A scholarship is a type of funding that can be applied to educational costs, such as tuition, books, fees, etc. Scholarships are also known as grants or financial aid. There are many different types of scholarships. Some are awarded based on financial need, while others are awarded based on merit. You can also receive scholarships from random drawings, membership in a particular organization, or through a contest (such as an essay competition).

In another words, Scholarships are gifts. They don't need to be repaid. There are thousands of them, offered by schools, employers, individuals, private companies, non-profits, communities, religious groups, and professional and social organizations

Types of scholarship

The most common scholarships may be classified as:

  •        Merit-based: These awards are based on a student's academic, artistic, athletic or other abilities, and often factor in an applicant's extracurricular activities and community service record. The most common merit-based scholarships, awarded by either private organizations or directly by a student's intended college, recognize academic achievement or high scores on standardized tests. Most such merit-based scholarships are paid directly by the institution the student attends, rather than issued directly to the student.
  •        Need-based: Some private need-based awards are confusingly called scholarships, and require the results of a FAFSA (the family's EFC). However, scholarships are often merit-based, while grants tend to be need-based.
  •        Student-specific: These are scholarships for which applicants must initially qualify based upon gender, race, religion, family, and medical history, or many other student-specific factors. Minority scholarships are the most common awards in this category. For example, students in Canada may qualify for a number of aboriginal scholarships, whether they study at home or abroad. The Gates Millennium Scholars program is another minority scholarship funded by Bill and Melinda Gates for excellent African American, American Indian, Asian Pacific Islander American and Latino students who enroll in college.
  •        Career-specific: These are scholarships a college or university awards to students who plan to pursue a specific field of study. Often, the most generous awards to students who pursue careers in high-need areas such as education or nursing. Many schools in the United States give future nurses full scholarships to enter the field, especially if the student intends to work in a high-need community.
  •        College-specific: College-specific scholarships are offered by individual colleges and universities to highly qualified applicants. These scholarships are given on the basis of academic and personal achievement. Some scholarships have a "bond" requirement. Recipients may be required to work for a particular employer for a specified period of time or to work in rural or remote areas; otherwise, they may be required to repay the value of the support they received from the scholarship. This is particularly the case with education and nursing scholarships for people prepared to work in rural and remote areas. The programs offered by the uniformed services of the United States (Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration commissioned corps, and Public Health Service Commissioned Corps) sometimes resemble such scholarships.
  •        Athletic: Awarded to students with exceptional skill in a sport. Often this is so that the student will be available to attend the school or college and play the sport on their team, although in some countries government funded sports scholarships are available, allowing scholarship holders to train for international representation. School-based athletics scholarships can be controversial, as some believe that awarding scholarship money for athletic rather than academic or intellectual purposes is not in the institution's best interest.
  •        Brand Scholarships: These scholarships are sponsored by a brand that is trying to gain attention to their brand, or a cause. Sometimes these scholarships are referred to as branded scholarships. The Miss America beauty pageant is the most famous example of a brand scholarship.
  •        Creative Contest Scholarships: These scholarships are awarded to students based on a creative submission. Contest scholarships are also called mini project based scholarships where students can submit entries based on unique and innovative ideas.


Scholarship vs Fellowship

You may have heard other students talk about applying for a scholarship or a fellowship and wondered what the difference is between the two. Scholarships and fellowships are forms of financial aid, but they aren't exactly the same thing. In this article, we'll explore the difference between fellowships and scholarships so that you can learn what each type of aid means for you.


A scholarship is a desirable form of financial aid because it does not have to be paid back like a student loan. The amounts awarded to a student through a scholarship could be as little as $100 or as high as $120,000 on up. Some scholarships are renewable, which means that you can use the scholarship to pay for your first year of undergraduate school and then renew it in your second year, third year, and fourth year. Scholarships are available for undergraduate and graduate level study, but scholarships are typically more plentiful for undergraduate students.


Scholarship Example

The National Merit Scholarship is an example of a well-known, longstanding scholarship for students seeking an undergraduate degree. Each year, the National Merit Scholarship Program awards scholarships worth $2,500 each to thousands of high school students who achieve exceptionally high scores on the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT). Each $2,500 scholarship is issued through a single one-time payment, meaning the scholarship cannot be renewed each year.


Another example of a scholarship is the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation College Scholarship. This scholarship is awarded to high school students with financial need and a record of academic achievement. Scholarship winners receive up to $40,000 per year to put towards tuition, living expenses, books, and required fees. This scholarship can be renewed each year for up to four years, making the entire award worth up to $120,000.


Fellowships Defined

Like a scholarship, a fellowship is also a type of grant that can be applied to educational costs such as tuition, books, fees, etc. It does not need to be paid back like a student loan. These awards are usually geared toward students who are earning a master's degree or doctorate degree. Although many fellowships include a tuition stipend, some of them are designed to fund a research project. Fellowships are sometimes available for pre-baccalaureate research projects but are more commonly available to graduate-level students who are performing some form of post-baccalaureate research.

Service commitments, such as a commitment to complete a particular project, teach other students, or participate in an internship, may be required as part of the fellowship. These service commitments may be required for a specific period of time, such as six months, one year, or two years. Some fellowships are renewable.


Unlike scholarships, fellowships are not usually need-based. They are also rarely awarded at random to contest winners. Fellowships are typically merit-based, which means you must demonstrate some form of achievement in your chosen field, or at the very least, demonstrate potential to achieve or do something impressive in your field.


Fellowship Example

The Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans is a fellowship program for immigrants and children of immigrants who are earning a graduate degree in the United States. The fellowship covers 50 percent of tuition and includes a $25,000 stipend. Thirty fellowships are awarded each year. This fellowship program is merit-based, meaning that applicants must be able to demonstrate a commitment to, or at least a capacity for, accomplishment and contributions in their field of study.


Another example of a fellowship is the Department of Energy National Nuclear Security Administration Stewardship Science Graduate Fellowship (DOE NNSA SSGF). This fellowship program is for students who are seeking a Ph.D. in science and engineering fields. Fellows receive full tuition for their chosen program, a $36,000 yearly stipend, and an annual $1,000 academic allowance. They must participate in a fellowship conference in the summer and a 12-week research practicum at one of DOE's national defense laboratories. This fellowship can be renewed annually for up to four years.


Applying for Scholarships and Fellowships

Most scholarship and fellowship programs have an application deadline, which means that you must apply by a certain date to be eligible. These deadlines vary by program. However, you typically apply for a scholarship or fellowship the year before you need it or in the same year that you need it. Some scholarship and fellowship programs also have additional eligibility requirements. For example, you may need a GPA of at least 3.0 to apply or you may be required to be a member of a particular organization or demographic to be eligible for the award.


No matter what the program requirements are, it is important to follow all of the rules when submitting your application to increase your chances of success. It is also important to remember that many scholarship and fellowship competitions are competitive—there are a lot of people who want free money for school—so you should always take your time to put your best foot forward and submit an application that you can be proud of. For example, if you have to submit an essay as part of the application process, make sure that the essay reflects your best work.


  1.        Schweitzer, Karen. "The Difference Between Fellowships and Scholarships." ThoughtCo, Feb. 11, 2020,




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