Scholarships are financial awards given by colleges and universities, companies, and nonprofit organizations and foundations and can be used to cover tuition, books/supplies, and sometimes room & board. The amount of each scholarship differs, but usually the typical range is between $500 and $40,000, and some scholarships sponsored by the school cover half of the tuition cost or even full tuition.

For scholarships given by colleges and universities, each school has different requirements and types of scholarships, so check the website of each school you are interested in for more details.

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Most of the time, you need to submit a separate application for the scholarship, but some schools have no separate application as long as you submit the college application.

Many scholarships are awarded to first-year (freshman) students, but there are also scholarships available for continuing students (not first year) and transfer students. Some scholarships are awarded once for one year, and other scholarships are renewed each year that you are in school. They are usually merit-based and are awarded according to your individual achievements: academic (grades and test scores), artistic and athletic skills, extracurricular activities, leadership, and community service.

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One scholarship in particular, the National Merit Scholarship, awards students with high scores on the PSAT/NMSQT and other achievements. Some schools even have special scholarships that they award to National Merit Scholarship finalists who name the school as their top-choice school on the scholarship application. For more info, see our Tests page here:

However, there are also need-based scholarships that are awarded according to you and your family’s ability to pay for college. Need-based scholarships require you to submit additional documents to prove your financial need.

Regardless of the type of scholarship, all private scholarships require you to submit an application that also includes an essay describing your experiences and future goals and aspirations. Our recommendation is to get started on these essay questions ASAP and to start recording any important thoughts and learnings from your experiences thus far (start doing this as early as your 1st year of high school!), as every scholarship has deadlines.

To help you search for scholarships, here are several scholarship search websites you can trust:

College Board (known for administering the SAT, PSAT, and AP exams):

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