Get matched with vetted scholarships and enter our
By signing up, I agree to Scholarships360’s Terms of Service, Privacy Policy, and Scholarship Rules.
Start typing in the text field above
Load More
Advertiser disclosure

Student-centric advice and objective recommendations

Higher education has never been more confusing or expensive. Our goal is to help you navigate the very big decisions related to higher ed with objective information and expert advice. Each piece of content on the site is original, based on extensive research, and reviewed by multiple editors, including a subject matter expert. This ensures that all of our content is up-to-date, useful, accurate, and thorough.

Our reviews and recommendations are based on extensive research, testing, and feedback. We may receive commission from links on our website, but that doesn’t affect our editors’ opinions. Our marketing partners don’t review, approve or endorse our editorial content. It’s accurate to the best of our knowledge when posted. You can find a complete list of our partners here.

Top Need-Based Scholarships in February 2024 – $5M+ Available

Written by Will Geiger

Will Geiger is the co-founder of Scholarships360 and has a decade of experience in college admissions and financial aid. He is a former Senior Assistant Director of Admissions at Kenyon College where he personally reviewed 10,000 admissions applications and essays. Will also managed the Kenyon College merit scholarship program and served on the financial aid appeals committee. He has also worked as an Associate Director of College Counseling at a high school in New Haven, Connecticut. Will earned his master’s in education from the University of Pennsylvania and received his undergraduate degree in history from Wake Forest University.

Full Bio

Learn about our editorial policies

Updated: February 15th, 2024

While some scholarships are focused on supporting students based on specific talents or achievements, other scholarships aim to support students who have demonstrated financial need. These need based scholarships sometimes also include a merit or academic component, but will always require students to demonstrate financial need.

If you are a low income student or even a middle income student, you may qualify for one of our top need based awards. Keep on reading for more information about the specific scholarships, eligibility, and deadlines, as well as a mini-guide on applying for need-based financial aid.

Read More
Why choose Scholarships360
Students icon

We helped over 4 million students find scholarships in 2023

Check icon

We've spent over 4,000 hours reviewing 3,000 scholarship programs

Light bulb icon

13+ years of experience helping students make smart education decisions

Scholarship Review Process

The Scholarships360 Research Team reviews all scholarships individually and strives to exclude any scholarship where any of the below applies:

  • The scholarship requires a fee to apply
  • The scholarship provider’s privacy policy allows for the misuse of student data
  • The scholarship requires paid membership in an organization (with certain exceptions for reputable trade organizations and others)
  • Student are required to sign up for a site or service to apply*
  • The scholarship seems primarily used for lead generation** or idea harvesting purposes***
  • The scholarship website has many grammatical errors and/or advertisements
  • The scholarship or scholarship providing organization seem untrustworthy
  • There is no evidence the scholarship was previously awarded
  • The scholarship has not been awarded in the past 12 months
  • There is no available contact information

If you believe a scholarship has been published in error, please reach out to [email protected] and we’ll take a look!


* There are certain exceptions to this, for example if the sponsoring organization is a major corporation or nonprofit with its own scholarship application system.
** Lead generation scholarships will require students to sign up for an app or website and require minimal (if any) application requirements.
***Idea harvesting scholarships will require students to submit blog posts or other materials that companies may use for marketing purposes.

Learn about our editorial policies
501 scholarships
Sort by

$10,000 “No Essay” Scholarship

This scholarship has been verified by the scholarship providing organization.

Offered by Scholarships360

Exclusive
1 award worth $10,000
Deadline Jun 30, 2024
Grade Level All Grade Levels

Offered by Scholarships360

Exclusive

The Scholarships360 $10,000 “No Essay” Scholarship is open to all students who want some extra help paying for their education. Whether you are a high…Show More

The Scholarships360 $10,000 “No Essay” Scholarship is open to all students who want some extra help paying for their education. Whether you are a high…Show More

The Scholarships360 $10,000 “No Essay” Scholarship is open to all students who want some extra help paying for their education. Whether you are a high school student who hopes to go to college, a graduate student who’s in a master’s program, or an adult learner who wants to return to school, you are eligible for our no essay scholarship. This scholarship will be awarded to students who get the most out of Scholarships360 scholarships and content. You will be a strong applicant if you apply to scholarships with the Scholarships360 platform. Finalists for this scholarship will be interviewed about their process for funding their education.Show Less

1 award worth $10,000
Deadline Jun 30, 2024
Grade Level All Grade Levels
Apply

$2,000 Sallie Mae Scholarship

This scholarship has been verified by the scholarship providing organization.

Offered by Sallie Mae

Easy Application
1 award worth $2,000
Deadline Feb 29, 2024
Grade Level HS Upperclassmen, College & Graduate Students

Offered by Sallie Mae

Easy Application

Sallie Mae will award $2,000 each month to eligible entrants. No essay or account sign-ups, just a simple scholarship for those seeking help paying for…

Sallie Mae will award $2,000 each month to eligible entrants. No essay or account sign-ups, just a simple scholarship for those seeking help paying for…

Sallie Mae will award $2,000 each month to eligible entrants. No essay or account sign-ups, just a simple scholarship for those seeking help paying for school.

1 award worth $2,000
Deadline Feb 29, 2024
Grade Level HS Upperclassmen, College & Graduate Students
Apply

“A Helping Hand” Scholarship

This scholarship has been verified by the scholarship providing organization.

Offered by Scholarships360

Exclusive
1 award worth $500
Deadline Jan 31, 2025
Grade Level High School Junior, High School Senior, College Freshman, College Sophomore, College Junior & Graduate Student

Offered by Scholarships360

Exclusive

At Scholarships360, we know how hard it can be to pay off the hefty costs of a college tuition. Oftentimes, this is even more difficult…Show More

At Scholarships360, we know how hard it can be to pay off the hefty costs of a college tuition. Oftentimes, this is even more difficult…Show More

At Scholarships360, we know how hard it can be to pay off the hefty costs of a college tuition. Oftentimes, this is even more difficult for students coming from low-income backgrounds or for those who demonstrate financial need. This is where our “A Helping Hand” Scholarship comes in! We're offering a $500 scholarship to help out a low-income student who is passionate about their higher education journey and is actively looking for ways to fund it. This award is open to high school juniors and seniors (graduating class of 2024 and 2025), as well as undergraduate and graduate students enrolled during the 2024-25 academic year. In order to apply, students should submit an essay detailing how winning the scholarship would help you fulfill your dreams. Please note that applicants will be reviewed based on both the quality of their essay and quantity of scholarships applied for on the Scholarships360 platform. Scholarships360 users who are more active on the platform will be given higher consideration. We look forward to reading your application!Show Less

1 award worth $500
Deadline Jan 31, 2025
Grade Level High School Junior, High School Senior, College Freshman, College Sophomore, College Junior & Graduate Student
Apply

$40,000 BigFuture Scholarship

This scholarship has been verified by the scholarship providing organization.

Offered by The College Board

Easy Application
Multiple awards worth up to $40,000
Deadline Feb 29, 2024
Grade Level High School Sophomores, Juniors & Seniors

Offered by The College Board

Easy Application

Open to US-based high school students in the classes of 2024, 2025, and 2026 - no essay, no minimum GPA, and no citizenship requirements.

Open to US-based high school students in the classes of 2024, 2025, and 2026 - no essay, no minimum GPA, and no citizenship requirements.

Open to US-based high school students in the classes of 2024, 2025, and 2026 - no essay, no minimum GPA, and no citizenship requirements.

Multiple awards worth up to $40,000
Deadline Feb 29, 2024
Grade Level High School Sophomores, Juniors & Seniors
Apply

Doan Foundation Arts Scholarship

This scholarship has been verified by the scholarship providing organization.

Offered by Bold.org

Easy Application
10 awards worth $500 - $1,000
Deadline Mar 1, 2024
Grade Level High School Senior

Offered by Bold.org

Easy Application

Are you a low-income high school senior from California wanting to pursue a career in the arts? If so, consider applying for the Doan Foundation…Show More

Are you a low-income high school senior from California wanting to pursue a career in the arts? If so, consider applying for the Doan Foundation…Show More

Are you a low-income high school senior from California wanting to pursue a career in the arts? If so, consider applying for the Doan Foundation Arts Scholarship! Each year, the scholarship awards between $500 and $1,000 each to ten Californian high school seniors planning on pursuing careers in music, dance, fashion, design, theater, or any other artistic field or industry. To apply, interested students must submit an essay detailing "how the arts have affected [their] life, if there were any challenges [they] had to overcome, and if so, how [they] over came them." If you're a Californian high school senior with a passion for the arts, we encourage you to apply! Keep on reading to learn more.Show Less

10 awards worth $500 - $1,000
Deadline Mar 1, 2024
Grade Level High School Senior
Apply

Niche $25,000 No Essay Scholarship

This scholarship has been verified by the scholarship providing organization.

Offered by Niche

Easy Application
1 award worth $25,000
Deadline Feb 29, 2024
Grade Level All Grade Levels

Offered by Niche

Easy Application

Easy scholarship open to all high school and college students, as well as anyone looking to attend college or graduate school in the next year.

Easy scholarship open to all high school and college students, as well as anyone looking to attend college or graduate school in the next year.

Easy scholarship open to all high school and college students, as well as anyone looking to attend college or graduate school in the next year.

1 award worth $25,000
Deadline Feb 29, 2024
Grade Level All Grade Levels
Apply

Scorenavigator Financial Literacy Scholarship

This scholarship has been verified by the scholarship providing organization.

Offered by Bold.org

Easy Application
5 awards worth $1,000
Deadline Jul 13, 2024
Grade Level High School Juniors & Seniors

Offered by Bold.org

Easy Application

Are you a low-income high school junior or senior with plans to pursue an undergraduate education? Further, do you have a GPA above 3.0? If…Show More

Are you a low-income high school junior or senior with plans to pursue an undergraduate education? Further, do you have a GPA above 3.0? If…Show More

Are you a low-income high school junior or senior with plans to pursue an undergraduate education? Further, do you have a GPA above 3.0? If so, consider applying for the Scorenavigator Financial Literacy Scholarship! The scholarship awards $1,000 to five (5) low-income, academically impressive high school juniors and seniors who will be pursuing a degree after their high school graduation. In order to apply, interested students must submit an essay about their "personal financial experiences and how [they] plan to use [their] financial education to better [their] future." If you're a low-income, college-bound high school junior or senior, we encourage you to apply! Keep on reading to learn more.Show Less

5 awards worth $1,000
Deadline Jul 13, 2024
Grade Level High School Juniors & Seniors
Apply

Rodney James Pimentel Memorial Scholarship

This scholarship has been verified by the scholarship providing organization.

Offered by Bold.org

Easy Application
1 award worth $5,000
Deadline Apr 30, 2024
Grade Level High School & College Students

Offered by Bold.org

Easy Application

Are you a low-income student from California who is currently or plans to pursue an undergraduate education in STEM? If so, consider applying for the…Show More

Are you a low-income student from California who is currently or plans to pursue an undergraduate education in STEM? If so, consider applying for the…Show More

Are you a low-income student from California who is currently or plans to pursue an undergraduate education in STEM? If so, consider applying for the Rodney James Pimentel Memorial Scholarship! The scholarship awards $5,000 to one (1) low-income California undergraduate student pursuing a degree in a STEM-related field. In order to apply, interested students must submit essays answering "how [they] would provide guidance on a major life event to a close friend or loved one AND about a challenge [they've] faced in [their] pursuit of a degree in the STEM field." The scholarship was established in honor of Rodney James Pimentel, a computer science student, lecturer, and spirited and steadfast member of the UC-Berkeley community. If you'd like to continue Rodney's legacy, and are a low-income, STEM student in California, we encourage you to apply! Keep on reading to learn more.Show Less

1 award worth $5,000
Deadline Apr 30, 2024
Grade Level High School & College Students
Apply

$25k “Be Bold” No-Essay Scholarship

This scholarship has been verified by the scholarship providing organization.

Offered by Bold.org

Easy Application
1 award worth $25,000
Deadline Mar 1, 2024
Grade Level All Grade Levels

Offered by Bold.org

Easy Application

Open to high school students, college students, community college students, and graduate students.

Open to high school students, college students, community college students, and graduate students.

Open to high school students, college students, community college students, and graduate students.

1 award worth $25,000
Deadline Mar 1, 2024
Grade Level All Grade Levels
Apply

Fontana Transport Inc. Scholars Program

Offered by Fontana Transport, Inc.

Multiple awards worth up to $5,000
Deadline Mar 14, 2024
Grade Level High School Senior

Offered by Fontana Transport, Inc.

The Fontana Transport Inc. Scholars Program is funded by Fontana Transport, Inc., an organization that helps future leaders in their community pursue a higher education…Show More

The Fontana Transport Inc. Scholars Program is funded by Fontana Transport, Inc., an organization that helps future leaders in their community pursue a higher education…Show More

The Fontana Transport Inc. Scholars Program is funded by Fontana Transport, Inc., an organization that helps future leaders in their community pursue a higher education degree. Each year, the Fontana Transport, Inc. Scholars Program awards up to $5,000 to multiple underrepresented, high school seniors who will be first-generation college students and want to help their families and communities. For 2024, the program hopes to support students pursuing a degree in any of the following fields: Transportation Management, math, science, engineering, architecture, environmental design, pre-med, psychology, and/or the Spanish Language and Literature. If this scholarship sounds like a fit for you, keep on reading for more application details!Show Less

Multiple awards worth up to $5,000
Deadline Mar 14, 2024
Grade Level High School Senior
Get Started

Horatio Alger Undergraduate Scholarships

This scholarship has been verified by the scholarship providing organization.

Offered by Horatio Alger Association

Multiple awards worth up to $52,000
Deadline Mar 15, 2024
Grade Level High School Students

Offered by Horatio Alger Association

Are you a high school student with critical financial need and perseverance in overcoming adversity? If so, consider applying for some of the 70+ Horatio…Show More

Are you a high school student with critical financial need and perseverance in overcoming adversity? If so, consider applying for some of the 70+ Horatio…Show More

Are you a high school student with critical financial need and perseverance in overcoming adversity? If so, consider applying for some of the 70+ Horatio Alger Undergraduate Scholarships! These scholarships aim to help U.S. citizens with financial need ($65,000 or lower adjusted gross family income) attend college at a lower cost, awarding between $10,000 and $52,000 each. The scholarships are offered by the Horatio Alger Association, an organization with a mission to “fund need-based college scholarships for low-income youth to pursue their dreams through higher education.” As each scholarship has differing criteria, there are bound to be some you meet the criteria for. We recommend giving them a look-through and applying if you meet the criteria! Bear in mind that this scholarship runs from December 1st to March 15th annually. Show Less

Multiple awards worth up to $52,000
Deadline Mar 15, 2024
Grade Level High School Students
Get Started

$10,000 CollegeXpress Scholarship

This scholarship has been verified by the scholarship providing organization.

Offered by CollegeXpress

Easy Application
1 award worth $10,000
Deadline May 1, 2024
Grade Level High School Students

Offered by CollegeXpress

Easy Application

Annual $10k scholarship from CollegeXpress open to all high school students.

Annual $10k scholarship from CollegeXpress open to all high school students.

Annual $10k scholarship from CollegeXpress open to all high school students.

1 award worth $10,000
Deadline May 1, 2024
Grade Level High School Students
Apply

Herbert Lehman Education Fund Scholarship

Offered by Legal Defense Fund

Multiple awards worth $3,000
Deadline Apr 1, 2024
Grade Level High School Seniors & College Students

Offered by Legal Defense Fund

The Herbert Lehman Education Fund Scholarship is funded by the Legal Defense Fund, “America’s premier legal organization fighting for racial justice.” Their Herbert Lehman Education…Show More

The Herbert Lehman Education Fund Scholarship is funded by the Legal Defense Fund, “America’s premier legal organization fighting for racial justice.” Their Herbert Lehman Education…Show More

The Herbert Lehman Education Fund Scholarship is funded by the Legal Defense Fund, “America’s premier legal organization fighting for racial justice.” Their Herbert Lehman Education Fund Scholarship awards $3,000 a year (renewable for up to $12,000) to current and incoming undergraduate students who have financial need. If this scholarship sounds like a fit for you, keep on reading for more application details.Show Less

Multiple awards worth $3,000
Deadline Apr 1, 2024
Grade Level High School Seniors & College Students
Get Started

VAMOS Scholarship

Offered by Hispanic Scholarship Fund

Multiple awards worth $3,000 - $5,000
Deadline Feb 22, 2024
Grade Level High School Senior

Offered by Hispanic Scholarship Fund

The VAMOS Scholarship annually awards $3,000 and $5,000 (per year, for four years), respectively, to Pell-Grant-eligible, college-bound Hispanic high school seniors who will be attending…Show More

The VAMOS Scholarship annually awards $3,000 and $5,000 (per year, for four years), respectively, to Pell-Grant-eligible, college-bound Hispanic high school seniors who will be attending…Show More

The VAMOS Scholarship annually awards $3,000 and $5,000 (per year, for four years), respectively, to Pell-Grant-eligible, college-bound Hispanic high school seniors who will be attending the University of Texas at Rio Grande Valley and such students who will be attending any other institution. To qualify, students must reside in Hidalgo, Starr, or Cameron County, and plan to enroll as full-time students for four academic years at a U.S.-accredited college or university. If you're a college-bound, Hispanic high school senior from the Rio Grande Valley, we encourage you to apply! Keep on reading to learn more.Show Less

Multiple awards worth $3,000 - $5,000
Deadline Feb 22, 2024
Grade Level High School Senior
Get Started

$1,000 Appily Easy College Money Scholarship

This scholarship has been verified by the scholarship providing organization.

Offered by Appily

Easy Application
Monthly awards worth $1,000
Deadline Feb 29, 2024
Grade Level High School Freshman, High School Sophomore, High School Junior, College Freshman & College Sophomore

Offered by Appily

Easy Application

This easy scholarship from Appily is open to U.S. high school students (Class of 2025, 2026, 2027) and college transfer students. One scholarship will be…Show More

This easy scholarship from Appily is open to U.S. high school students (Class of 2025, 2026, 2027) and college transfer students. One scholarship will be…Show More

This easy scholarship from Appily is open to U.S. high school students (Class of 2025, 2026, 2027) and college transfer students. One scholarship will be awarded each month.Show Less

Monthly awards worth $1,000
Deadline Feb 29, 2024
Grade Level High School Freshman, High School Sophomore, High School Junior, College Freshman & College Sophomore
Apply

Feeding Tomorrow General Graduate Scholarships

Offered by Feeding Tomorrow: The Foundation of the Institute of Food Technologists

Multiple awards worth $3,000
Deadline Feb 26, 2024
Grade Level Graduate Students

Offered by Feeding Tomorrow: The Foundation of the Institute of Food Technologists

Are you currently enrolled in or planning to enroll as an MS or Ph.D. student pursuing a food science-related degree in the upcoming academic year?…Show More

Are you currently enrolled in or planning to enroll as an MS or Ph.D. student pursuing a food science-related degree in the upcoming academic year?…Show More

Are you currently enrolled in or planning to enroll as an MS or Ph.D. student pursuing a food science-related degree in the upcoming academic year? If so, you may be eligible for the Feeding Tomorrow General Graduate Scholarships! Each year, the scholarships award $3,000 to multiple applicants. Applicants' schools of enrollment may be any educational institution conducting fundamental investigations for the advancement of food science and food technology, unless there are stated exceptions of scholarship criteria for sponsored scholarships. Lastly, applicants must demonstrate commitment to the food science profession, such as, but not limited to an IFT membership. If you're a current or incoming graduate student in the field of food science, we encourage you to apply! Keep on reading to learn more.Show Less

Multiple awards worth $3,000
Deadline Feb 26, 2024
Grade Level Graduate Students
Get Started

Feeding Tomorrow General Undergraduate Scholarships

Offered by Feeding Tomorrow: The Foundation of the Institute of Food Technologists

Multiple awards worth $1,500 - $5,000
Deadline Feb 26, 2024
Grade Level College Sophomores, Juniors & Seniors

Offered by Feeding Tomorrow: The Foundation of the Institute of Food Technologists

The Feeding Tomorrow General Undergraduate Scholarships are awarded to students pursuing an undergraduate degree in a variety of disciplines within the science of food. Applicants…Show More

The Feeding Tomorrow General Undergraduate Scholarships are awarded to students pursuing an undergraduate degree in a variety of disciplines within the science of food. Applicants…Show More

The Feeding Tomorrow General Undergraduate Scholarships are awarded to students pursuing an undergraduate degree in a variety of disciplines within the science of food. Applicants must be pursuing an undergraduate degree in food science at a U.S. or international university. They must also demonstrate a commitment to the food science profession, such as, but not limited to an IFT membership. While nine $1,500 scholarships and one $5,000 general scholarship will be awarded to the top applicants, multiple $2,000 awards will also be reserved for students from select demographics beginning in 2023. Scholarships worth $2,000 will be given to three students demonstrating financial need, four students transferring from a community college, four first-generation college students, and four international students. If this sounds like a good opportunity for you, we encourage you to apply! Keep on reading to learn more.Show Less

Multiple awards worth $1,500 - $5,000
Deadline Feb 26, 2024
Grade Level College Sophomores, Juniors & Seniors
Get Started

$5,000 Christian Connector Scholarship

This scholarship has been verified by the scholarship providing organization.

Offered by Christian Connector

Easy Application
1 award worth $5,000
Deadline May 31, 2024
Grade Level High School Freshmen, Sophomores & Juniors

Offered by Christian Connector

Easy Application

Students applying to the $5,000 Christian Connector Scholarship must be current high school students (Class of 2025, 2026, or 2027) interested in attending a Christian…

Students applying to the $5,000 Christian Connector Scholarship must be current high school students (Class of 2025, 2026, or 2027) interested in attending a Christian…

Students applying to the $5,000 Christian Connector Scholarship must be current high school students (Class of 2025, 2026, or 2027) interested in attending a Christian university or college.

1 award worth $5,000
Deadline May 31, 2024
Grade Level High School Freshmen, Sophomores & Juniors
Apply

Grace LeGendre Fellowships

Offered by Grace LeGendre Endowment Fund Inc.

Multiple awards worth $1,000 - $2,000
Deadline Feb 28, 2024
Grade Level Graduate Students

Offered by Grace LeGendre Endowment Fund Inc.

Grace LeGendre Fellowship applicants must submit two (2) current letters of recommendation from persons acquainted with their academic performance and/or professional work. Applicants must be…Show More

Grace LeGendre Fellowship applicants must submit two (2) current letters of recommendation from persons acquainted with their academic performance and/or professional work. Applicants must be…Show More

Grace LeGendre Fellowship applicants must submit two (2) current letters of recommendation from persons acquainted with their academic performance and/or professional work. Applicants must be currently enrolled in graduate studies in an advanced graduate degree program at an accredited New York State college or university and have already completed at least one semester in that program with a graduation year no later than next year.Show Less

Multiple awards worth $1,000 - $2,000
Deadline Feb 28, 2024
Grade Level Graduate Students
Get Started

Immigrant Justice Scholarship

Offered by Silicon Valley Community Foundation

Multiple awards worth up to $3,000
Deadline Feb 29, 2024
Grade Level High School Senior

Offered by Silicon Valley Community Foundation

This Immigrant Justice Scholarship is intended to support high school seniors from select Northern California schools who express and demonstrate an interest in and activities…Show More

This Immigrant Justice Scholarship is intended to support high school seniors from select Northern California schools who express and demonstrate an interest in and activities…Show More

This Immigrant Justice Scholarship is intended to support high school seniors from select Northern California schools who express and demonstrate an interest in and activities towards social justice causes, especially in support of immigrants. Eligible high schools include: Menlo-Atherton High School, Woodside High School, Carlmont High School, Sequoia High School, Redwood High School, TIDE Academy, Summit Everest High School, Cañada Middle College, East Palo Alto Academy, and Eastside College Preparatory in East Palo Alto, California. Applicants must also have a minimum 2.5 GPA, demonstrate financial need, and be planning to enroll in a two- or four-year university. Preferred applicants will have a demonstrated interest in immigrant-oriented social justice AND/OR are an immigrant themselves AND/OR were raised in a first-generation immigrant family. If you're a college-bound high school senior from an East Palo Alto School, and you're an immigrant yourself or have a passion for helping them, we encourage you to apply. Keep on reading to learn more!Show Less

Multiple awards worth up to $3,000
Deadline Feb 29, 2024
Grade Level High School Senior
Get Started
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • ...
  • 26
  • Next Next Page Icon

Jump ahead to:

How to win need-based scholarships 

Earning scholarships starts with completing thoughtful scholarship applications. Scholarship applications might include requirements like transcripts, test scores, essays, and interviews. For need-based scholarships, the scholarship committee will be considering your financial need as an application factor too.

Depending on the scholarship, some applications may ask you to share more information about your family’s financial situation. This can range from writing a statement of financial need to providing actual documentation of income or eligibility for fee waivers or free and reduced lunch.

Many need-based scholarships will also include an essay component, which provides you with an opportunity to share your story. When thinking about the essay as a student who has faced financial hardship, you should be focused on showing how you have grown and succeeded despite this set of circumstances. One of the mistakes that students make when talking about adversity is focusing too much on what happened to them as opposed to how they grew from the experience. 
Writing about this will not be easy, so give yourself plenty of time to reflect and brainstorm stories that you’d like to share with the scholarship committee.

Essay advice for need-based scholarships

We also have some helpful resources to help you write powerful essays. Check out our guide on how to start a scholarship essay, and another on how to write a winning scholarship essay. Here are a few more helpful resources for writing successful scholarship essays:

How to apply for need-based financial aid

Need-based scholarships are just one part of the financial aid equation. In fact, for most students with demonstrated financial need, they won’t even be the most important source of financial aid to pay for college. Need-based grants, which are awarded to students by the government and specific educational institutions, are the most important source of financial aid for low income students.

Like scholarships, need-based grants are free money that does not need to be repaid. The most well-known need-based grant is the Pell Grant, which is awarded to students by the federal government. 

Students can apply for need-based grants through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA. The FAFSA opens up on October 1st of each year and allows students to access need-based grants, but also federal student loans and work study

Some colleges may also require a financial aid application called the CSS Profile. The CSS Profile is administered by the College Board and captures more information than the FAFSA, which some colleges use for awarding financial aid. 

Remember, you will need to apply for financial aid by the appropriate CSS Profile and FAFSA deadlines. If you apply for financial aid and are accepted to the college, you will receive a financial aid award letter that outlines the various types of aid available to you.

Related: How to get student rent assistance

Resources for students with financial need

Your school counselor

If you are a high school senior, your school counselor may be a helpful resource as you navigate the admissions and scholarship process. Many school counselors will be able to help you find scholarships, answer questions about the FAFSA, and serve as an overall resource for you as you apply for admission and financial aid. 

Similarly, if you are a member of a college access organization, your college counselor or coach will be able to provide help with anything related to paying for college.

Your college’s financial aid office

Whether you are a high school senior or a current college student, your college’s office of financial aid is a great resource if you encounter any problems or questions when applying for financial aid. If you are feeling lost or overwhelmed by any components of the financial aid process, you can give your college financial aid office a call (or if you are a current student, you can schedule an appointment to speak to someone). 

Frequently asked questions

Does my family income qualify me for need-based scholarships or financial aid?

It depends! Every scholarship will have a different requirement for income and who is eligible. Many need-based scholarships will provide a specific income or range that eligible student must fall in-between.

For need-based financial aid, it will also depend. Each college will use a formula to determine how much money your family can afford to pay (this is also known as the Estimated Family Contribution or EFC).

What’s the difference between a need-based and merit based scholarship?

The primary difference is that a need based scholarship will be taking into account a student’s financial situation and will focus on supporting the students who need financial support the most. A merit based scholarship will be focused on supporting students with specific talents or “merits” as defined by the scholarship committee.

Merit scholarships typically assess students based on a variety of factors, including GPA, test scores, extracurricular activities, and internships. Keep in mind that many scholarships use a combination of need and merit-based qualifications to choose their recipients. So, as a student applying for need-based scholarships, you’ll have a better chance if you earn good grades and test scores.

Additional scholarship categories to explore

Get Started

Join for exclusive scholarships, personalized matching, and application tracking. 0% Spam, 100% Free.

3 reasons to join scholarships360

  • Automatic entry to our $10,000 No-Essay Scholarship
  • Personalized matching to thousands of vetted scholarships
  • Quick apply for scholarships exclusive to our platform

By the way...Scholarships360 is 100% free!

Join For Free