Financial Aid Options
Grants vs. Scholarships
Grants do not have to be repaid unless you don't fulfill the requirements. Federal grants include Pell Grants, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, and Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grants.
Scholarships are based on merit such as the student’s academic, athletic, or artistic merit or special interests (e.g. STEM) or ethnicity (Black, Native American, Hispanic, etc.) as well as underrepresented populations (people with disabilities, children of veterans, etc.)
Scholarships may be from private companies, foundations, philanthropists, non-profit organizations or even religious institutions.Many colleges offer academic scholarships based on GPA, admissions test scores, and rank.
One difference between scholarships and grants is that scholarships are taxable. People may want to use the Scholarship Tax Calculator to see how much they will have to pay on taxes for scholarship. Tuition and textbooks may be tax-free, but living expenses may be taxable.
Examples of Scholarships
National Merit Scholarships ($2,500)
The National Merit Scholarship Program is a national competition among high school students. Students qualify for the program based on their PSAT score.
All finalists compete with their state or other selection unit. A committee of college admission offers and high school counselors select winners.
Recipients receive a one-time payment of $2,500. Scholarship offers usually are sent in late March.
Corporate-sponsored Merit or Special Scholarships
Finalists who meet criteria specified by a corporate sponsor may qualify for a scholarship e.g. children of employees, residents of a specific community, finalists with a certain major or career plan, veterans, etc.
These scholarships are based on 1) academic merit, 2) an area of study, 3) a specific religion, or 4) an ethnicity, especially for minority or underrepresented populations.
Awards vary by sponsor and can be one time or renewable and range from $500-$10,000 a year with either a fixed or variable amount per year. There are some full scholarships, but not as common as a fixed amount. They may come out as early as March or April.
To see some examples of corporate-sponsored scholarships, check out College Scholarship.org's website.
College-sponsored Merit Scholarships
Awards are usually renewable for 4 years of study at the sponsor institution and may range from $500-$5,000 per year. Scholarship offers usually come out in early May.
Federal Student Aid Loan Simulator: https://studentaid.gov/loan-simulator/
Financial Aid Dictionary: https://www.uaspire.org/For-Students/Dictionary
Calculate your Cost for College: https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/pay-for-college/calculate-your-cost
College Cost Calculator (video for students): https://youtu.be/s5t-FrlakA8
Low income, high achieving programs
Scholarship, Leadership, & Service
Texas IB Schools Scholarship ($1,000,application due in January)
AXA Achievement Scholarship in association with U.S. News & World Report ($10,000, due in December)
GE-Reagan Foundation Scholarship Program ($10,000 renewable up to $40,000, due early January)
Mensa Scholarships (write an essay, apply Sept 15- Jan 15)
Horatio Alger Association Scholarship Program (2,500-$20,000)