College scholarships are monetary awards that do not need to be repaid. The two categories of scholarships are need-based or non-need based.
Need-based scholarships are generally provided by the college. Students and their families are required to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, and sometimes the CSS/PROFILE application, and submit to the intended colleges by a definite date. The college assesses your need and awards aid from federal, state, college or private sources.
Non-need based scholarships are awarded to the college applicant regardless of whether she/he qualifies for the need-based awards. Examples of these types of awards are scholarships offered by your parent’s employer, their military service affiliation or organizations, such as Rotary International or the American Association of University Women. Other types of non-need based scholarships are based upon a student’s characteristics, such as Native American, learning disabled or by gender; as well as affiliations with various organizations such as Boy Scouts of America, Girl Scouts of America, The Lions Club and other community service or church organizations.
More than 700 four-year colleges and universities offer scholarships to Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society members, so if you are a member of PTK, be sure to inquire about such scholarships at the schools to which you are applying. Additionally, the the PTK website lists several other scholarships that you might be eligible for.
Your academic interests or talents are also important areas to search for scholarships. For example, if you have an academic interest in mathematics or a health field or if you are a talented musician, artist or athlete, you may wish to explore these avenues for scholarship funding.
Applying for non-need based scholarships requires planning.
You have to start the scholarship process early. Fall scholarship deadlines could be set by March 1, and spring scholarships are usually set by late October. You will be asked to write an essay or personal statement, provide written recommendations, school transcripts and other information to support your application.
Look for scholarships on a college’s website, your state’s financial aid website and websites such as Scholarships.com and Fastweb.
The Transfer & Career Services Office also has the books, Peterson's College Money Handbook and How to Write a Winning Scholarship Essay, which could be useful resources.