College scholarships should be your most preferred financial aid type. They are, after all, essentially free money that does not have to be repaid. Scholarships are even better than grants, which can only be used to support very specific projects.

College Scholarships Criteria

Scholarships are distributed on the basis of criteria established by the scholarships’ administrators. Common criteria include financial need, academic excellence, civic service, and athletic ability. Often provided by private sources such as non profits, corporations, and colleges, scholarship criteria vary widely. Perhaps the most famously cited is the scholarship for left-handed students at Juniata College. (We told you that scholarship criteria varied widely!)

Due to the large number of scholarships, you will be best suited to engage a scholarship search engine or a comprehensive guide or CD-ROM. (Please see our warnings about college scholarship scams before paying for any scholarship search services.)

Athletic Scholarships

Most NCAA Division I and Division II institutions (the Ivy League schools are the most notable exceptions), and some NAIA and NJCAA institutions offer athletic scholarships in the following sports:

  • baseball
  • basketball
  • cross country
  • crew
  • golf
  • hockey (ice and field)
  • lacrosse
  • soccer
  • softball
  • swimming
  • track
  • volleyball
  • wrestling

Additionally, there are some colleges that also offer athletic scholarships in other sports as well.

There are a lot of fee-based organizations that assist students in finding and securing athletic scholarships and grant in aids. Be aware that while many of them offer legitimate and valuable services, there are also many unscrupulous scam companies out there.

Click here if you would like college scholarship information geared specifically for international students.