What Can Earn You a Scholarship?

Scholarship Opportunities

Scholarships are a great way to pay for college. For one, they are a nice reward you for your hard work, your dedication to an activity, or even some aspect of your identity. But scholarships also offer what many refer to as “free money.” That means money you don’t have to pay back. Read on to learn the main types of scholarships, and how to find them!


Most people know that your academic performance can earn you scholarships. In fact, most scholarships come with a stipulation about minimum GPA requirements. This makes sense when you consider that a scholarship would enable you to continue your academic career, and the people awarding the scholarship want to ensure that it goes to someone who will use it well. Scholarships like the National Merit Scholarship, which is awarded to high school juniors who score highly on the PSAT, are good examples of primarily academic scholarships. These tend to be very competitive, but if you look hard enough, there are a great many to be found. Finally, most schools offer scholarships for academic merit if you earned above a certain GPA in high school. These will be usually listed on the college’s website. For example, Elon University automatically awards a $6,000 renewable scholarship to the top 15 percent of their entering freshman class.


Many schools will offer scholarships to excellent athletes in return for them playing their sport at the school. These scholarships are very rare in the grand scheme of things, and the workload is no laughing matter. But if you’re talented enough at your sport, begin talking with your coaches and guidance counselors early to ensure that scouts and other officials from your desired schools have a chance to meet you and see you play. There are other options for those who might not go the varsity sports route in college. Scholarships like the Morehead-Cain Scholarship at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill reward high school student athletes for excellence in their sports and their classes, without requiring them to play for the university.

Community Service

Volunteer work does not typically come with a material reward, but sometimes a thank you comes in the form of a scholarship. Many organizations will reward the students that work for them through some kind of scholarship program, and all it takes it applying and demonstrating the time you’ve spent with the organization. Other organizations, and some schools, offer scholarships for well-rounded students with both the excellent grades and the dedication to outside interests to prove that they want to be citizens of the world. Many organizations also offer scholarships for student activists, who balance political engagement with their studies and work toward a brighter future.

Activity and Student Development

Taking part in a student-run organization can be an enriching experience, in more ways than one! The knowledge you can gain from an organization like the Boy Scouts, the 4-H Club, the Key Club and more are invaluable, but sometimes your participation can be rewarded with a scholarship. These scholarships are typically rewards for exemplary behavior or performance that models the organization’s values. If you take part in a student-led organization, look on the website or talk with an advisor to see if there is a scholarship program that you can apply to.

Scholarships can be a good alternative or supplement to student loans, because by limiting the debt you incur, you can go farther in your education and ease the burdens on yourself after graduation. Apply for as many scholarships as you can, because each one is a chance to finish school with less debt and more opportunity!