Aside from finding scholarships through a search, common state scholarships will be offered by guidance counselors or college admissions offices via local scholarships. State scholarships will be both merit and needs-based. Merit scholarships will recognize high school academic achievements and standardized test scores, while needs-based scholarships examine finance and individual ability to pay for college.
State scholarships pay particular attention to applicants pursuing certain high-needs fields. Many states have well-funded nursing and education programs, for example, as they are constantly in need of new recruits, especially in low-income communities where turnover is common. These awards often come with conditions - recipients of state scholarships may be required to work in a certain field or specialty or remain in the state for a certain period of time in the aforementioned, high-needs fields, post-graduation. The Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority (KHEAA) Teacher Scholarship, for example, provides financial aid to Kentucky students pursuing their initial teacher certifications at participating Kentucky schools. If recipients don’t complete their Kentucky education programs or take on a job certified by the Kentucky Department of Education post-graduation, any scholarship they receive becomes a loan with interest. The same is true for many career-specific state scholarships, so pay close attention to the award’s description and eligibility requirements.
There are ample cost benefits for choosing to attend a state scholarship. State scholarships and grants are common, but often only go to long-time state residents as a way to both boost the local economy and keep qualified college applicants local once they have graduated. In-state tuition differs immensely when you are a state resident versus an out-of-state applicant, but public state universities can also be more generous with your financial aid package than out-of-state or private schools. It is essentially a “thank you” for remaining in-state, with future prospect of working in-state after graduation. State schools are typically more eager to award merit-based scholarships to students with exceptional academic qualifications, or reward students based on talents like athletics, music, or science and math skills.
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