Scholarships: all you need to know

How do scholarships work?

Scholarship is financial aid provided to a student on a certain basis, usually primarily academic merit. They can be based on several eligibility criteria such as needs, country or region of origin, gender, field of study, race, etc. Scholarship money does not have to be paid back as it is not a loan. They come in the form of grants, tuition waivers and fellowships. Scholarship is a wonderful approach to assist students in getting through their education―usually higher education. They are awarded to relieve students (prospective and previously enrolled) and their families a significant part of the huge financial commitments of higher education. Different organisations and bodies award scholarships for both undergraduate and postgraduate studies in colleges, institutes and universities.

Scholarships are able to provide for various costs typically related to higher learning―from lab fees to books, room and board, transportation, tuition and even more. A scholarship is at times a one-time payment. Other scholarship awards are renewable, they provide students with funds each academic year or semester for some years or the entire duration of study. Scholarships may be fully funded or partially funded which means they might cover all the cost or just a fraction of it.

In some cases, the scholarship money is made in the student’s name and paid to them directly. The money is, on other occasions, given to the institution or school of the student. In these instances, the institution is then paid by the student for the discrepancy on any money due for tuition, room and board, and other fees. In the event the scholarships are ample to provide for the direct higher education costs, the surplus fund is reimbursed to the student.

Scholarship awards usually contain several details including the obligation of beneficiaries and rules. A scholarship may be stopped for one reason or the other based on the scholarship provider and their specific criteria/rules. For example, a scholarship provider may halt a scholarship because the student dropped in academic performance, was involved in illegal activities or because the student spent the provided funds inappropriately.

What can a scholarship mean to you?

A scholarship can mean a whole lot to you. It can change the course of your entire life especially if you are not from a privileged background. This is because several students might not be able to achieve their higher education dreams without benefitting from one scholarship or the other. No thanks to the costs of higher education that keep rising by the day. For example, masters and doctoral degrees in certain fields are usually costly, and you might need to obtain these degrees to achieve your personal vision and goals. A scholarship can grant you that opportunity.

Also, winning merit-based scholarships usually motivates you to do better since you have to continually make high grades to sustain these scholarships. This ultimately culminates in a brilliant result which improves your chances of employment and career progression when you eventually graduate. Similarly, with scholarships covering some/most of your basic expenses, you don’t have to worry about those things that can distract you from focusing on your education. You are able to face your studies squarely and put in your best. Imagine not having to worry about healthcare or costs of books as a student, this eases some of the stress of studying and allows your mind to be in a ripe state for learning.

Scholarships also offer you opportunities to travel and explore other countries, climes and continents. You might not leave your locality for all of your life, all other things being equal. International scholarships help you meet new people and cultures from across the globe in order for you to learn and gain exposure as well. For example, as an Asian or African student, you can get to visit and study in United States of America or Europe via a scholarship. This is an event that is capable of changing your worldview and life forever.

Why is a scholarship important?

Higher education is quite costly wherever you are in the world, and the truth is higher education increases your chances of a better life significantly. Scholarships represent a great opportunity to close the gap between your higher education budget and increasing tuition fees. Surely there is a scholarship out there that you are eligible for.

A scholarship is essential because it can help you achieve your higher education goals with less stress. Most families might not be able to send their children to higher institutions but a scholarship can make higher education possible for anyone who meets the specific eligibility criteria.

A scholarship can also open up other opportunities. It can birth a lifelong association with an individual, body, institution, organisation or country. Several beneficiaries of scholarships have formed lasting mutually beneficial relationships with their scholarship providers―universities, non-governmental organisations, corporations, foundations, governments, nations, etc. These are relationships that might not have happened if not for a scholarship. So whether it is Royal Imperial College or UC Berkeley, MasterCard or the United Nations, or the USA or the UK, a scholarship might just be the ticket you need to form a beneficial relationship with that university, organisation or country you have in mind.

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