Though many schools are need-blind, scholarships received may not cover the seemingly infinite expenses that accompany the college experience. Private scholarships can bring you closer to that goal, giving you the opportunity to attend your top-choice school. Plus, scholarship programs offer great networking opportunities within their award-recipient communities. Here are three top opportunities for low-income students.
The QuestBridge program determines its recipients based on two criteria: academic achievements and financial need. Since 1994, QuestBridge has paired students with top schools through their National College Match program. Their 31 partners include Ivy League schools like Yale University and Columbia University, as well as top institutions like University of Notre Dame and University of Southern California. If you are accepted to the QuestBridge program, your application is free. If you are accepted into one of their colleges, your college tuition is free. Be sure to plan ahead though; because of early admission deadlines, QuestBridge applications are due at the end of September.
The Elks National Foundation awards 500 scholarships to students entering their freshman year of college. Their selection criteria include academics, leadership, community service and financial need. Nearly $2.3 million is given to students yearly, with the top two awards at a total of $60,000 for four years. Post-graduate opportunities include joining an Elks Lodge and the Alum of the Year award, both of which help charities in the United States.
The Gates Foundation offers scholarships for low income, minority families. The application includes academic achievement, a nomination form, and a letter of recommendation regarding a student's leadership and community service. Once accepted, students have the opportunity to participate in leadership programs. Gates Scholars may also apply for graduate program funding in computer science, education, engineering, library science, mathematics and public health or science.