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Scholarships by Type

The most popular scholarships are based on merit and need and come directly from your intended college, but if you have a unique talent or characteristic, the chances of finding an award from an outside organization to fit those criteria are pretty good. Many organizations out there that work to spread the word about things like a particular field of study, disease and disorder or unique hobby place a premium on higher education, and often have scholarship funds set up for students who display the characteristics they’re trying to raise awareness about.

Student-Specific Scholarships

Scholarships exist for nearly every characteristic you can think of. Whether you’re a single mom or have strong religious convictions, have a passion for thinking "green" or love to dance, chances are there is at least one scholarship out there that you’re eligible for. Make a list of what makes you special, and investigate the major organizations, local groups and private corporations that may have funding set aside for education. The American Cancer Society, for example, has a large number of cancer scholarships for college students with a history of the disease based on the region those students live in. Best Buy runs a scholarship program for incoming college students interested in community service. No matter what you like doing or what makes you stand out, there will probably be a scholarship to reward you just for being you.

The most common student-specific scholarships are scholarships for minorities. The Gates Millennium Scholars Program, for example, is open only to African American, American Indian/Alaska Natives, Asian Pacific Islander Americans, and Hispanic American students. Scholarships for Hispanic students have become more available as Hispanic advocacy groups have begun to raise awareness about low numbers of Hispanic students going to college. International students should also feel confident about applying to American colleges, as there are scholarships that exist just for them.

Unique Scholarships

Scholarships come in all shapes and sizes. The good thing about having a unique hobby like duck calling or speaking in Klingon is that the awards for those hobbies may be less competitive than needs-based or more high-profile scholarships. Just think of how many people you know who have a passion for protecting mule deer. Think about what makes you stand out, and consider contacting local organizations that fit those criteria. If you’re going into a field that is unique, look to your community for awards in that field of study you’re pursuing. Look beyond your college application and your grades, and you’ll find you may be eligible for funding in more places than one.

Browse through our list of scholarships by type to see some examples of awards you could be eligible for, and don’t forget to conduct a free scholarship search to see even more awards based on different criteria unique to your profile.

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