Scholarships by Grade Level
Many people think scholarships only refer to awards given to college freshmen based on applications submitted their senior year of high school. Though these scholarships are prevalent, there are a multitude of others. There is free money awarded to students at every grade level.
A few scholarships will have open eligibility, allowing anyone who meets basic requirements to apply, whether they are high school, or even middle school students, college students, or graduate or professional students. Such awards can be sweepstakes contests or awards based on specific activities such as community service. Others may divide awards by grade level or age group and give out multiple scholarship prizes. These allow for a broad appeal but still ensure that students with more educational experience, and therefore stronger academic skills, don’t have an unfair advantage when it comes to winning scholarships.
Grade Level Limits
More commonly, scholarships are targeted to specific age groups or grade levels. These might range from a scholarship for high school juniors born in a particular calendar year to a scholarship for anyone who is currently enrolled in an undergraduate, graduate or professional program. It is common for scholarship competitions to limit eligibility to particular high school and college grades, but there are more general eligibility categories than you may presume.
By limiting eligibility requirements to a specific population, scholarship providers are making sure that students who take the time to enter their contest are competing with students of equal education level. That way, there is a higher quality pool of applicants which also helps scholarship providers judge applications more fairly. For example, mistakes that are easily forgiven in the essay written by a high school junior are not easily forgiven for doctoral students.
Scholarships for high school students are probably the most common category of scholarships by grade level. High school students are planning to attend college for the first time and likely don’t have funding sources available. Scholarships for high school students create an investment right at the beginning their academic career and are providing well, sought out funding.
Not every student has four years of funding secured from the first day of college, and many students find themselves continuing their scholarship search throughout all four years. Unexpected expenses arise, grades fluctuate, and plans change as students spend time in school, so students may evolve enough to acquire greater funding opportunities in their later years. Scholarship providers recognize these changes and have created scholarships for undergraduate students who are successfully continuing their studies beyond the first year of college.
While less common than the other varieties, there are many scholarships for graduate students. Graduate students typically rely on fellowships or assistantships, but these aren’t available to everyone and don’t always cover a graduate student’s living expenses. Therefore, a number of scholarship providers are willing to help graduate students finish the last leg of their educational pursuits by providing adequate funding.
To begin exploring the scholarship opportunities available to students at your particular juncture in life, check out our free resources on scholarships by grade level listed above. To get the most customized list of scholarship awards, you will want to fill out a profile on Scholarships.com and conduct a free college scholarship search. This will match you with scholarship opportunities relevant to you, whatever your grade level may be.
Last Edited: July 2015
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