Type of College Scholarships: A Super Guide from Scratch to Professional

The competition to win a scholarship is very hard but when you narrow your search for scholarships and know which type of scholarship is suitable for your goal and background, you can find your dream scholarship faster than ever before. 

This guide helps you to set your goals before you start your scholarship trip and save your time to search for the right scholarships. Once you know the type of scholarship that you want, that helps you increase your opportunities to get the best scholarships that match your qualifications and skills. There are different classifications of scholarships depending on the type, state, and academic level.  Now, I am going to display common types of scholarships.

Merit-Based Scholarships

Students who have high ACT, SAT, GRE, or GMAT scores, and have high academic achievement can apply for Merit-Based Scholarships. Merit scholarships are most commonly awarded for students who have got high grades in standardized tests or show high levels of academic achievement. Students who have got high grades in standardized tests or show high levels of academic achievement. You should take other factors into consideration such as evidence of leadership, service, and other accomplishments; activities, and awards.  However, your personal background and experiences and the strength of your high school curriculum often play a supporting role in determining which students win merit-based scholarships.

Awarded by 

  • Colleges & universities 
  • Private organizations
  • Other organizations and institutes.

Award forms 

Merit-based financial aid is usually awarded in the form of scholarships, projects, or grants, 

  • Scholarships 
  • Grants (free money!)

I am going to show the main factors of merit-based scholarships 

  • Standardized test scores (IELTS, TOEFL, GRE, or the like). 
  • The highest levels of academic achievement 
  • The applicant’s GPA
  • Evidence of leadership, activities, and awards
  • Your personal background and experiences
  • The strength of your high school curriculum
  • Other factors based on the institutions that give scholarships 


The most well-known source of academic scholarships is the national merit scholarships awarded through the national merit scholarship corporation.

  •  National Merit Scholarships
  • Chevening Scholarships

Need-Based Scholarships

Need-based scholarships are exactly what their title indicates, it is offered to students based on their financial situation. In other words, a need-based scholarship is a program for those students or their guardians who are unable to afford tuition and fees. Here, a student may or may not be academically bright, but if he/she wishes to continue his studies, he will be sponsored.

Award by 

Need-based scholarships are offered through the university office of scholarships and financial aid, different government agencies, and other organizations.

  • The financial aid office in universities
  • Different government agencies 
  • Other organizations.


  • It can come in the form of grants, scholarships, work-study or loans, and is available to help your family pay for college.


There are many factors a university or a government organization considers when assessing your financial status. They may look at you and your family’s income level, the number of members in your household, tax statements, citizenship, employment or your country of origin. You or your parents’ financial backgrounds are main factors for the need-based scholarship selection process that may include other factors such as: 

  • Family income level
  • Household members
  • Tax statements
  • Citizenship
  • Employment 
  • Country of origin. 


Common examples of need-based scholarships are institutional scholarships such as the Simonsen family scholarship and the Olson scholarship fund.

  • Simonson Family Scholarship
  • Olson Scholarship Fund

Career-Specific Scholarships 

Career-specific scholarships are specifically for students who plan to pursue a specific field of study. Scholarships are awarded to students who know their future career. There has been an increase in career-specific grants in the effort to fill high-demand positions such as teaching and nursing.  Scholarships are awarded to students who know their future career. High-demand areas of study include foreign language, special education, math, and science.

Awarded by 

The governments and universities award to students who plan to pursue a specific field of study.  In addition to some outside organizations help students get career-specific scholarships.

  • Governments
  • Universities & colleges
  • Outside organizations

Main factors 

The most generous awards are to students who pursue careers in high-need areas such as education or nursing. Often, it’s driven by market forces that can change over time. Also, GPA and work experience of applicants play a support role in winning career-specific scholarships.

  • Market forces 
  • A minimum GPA
  • Work experience


For example, the United States has a shortage of qualified nurses at all levels of the healthcare industry; so many schools in the United States give future nurses full scholarships. Also, teachers and educators are always in high demand, so, some organizations and institutes support students who are pursuing degrees in teaching and education. 

  • Nursing scholarships
  • Teaching scholarships

Brand Scholarships:

Did you know big brand companies such as Google or Coca-Cola? Of course 

Did you know these companies also provide scholarship opportunities to help you pay your way through college? That’s right! You can win one of useful brand scholarships if you are interested in their brand products.

Awarded by 

These scholarships are sponsored by brand companies worldwide.


Toshiba/Nesta ExploraVision Science Competition and Coca-Cola Scholar Foundation are the most famous examples of brand scholarships. 

Contest Scholarships:

Applying for contest scholarships is a great way to win quick and easy scholarships. In this type of scholarship, students can submit entries based on unique and innovative ideas or research projects. 

Awarded by 

Contest scholarships are offered by companies, industries and organizations. 


  • Industries 
  • Organizations 

Main factors 

 To win a contest scholarship, you should take into consideration factors such as innovation, academic and research skills, a prototype of the idea, the research progress, and your research plan.

  • Innovation 
  • Academic skills 
  • Prototype 
  • Research progress 
  • Research plan


Contest scholarships are also called mini project-based scholarships where students can submit entries based on unique and innovative ideas.  For example, companies like Dell, or industries like Coca-Cola and organizations like NASA create contests for students where they can show their skills, submit entries and win scholarships easily.

You can learn more about types of scholarships, how to narrow your search results for scholarships, how to apply and win best scholarships through The OPSAF (Online Program for Scholarships And Fellowships) which is developed by Skillsuper® team.

Skillsuper® is the world’s first skills platform where graduates and researchers learn all on-demand life science skills to secure the best jobs and scholarships through the #1 all-in-one publishing and research training program and find best courses, tools and services, to accomplish their theses, research papers and review articles faster than ever before to be qualified to shape the global innovation map and to close the global skills gap. Technology and intellectual property of Skillsuper® have been protected under “U.S patents pending” and a registered trademark.

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