If you are a high school student who plans on applying to college, chances are you are seeking financial aid to pay for your higher education. A scholarship is an ideal source of financial aid because unlike a loan, a scholarship doesn’t have to be repaid. Scholarship amounts can vary from several hundred dollars to full scholarships that cover tuition and other expenses. Academic scholarships are typically awarded on the basis of merit. Organizations that award scholarships look at factors like grades, extracurricular activities, and recommendations from teachers and guidance counselors.
Some academic scholarships are awarded solely on merit, while other scholarships may also list qualifying factors. For example, a scholarship can be aimed at a certain minority group, or be designated for students who plan on studying a specific subject. If you are awarded a renewable scholarship, you may need to maintain a certain grade point average in order to keep your scholarship beyond your first year at college.
Corporations are a great place to start your search for academic scholarships. Among the corporations that award scholarships to high school students are Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Target, and McDonald’s. Some corporations give scholarships to outstanding student employees, while others accept applications from qualified students nationwide.
Nonprofit foundations are another excellent source of merit-based scholarships. Popular programs are sponsored by the Siemens Foundation, which gives scholarships to the winners of an annual science competition and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which provides financial support to undergraduate students in a variety of majors.
In preparation for applying for a merit-based scholarship, you will need to ask teachers to provide recommendations, and most programs will ask you to write an essay describing your future educational and career goals and explaining why you should be selected to receive a scholarship.