What Is A Scholarship?
What is a scholarship? You may think that you know the answer to this easy question. But do you really? For
instance, if someone asks you, “what are the types of scholarship,” or, “how does scholarship differ from the other
types of student aid and financial aid,” do you know how to answer him? No? I thought so. But do not worry because
you have come to the right page. Read on and find a complete and detailed answer to the question, what is a
What is a scholarship? Basically, scholarship is a financial aid or a grant given to a student for various reasons
so that he/she can continue his/her schooling. It has different forms and is awarded depending on different
criteria. Granting of scholarships by institutions and organisations is due to different factors. As such,
scholarship can be grouped into different categories. This
article contains a section that includes a discussion on the most common types of scholarships. However,
before going there, it is best to differentiate first scholarship from the other common types of financial aid
available to students.
Types of financial aid available to students
In this section, we ask, what is a scholarship? Is it the same as loans and fellowship? In what way
are these three the same? In what way are they different? To answer these questions well, let’s look at each aid
• What is a scholarship? As said above, this is a financial aid given to students in any of
the scholastic levels (i.e both graduate and undergraduate level students) for free for various reasons.
• What is a loan? This is a financial aid given to students unable to pay for their tuition.
Like scholarship, it can be given to all scholastic levels. However, unlike scholarships, it has to be paid later
on when the student is financially able, usually with interest.
• What is a fellowship? Like scholarship, this financial aid is given to students for free.
However, this term is mostly used to describe grants given only to graduate students.
Their common denominator is that each of them is a student aid, and thus has the common purpose of providing
financial assistance to students so they can finish school.
Having differentiated the three most common types of student aid from one another, let us further our discussion on
scholarships by discussing the most common types of scholarship. Please note that there may still be other types of
scholarships, but these are just the most common ones.
Classification of scholarship
• Merit-based scholarship. This type of scholarship is awarded to a student who excels academically,
athletically, and less often, artistically. Usually, this type of scholarship is conditional, meaning the
scholarship is offered as long as the scholar meets the condition set by the school. For example, a student may be
offered an athletic scholarship for his exceptional mastery of skills in a particular sport. However, in return, he
has to play in his school’s varsity team and represent the school in the said sport.
Whereas athletic scholarships and artistic-based scholarships are almost always examples of a college scholarship,
meaning they are given by the school, university or college itself, it is not always the case for academic-based
scholarship. There are non-scholastic institutions and private sectors that offer students scholarships if they see
great academic potential from the students. Note that students granted this award display academic, athletic, and
artistic excellence, such that they fall under this category, even though sometimes, they may as well be
• Need-based scholarships. On the other hand, need-based scholarships are given to
those people who are financially unable to pay for their tuition. Schools and other institutions give this type of
scholarships. Here, the student’s eligibility for scholarship depends primarily on his socioeconomic status. An
example of an office that offers this type of scholarship is the department of education’s office of federal
student aid, whose aim is to ensure that all qualified Americans beyond high school can have a financial aid for
their studies. Their assistance comes in three forms: grants, which are for free; work-study, an aid helping one to
earn money through work to help one pay for his scholastic expenses; lastly, loans.
• Career-specific scholarship. This scholarship is awarded depending on the course a student is
taking. Usually, it is given to those whose field of choice is highly needed. For example, in a place where nursing
is high in demand, a school may give a student scholarship provided that he/she will take nursing.
• Student-specific scholarship. Lastly, this is granted depending on the characteristics of the
student applying. Of the four, it is probably the least generally encountered type of scholarship. One may qualify
here depending on one’s religion, race, ethnicity, gender and family history. Frequently, it is the minority that
benefits from this scholarship.
Having had our discussion, answering the question, “What is a scholarship?” should be easy to answer. If asked this
question, do not just give the usual “financial assistance” answer. It would not suffice. Answer more than that.
Tell them how it differs from the other student aids. More than that, tell them about the different types of
scholarship. For all you know, the one asking you wants to apply for a scholarship and he is trying to get all the
information he can.