Scholarship Criteria That Can Increase Your Opportunities

As you're conducting your scholarship search, keep an eye out for these particular phrases in scholarship descriptions to maximize your award possibilities.

Many students miss out on scholarship opportunities because they fail to read descriptions closely. But there are several common phrases that every scholarship seeker should pay close attention to in scholarship criteria descriptions. When present, these phases generally indicate that the scholarship decision-making committee will be flexible in their consideration for a potential applicant. Keeping an eye out for these phases in scholarship criteria descriptions can prove to be extremely rewarding for students. Paying attention to these details can increase the potential scholarships that align with your past achievements and future goals.

If they mention “related fields”

Within their criteria, many scholarships will list specific academic majors or career pursuits. If the scholarship also includes the language “or related fields,” the committee is open to candidates pursuing degrees that aren’t specifically listed. For example:

  • BELDON Scholarship: This scholarship is for students seeking a degree in Business, Management, Communications, Marketing, or a related field. The deadline is September 1, and it’s an award of $1,000. Students must have a minimum GPA of 3.5. Related fields for the BELDON scholarship could include but aren’t limited to advertising, public relations, and entrepreneurship.
  • Linda Thompson Memorial Scholarship: This scholarship is open to students internationally who are pursuing destination management, event management, or a related field in a program that’s one year or longer. This $1,000 award has a deadline of November 1. Related fields for the Linda Thompson Memorial Scholarship might include but aren’t limited to travel and hospitality, public relations, business management, and hotel management.
  • AmericanTrucks Scholarship: This scholarship is open to high school seniors or full-time college students at US technical institutes and two- or four-year colleges or universities in traditional building trades, including carpentry, HVAC, electrical, or related fields of study (certificate programs are also eligible). Students must be over 18 to apply for this award of $2,500. The deadlines are October 15 and June 15. Related fields for the AmericanTrucks Scholarship might include plumbing, architecture, or landscape design. 

Related: How Do You Pick the “Perfect” Major?

If they generalize with “college students”

When most scholarship seekers see criteria stating that the scholarship is open to “college students,” they assume it’s only for enrolled undergraduate students. But check the scholarship for more information. You may learn that it’s open to accepted students as well as currently enrolled students. This means high school seniors can apply if they’ve been accepted to a college or university. It also leaves the door open for students attending two-year, graduate, doctorate, and postgraduate professional programs. Some examples include:

  • Future Designer Scholarship: This scholarship from CardsDirect is open to students ages 17 and older who are accepted or enrolled at a college or university including community colleges and trade schools. Students pursuing any degree or field may apply. They must design and submit a holiday card by the November 1 deadline to win this award of $2,500. The Future Designer Scholarship doesn’t offer a maximum age for an applicant and isn’t specific to an education level. Therefore, the door is open for students of many educational levels to apply.

If they indicate “all education levels”

Whenever a scholarship lists that “all education levels may apply,” always research further in their eligibility section to assess if there are age restrictions. If there aren’t, both younger than traditional and older than traditional students may be eligible. For example: 

  • Black Students in Tech Grant: This scholarship is open to Black enrolled college students or recent graduates at any education level who plan to pursue a career in the tech industry. The award is $1,000 and has a deadline of October 11. The Black Students in Tech Grant doesn’t specify age restrictions; in fact, their scholarship even includes recent graduates of any education level. 

Related: 3 Strategies to Increase Your Scholarship Eligibility

Every scholarship seeker should apply to every possible scholarship they can. Use the FAQ and eligibility information on each scholarship’s website to determine specific guidelines, and take advantage of any scholarship that doesn’t indicate specific guidelines. If the door isn’t clearly closed to you as an applicant, it’s worth it to apply. You may be the best and most qualified candidate the committee has to consider.

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About Jean O'Toole

Jean O’Toole is an educational consultant and author of the bestselling book Scholarship Strategies: Finding and Winning the Money You Need. Over the past 15 years, she has helped tens of thousands of students in the United States. Individuals collectively have been awarded millions of dollars by applying Jean’s scholarship strategies. In 2008, Jean co-founded Connections101, a company specializing in providing motivational tools for scholarship searching. It is her goal to empower students to design their paths to their future without college debt. Visit for more information, and follow Jean on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


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