If you are heading off for college next year and are wondering how you will pay, chances are you have been looking for scholarships. You will have noticed that most scholarships are based on merit, or your accomplishments, while most grants are allocated based on financial need. If you haven’t maintained the best academic record, don’t think that scholarships are out of your reach. There are many need-based scholarships designed to help students from disadvantaged families realize their dreams of attending college. Though there are many such awards, five of the best are sponsored by the Sallie Mae Fund Scholarship Program.
What happens if a student has done everything right? They have filled out all the applications, got them in on time, and are even awarded some financial aid, but it isn’t enough to cover their college expenses. Unmet Need Scholarship is designed for students whose aid package is more than $1,000 short of what they need. Recipients can get up to $3,000 to close the financial aid gap. To be eligible, students must come from a family that makes less than $30,000 a year, be a U.S. citizen, currently attend or be accepted to an accredited college, and have maintained at least a 2.5 grade point average.
This scholarship is open to Hispanic American students who will be the first members of their family to attend college. To apply, students must maintain at least a 3.0 grade point average. Scholarships range between $500 and $5,000 for U.S. citizens or permanent residents who plan to attend an accredited college.
Administered through the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, this scholarship aims to help Hispanic students making the transition from community college to a four-year university in the U.S., Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, or Guam. This program is essential for many Hispanic students making the jump from affordable community colleges to more expensive universities.
Sallie Mae and the United Negro College Fund partnered to establish this scholarship for African American students who don’t have the financial means to afford college. Students do not have to have maintained a stellar grade point average (only 2.5), but they must be U.S. citizens who meet the criterion for the Pell Grant. Awards range from $500 to $5,000.
Though technically a merit-based award, the Writers of Passage Scholarship is intended to aid African American students who attend historically or predominantly black colleges, which may be traditionally underfunded. Applicants are asked to write an essay and the winner of the competition will receive a $5,000 scholarship. Furthermore, the school he or she attends will receive an additional $20,000.
These are only five of the best need-based scholarships out there. Many of them target minorities or other disadvantaged groups. It is best to do some research or talk to someone in the financial aid office at your school to identify the need-based scholarships that are right for you.