Scholarships For Bachelor’s Programs: An Easy Guide for Students

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Did you know that bach­e­lor’s degree schol­ar­ships are the main source of finan­cial aid for mil­lions of col­lege stu­dents? Accord­ing to recent stud­ies, over 85% of under­grad­u­ate stu­dents receive some form of finan­cial assis­tance, with schol­ar­ships account­ing for a sig­nif­i­cant por­tion of that sup­port. In fact, the aver­age schol­ar­ship award cov­ers approx­i­mate­ly 28% of col­lege costs, mak­ing it a vital resource for stu­dents seek­ing to alle­vi­ate the bur­den of tuition fees and oth­er expenses. 

As a first-gen­er­a­tion col­lege stu­dent, I relied on schol­ar­ships to afford my edu­ca­tion. Back when I start­ed the process 25 years ago, find­ing schol­ar­ship infor­ma­tion was like search­ing for a nee­dle in a haystack. Your high school coun­selor might have some ideas, but there were no real resources. In fact, I didn’t even know the col­lege I attend­ed offered schol­ar­ships until I got there and a pro­fes­sor men­tioned them to me. 

But today, stu­dents are for­tu­nate to have a wealth of resources avail­able online to help them nav­i­gate the schol­ar­ship land­scape. With bil­lions of dol­lars in schol­ar­ship funds avail­able each year, the land­scape of high­er edu­ca­tion is ripe with oppor­tu­ni­ties for those will­ing to seek them out. So, if you’re ready to embark on your jour­ney to a bach­e­lor’s degree, let’s explore the world of bach­e­lor’s degree schol­ar­ships togeth­er and uncov­er the keys to unlock­ing your aca­d­e­m­ic dreams.

First pub­lished in March 2024. All data was accu­rate at time of publication.

Types of Bachelor’s Degree Scholarships Available

Schol­ar­ships come in all shapes and sizes, cater­ing to var­i­ous needs and achieve­ments. They offer some­thing for every­one. Whether you’re an aca­d­e­m­ic ace, a star ath­lete, a bud­ding artist, or a com­mu­ni­ty cham­pi­on, there are bach­e­lor’s degree schol­ar­ships out there with your name on them. So, don’t fret if you don’t fit into a neat lit­tle box. Embrace your unique­ness, because there’s a schol­ar­ship wait­ing to cel­e­brate it.

Here’s a break­down of what you can expect:

Mer­it-Based Schol­ar­ships: These awards rec­og­nize your hard work, both inside and out­side the class­room. If you’ve put in the effort, these schol­ar­ships can help light­en the finan­cial load.

Need-Based Schol­ar­ships: Designed for stu­dents fac­ing finan­cial bar­ri­ers, these schol­ar­ships bridge the gap between what you can afford and the cost of edu­ca­tion. They were a life­line for me and many oth­ers like me.

Sub­ject-Spe­cif­ic Schol­ar­ships: Whether you’re pas­sion­ate about STEM, human­i­ties, or the arts, there are schol­ar­ships tai­lored to your aca­d­e­m­ic inter­ests. These can pro­vide much-need­ed sup­port for pur­su­ing your passions.

Ath­let­ic Schol­ar­ships: If you excel in sports, these schol­ar­ships not only offer finan­cial aid but also pro­vide an oppor­tu­ni­ty to show­case your tal­ents on a col­le­giate lev­el. They can be a game-chang­er for student-athletes.

Diver­si­ty Schol­ar­ships: Cel­e­brat­ing the unique­ness of stu­dents from under­rep­re­sent­ed back­grounds, these schol­ar­ships aim to lev­el the play­ing field and ensure every­one has access to edu­ca­tion­al opportunities.

Com­mu­ni­ty Ser­vice Schol­ar­ships: Rec­og­niz­ing the val­ue of giv­ing back, these schol­ar­ships reward stu­dents who make a dif­fer­ence through vol­un­teer work and com­mu­ni­ty ser­vice. They’re a tes­ta­ment to the impor­tance of social responsibility.

Tips for Writing Winning Bachelor’s Degree Scholarship Essays

Craft­ing a com­pelling essay is cru­cial to secur­ing bach­e­lor’s degree schol­ar­ship funds. Craft­ing a com­pelling essay is not just impor­tant; it’s down­right essen­tial when it comes to snag­ging those cov­et­ed schol­ar­ship funds. Think of your essay as one chance you have to con­vince the schol­ar­ship com­mit­tee that you’re the per­fect fit for their award. It’s your oppor­tu­ni­ty to show­case your unique per­son­al­i­ty, share your sto­ry, and demon­strate why you deserve their support. 

When I was a writ­ing cen­ter direc­tor, I spent many hours help­ing stu­dents craft their schol­ar­ship essays. The one rule I always told them to fol­low — be you. Oth­er stu­dents might have the same grades, they might have the same extracur­ricu­l­u­lars, but none of them are you. 

So, don’t under­es­ti­mate the pow­er of a well-writ­ten essay—it could be the dif­fer­ence between receiv­ing a schol­ar­ship and miss­ing out on an incred­i­ble oppor­tu­ni­ty. Here’s some advice based on my own expertise:

Under­stand the Prompt: Take the time to thor­ough­ly under­stand what the essay prompt is ask­ing of you. Make sure your response aligns with the requirements.

Tell Your Sto­ry: Don’t be afraid to share your per­son­al jour­ney, includ­ing the chal­lenges you’ve faced and the dreams you’re pur­su­ing. Your sto­ry is what makes you unique.

High­light Achieve­ments: Whether it’s aca­d­e­m­ic accom­plish­ments, extracur­ric­u­lar activ­i­ties, or com­mu­ni­ty involve­ment, make sure to high­light your achieve­ments and the impact they’ve had.

Con­nect with the Mis­sion: Research the schol­ar­ship provider and tai­lor your essay to reflect their val­ues and goals. Show them why you’re the per­fect can­di­date for their support.

Be Clear and Con­cise: Keep your writ­ing clear and to the point. Avoid using over­ly com­plex lan­guage or jar­gon that might con­fuse the reader.

Edit and Revise: Don’t under­es­ti­mate the impor­tance of edit­ing and revis­ing your essay. Pol­ish it until it shines, and don’t hes­i­tate to seek feed­back from teach­ers, men­tors, or peers.

tips for standing out to earn bachelor's degree scholarships

Resources for Finding Bachelor’s Degree Scholarships

Find­ing bach­e­lor’s degree schol­ar­ships used to feel like a maze with­out a map, leav­ing many stu­dents feel­ing over­whelmed and dis­cour­aged. When I was a col­lege stu­dent, it meant going to the high school or col­lege counselor’s office and hop­ing that they kept up with press releas­es and pub­lished guides. Those guides might be years old. The schol­ar­ships they men­tioned might not even exist any more, and you would have no way of know­ing until you tried to apply and go no answer. 

But now, with the the inter­net, that task is a man­age­able mis­sion. Stu­dents today have at their fin­ger­tips a wealth of resources and data­bas­es, mak­ing the search for schol­ar­ships eas­i­er and more acces­si­ble than ever before. 

So, fear not, aspir­ing schol­ars, for the inter­net has lev­eled the play­ing field, ensur­ing that no wor­thy stu­dent is left behind in their quest for finan­cial aid.

Here’s where to look:

Online Data­bas­es: Web­sites like Fast­web and Scholarships.com offer search­able data­bas­es that can help you find schol­ar­ships tai­lored to your pro­file and interests.

Col­lege Finan­cial Aid Offices: Reach out to your col­lege’s finan­cial aid office for infor­ma­tion on insti­tu­tion­al schol­ar­ships and oth­er finan­cial aid opportunities.

Com­mu­ni­ty Orga­ni­za­tions: Local busi­ness­es, non­prof­its, and com­mu­ni­ty groups often offer schol­ar­ships to sup­port stu­dents in their area. Don’t hes­i­tate to reach out and inquire about avail­able opportunities.

Pro­fes­sion­al Asso­ci­a­tions: If you’re pur­su­ing a spe­cif­ic field or career path, pro­fes­sion­al asso­ci­a­tions relat­ed to that field may offer schol­ar­ships for students.

High School Guid­ance Coun­selors: Your high school coun­selor can be a valu­able resource for infor­ma­tion on schol­ar­ships, appli­ca­tion dead­lines, and oth­er finan­cial aid options.

Armed with these insights and resources, you’re well-equipped to nav­i­gate the world of schol­ar­ships and pave the way to your bach­e­lor’s degree. Remem­ber, schol­ar­ships aren’t just about finan­cial aid—they’re about rec­og­niz­ing your poten­tial and invest­ing in your future. So seize the oppor­tu­ni­ty, tell your sto­ry, and let your aca­d­e­m­ic dreams take flight!

FAQs

How will a schol­ar­ship make it pos­si­ble for you to com­plete your degree?

A schol­ar­ship can help solve one of the biggest chal­lenges in com­plet­ing a degree — finances. Finan­cial prob­lems are one of the main rea­sons stu­dents drop out of col­lege. 
Accord­ing to a report by the think tank ThinkIm­pact, around 38% of stu­dents cite finan­cial pres­sure as a rea­son for drop­ping out of col­lege.
The Uni­ver­si­ty Pro­fes­sion­al and Con­tin­u­ing Edu­ca­tion Asso­ci­a­tion (UPCEA) con­duct­ed a study show­ing that about two in five (42%) col­lege dropouts leave due to finan­cial rea­sons. 
Schol­ar­ships help pay for col­lege, so you need to bor­row less mon­ey in loans. This means owing less mon­ey after grad­u­a­tion! With less debt, you can focus on your stud­ies and wor­ry less about finances. Schol­ar­ships can real­ly make a big dif­fer­ence in afford­ing col­lege and reach­ing your edu­ca­tion­al goals.

How can I get a high­er chance of get­ting a schol­ar­ship?

Here are some tips to increase your chances of land­ing a schol­ar­ship:
Start your search ear­ly: Don’t wait until senior year! Schol­ar­ships are award­ed year-round, so the soon­er you start look­ing, the more oppor­tu­ni­ties you’ll find.
Cast a wide net: Don’t lim­it your­self to just one type of schol­ar­ship. Look for awards based on aca­d­e­m­ic mer­it, finan­cial need, extracur­ric­u­lar activ­i­ties, tal­ents, and even things as spe­cif­ic as your home­town or major. There are schol­ar­ships out there for just about every­one! (Did you know there are schol­ar­ships for left­ies? It’s true!)
Focus on your grades: Many schol­ar­ships have GPA require­ments, so main­tain­ing good aca­d­e­m­ic per­for­mance is cru­cial.
Get involved! Par­tic­i­pat­ing in extracur­ric­u­lar activ­i­ties, vol­un­teer­ing, or hold­ing lead­er­ship posi­tions can strength­en your appli­ca­tion.
Write a killer essay: Many schol­ar­ships require an essay. Take your time, craft a com­pelling sto­ry that high­lights your achieve­ments and goals, and proof­read care­ful­ly!
Meet dead­lines: Miss­ing dead­lines is a sure­fire way to get dis­qual­i­fied. Set reminders and sub­mit your appli­ca­tions well in advance.
Here’s some good news: Stud­ies show that a large num­ber of schol­ar­ships go unclaimed each year! By fol­low­ing these tips and putting in the effort, you can sig­nif­i­cant­ly increase your chances of get­ting one.
For exam­ple, accord­ing to a report by the Nation­al Schol­ar­ship Providers Asso­ci­a­tion (NSPA), over $2.7 bil­lion in schol­ar­ship funds go unused annu­al­ly. That’s a lot of free mon­ey wait­ing to be claimed by stu­dents like you!

How do you stand out in schol­ar­ship appli­ca­tions?

Stand­ing out in a pile of appli­ca­tions is tough! Here’s how to make yours unfor­get­table:
Be Unique: Don’t just list grades and activ­i­ties every­one else has. High­light your spe­cial tal­ents, inter­ests, or expe­ri­ences.
Tell a Sto­ry: Don’t just write facts. Craft an essay that tells your sto­ry in a com­pelling way. Show your per­son­al­i­ty and pas­sion.
Focus on Achieve­ments: Don’t just say you joined a club. Explain what you accom­plished as a mem­ber. Did you win awards or lead projects?
Con­nect it to Your Goals: Show how your expe­ri­ences and goals relate to the schol­ar­ship. Why does this schol­ar­ship mat­ter to you?
Proof­read, Proof­read, and Proof­read Again: Typos and mis­takes scream “care­less.” Take your time and proof­read your appli­ca­tion care­ful­ly.
Many schol­ar­ships don’t get a ton of appli­ca­tions. By putting in the extra effort and craft­ing a unique and well-writ­ten appli­ca­tion, you can seri­ous­ly increase your chances of winning!

What 4 fac­tors are schol­ar­ships award­ed by?

Schol­ar­ships can be award­ed based on a vari­ety of fac­tors, but here are 4 of the most com­mon:
1. Aca­d­e­m­ic Mer­it:
This is a big one! Many schol­ar­ships reward stu­dents with strong aca­d­e­m­ic per­for­mance, often based on GPA or stan­dard­ized test scores. So hit­ting the books and keep­ing your grades up is a great way to boost your schol­ar­ship chances.
2. Finan­cial Need:
Finan­cial aid schol­ar­ships are award­ed to stu­dents who demon­strate a finan­cial need to cov­er col­lege costs. This typ­i­cal­ly involves sub­mit­ting doc­u­ments that show your fam­i­ly’s income and expens­es.
3. Extracur­ric­u­lar Activ­i­ties and Achieve­ments:
Get­ting involved out­side of class is a great way to make your appli­ca­tion shine! Schol­ar­ships often look for stu­dents who par­tic­i­pate in sports, clubs, vol­un­teer work, or hold lead­er­ship posi­tions.
4. Spe­cif­ic Inter­ests or Tal­ents:
There are schol­ar­ships out there for just about every­thing! From music and art to spe­cif­ic aca­d­e­m­ic fields or even unusu­al inter­ests (like being left-hand­ed!), schol­ar­ships can be award­ed based on unique tal­ents and pas­sions. So don’t be afraid to explore all the possibilities!

What GPA is con­sid­ered for schol­ar­ships?

Most schol­ar­ships have a min­i­mum GPA of 3.0, but tere’s no sin­gle GPA cut­off for schol­ar­ships. It’s total­ly up to the schol­ar­ship, and some have no GPA require­ment at all. Here’s the low­down:
Min­i­mums: Some schol­ar­ships might have a min­i­mum GPA require­ment, like need­ing a 3.0 or 3.5 to even apply.
Com­pe­ti­tion: But even if you meet the min­i­mum, the com­pe­ti­tion for schol­ar­ships can be tough. Stu­dents with high­er GPAs (like 3.8 or above) will gen­er­al­ly have a stronger chance.
More Than Grades: Many schol­ar­ships con­sid­er oth­er things besides GPA, like your activ­i­ties, essays, and finan­cial need. So even if your GPA isn’t per­fect, you can still win schol­ar­ships by high­light­ing your strengths.
Focus on improve­ment: The best thing you can do is to strive for your best grades pos­si­ble. This will not only make you a more com­pet­i­tive schol­ar­ship appli­cant, but also set you up for suc­cess in college.