Most colleges will offer a financial aid package consisting of scholarships, grants, loans and work study. This is designed to bridge the gap between the cost of education and the family’s estimated contribution. The amount of the financial aid package will vary from college to college. It is not uncommon for private colleges to offer enough aid to be competitive with larger, public colleges or universities.
Merit scholarships differ from financial aid in that they are not based on the family’s ability to pay. Merit scholarships are monetary awards given in recognition of outstanding achievement in areas such as academics, athletics, the arts, community service and leadership. Some scholarship programs require the student to submit a scholarship application and/or sit for an interview.
There are a variety of other scholarships available. National Merit Scholarships are awarded on the basis of the PSAT taken in the junior year. Many national corporations provide scholarships for employee’s dependents. Local foundations, religious organizations and community groups often have money specifically earmarked to help students finance college. Private scholarship awards are usually based on applications with specific deadlines and they frequently require essays. It is important that students and parents adhere to these deadlines.