Scholarships for College Students in 2014

If you are already in or thinking about going to college in 2014, you have undoubtedly thought about financial aid. The cost of college has increased greatly in recent years and the vast majority of students (and their families) looking to further their education will require financial assistance to cover expenses. The costs of college include more than just the tuition. Most colleges and universities also charge substantial fees as well as book and other charges. If the student will be living away from home (either on campus or independently) those costs have to be considered as well.

Student loans and scholarships are the two primary sources of financial aid for college students. Although student loans typically do not have to be repaid until after you have graduated, you should only use them as a last resort. Many graduates have reported that the obligation to repay student loans limits their career options and can cripple their financial situation for many years.

The better option to help you pay for your college education is scholarships which are typically made in the form of grants that do not have to be repaid. There are generally three different types of scholarships: need-based, merit-based and specialty. This article will discuss some of the available scholarships for college students in 2014.

2014 Need-Based Scholarships

scholarships for college students in 2014To qualify for a need-based scholarship, you will have to provide your (and your family’s) financial information. The most common need-based scholarship is offered by the federal government through the Pell Grant and Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant programs, where students can obtain up to $8,000 per year based upon need. Other programs are offered directly by colleges. If you can show your school that the amount of money that you can afford to pay for your education does not meet the costs, the school may award you a need-based scholarship. The scholarship is typically simply awarded as a credit on your tuition bill. Many states also offer need-based scholarships to their residents who are attending a state school. For example, the Commonwealth of Virginia operates the Virginia College Scholarship Assistance Program, which awards from $400 to $5,000 annually to Virginia students who can only afford less than one-half of the cost of attending a Virginia university.

2014 Merit-Based Scholarships

Merit-based or academic scholarships are often awarded based upon grade point average or scores on standardized tests such as the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) or American College Test (ACT). Merit scholarships can also be awarded for non-academic achievements such as community service or artistic achievement. For example, members of the National Honor Society are eligible for merit scholarship awards from the school they are planning to attend. The University of Virginia runs the Jefferson Scholars program which provides merit-based aid to 117 of its students that covers all expenses for four years.

2014 Specialized Scholarships

Specialized scholarships are college grants that are reserved for specific groups of people. They are generally not well-publicized and some effort must be made to locate this type of financial aid. Nevertheless, it can be well worth the effort to locate a specialized scholarship. Some examples of specialized scholarships include:

  1. Minority scholarships. If you belong to a minority group (for example, Hispanic women) there are many scholarships available. For example, the Hispanic Conference for Career Advancement has several aid programs specifically for women of Hispanic descent.
  2. Scholarships for veterans. Military veterans can qualify for different financial aid programs. If you have served on active duty since 2001, check with the Veterans Administration to see if you qualify for the Post 9/11 GI Bill. There are several other federal programs for veterans. In addition, many states and individual colleges also offer aid programs for military veterans.
  3. Religious scholarships. If you want to study at a religious institution there are many faith based scholarship opportunities. For example, the United Methodist Higher Education Foundation offers grants to students who want to study at Methodist colleges.
  4. Scholarships for medical professionals. Students who wish to pursue a career in medicine should look into medical scholarships. For example, the Mayo Medical School (affiliated with the Mayo Clinic) provides several full-tuition scholarships each year to its students.

You can see from the above discussion that there are a great number of scholarship opportunities for students planning to attend college in 2014. The list above should give you some good ideas for searching for available scholarships. Remember, only use student loans as a last resort to help you pay for college. You will be much better off in the long run funding college through grants and scholarships.