Scholarships can be loosely defined as money, that helps the eligible pay their way through college or higher education institutions and other necessities such as tuition, room, board and textbooks. Unlike loans, scholarships are not expected to be paid back. It is granted by multiple organisations such as governments, corporations, universities or any goodwill organisation.
Scholarships don’t just have criterion such as a 4.0 GPA but many scholarships have different criteria such as extra-curricular activities or athletics etc. Students might also need to study at certain universities or even pursue certain subjects to obtain or be eligible for consideration for some scholarships. Scholarships can be funded by a number of sources that can include but are not limited to businesses, religious groups, philanthropic organisations, community organisations, college departments or alumni endowments.
A scholarship, however, differs from a grant. In a lot of cases, they are used interchangeably but scholarships are usually merit-based whilst grants are usually needs-based. What this translates to is the fact that to be eligible for a grant, generally, your family income or your income is taken into consideration. Grants are generally government funded to provide the impetus for education or setting up businesses or community service work.
Scholarships also have different advantages. They contribute towards the diversity of an institution by enabling different sections of people who otherwise could not have afforded to enrol in the institution. Secondly, this diversity inclusion in the institution increases the competition among students in the institution. Awarding scholarships also result in a redistribution of resources. Charging students what they can afford and redistribute resources among those who can’t, help maintain an institution’s equity.
Scholarships also help increase the outreach of institutions and increasing equity among the student body in higher education institutions. Many universities now have established a process of needs-blind admission. Under this system, students are admitted purely based on merit criterion with complete disregard to their ability to pay the fees. The students are then charged in proportion to what they can afford thus encouraging higher education and preventing higher education from becoming a burden upon students for their entire lifetimes.