A scholarship is an award of financial aid for a student to further their education. Scholarships are awarded based upon various criteria, which usually reflect the values and purposes of the donor or founder of the award. Scholarship money is not required to be repaid.

The most common scholarships may be classified as:

Merit-based: These awards are based on a student’s academic, artistic, athletic or other abilities, and often factor in an applicant’s extracurricular activities and community service record. The most common merit-based scholarships, awarded by either private organizations or directly by a student’s intended college, recognize academic achievement or high scores on standardized tests. Most such merit-based scholarships are paid directly by the institution the student attends, rather than issued directly to the student.

Student-specific: These are scholarships for which applicants must initially qualify based upon gender, race, religion, family, and medical history, or many other student-specific factors. Minority scholarships are the most common awards in this category. For example, students in Canada may qualify for a number of aboriginal scholarships, whether they study at home or abroad.

Career-specific:These are scholarships a college or university awards to students who plan to pursue a specific field of study. Often, the most generous awards to students who pursue careers in high-need areas such as education or nursing. Many schools in the United States give future nurses full scholarships to enter the field, especially if the student intends to work in a high-need community.

Program specific: Program -specific scholarships are offered by individual colleges and universities to highly qualified applicants. These scholarships are given on the basis of academic and personal achievement. Some scholarships have a “bond” requirement. Recipients may be required to work for a particular employer for a specified period of time or to work in rural or remote areas; otherwise, they may be required to repay the value of the support they received from the scholarship. This is particularly the case with education and nursing scholarships for people prepared to work in rural and remote areas.

Subject-specific: Subject-specific scholarships are awarded by study abroad programs or institutions to students based on their particular major or field of study. These scholarships may require the recipients to enroll in subject-specific courses while abroad or conduct subject-specific research while abroad, but it’s important to note that qualifications will vary based on each scholarship.

Creative Contest Scholarships: These scholarships are awarded to students based on a creative submission. Contest scholarships are also called mini project based scholarships where students can submit entries based on unique and innovative ideas.