Top Need Based Scholarships in 2021
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.
Jump ahead to:
- Top need based scholarships
- How to apply for need-based financial aid
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Summary of need based scholarships
- Upcoming scholarships
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.
Here are the top need based scholarships for students to win:
- Eligibility: High school seniors
- Amount: $500
- Deadline: September 30, 2021
- Eligibility: High school, undergraduate, and graduate school students and non-students from any field of study
- Amount: $500
- Deadline: October 31 , 2021
- Eligibility: High school seniors of African-American, American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian & Pacific Islander American, and/or Hispanic American who are Pell-eligible
- Amount: Full funding of all costs not covered by financial aid and family contribution
- Deadline: September 15, 2021
- Eligibility: High school seniors who have demonstrated financial need (while Questbridge is not exclusive to first generation students, 70% of finalists are first generation students)
- Amount: Full funding (including tuition, room, and board) for four years
- Deadline: September 26, 2021
- Eligibility: Students currently enrolled in higher education programs (two- or four-year college, university or vocational-technical school)
- Amount: Winners receive awards ranging from $5,000 to $15,000. Awards are renewable up to three additional years or until a first bachelor’s degree is earned, whichever occurs first, on the basis of full-time enrollment, satisfactory academic performance, and availability of funding. Each year of eligible renewal, the award will increase by $1,000.
- Deadline: October 15, 2021
- Eligibility: High school seniors with demonstrated financial need who reside in Colorado, Georgia, Illinois or North Carolina
- Amount: $22,000 over four years
- Deadline: November 5, 2021
- Eligibility: High school seniors
- Amount: Up to $50,000
- Deadline: November 15, 2021
- Eligibility: High-achieving high school seniors living in rural areas of the US who have demonstrated financial need
- Amount: $48,000
- Deadline: December 1, 2021
- Eligibility: High school achieving Black/AfricanAmerican students with demonstrated financial need
- Amount: $10,000 per year for a total of $40,000
- Deadline: January 9, 2022
- Eligibility: U.S. college bound/college students of Greek heritage
- Amount: Varies
- Opens: October 1, 2021 (but start preparing now!) Deadline: January 31, 2022
- Eligibility: Students enrolled in eligible technical programs
- Amount: $2,500
- Deadline: July 15, 2022
- Eligibility: Women with financial need who are within 18 months of completing an educational program
- Amount: $3,000
- Deadline: Rolling
How to apply for need based financial aid
In addition to applying for need based scholarships, you should also take advantage of all other need-based financial aid opportunities. In addition to need-based grants that don’t need to be repaid (like the Pell Grant), students will be able to access federal student loans, and work study.
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.
Frequently asked questions for low income students
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 focused 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.
Summary of need-based scholarships
- College Board Opportunity Scholarships
- $500 “Financial Freedom” No-Essay Scholarship
- Gates Scholarship
- Questbridge National College Match Scholarship
- Scholarship America Dream Award
- Greenhouse Scholars Scholarship
- Elks Most Valuable Student Scholarship
- Hagan Scholarship
- Ron Brown Scholars Program
- PanHellenic Scholarships
- Horatio Alger Career & Technical Scholarships
- Philanthropic Education Organization for Continuing Education Grant
Upcoming need-based scholarships
- Eligibility: High achieving high school juniors with demonstrated financial need
- Amount: All expenses for the Program are covered, including transportation, lodging, meals, and all passes for the Aspen Ideas Festival in Colorado. Also includes opportunities to apply for $1,000 seed grants to design and implement ideas
- Opens: Fall 2022
- Eligibility: High school juniors and seniors who are participating in a Michael & Susan Dell Foundation approved college readiness program.
- Amount: $20,000, a laptop credit, textbook credit, and on-going mentoring
- Opens: October 2021
- Eligibility: Enrollment full-time as a high school senior with financial need in the United States with plans to enter college no later than the fall following graduation
- Amount: $25,000
- Opens: December 15, 2021
- Eligibility: Males currently/planning on majoring in one of the following STEM fields: Engineering, Chemistry, Physics or Mathematical Sciences
- Amount: $3,000
- Eligibility: Open to high school seniors with demonstrated financial need
- Amount: Full funding (including tuition, living expenses, books, and other required fees for four years)
- Eligibility: Open to high school seniors from minority backgrounds.
- Amount: up to $30,000 over 4 years
- Opens: November 1, 2021
- Eligibility: Current community/two year college students at sophomore level. Applicants must have a 3.5 GPA (on a 4.0 scale) and unmet financial need
- Amount: Varies according to need
- Opens: October 1, 2021
- Eligibility: Women who are 35 or older with financial need
- Amount: Up to $10,000
- Opens: November 2021
- Eligibility: Applicants must be qualified for admission to full-time graduate study and working toward graduate degrees in an accredited college or university in the United States or Canada. Students who are citizens or permanent residents of the United States or Canada are not eligible
- Amount: $12,500
- Eligibility: High school seniors with a minimum GPA of 3.0
- Amount: $1,000 (renewable for four years)
- Opens: December 2021