10 Reasons Why Scholarships Are Important

Scholarships are an incredible source of financial assistance for college students. Unlike loans, scholarship funds are free money. That means you don’t have to pay them back over time — an assurance that can vastly reduce financial stress and help you focus more on your studies. In fact, recent reporting from Forbes has shown that private scholarship recipients are more likely to graduate from college than those with just student loans. 

Financial aid and student loans are excellent sources of support, but college scholarships are one of the best ways to reduce the debt burden associated with pursuing higher education. If you’re on the fence about applying, here are a few more reasons to make scholarships part of your financial aid strategy. 

1. Scholarships minimize student debt

According to U.S. News & World Report, the average college student graduates with about $30,000 in student loans. That’s nearly a 25% increase from a decade ago. Many of these student loans carry high interest rates and create a severe financial burden for young professionals. In contrast, scholarship programs can help students afford college without strings attached. As a result, scholarship recipients can pay off loans more quickly and use their extra income to start saving for the future.

2. Scholarships can help fill the void left by public education funding cuts

Following the COVID-19 pandemic, many public colleges and universities experienced significant budget cuts. When public schools experience a squeeze in funding, they generally pass these costs along to the student. The result is an increase in tuition fees and the rising cost of college that many students have noticed over the past few years. Luckily, there are numerous scholarship opportunities that can help fill this gap in public funding. 

3. Scholarships can support equitable outcomes

These days, many scholarship opportunities target communities that haven’t historically had access to higher education. These include students from communities of color or families with lower household incomes. Some of these scholarship programs fund students to attend a college of their choice. Others seek to support underrepresented communities in specific fields of study. For example, the Palantir Women in Technology scholarship program awards deserving female-identifying students who plan to study computer science, engineering, and related fields to reach their career goals.

4. Scholarships can free up time for studying

For many students, the only way to afford college tuition is to work a side hustle during the school year. Whether a federal work-study job or a part-time off-campus gig, employment can impede a student’s ability to focus on their studies. Scholarship recipients, on the other hand, experience some relief from that burden. Having that time to focus on school work can lead to better grades and allow students to earn their college degrees on time. 

5. Scholarships can support student performance

Tools like notebooks, tablets, laptops, and study materials can help you take your education to the next level — but they’re not always cheap. Fortunately, many scholarship programs exist to help college students afford these extras. If you’re curious about what costs can and can’t be covered by scholarships, we’ve put together a guide. 

6. Scholarships can expand your network

Networking is a crucial part of career success in a number of fields. You’ve probably heard someone say, “It’s not what you know, but who you know” when it comes to getting job opportunities. While plenty of scholarships can help with the “what you know” piece of things, some can also help with the “who you know” piece. 

Many programs connect scholarship recipients to mentors, conferences, and professional development programs. These types of professional membership groups can help young students learn about a career in their field and make valuable industry connections. One such program is the American Chemical Society Scholars Program, which provides financial assistance and a professional network to underrepresented minority students interested in chemistry. 

7. Scholarships can lead to future job opportunities

Many scholarship providers are private companies seeking to identify the next generation of talented young professionals. These types of scholarships can help you find fulfilling internships in addition to mentors and industry insights. Some also provide a pathway to valuable work experiences. 

For instance, college juniors can apply for the Walt Disney UNCF Corporate Scholarship & Internship Program. This unique program provides scholarship recipients with a $5,000 scholarship, in addition to a summer internship with the Walt Disney Corporation.

8. Scholarships can support social issues

While many scholarships are need-based or select winners based on academic achievement, others prioritize community service. A number of nonprofit scholarship providers want to hear about your public service, the work you’ve done for your community, or the social issues you care about solving. One of these opportunities is the Feed Our Future Scholarship, which grants college scholarships to students who have volunteered for a minimum of 100 hours to help combat food insecurity. 

9. Scholarships can allow you to continue a sport when athletic scholarships are unavailable

Athletic scholarships can be hard to come by. But college athletics — even at the club level — can be a fun way to stay active, meet new friends, and get involved with your college or university. 

Fortunately, various scholarship opportunities exist to help young athletes pursue their passion, whether or not they play on an official school team. A great example of this type of scholarship is the Sarah E. Huneycutt Scholarship. This $20,000 award is for female students who have a passion for golf but don’t have the opportunity to play at the collegiate level. 

10. Scholarships are a great addition to your resume

Money shouldn’t be the only motivation for filling out scholarship applications. Many merit-based scholarships are prestigious. They require a high GPA, good writing skills, and some level of academic achievement — all of which signify your capability and academic prowess to future employers. Even after graduation, scholarship recipients can add these awards to their resumes to boost their appeal.

16 Easy scholarships you can apply for right now

Winning scholarships is about more than just earning money for school, and they don’t have to be hard to apply for either. Here are a few awards with simple, straightforward scholarship applications that you can fill out right now. 

Chick-fil-A Community Scholarship

Amount: $25,000

Provider: Chick-fil-A, Inc. and Scholarship America

Eligibility Requirements:

  • Minimum GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale
  • Enrolled or planning to enroll in a college or university

Application Requirements: Transcript, three letters of recommendation, tax returns, essay, list of extracurricular activities

The Chick-fil-A Community Scholarship prioritizes students who have a track record in serving their community. Scholarship recipients will be invited to join a year-long leadership development program. This optional program offers mentorship and professional development training that focuses on a broad array of leadership skills. Students will need to be recommended by a teacher, coach, or community leader to apply. 

Horatio Alger Undergraduate Scholarship

Amount: $25,000

Provider: The Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans, Inc.

Eligibility Requirements:

  • Minimum GPA of 2.0 on a 4.0 scale
  • Enrolled full-time as a high school junior 

Application Requirements: Transcript, tax returns, essay, list of extracurricular activities

The Horatio Alger Undergraduate Scholarship is one of a number of scholarship programs offered by the Horatio Alger Association. It’s geared toward students who have had to overcome great adversity. To qualify, students must be pursuing a bachelor’s degree and be able to demonstrate critical financial need. The “adversity” section of this application is crucial. Take the time to explain the challenges you’ve faced and how you’ve overcome them. Writing about financial need can be tricky, but we have some well-researched tips to help you make your application stand out. 

Astronaut Scholarship

Amount: $15,000

Provider: Astronaut Scholarship Foundation

Eligibility Requirements:

Application Requirements: Transcript, two letters of recommendation, resume

If you’re interested in pursuing a career as an astronaut and want to gain access to a community of professionals in the industry, check out the Astronaut Scholarship. This award is given to students entering their junior or senior year of college. Winners will also receive an all-expenses-paid trip to ASF’s annual innovation conference, which is a great opportunity to network. Last year, the foundation awarded 68 scholarships to deserving students across the 45 participating universities. 

The Generation Google Scholarship

Amount: $10,000

Provider: Google

Eligibility Requirements:

  • Enrolled or planning to enroll full-time in a college/university
  • Declared field of study in computer science, computer engineering, or a related field

Application Requirements: Transcript, completed FAFSA®, tax returns, essay, resume

Women and people of color are historically underrepresented in the field of technology. To create a more equitable future for the industry, Google created the Generation Google Scholarship

While the award is open to students of all genders and racial identities, Google strongly encourages students from historically underrepresented groups to apply. In keeping with the scholarship’s mission, one of the essay questions asks students to ponder the root causes of the challenges that have faced underrepresented groups in the field of technology. 

This award is open to high-school seniors, undergraduates, and graduate students, but applicants will only be judged against their direct peers — not the entire applicant pool. 

Hewlett Packard Enterprise Scholarship

Amount: Up to $8,245

Provider: Hewlett Packard and The Executive Leadership Council (ELC)

Eligibility Requirements:

  • Minimum GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale
  • Black/African American
  • Enrolled as a college sophomore
  • Declared field of study in a business or STEM-related field 

Application Requirements: Transcript, completed FAFSA®, student aid report, essay, resume, list of extracurricular activities, bio

The Hewlett Packard Enterprise Scholarship is a prestigious private scholarship with internship placement potential. It’s a two-year, needs-based award, and it’s sponsored by the Executive Leadership Council (a non-profit organization committed to the advancement of Black executives) and leading computer manufacturer Hewlett-Packard. The scholarship is given annually to five rising college juniors. To apply, students must write two essays about their work ethic and teamwork skills, as well as a personal biography. 

Edison Scholars Program

Amount: $50,000

Provider: Southern California Edison

Eligibility Requirements:

  • A resident of one of these California counties: Fresno, Imperial, Inyo, Kern, Kings, Los Angeles, Madera, Mono, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, Santa Barbara, Tulare, Tuolumne, or Ventura 
  • Minimum GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale
  • Enrolled as a high school senior
  • Declared field of study in STEM

Application Requirements: Transcript, one letter of recommendation, tax returns, essay, headshot

Southern California Edison, a local electricity company, recognizes the importance of innovation. That’s why they created the Edison Scholars Program to reward deserving high-school seniors who plan to pursue a STEM-related field. 

To win the scholarship, applicants must demonstrate financial need and live in a Southern California county that’s serviced by Edison. To apply, you’ll need to write two essays — one about the impact you hope to make in the world, and the other about a challenge you’ve overcome. 

Johnson & Johnson Scholarship

Amount: $8,000

Provider:  Johnson & Johnson and The Executive Leadership Council (ELC)

Eligibility Requirements:

  • Minimum GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale
  • Black/African American
  • Enrolled as a college sophomore
  • Declared field of study in a business, STEM, or health-related field 

Application Requirements: Transcript, one letter of recommendation, completed FAFSA®, student aid report, financial aid award letter, essay, headshot, list of extracurricular activities, list of honors and awards, bio

The Johnson & Johnson Scholarship represents both a commitment to social issues and an opportunity for professional development via an internship. To apply, students will write an essay about promoting health equity for communities of color and the role they hope to play in that outcome. This scholarship opportunity is need-based. Recipients may be offered an optional internship at Johnson & Johnson the summer before their senior year of college.

The 9/11 Promise Scholarship

Amount: Up to $15,000

Provider: 9/11 Promise

Eligibility Requirements:

  • Minimum GPA of 2.0 on a 4.0 scale
  • Enrolled or planning to enroll in a college or university
  • Under the age of 25
  • Child of a first responder or armed-services member who died in the line of duty 

Application Requirements: two letters of recommendation, essay, personal statement, list of honors and awards

September 11 is an unforgettable day for all Americans, but even more so for children who lost a parent in the line of duty. To recognize that hardship and honor those lost, the 9/11 Promise Scholarship gives out awards ranging from $5,000 to $15,000 to the children of deceased first responders. To apply, you’ll need to write an essay about what you learned from the public service of your parent and how this scholarship will help you achieve your career goals. (You may also want to visit our complete list of scholarships for children of single parents for even more funding opportunities.)  

Native Forward Scholars Fund NextEra Energy Foundation Scholarship

Amount: $5,000

Provider: NextEra Energy Foundation Inc.

Eligibility Requirements:

  • Minimum GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale
  • Native American
  • Enrolled full-time in a college or university
  • Declared field of study in an energy- or STEM-related field

Application Requirements: Transcript, completed FAFSA®

Sponsored by clean-energy company NextEra Energy, the Native Forward Scholars Fund aims to empower the next generation of Native American scholars. If you want to protect the earth and its resources while exploring new methods of producing clean energy, consider applying. The award provides financial assistance to 15 Native American students each year. It is need-based and open to both undergraduate students and those pursuing graduate school. 

The Scott and Kim Verplank Foundation Scholarship

Amount: Up to $10,000

Provider: The Scott and Kim Verplank Foundation

Eligibility Requirements:

  • Minimum GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale
  • Enrolled as a high school senior
  • Diagnosis of Type-1 Diabetes 
  • Active participation on an athletic team

Application Requirements: Transcript, essay, resume, list of extracurricular activities

The Scott and Kim Verplank Foundation Scholarship is an athletics scholarship founded by Scott Verplank, a professional golfer on the PGA tour who was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at an early age. Scott and his wife, Kim, are passionate about utilizing exercise alongside medication to manage Type-1 diabetes, which is why they created this scholarship. The awards are renewable for four years and can be used for college tuition, fees, and books. 

National Federation of the Blind Scholarships

Amount: Up to $12,000

Provider: National Federation of the Blind 

Eligibility Requirements:

  • Enrolled or planning to enroll full-time in a college or university
  • Must be legally blind in both eyes

Application Requirements: Transcript, one letter of recommendation, SAT and/or ACT scores, essay, proof of legal blindness

For many students with disabilities, earning a college degree is challenging enough without having to figure out how to pay for it. To help ease that burden, the National Federation of the Blind runs a specialized scholarship program to advance academic opportunities for blind students. The award amount varies, but each scholarship will be in excess of $3,000. The federation gives out 30 awards each year. Since this is a merit-based scholarship, financial need won’t affect your ability to win.  

Society of Manufacturing Engineers Scholarship

Amount: Varies

Provider: Society of Manufacturing Engineers Foundation

Eligibility Requirements:

  • Minimum GPA of 2.0 on a 4.0 scale for high school and undergraduate students
  • Minimum GPA of 2.5 on a 4.0 scale for graduate students
  • Enrolled or planning to enroll in a college or university
  • Declared field of study in manufacturing engineering, technology, or a related field 

Application Requirements: Transcript

The Society of Manufacturing Engineers is a professional organization that invests in engineering talent. For students pursuing a career in engineering, the Society of Manufacturing Engineers Scholarship represents an excellent opportunity to gain access to a professional network and earn scholarship funds at the same time. The financial support you could earn varies by year and level of education, but it’s open to high school students, undergraduates, and graduate students. 

Going Merry Community Service Scholarship

Amount: $1,000

Provider: Going Merry

Eligibility Requirements:

  • Enrolled or planning to enroll in a college or university

Application Requirements: Essay

The Going Merry Community Service Scholarship is an excellent resource for students who have demonstrated a passion for improving their local communities. To apply, you’ll write a short essay (600 words or less) detailing how you’ve given back to the people or places around you. You should also indicate how your career goals will help you continue doing community service work in the future. This award is need- and GPA-blind.

Mentoris Project Essay Contest

Amount: Up to $1,000

Provider: The Mentoris Project

Eligibility Requirements:

  • Enrolled as a high-school junior or senior

Application Requirements: Essay

The Mentoris Project publishes books that tell the stories of inspiring, trailblazing, and underappreciated historical heroes. To help support the heroes of the future, the organization endows the Mentoris Project Essay Contest

Applicants must read a Mentoris book of their choice and write an essay about the main character. A unique aspect of this scholarship program is that Mentoris will donate a set of books to the school library of each scholarship recipient. 

Wilhelmina Pittman Textbook Scholarship

Amount: Varies

Provider: Wilhelmina Foundation

Eligibility Requirements:

  • Florida resident
  • Enrolled or planning to enroll in a college or university

Application Requirements: Transcript, SAT and/or ACT scores, essay, list of extracurricular activities, list of honors and awards

The Wilhelmina Pittman Textbook Scholarship is a great option for Florida students who might otherwise struggle to cover the cost of educational supplies. Created by a Florida State University graduate who struggled to pay for his textbooks as a student, this award is open to any student with financial need attending school in Florida. The scholarship selection committee wants to hear what you’ve discovered about yourself during the pandemic. The applications will be judged based on academic merit and your essay response.

BigSun Athletic Scholarship

Amount: $500

Provider: The BigSun Athletics Organization

Eligibility Requirements:

  • Enrolled or planning to enroll in a college or university

Application Requirements: Essay

BigSun Athletics exists to help young athletes find success both on and off the field. Each school year, they give out a varying number of awards from the BigSun Athletic Scholarship fund. Applicants can participate at any level of athletics and in any sport. The only application requirement is an essay. Students should write about how their participation in athletics has shaped them, their family, and their future career goals. 

Get more scholarships delivered to you with Going Merry

Many college students rely on loans to pay for their college degrees, but student loan debt can be crippling for many grads. Scholarships, on the other hand, can provide relief from those financial burdens. 

That said, the importance of scholarships goes well beyond financial assistance. Scholarship programs can also provide networking opportunities, job prospects, and pathways to make your college experience more focused and academically enriching. 

With the numerous types of scholarships available, it can be difficult to find the best ones for you. To save time and energy during your scholarship search, consider signing up for Going Merry. Once you fill out a free profile, Going Merry will deliver a curated list of scholarship programs directly to you. You’ll only be shown scholarships that match your academic achievements and career goals — which means you’ll never waste time applying. 

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