Scholarships are awarded to students to help finance their education. Unlike Student Loans, they are competitive and often times only offered to a set amount of students. They also have various different requirements. While some are only offered to minorities, those who have gone through certain hardships, or those who have an illness, many are merit-based, usually requiring a minimum GPA, which is usually 3.0 and higher, whether in High School or in College. In all scholarships, however, there is always an aspect that requires you to tell the committee reviewing your application why you are the best candidate for the scholarship.
In many ways a scholarship application is similar to a job application. You grab their attention with your previous accomplishments, attach a cover letter that explains why you are the best candidate, and then you must further prove it in an interview. Interviews for scholarships are most common for the highest paying scholarships, though all levels do them as well.
There are many different types of scholarships, including College specific scholarships, which are only applicable if you are going to that college.
Another kind of scholarship is an Athletic scholarship, which are given to athletes who have proven to be an asset to the teams they have played in before and the school they would want to get into would benefit from having them in there. These kinds of scholarships are coveted by many athletes.
Academic scholarships are merit-based scholarships awarded to students based off of academic achievement. These usually require a higher GPA (3.5 or higher), being an honor student, or an outstanding student accomplishment.
There are also many different organizations that offer scholarships. One of the most notable and well recognized is the Military, which guarantees payment for almost all of their members. However, this is not always a good option, as many people do not want the military life and join simply to get the scholarship.
Churches and other religious organizations also often give scholarships, though these ones usually require you to be a good example of your given religion to qualify. Though how strict they are on what qualifies you changes depending on the organization.
Unions, corporations and things such as the chamber of commerce also often give out scholarships.
There are also scholarships that are career specific, whether they are given by the school, private organizations or by employers, they only pay for your funding if you are pursuing a certain degree. This is advantageous if you already know what you are going into college for, such as nursing or engineering.
The application process consists of a written application, which includes a written essay on either a chosen subject or a general cover-letter essay, explaining why you are the best candidate. The first process on their side is to take all incomplete applications out of consideration. It is because of this step in the process that its best to double and triple check your application. This is another example of when a scholarship application is similar to a job application. If you have a type or error ridden application, you will be taken out of consideration, just as quickly as you would with a job application.
The next step in the process involves the judges evaluating your actual qualifications, including GPA, academic achievement, and other such qualifications (whatever is applicable to the scholarship).
What happens next is the final selection process, which is usually the stage where the interviewing begins. This allows the judges to determine who is the best candidate.
Be careful once you have received your scholarship as they can be taken away. If your grades begin to fall or you do something that the organization does not agree with. While this does not happen to often, it is best to still remain a good student while you are still using the scholarship, especially if they offer renewals.