September 30, 2016, by David McCauley – Scholarships are a necessity for thousands of students across the United States, sometimes even those receiving educational benefits from the G.I. Bill. 59 percent of 23 million undergraduate students in the United States receive some sort of scholarship or grant, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Getting these scholarships is often difficult and requires students to meet stringent criteria and grades. Scholarships commonly fall under two categories: merit-based and need-based scholarships. Receiving either for the first time is no guarantee that you will continue to receive those ever-helpful dollars. In fact, getting that scholarship renewed can prove to be a challenge as students compete against not only their peers but the incoming freshmen from high schools across the United States.
Keeping scholarships for the 4-year long haul is often dependent on maintaining your grades, staying out of legal trouble, and otherwise maintaining eligibility. In the case of athletic eligibility, injuries can often sideline player plans for education and end their funding after the year. The University of Maryland has taken a different approach by guaranteeing their athletes the ability to finish their degrees, even if they’re injured or benched as long as they continue to meet the criteria of getting good grades and attending all classes. This also extends to former Maryland athletes as long as they left in good academic standing. The program is fittingly called the “lifetime” scholarship.
Not everyone is so fortunate. Merit-based scholarships are not awarded based upon need or potential, instead they are based almost entirely on raw test scores. This creates the dilemma where a middle or upper-class student who can otherwise afford their education will be awarded those limited scholarship dollars instead of the student who has no other options. For these students, needs-based scholarships can become the most reliable option. These scholarships can vary in requirements and amounts depending on the college or organization that is offering it. Fortunately, scholarships exist specifically to help the military community if you have veteran or current service statuses. Scholarships for military families are offered from both public and private organizations and can be found through the Federal Student Aid site.
Even companies sometimes offer scholarships or education stipends as a benefit to their employees. Such is the case with Starbucks who created the Starbucks College Achievement Plan in conjunction with Arizona State University to allow qualifying employees the opportunity to enroll in an online bachelor’s degree program. The scholarship covers 42% of tuition and can be used in tandem with other types of financial aid.
If you find yourself or someone you know in need of securing scholarships or grants for the next year, a great first place to begin is with your school counselor. They can help you set goals to maintain your current financial aid. If your current aid ends, they can also help you identify potential scholarships and generally plan for the semesters ahead. Education counselors in the military are also in place to help make your educational process fulfilling and assist you in overcoming the difficulties that can be a part of higher learning.
Regardless of your current scholarship status, getting and maintaining financial aid is possible. There are a myriad of opportunities available, even if they don’t come from the same source year after year. Needs-based scholarships, merit-based scholarships, and scholarships awarded as part of your employment are all options that can help you finish your degree and get ahead. Maintain your eligibility and you’ll find that many doors will open even as others close.
About the Author: D.M. McCauley is a former U.S. Navy sailor who worked in Intel. After the service he has dedicated his time to writing and traveling with his significant other.