Top 21 Need-Based Scholarships for College Students in USA 2022

Need-Based Scholarships for College Students

Need Based Scholarships for College Students: As far as college or high school funding goes, scholarships are the holy grail. When we talk about merit or financial need scholarships for college students, they’re rewards for your hard work.

Here’s the striking part, if you refuse to apply, others will grab it for good. And unlike students loans, you don’t have to pay them back!

As much as there are different scholarships to study abroad, most might not be need based. However, they can range from Master’s Scholarships or country-specific just like the Australian scholarships.

In that regard, we expatiate in detail, all you need to know about need based scholarships for college students. Also, you no longer have to worry about the difference need based scholarships, merit, and the financial need scholarships for college students. We’re covering this option in-depth to help you determine whether you should apply for one.

What is a Need-Based Scholarship?

When we talk about need based scholarships, we refer to financial aid given to students on the basis of financial need. Therefore, we can say that need based scholarships place less emphasis on the applicants’ prior performances, talents, and achievements. However, it takes into consideration their financial needs in order to manage to sustain themselves during their college or university education. Since it’s base on finances, there must be proof of financial inadequacy on the part of the applicants before this scholarship is awarded. Also, there are also criteria to checkmate this proof. To qualify, students;

  • Must come from low-income or disadvantaged backgrounds,
  • The applicant’s family must have a history or proof of financial inadequacy. (Wondering how they will know? This is usually determined based on family income)

What’s the Difference Between Need Based Scholarships and Merit Based Scholarships for College Students?

One huge similarity between these two is that both solve the money problem for the student. However, they might not do that to some degree. And certainly, both are not awarded on the same terms and conditions. Now, what’s the difference?

Need based scholarships to differ from merit-based college scholarships first from the criteria for awarding. Merit scholarships for college students are often based on academic, sports, or extracurricular achievement. For instance, getting a 4.0 or being a high scorer on the soccer team can earn you a scholarship. That kind of scholarship is merit-based.

However, need based scholarships are solely on financial need and not merit. In other words, you don’t have to do anything right, you just have to be in financial lack. (That don’t suggest laziness or academic failure).

Sadly, scholarships in USA and other countries no longer offer scholarships base on these criteria individually. In fact, many of the organizations and programs handing out scholarship funds just like MasterCard Scholarships, require students to both demonstrate financial need and show academic, artistic, or athletic achievement. In that way, you will be seen as “Deserving” or an “All weather kid”.

What’s the Scholarship Value of Need Based Scholarships?

Need-Based Scholarships for College Students
Need-Based Scholarships for College Students

Unlike most merit-based scholarships for college students, the scholarship value of need-based scholarships is not fixed. That means there are no precise amounts as to how much the applicant should expect. It varies from candidate to candidate, and depend also on his or her financial eligibility.

How Do I Apply for Need based Financial aid Scholarships for College Students?

To apply for need based scholarships, college students will need to submit the FAFSA. However, some schools might require CSS Profile. Keep in mind that both your CSS Profile and FAFSA application must be appropriate and meet the deadlines.

Nonetheless, to be eligible for need based scholarships, the first step is to fill out the FAFSA.

The free federal study grant application is a standard form for determining the study grant.

The federal government, states, and universities use it. FAFSA forms will be available from October 1st. So apply before the deadline.

The FAFSA asks about family income, taxes, and other assets. This is a great way to find out what you can afford or your expected family contribution (EFC).

They also list the colleges you applied for and the cost of attending. Based on calculations: COA minus EFC corresponds to your unmet financial needs. Note that tuition fees can vary over time, but your CEF can stay the same.

Here are some general eligibility requirements for need based scholarships: 

  • Full-time enrollment status
  • U.S. citizen or legal resident 
  • Plans to attend an accredited two or four-year college in the United States
  • Have a high school diploma or GED

Which Federal Student Aid Programs Are Need Based?

The Federal government has a way of sponsoring students. Although it might be need based scholarships, it’s better referred to as Federal Student Aid Programs. Below is a list of them;

  • Federal Pell Grant
  • Direct Subsidized Loan
  • The Federal Work-Study
  • Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)

How’s the Financial Need of College Students Calculated?

Need-based aid is financial aid that you can receive if you have financial needs and meet other eligibility criteria. In that regard, you cannot receive more need-based aid than the amount of your financial need. How’s this calculated?

Calculating Your Financial Need

Cost of Attendance (COA) − Expected Family Contribution (EFC) = Financial Need

For instance, if your COA is $16,000 and your EFC is 12000, your financial need is $4,000; so you aren’t eligible for more than $4,000 in need-based aid. Therefore, all need based scholarships you apply for are going to sponsor you on that amount. However, some can be fully funded.

Can I Apply for Need Based Scholarships?

Yes, you can. If only you are financially inadequate. In other words, you or your family cannot sponsor your education.

Some Common Need-Based Scholarships for College Students

Kindly note that not all scholarships out there are need based scholarships. So just before you go and apply for Rhodes or Commonwealth scholarship thinking is need based, here are a few examples of typical need-based scholarships.

Before that, there are financial need based scholarships for all kinds of educational endeavors. This ranges from highly selective options for vocation-track students to less competitive ones for those working towards a liberal arts degree. Below is a list of some of them you can apply for;

#1. The Young Scholars Program

This is open to high-performing seventh-grade students who demonstrate financial need. For this lucky seventh grader, this pays for high school tuition, school supplies, summer programs, and extracurricular activities. Also, it’s important you know that Jack Kent Cooke Foundation funds it. So in a few words, you can refer to it as a pre-college scholarship

#2. The Gates Scholarship

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation awards these need based scholarships. Every year, the foundation gives 300 eligible students a “last-dollar scholarship”. What this means is that it pays for the cost of schooling after federal grants are awarded. This ensures that students of all incomes can pay for college. However, to qualify, students must be eligible for a Federal Pell Grant.

#3. The Greenhouse Scholars Program

The Greenhouse program awards graduating high school seniors with need based scholarships for attending four-year colleges. In addition, if you have a high GPA of 3.5 or above, you have an added advantage. Kindly note that Greenhouse scholars must demonstrate a financial need and must reside in Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, or North Carolina. Worth: $22,000 over four years.

#4. Bezos Scholars Program

It’s a high school scholarship open to high achieving students with demonstrated financial needs. Covers all expenses for the Program, including, all passes for the Aspen Ideas Festival in Colorado. Also includes opportunities to apply for $1,000 seed grants to design and implement ideas

#5. Dell Scholars Program

Applicants must be participating in a Michael & Susan Dell Foundation-approved college readiness program. This financial need based scholarship is worth $20,000, a laptop credit, textbook credit, and ongoing mentoring.

#6. Hubertus W.V. Willems Scholarship

The Hubertus W.V. Willems Scholarship for Male Students is awarded annually to a male, US citizen who attends an accredited institution in the U.S. and is majoring in Engineering, Chemistry, Physics, or Mathematical Sciences.

The maximum Scholarship Award is $3,000.00. To be eligible for the scholarship applicants must demonstrate financial need based on the federal poverty guidelines. 

#7. Hagan Scholarship

Applicants must be high school seniors living in rural areas of the US. Also, he/she must have demonstrated a financial need. This financial need scholarship comes with $48,000. Usually, the application opens every September 1st.

#8. Horatio Alger National Scholarships

Scholarship worth $25,000 and applicant must be high school planning to enter college by fall. Every year applications open on December 15th.

The Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans is subscribed to the simple but powerful belief that hard work, honesty, and determination can overcome any obstacle.

As such, the association recognizes the achievements of outstanding personalities in our society who have succeeded despite adversity and who are committed to supporting young people in gaining more opportunities through higher education.

#9. Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship
Current community/two-year college students at the sophomore level. Applicants must have a 3.5 GPA (on a 4.0 scale) and unmet financial needs.

#10. Jeannette Rankin Women’s Scholarship

Open to women who are 35 or older with financial needs. The scholarship’s value amounts to $10,000. You can apply to start from November each year.

Since 1976, the Jeannette Rankin Women’s Scholarship Fund has awarded over three million scholarships to over 1,000 women.

This scholarship has a direct impact on the lives of previous scholarship holders; Over 87% of JRF scholarship holders graduate or continue their studies.

The Jeannette Rankin Fellowship for Women has changed the lives of motivated, low-income women.

55% of the JRF scholarship holders said that the JRF scholarship enabled them to continue their education. Over 75% of JFK Scholarship recipients are single mothers working towards degrees that their children can benefit from.

#11. PanHellenic Scholarships

The PanHellenic Scholarship Foundation’s scholarships and educational programs are available to students of Hellenic descent from all over 50 United States.

To apply, applicants must be U.S. citizens or United States residents with permanent residence in the U.S. and of Greek descent and have at least one great-grandparent of Greek descent.

A minimum of 3.5 GPA is also required, and this only applies to students pursuing a bachelor’s degree.

#12. P.E.O. International Peace Scholarship

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. Scholarship value amounts to $12,500.

#13. Scholarship America Dream Award

Students are currently enrolled in higher education programs (two- or four-year college, university, or vocational-technical school). Winners receive awards ranging from $5,000 to $15,000.

#14. Tzu Chi Scholarship

High school seniors with a minimum GPA of 3.0 can apply. Worth; $1,000 (renewable for four years).

The Tzu Chi USA Scholarship is a scholarship program funded by the Tzu Chi Buddhist Foundation to recognize and financially support outstanding high school graduates and students previously received in parts of the United States.

Tzu Chi USA Fellows are selected based on their financial needs, academic achievement, and community engagement.

#15. Federal Pell Grants

It is the federal government’s largest demand-oriented funding program. Amounts change, but the maximum is $ 6,345 for the 2020-2021 school year.

According to Sallie Mae’s How America Pays for College 2020 report, 48% of families relied on grants to pay for their education.

Although the scholarships are renewable, you may have to meet the requirements and reapply every year.

#16. AKA Educational Advancement Foundation Graduate Financial Need Scholarship

US graduates who demonstrate community involvement and financial need are considered for this award. Students must have an accumulated grade point average of 2.5 or higher. The total amount awarded for this scholarship is $ 1,000.

#17. Excelsior Scholarship Program

The Excelsior Scholarship, in combination with other student financial aid programs, allows students to attend a SUNY or CUNY college tuition-free. The program covers tuition for eligible SUNY and CUNY students. For the 2021-22 academic year, families who earned $125,000 or less in the tax year 2019 are eligible to apply. Deadline for application is 31 August 2021.

#18. Bryce Thomson Scholarship Fund

The scholarship worth is $1700 and its open to 10 awardees. Employees of a National Ice Cream Retailers Association member business may apply for this need-based scholarship.

Applicants must be college-bound high school seniors, or current college freshmen, sophomores, or juniors. Deadline for applying for this scholarship is September 10, 2021.

#19. Mississippi Tuition Assistance Grant (MTAG)

This award is available to undergraduate students in Mississippi who are enrolled or are considering enrolling in an eligible college or university in Mississippi. Students must have a GPA of 2.5 or higher, an ACT score of 15 or higher (or an SAT score of 720 or higher), and must receive less than the full Federal Pell Grant as determined by the FAFSA degree . The scholarship is worth $591. Deadline for the 2020/2021 academic session is September 15, 2021.

#20. Acorn Equality Fund Luke Scholarship

The Luke Scholarship is available to LGBT students, allies, and the children of LGBT parents who have a permanent residence in the Acorn Equality Fund service area (all counties in Illinois except Cook, DuPage, Grundy, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry and Will). Applicants must demonstrate academic achievement and unmet financial need. The total scholarship worth is $35000. The deadline is September 24, 2021.

#21. White Collar Defense Diversity Scholarship

The scholarship program is open to all African American and Hispanic undergraduate, and law school students as well as incoming college freshmen. The candidate must be in good academic standing with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher. Candidates must have a demonstrated financial need. The scholarship is worth $500. The deadline open uptil September 30, 2021.


There are many kinds of scholarships out there, be it need based, financial or merit scholarships for college students. However, figuring out the ones you qualify for can help you get more dollar signs in your tuition bank. (Sounds cool!) One kind of scholarship you may want to consider is this need-based scholarship discussed above. Find out how to answer scholarship interview questions.

Good Luck Scholar!!!


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