Need-Based Scholarships

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What is a Need Based Scholarship?

Need based scholarships are given to students who show financial need. These awards determine eligibility based on family income. Financial need may come from filling out the FAFSA. About 58% of low income families used need based scholarships in 2019, according to a Sallie Mae study. A scholarship is a monetary gift. you typically do not to pay back the funds compared to a student loan. So receiving a scholarship may make college more affordable. 

10 Scholarships for Financial Need You Should Apply for

There are plenty of need based scholarships for college students. Start your scholarship search with these ten awards. Then look for more scholarship opportunities based on your goals, major and interests. 

  1. GE Reagan Foundation Scholarship Program
  2. Dell Scholarship Program 
  3. Jackie Robinson Foundation Scholarship 
  4. Jeannette Rankin Women’s Scholarship
  5. UNCF Koch Scholarships
  6. Smith College Need Based Financial Aid
  7. Anarcha, Betsy, and Lucy Memorial Scholarship Award
  8. AKA Educational Advancement Foundation Graduate Financial Need 
  9. National Association of Hispanic Nurses Scholarships
  10. Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF) – Graduate Student Grant (NJ)

How Do You Qualify for Need Based Scholarships?

To qualify for need based scholarships, the first step is to fill out the FAFSA. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid is a standard form to determine financial aid. The federal government, states and colleges use it. FAFSA forms are available on October 1st so make sure to apply by the deadline.

The FAFSA asks questions about family income, taxes, and other assets. This helps find what you are able to pay or your expected family contribution (EFC). You also list the colleges you applied to and the cost of attendance. Based on the math: COA minus EFC equals your unmet financial need. Keep in mind that tuition may vary over time but your EFC could stay the same. 

Here are some general eligibility requirements for need based scholarships: 

  • Full time enrollment status
  • U.S. citizen or legal resident 
  • Plans to attend an accredited two or four year college in the United States
  • Have a high school diploma or GED

With all these factors, there are need based scholarships for students majoring in certain subjects. UNCF STEM Scholars Program is one example. This award is for Black high school students. You must have at least 3.0 GPA and plans to pursue a STEM career.

What is the difference between need based and merit scholarships?

Need based scholarship is given to family assets and income while merit scholarships are based on academic success. The main goal of need based aid is to make college more affordable for low income families. Your GPA and test scores may not be a factor in receiving financial need awards. Assuming need is not a criteria, undergraduate students of all income levels may also qualify for merit scholarships.

Merit scholarships are for high achieving students. They look at academic achievements. You typically need a strong GPA and test scores in order to qualify. Other criteria such as community service, leadership, and other talents could help you earn a merit award. 

Where Do You Find Scholarships Based on Financial Need?

Many high schools, colleges, companies and nonprofits provide need based college scholarships. Federal and state governments also offer financial aid based on need. You should also look for local awards within your community. Your scholarship search should include awards based on your academic achievements, major, and personal interests.

The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation College Scholarship Program is for high school seniors with financial need. Eligible students may receive up to $40,000. You must be attending a four year undergraduate school. Many Cooke scholars exhibit a 3.5 GPA or higher and participate in community service projects. If you are selected, you may work with an education adviser. You also may attend a Scholars Weekend event in Washington D.C. 

Jeannette Rankin Women’s Scholarship Fund is for women over 35 years old who show unmet financial need. JRF Scholars may receive up to $8,000. The award empowers non traditional students to pursue undergraduate program or trade skills certification.

Federal and State Government 

The U.S. Department of Education offers need based aid as grants and work study. Once your school’s financial aid office has your FAFSA, it uses your EFC to make you an offer. It’s also called an award letter. It states the types of aid available, total amounts and outstanding cost. The letter may state a college scholarship especially if you’re a first year student.

Federal Pell Grants

This is the largest need based federal grant program. Amounts change but the maximum amount is $6,345 for the 2020 to 2021 academic year. According to Sallie Mae’s How America Pays for College 2020 report, 48% of families relied on grants to pay for college. Although grants are renewable, you may have to keep up with the terms and reapply each year. 

Federal Work Study

This program allows eligible students to earn money to pay for school through a part time job. As a rule, you must apply and interview for these jobs. You may find on campus or off campus work. Some typical work study jobs include office assistant, lab research, cafe worker, and others. 


Some colleges offer TEACH Grant eligible programs. If you’re enrolled as an undergraduate, post bachelor’s or grad student at one of these schools you may qualify. Eligible applicants need a 3.25 GPA and must sign a service contract. This states that upon graduation, you agree to teach in a high need field, full time and at a school that serves low income students. In return, this federal grant provides up to $4,000 per year.

State Grants

Many states have a certain amount of need based grants. You may have to fill out a FAFSA as well as state form and be accepted to a public four year college in your state. Just make sure to meet all application deadlines since they may differ.

List of Scholarships for Financial Need

Check out our list of 1,560,265 scholarships worth $6B.

Beinecke Scholarship Program

This award is available for U.S. college juniors who are planning to pursue a master’s or doctoral degree in the arts, humanities or the social sciences and must have a grade point average of 3.5 or higher. Students must currently attend and be nominated by one of the participating colleges or universities.

Total: $34000

Awards: 1

Deadline: February 09, 2023

Lawrence W. and Francis W. Cox Scholarship

Current undergraduate students who are majoring in civil engineering and are student members in good standing of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) are eligible to apply for this scholarship. Academic merit and financial need will be considered in award selection.

Total: $5000

Awards: 1

Deadline: February 10, 2023

Eugene C. Figg, Jr. Civil Engineering Scholarship

U.S. students who will be college juniors or seniors in the fall, are enrolled in an ABET-accredited civil engineering program, and have a passion for bridges are eligible for this scholarship. Students must be members of the American Society for Civil Engineers (ASCE).

Total: $3000

Awards: 1

Deadline: February 10, 2023

John Lenard Civil Engineering Scholarship

Undergraduate students who are enrolled in civil engineering programs and have demonstrated a commitment to either water supply and/or environmental engineering are eligible for this award. Students must be members of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).

Total: $4000

Awards: 2

Deadline: February 10, 2023

Y.C. Yang Civil Engineering Scholarship

Current undergraduate students who are enrolled in an ABET-accredited civil engineering program with an interest in structural engineering are eligible for this award. Students must be student members of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE)

Total: $4000

Awards: 2

Deadline: February 10, 2023

Samuel Fletcher Tapman Memorial ASCE Student Chapter Scholarship

Current undergraduate students who are majoring in civil engineering and are members of their local American Society of Civil Engineers Student Chapter/Club are eligible for this award. Academic merit and financial need will be considered in award selection.

Total: $36000

Awards: 12

Deadline: February 10, 2023

Edgar May Scholarship

This award is for high school seniors who reside in Caledonia, Essex, Orange, Orleans, or Windsor counties in Vermont. Students must face significant barriers or obstacles that limit their access to education after high school, and must demonstrate financial need.

Total: $1000

Awards: 1

Deadline: February 11, 2023

Upper Valley Scholarship

This award is available for undergraduate students who are residents of Vermont’s Upper Valley region. Students must demonstrate financial need and community service/involvement; preference will be given to students who are among the first generation in their families to attend college.

Total: $4000

Awards: 4

Deadline: February 11, 2023

Don Vickers Scholarship

This scholarship is open to Vermont students who are pursuing a certificate, postsecondary non-degree, or undergraduate degree program. Students must have a grade point average of 3.0 or higher, demonstrate financial need, and demonstrate community involvement/service.

Total: $1000

Awards: 1

Deadline: February 11, 2023

Hildegard Durfee Scholarship (Undergraduate)

This scholarship is available for Vermont high school seniors and current undergraduate students who reside in Windham County (preference to residents of Bellows Falls, Brattleboro, Dummerston, Guilford, Newfane, and Putney). Students must demonstrate academic achievement and financial need.

Total: $75000

Awards: 50

Deadline: February 11, 2023