OVERVIEW

A lot of students assume that scholarships and grants are set aside for the smartest people in the class. It’s true, many awards are based on good grades, so it doesn’t hurt to do as well as you can in school. But a significant amount of money is available to those who need it — including grants at many schools that are reserved just for students that make the cut and get in. The key to finding what’s out there is persistence. Find a scholarship or grant that fits your interests and goals. And not every program is sponsored by the government, so don’t forget to check out companies, civic organizations and community groups that offer help for students of all backgrounds. If you put in the time to learn what’s out there, you’ll find just how many opportunities there are waiting for students like you.  The state of South Carolina offers three merit-based scholarships for residents.  These scholarships help students and families each year to access higher education in the state.  Click on the program brochures below to learn more about the programs.

Resources:

*NEW Life Scholarship & SC Hope Scholarship Brochure

*NEW Palmetto Fellows Scholarship Brochure

SCHOLARSHIPS

…money you don’t repay

What can I do to get a scholarship?

Good grades are important if you hope to get a scholarship, even if your family doesn’t demonstrate financial need. When scholarships are awarded on the basis of merit, without regard for need, students who have worked hard will be the winners. You should be persistent and look for scholarship sources in your area. You’ll just need to fill out any required applications on time in order to be considered.

How can I find them?

There are several online search engines that can help you find the right programs for you, but remember to always check with your counselor for the latest scholarships available in your area. Keep an eye on the bulletin boards around school, look for senior newsletters where scholarships are announced — and ask your counselor for the most updated list of local programs.

Most libraries carry scholarship guides. Ask your librarian or guidance counselor for help. You can also check with the colleges you’re applying to. Most college-sponsored scholarships don’t require extra applications beyond their admission and financial aid applications. Just be sure to complete and file the applications on time. Some colleges even offer special scholarships for certain majors that you can apply for in addition to any that are open to all applicants. If you’re employed, check with your employer to see if scholarships are available.

Who offers scholarships?

Many community organizations, churches and clubs offer scholarships. Your high school guidance counselor should be able to help you find them, and can refer you to sponsors who can provide applications and information.

The internet is also a powerful tool in searching for scholarship opportunities. Some sites even allow you to apply online. Unfortunately, many students and their families are falling prey to scholarship scams, so be careful as you search online.

To browse scholarships by category of scholarship you are seeking (e.g. biology, music, law enforcement), go to Federal Student Aid – Scholarship Search.

GRANTS

…money you don’t repay

Federal Pell Grant
Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)
Academic Competitiveness Grant (ACG)
The National Science & Mathematics Access to Retain Talent Grant (National SMART Grant)

Federal Pell Grant
non-repaid federal grants awarded only to undergraduate students who have not earned a degree yet

TOTAL AWARD:
For the 2015–16 award year (July 1, 2015, to June 30, 2016), the maximum award will be $5,775. The amount you get, though, will depend on

  • your financial need,
  • your cost of attendance,
  • your status as a full-time or part-time student, and
  • your plans to attend school for a full academic year or less.

You may not receive Federal Pell Grant funds from more than one school at a time

WHO CAN APPLY:
Your eligibility will automatically be determined when you complete and submit your FAFSA. If you are awarded a Pell Grant, funds will be sent directly to your school, where they will be applied to your outstanding charges. Any amounts over the outstanding charges will be provided to the student to help with living expenses.

FINE PRINT
The maximum amount of a Pell Grant can change each year and depends on funding. The amount you get, though, will depend not only on your financial need, but also on your costs to attend school, your status as a full-time or part-time student, and your plans to attend school for a full academic year or less.

For more information on Student Financial Assistance Programs, contact the Federal Student Aid Information Center at (800) 4-FED-AID or go to studentaid.ed.gov

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)
a grant program for students with exceptional financial need

TOTAL AWARD:
You can receive between $100 and $4,000 per year, depending on when you apply, your financial need, the funding at the school you’re attending and the policies of the financial aid office at your school.

WHO CAN APPLY:
Your eligibility will automatically be determined when you complete and submit your FAFSA.

FINE PRINT
The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) program is for undergraduates with exceptional financial need as determined by the FAFSA. Pell Grant recipients with the lowest Expected Family Contributions (EFCs) will be considered first for a FSEOG. Just like Pell Grants, the FSEOG does not have to be repaid.

If you are awarded a FSEOG, funds will be sent directly to your school where they will be applied to your outstanding charges. Any amounts in excess of the outstanding charges will be provided to the student to help with living expenses.

For more information on Student Financial Assistance Programs, contact the Federal Student Aid Information Center at (800) 4-FED-AID or go to studentaid.ed.gov

Academic Competitiveness Grant for Full-Time Undergraduate Students (ACG)

TOTAL AWARD:
An Academic Competitiveness Grant provides $750 for the first year of study and $1,300 for the second year.

WHO CAN APPLY:
You must be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen.
You must be a Federal Pell Grant recipient.
You must be enrolled at least half-time in a degree program.
You must be a first- or second-year undergraduate student or a student in a certificate program of at least one year in a degree program at a 2-year or 4-year degree-granting institution.
You must have completed a rigorous secondary school program of study.
If you’re a first-year student, you must not have been previously enrolled in an ACG-eligible program while at or below age of compulsory school attendance.
If you’re a second-year student, you must not have at least a cumulative 3.0 grade point average (GPA) on a 4.0 scale as of the end of the first year of undergraduate study.

HOW TO APPLY:
This program requires a minimum of two AP or IB courses in high school and a minimum passing score on the exams for those classes. Students must score at least 3 on AP exams and 4 on IB exams.

FINE PRINT
To qualify for an ACG, any one of the following programs meet the “rigorous secondary school program of study” requirement:

1. Rigorous secondary school programs designated by state education agencies (SEAs) and state-authorized local education agencies (LEAs) and recognized by the Secretary of Education.
2. Advanced or honors secondary school programs established by states.
3. A program for a student who completes at least two courses in the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Program with a score of four or higher on the course examinations or at least two Advanced Placement (AP) courses with a score of three or higher on the College Board’s exams for those courses.
4. A secondary school program in which a student completes, at minimum:
* Four years of English;
* Three years of math, including algebra I and a higher level class such as algebra II, geometry, or data analysis and statistics;
* Three years of science, including one year each of at least two of the following courses: biology, chemistry, and physics;
* Three years of social studies; and
* One year of a language other than English.

For specific courses required by each state for a graduation year, go to http://www.ed.gov/admins/finaid/about/ac-smart/state-programs.html

The National Science & Mathematics Access to Retain Talent Grant (National SMART Grant)
a federal grant specifically targeting math and science majors in the second half of their college term

TOTAL AWARD:
A National SMART Grant will provide up to $4,000 for each of the third and fourth years of undergraduate study.

WHO CAN APPLY:
You must be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen.
You must be Pell Grant-eligible during the same award year.
You must be enrolled at least half-time.
You must be in the third or fourth year of an undergraduate degree program (or fifth year of a five-year program).
You must be pursuing a major in physical, life, or computer sciences, mathematics, technology, engineering or a critical foreign language or non-major single liberal arts programs.
You must have at least a 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale as of the end of the second award year and continue to maintain a 3.0 GPA that must be checked prior to the beginning of each payment period.

FINE PRINT
The National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent Grant, also known as the National SMART Grant, is available during the third and fourth years of undergraduate study (or fifth year of a five-year program) to at least half-time students who are eligible for the Federal Pell Grant and who are majoring in physical, life, or computer sciences, mathematics, technology, engineering or a critical foreign language; or non-major single liberal arts programs. The student must also be enrolled in the courses necessary to complete the degree program and to fulfill the requirements of the intended eligible major in addition to maintaining a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of at least 3.0 in course work required for the major. The National SMART Grant award is in addition to the student’s Pell Grant award.

The amount of the SMART Grant, when combined with a Pell Grant, can’t exceed your total cost of attendance.

For a list of eligible fields of study, go to http://ifap.ed.gov/dpcletters/GEN0909.html

For more information on Student Financial Assistance Programs, contact the Federal Student Aid Information Center at (800) 4-FED-AID or go to studentaid.ed.gov