Scholarships & Grants

Most grants and scholarships are given based on financial need. Scholarships, however, can go beyond need, however and be awarded based on artistic ability, ethnic orientation, background, or interest in a specific field of study. Some employers also offer a tuition reimbursement program.

Scholarships

Scholarships are funds that need not be repaid. They are numbered in the thousands and can be found being awarded by employers, schools, nonprofits, religious groups, social organizations, private companies and professional organizations.

There may be a number of standards or criteria that will affect your eligibility for a scholarship as set out by the provider of the scholarship. While many scholarships are merit based, others could be awarded based on a special trait or interest or talent. Still other scholarships can be based on financial need.

To help you navigate through the literally thousands of scholarships are two websites:

Grants

Grants are also funds that need not be repaid; however, they are usually solely based on financial need.

Grants can be available from federal and state governments as well as individual colleges.

State Grants

Many states offer grants- often meant to encourage students from certain backgrounds (financial, ethnic) to attend college. There may be stipulations in state grant money that the student “give back” to the community in some way (such as teaching in a high-needs area for a certain amount of time after graduation).

To learn more about state grants specific to your state, go to the website of your state's commission on higher education.

Tuition Reimbursement

Many companies have a tuition reimbursement program. The money, however, may come with strings attached. Often employees who take advantage of tuition reimbursement are asked to sign an agreement that they will stay with the company a certain number of years after graduation.

If you are interested in more information on this option, you should speak with your employer or HR department.

Private Grants

There are a large number of private organizations- charities, fraternal orders, unions, religious institutions- who offer grants and scholarships at both a local and national level. If you are a member of a professional or community group, you may want to inquire whether or not they have scholarships.

In Summary

There may be many ways to fund an online or traditional education in place of (or in addition to) student loans. It could be a good idea to exhaust all of your options for grants and scholarships before applying for loans.

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