A Comprehensive Guide to Scholarships: Things to Know

Applying for scholarships is a great way to help fund your college education. But with so many different types of scholarships out there, it can be difficult to know where to start.

In this guide, we’ll provide a comprehensive overview of the scholarship process and help you understand what you need to know about scholarships, as explained by Dr. Samuel Bride, who has been a  Research Elective at the Lab of Yolanda Colson, MD.

Types of Scholarships

The first step in understanding what you need to know about scholarships is understanding the different types of scholarships that are available. There are two main categories of scholarships: merit-based and need-based.

Merit-based scholarships are awarded on the basis of academic excellence or special talents; need-based awards consider the financial situation and other factors.

It’s important to note that some awards may combine both merits and need criteria, such as talent-based awards for students in financial need or merit awards for students from certain backgrounds or attending certain schools.

How to Find Scholarships

  • Once you have a better understanding of the types of scholarships out there, it’s time to start looking for them. The best place to begin your search is with your college or university – many schools offer their own award programs that you may be eligible for.
  • You can also look into external sources such as government agencies, private companies, civic organizations, and non-profits that offer scholarship opportunities for students like yourself.
  • Additionally, it’s worth reaching out directly to employers and inquiring about any scholarship programs they might be offering – often times employers will have their own scholarship programs specifically designed for employees’ children or dependents. 

Application Process

  • When applying for a scholarship, it’s important to read through all instructions carefully before submitting your application materials so that you don’t miss any deadlines or leave anything out!
  • Make sure that all required documents (i.e., transcripts, essays, references) are included in the package and filled out correctly; double-check everything before submitting it!
  • Once all materials have been submitted correctly and completely, patiently wait until the deadline has passed before following up with questions regarding your application status – while persistence is encouraged when necessary, bombarding staff members with emails/calls could hurt your chances of success! 

How Scholarship Money Is Disbursed

When you receive a scholarship award letter from an organization confirming that you have received funding from them, make sure that you read through everything carefully – most likely, there will be specific terms outlining how the money is disbursed (i.e., in one lump sum payment or multiple payments throughout the academic year).

It’s best practice to keep track of all disbursements so that if/when audited by IRS or other relevant governing bodies (federal/state), you can show proof of where funds were allocated during each period of time specified by awarding organization(s). 


Scholarships are an excellent way to help fund your college education without taking on student loan debt – but navigating the complex world of scholarships can be intimidating at first glance!

By keeping these key points in mind—the different types of scholarships available; how to find them; how best to prepare applications; and how money is disbursed—you’re sure to set yourself up for success when applying for various awards down the road!

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