholarships available at specific institutions if your last name is Zolp, Scarpinato, Gatling, Thayer, Van Valkenburg, or Baxendale! Seriously.

Types of Scholarships

Here are the main types of scholarships you can expect to find:

  • Merit-based. These scholarships are awarded based on your academic, athletic, and/or artistic performance, or sometimes a combination of both.
  • Financial need. Like grants, these are awarded based on your financial need except the award is done by a private organization instead of the government.
  • Demographic. Some scholarships are aimed at a specific group of people. There are scholarships just for women, ethnicity-based scholarships (such as those offered by the Hispanic Scholarship Consortium), scholarships only for high school seniors, military families, and so forth.
  • Contests. There are a number of contest-based scholarships, such as the Holocaust Remembrance Project National Essay Contest. Many scholarships in debate, dance, fine art, music, and drama are also awarded through competition.
  • Matching. Often if you are awarded a scholarship, your college will match the scholarship out of its own pocket. Some will match dollar-to-dollar and others will match by percentage (i.e. School of Visual Arts (SVA) in NYC will match up to 25% of any outside awarded scholarship up to $2,500).

Where to Find Scholarships

With so many options, where can one find scholarships? Here’s a short list of some organizations that offer scholarships to the general public:

  • Churches
  • Local civic organizations, such as Rotary and Lions clubs. (These often offer scholarships for students in the community whether or not your parents are members.)
  • Volunteer groups, like garden clubs
  • Ethnicity-based organizations
  • Fraternal organizations
  • Private endowments that give scholarships based on where you live
  • National and state associations (especially those which your parents are members of)
  • Foundations
  • Unions
  • State Departments of Education
  • Corporations - many corporations offer substantial scholarship options

Other places you can go to receive more information about scholarships would be your high school college counseling office, your college’s financial aid office, the US Dept of Labor’s free scholarship search tool and a variety of different federal and state grant agencies.

Alliance Scholarship Program

Some associations offer scholarships to their members or their dependents. For example, the Alliance for Affordable Services has a Scholarship Program that is available to eligible Alliance members and their legal dependents who are 16 to 28-year-old students. Renewing candidates who maintain a 3.5 grade point average are eligible to earn scholarships for an additional 3 consecutive years. For more details on this program, click here.