What are Financial Need-Based Scholarships?
Financial need-based scholarships are scholarships awarded to prospective students based on financial need. In most cases, a student’s “financial need” is determined by his or her family’s current income. In most cases, this income information is recorded through FAFSA, where schools and scholarships can easily access it and determine whether a student qualifies.
Financial need-based scholarships are among the most common types of scholarships awarded to prospective students. These scholarships are often awarded by the schools themselves, though many are also awarded through third-party institutions. Again, students need only to show sufficient financial need in order to qualify. This is in contrast to other types of scholarships — such as merit-based scholarships, which are awarded based on academic, athletic, or extracurricular accomplishment.
How Do I Qualify for Financial Need-Based Scholarships?
There are two factors that determine whether you may qualify for a financial need-based scholarship. The first is your family’s income. The lower your family’s income is, the more likely you are to qualify for a financial need-based scholarship. In most cases, your family must fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) in order for schools to access your family’s income information and consider you for financial need-based scholarship. However, many financial need-based scholarship recipients also receive aid after filling out and qualifying for the Pell Grant. Wondering whether you’ll qualify for the Pell Grant? The bulk of Pell Grants are awarded to students whose families earn $20,000 or less annually, though students whose families earn less than $50,000 annually also qualify for (and often receive) Pell Grants. If you qualify and/or receive the Pell Grant, chances are, you’ll qualify for other financial need-based scholarships.
The factor second in determining your eligibility for a financial need-based scholarship is the scholarship itself. Not all need-based scholarships have the same parameters for qualification. This is best evidenced by the difference in need-based aid awarded by schools themselves. Schools have different philosophies and capabilities when it comes to awarding financial need-based scholarships, so it’s best to do your research and see what kind of scholarships your top schools offer. Need a benchmark for the amount of financial need-based scholarship you may require? Subtract your family’s expected annual financial contribution from the total annual cost of college (tuition, room, board, and supplies all included). The remaining number is the amount you may require in financial need-based scholarship.
Why Are Financial Need-Based Scholarships Important?
For those whose families can’t pay the full price of tuition, financial need-based scholarships are a means of making college a reality. Need-based scholarships allow students to pursue an education at institutions of all kinds — not just those that fit a budget. What’s more, financial need-based scholarships provide an additional route alongside (or in place of) merit-based scholarships, which can be competitive and, even if awarded, sometimes insufficient. With financial aid from need-based scholarships, students can receive a college education, earn a degree, and go on to begin careers in their chosen fields.
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