What is a Need Based Scholarship?

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  • Written By: A Kaminsky
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Last Modified Date: 03 November 2019
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With rising tuition costs and facing the burden of student loans, college students often look for scholarships. There are many types of scholarships, with some offered by the college or university, and others offered by foundations or organizations. Some are based solely on academic performance, some on ethnic background, and others on financial circumstances. This last is a need based scholarship.

A need based scholarship may be offered by the school, a business, an organization, or a private endowment. It may take academics into account, but the primary criterion for qualification is demonstrating financial need. Students who have parents in a lower-middle income bracket may not have the funds to pay for college, but their parents might make too much for them to qualify for government grants and other assistance primarily for students at or below the poverty level.

This type of scholarship helps bridge the financial gap. It usually has more generous financial qualification criteria, and many were endowed specifically for the student who wants to attend college but whose parents make too much money for him to qualify for most federal programs. A need based scholarship may pay partial or full tuition, housing costs, and sometimes a books stipend.


A student should contact her high school guidance counselor to learn about available need based scholarships. In the US, the student usually starts by completing a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Even if the student knows she probably will not qualify for federal aid, the FAFSA is used by many colleges and other organizations as the “official” statement of a student’s financial situation. She will need to get her parents’ help in filling out this form, since they will probably need to attach copies of their tax returns and other documents as proof of income.

A need based scholarship may also be based partially on academic performance. That is, a student must first meet the financial criteria, but then must have a certain grade point average or standardized test score to further qualify. She may, alternately, need to be accepted into a particular degree program at a college. For instance, the scholarship may stipulate that the student’s parents have a combined income of under $50,000 US Dollars, that the student have at least a 3.0 grade point average, and that she be accepted into the teacher education program at her chosen university. The financial consideration must be met first, however.

A student should also always talk to the financial aid department at her chosen school to see if a need based scholarship is offered. Sometimes, the financial aid counselors know about scholarships that the general public are not aware of. The student should also check online resources, which may also have lists of available scholarships. If one is available, it may be just what a student requires to help her attend the college of her choice.


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Post 4

what if my parents are divorced?

Post 3

The info is great. I had a few questions. Does my chances of getting aid increase if my parents are not earning the stipulated amount and are paying for two people from the same family

Post 2

what salary(income) if my parents have then i have higher chances to get scholarships and grants than the loans? please..... it's important for me

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