One common type of award is a grant to residents that attend school in the state. North Carolina, for instance, awards an $1,800 grant to any resident who attends an in-state private college, regardless of need. Some states have reciprocal arrangements with neighboring states. A Kansas resident, for example, might qualify for a break at a participating college in Missouri. But most state grants are need-based, and often the student must have a high level of need to qualify. State grants in Wisconsin, for instance, generally go to the same students who qualify for Pell grants, says Steve Van Ess, the director of financial aid at the University of WisconsinMadison.
A growing number of states are giving scholarships and grants to students who meet certain academic requirements and attend an in-state college. Since 1993, the Georgia HOPE (Helping Outstanding Pupils Educationally) scholarship, the granddaddy of all the state scholarship programs, has doled out more than $2.3 billion to more than 800,000 students with B averages or better in high school. Many other states have followed suit. Florida, for instance, pays 75 percent to 100 percent of tuition and fees for residents who graduate from high school with a 3.0 or better GPA and attend college in state. South Carolina offers $5,000 to high school grads with SAT scores of 1200 or more and who rank in the top 5 percent of their class.
Some state programs combine merit and financial need. One of California's Cal Grants for the 20042005 school year, for instance, pays full tuition at in-state public universities or up to $9,708 toward the cost of an in-state private university if a student graduates from high school with a 3.0 GPA and the family earns no more than $60,700 to $78,100 (depending on family size). Your high school guidance counselor can tell you what kind of aid is available from your state. You can also contact your state's higher education agency, which can be found at www.studentaid.ed.gov. (Click on "funding," then scroll down to "state aid.")
From corporate and community groups
Although they amount to less than 4 percent of the grant and scholarship money awarded to undergraduates, private scholarships from civic groups like the Elks Club and corporations like Coca-Cola and Target nonetheless total more than $4 billion. Many of the biggest and most prestigious awards are thousand-to-one shots. And many other scholarships, such as those in the $500 to $1,000 range, may seem puny, but every little bit helps.
Outside scholarships are portable, which means the student can use them at the college or university of his or her choice. They're usually not based on financial need, so they're especially welcome to students who don't qualify for much need-based aid, but whose families still struggle to find cash for college. And the awards aren't just for head-of-the-class students with high SAT scores and a long list of extracurricular activities. There's also plenty of scholarship money allotted for recognizing outstanding accomplishments in arts, science, writing, community service, and other endeavors. Burger King even sponsors a scholarship that's not for the highest achievers. It's designed for students who may be sacrificing academics to work part-time out of financial need. Here's a sampling: