A common misconception about scholarships is that they’re only for students who exhibit financial need. Most families with higher household incomes assume there are no scholarships their student(s) will qualify for and may never conduct a thorough scholarship search. This mistake can cost families thousands of dollars. Not only are there scholarships available for families with high household incomes, but the awards can be substantial. These private scholarships are referred to as “need-blind” (as opposed to “need-aware,” a financial aid admission policy in which a college takes a student’s ability to pay into consideration).
Need-blind awards are growing in quantity each year as companies, foundations, organizations, and individuals are choosing to honor and recognize students for their achievements, community service efforts, and career ambition—with no regard of a student’s socioeconomic status. And since private scholarships are not attached to a specific college or university, they can be stacked on top of awards being offered from an educational institution. The goal for all students, regardless of family income, should be to continue acquiring awards until their education is complete. Here are just a few examples of private need-blind scholarships to get your search started.
1. The American Fire Sprinkler Association High School Senior College Scholarship
The American Fire Sprinkler Association scholarship is open to high school seniors who’ll be attending either a trade school, two-year college, or four-year college in the fall. The deadline is April 1, and the award amount is $2,000 each for 10 winners. This scholarship specifically states that eligibility is not based on financial need.
2. The Cameron Impact Scholarship
This scholarship from the Bryan Cameron Education Foundation is merit-based, as opposed to need-based. The foundation seeks to honor high school seniors with a GPA of 3.7 or above who plan to have a significant impact on the world. Scholarships of $20,000–$50,000 per year are awarded, and the deadline is September 11.
3. DietSpotlight.com Scholarship
The DietSpotlight Student Essay Scholarship is open to students 13 years and older who are enrolled in a college, university, or trade school. The award for this scholarship is $3,000, and students are required to write an essay on a topic chosen for that year. The essay topic for the 2020 scholarship, for example, is climate change and global warming. The deadline for the DietSpotlight.com scholarship is December 31.
4. PixelPlex Bi-Annual Scholarship
PixelPlex’s biannual scholarship is a non-need-based award for enrolled college students who are studying STEM, business, or economics fields. The award is $2,000 for one student who impresses the scholarship committee with a strong essay. Deadlines for this scholarship fall on August 1 and December 5.
5. US Concerts Scholarship
The US Concerts Scholarship from Live Nation and the House of Blues Music Forward Foundation is a $10,000 award. It’s open to full-time college students who have completed at least 60 college credits. This scholarship is for students pursuing a long-term goal of working in the entertainment industry. Applicants must have a minimum GPA of 3.0 and an interest in concert or venue promotion, sponsorship and advertising, ticketing, e-commerce, or artist management.
7. We the Students Essay Contest
The We the Students Essay Contest scholarship from the Bill of Rights Institute is open to US students between the ages of 14 and 19 who are in grades 8–12. (Homeschooled students are eligible to apply as well.) Awards go up to $7,500, and the deadline is April 15. Last year’s essay prompt was, “What does civil discourse mean to you?” With a different prompt every year, students are allowed to re-enter this contest with a new essay submission even if they have won in the past.
8. Alpha Kappa Alpha Scholarships
Alpha Kappa Alpha scholarships are a great opportunity because although they do provide some financial need–based scholarships, they also provide solely merit-based scholarships. They’re open to students pursuing both undergraduate and graduate degrees, requiring a minimum 3.0 GPA and demonstrated community involvement. The deadline to apply is May 15 for undergraduates and August 15 for graduate students.
Scholarship opportunities exist for every student. Discovering that many scholarships don’t have eligibility criteria based on financial need can be a game changer for many families. Make sure you research and apply to as many scholarships as you can to help pay for college—it’s never too early or late to start!
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