What Are the Requirements for a College Scholarship?

Requirements for a college scholarship depend on the award you're applying for. Most college scholarships are based on academic merit, financial need or both. Some college scholarships, however, are also based on athletic ability, musical talent, gender, ethnicity, age or other stipulations. Keep reading to find out more.

Requirements for a College Scholarship

The requirements for a college scholarship vary according to the rules of the organization, agency, college or corporation awarding the scholarship. The following three programs show how varied the requirements for a college scholarship can be.

Important Facts About College Scholarships

Key Factors Financial need, cost of school, academic record, U.S. Citizenship (for federal aid)
Entry-Level Education High school diploma or equivalent (graduating high school seniors can apply)
Eligible Degrees Scholarship dependent
Median Scholarship Amount Scholarship/need dependent

National Merit Scholarship Program

Of the estimated 1.5 million students who annually apply for a National Merit Scholarship, 7,400 finalists are chosen based on academic records, recommendations, activities, leadership potential and essays. Another 1,200 participants (who were not finalists) are also awarded scholarships in varying amounts by some 500 participating corporate and university sponsors. The National Merit Program itself awards scholarships of $2,500 each.

Pell Grants

Federal Pell Grants are awarded to undergraduates who demonstrate financial need. The maximum award for the 2015-16 award year is $5,775, an amount that changes yearly depending on available funding. In addition to need, the award is based on the cost of the particular school and whether the recipient is a full-time or part-time student. Students are allowed to receive additional financial aid or scholarships from other sources without jeopardizing their Pell Grant.


Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) grants are awarded to students who agree to teach a subject for which there is a shortage of teachers in a school that serves low-income families. The U.S. Department of Education, which awards the $4,000 maximum annual grant, maintains a list of subject areas that are in demand, as well as a list of elementary and secondary schools that have a high enrollment of disadvantaged students. Failure to fulfill the teaching commitment converts the grant to a loan that must be repaid.

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