Scholarships are available throughout the United States which are tailored to individual needs, abilities, and ethnicity, gender and study choices. Scholarships are provided in an effort to include the broadest scope of talent and academic ability, so that no person desiring an education misses out for financial reasons. While the government will provide scholarships for persons with financial need or in areas where they seek to increase participation, many philanthropic groups will offer scholarships for talented or academically able students and other individuals as well. Scholarships available really do cover a large scope of need and ability.
Some of the specific funding available exists in the following areas:
Individual Needs including Financial and Special Needs
The Obama government has set aside additional funds in 2009 for work-study programs, streamlining the student aid process, and providing education for disabled persons and veterans. Government scholarships are also available for low income families.
Application forms for this type of support are available from every high school and college office. It is an application for federal aid and it is called the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA. Anyone wanting funding from the federal government must complete these forms.
Artistic, Sporting and Academic Ability
An abundance of art, sporting and academic scholarships are available from individual colleges and universities. Applying for these is generally through the chosen school of study and many use the FAFSA forms to determine eligibility.
Art scholarships are generally awarded to students seeking to achieve a degree in art and who have exhibited exceptional talent either through awards recognition or teacher recommendation. While many colleges and philanthropic trusts provide small awards to help with education, some art schools offer sizeable contributions to talented students. These schools usually require an exceptional art portfolio and a grade point average (GPA) of 3 to be maintained.
Sports Scholarships are provided by national athletics associations including NCAA, NAIA and NJCAA. Most require a combined athletic ability with academic achievement. Some are created for specific types of performance or study, both on and off the field. For example the NCAA offer sports journalism scholarships as well as scholarships for ethnic minorities and women. Students who believe they may be eligible for an athletic scholarship should speak with a school careers councillor and/or consult the agencies directly for criteria and application forms.
Scholarships awarded based on academic ability are often referred to as merit scholarships, they are numerous and tailored to just about every course of study available. These are offered to students who exhibit both general and specific areas of excellence. To be eligible for a merit scholarship a student will have to have outstanding grades and sit within the top 5 to 10% of their classes.
Scholarships Specific to Ethnicity or Gender
Some awards, like the Gates Millennium Scholars Program, specifically provide scholarships to certain ethnic groups or women. The Gates scholarship for example was established in 1999 to provide outstanding African American, American Indian/Alaska Natives, Asian Pacific Islander Americans and Hispanic American students with an opportunity to complete an undergraduate college education.
Scholarships for Specific Fields of Study
Others provide scholarships specific to a particular career path or field of study. An example of this type of scholarship is the Harry S Truman, which offers the opportunity for graduates to prepare for a career in public service. Recipients of this award are chosen for leadership and community service, as well as excellent academic performance.
Another provider of a specific field of study, post-graduate scholarship fund, is again the Gates Millennium Foundation, which offers funding to post-graduates seeking a degree in mathematics, science, engineering, education, or library science.
These are of course just some of the examples of scholarships, both private and public, which are available. There are literally thousands of scholarships for students to investigate from government, philanthropic foundations or trusts and colleges.
High school, college and university career counselling offices and finance departments will be the most helpful resources for students, providing information and applications for submission. Other sources of information are websites such as scholarships.com, which lists hundreds of possible scholarships to apply for based on individual profiles; the Education Department and the Better Business Bureau.