Frequently Asked Questions on College Scholarships
Q: Can I apply for a scholarship if I don’t know what college I’m going to attend?
A: Yes. You actually can start applying for scholarships as early as your freshman year in high school. If you win a scholarship before you know which college you’ll attend, the scholarship organization either will write you a check if you promise to use the money for college, or will give you the money when you decide where to go.
Q: Should I have to pay a fee to apply for a scholarship?
A: In most cases, no. Since scholarships are meant to support students who need funds to pay for college, they shouldn’t require those same students to shell out money. In most cases, scholarships that require a fee are scams.
Q: If I didn’t win a scholarship, can I apply again next year?
A: Yes. Unless you no longer qualify, you can apply for a scholarship again. However, consider if your application will be dramatically stronger the next time around. If you will essentially submit the same application, you probably will be better off spending your time to apply to a different competition.
Q: Can I lose my scholarship once it’s been awarded?
A: Yes. Most scholarships that are renewable, which means that you win them for more than one year, have requirements for you to keep the award. These can be requirements that you continue to attend the same college, maintain a certain GPA or keep the same major.
Q: Can I apply for scholarships while I’m a college student?
A: Yes. One of the biggest mistakes that many students make is that they stop applying for scholarships once they graduate from high school. There are literally thousands of scholarships for students in college and even graduate students. Some of these awards are only open to students who already are in college.
Q: If I win a scholarship, will my college take away some of my other financial aid?
A: Maybe. Many colleges require you to report the scholarships that you win and then adjust your financial aid package. For example, if you win a $1,000 scholarship, the college may decrease your financial aid package by $1,000. If your college has this kind of policy, you can ask them to decrease your loan amount instead of grants. It’s better to receive more in scholarships that you don’t have to pay back than in loans that you do.
Q: Can I transfer my scholarship if I go to another school?
A: Maybe. If the scholarship is from a college, you can only use it at that specific college. If the scholarship is from another organization, you can probably transfer the scholarship with you. It’s important that you contact the awarding organization to ask and make any necessary arrangements.
Q: Should I bother applying for scholarships even if I don’t have perfect grades?
A: Yes. There are scholarships for achievement leadership, public service, art, athletics, theatre and dance. Plus, even for scholarships that are based on grades, oftentimes grades are not the only factor. Instead, they seek the students who best fit their selection criteria, which may include other factors like character, motivation, leadership or involvement in activities.
Q: Do all scholarships require an essay?
A: No, but most do. Essays are the best way for scholarship judges to get to know you beyond your grades, test scores and other data that you provide on your application form. There are some scholarships that don’t require essays, especially ones for art or music that require a portfolio or project instead.
Q: Can I win a scholarship if my parents make too much money?
A: Yes. There are two types of scholarships: need-based and merit-based. As the name suggests, need-based scholarships are based on your financial need and your parents’ income. Merit-based scholarships are based on other factors such as academic or extracurricular achievements.
Q: What is a renewable scholarship?
A: Renewable scholarships can be won and reapplied for again in the following years. They are the best kind of scholarship because you can win the money for more than one year.