What is an Institutional Scholarship?

An institutional scholarship is a type of scholarship that comes directly from an individual college or university. Instead of scholarships that come from organizations that you can use at any campus you want to attend, you must use these scholarships at the college that offers them. Even a single scholarship can significantly reduce the total amount you pay for college and help you graduate with less debt on your shoulders. Though some are available to all types of students, others are set aside for those enrolling in a specific program or those who meet other requirements.

Where Can You Find Scholarship Information?

The best place to find information about scholarships offered by a specific college or university is on the website of that college’s financial aid department. Those pages will include information on all the scholarships available, how you can request an application, what requirements you must meet to get one and the size of each scholarship. Merit-based scholarships go to students who received high grades in high school and scored highly on at least one of the standardized tests. Need-based scholarships go to students who need more financial assistance than others.

How to Apply

U.S. News & World Report recommends filing the FAFSA with the school code for the college you want to attend. Once the college receives your form, it will determine the amount of assistance you need based on your family’s contribution. Your financial aid package will often include grants and loans, but the college will also notify you about any scholarships you might qualify for too. You can then request an application for each one, complete the applications and mail the paperwork back to the college. The application may ask for a short essay or some more information about your background.

How Much Can You Get?

The amount that you can get from an institutional scholarship depends on the college and the scholarship. Many schools offer basic scholarships in the $250 to $500 range that those schools award to all incoming freshmen. Others offer smaller scholarships in this range for students who lived in the state before attending college. Merit-based and need-based scholarships can provide you with $1,000 or more for attending that school. There is also something called a full ride scholarship. This type of scholarship covers the total cost of your classes, textbooks and may even cover room and board.

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Where Does the Money Come From?

As a prospective college student looking for scholarships, you may wonder where the money comes from in the first place. Many scholarships come from dedicated funds such as those created by alumni and locals. When an alumni experiences success later, he or she might create a fund to award scholarships to students studying the same major. The parents or loved ones may create similar scholarship funds. The funds may also come from the school’s own budget. Many colleges set aside money in the budget each year to assist students. The athletic department may have its own scholarship fund for star athletes too.

As college costs keep rising, it’s not surprising that so many students look for ways to bring down their total costs. One of the best ways to pay for college is with one or more scholarships. An institutional scholarship is unique because it comes directly from the college itself.