What Do Scholarships Pay For?

Some colleges offer program-specific scholarships for students.

Some colleges offer program-specific scholarships for students.

Getting scholarships for your college education is a huge financial advantage. Unlike loans or grants, the other common forms of financial aid, you don't have to repay scholarship money. Colleges and universities often award scholarships to students, as do some national foundations and scholarship programs. They can cover all or just a small part of the student's financial needs.


Scholarships are intended to help a student pay for his education that he might not otherwise afford. Some are based on financial need, but most represent an award for some kind of achievement. Those scholarships typically go to students that have excelled in an academic area, or have shown they can balance academics, grades and extracurricular activities.


Tuition is typically the most expensive part of any education. Some scholarships cover a student's full tuition, but most pay a portion of the bill. Some awards pay tuition for a limited number of credit hours per semester. A student can take more hours if he wants, but he'll have to pay for them in some other way. Other scholarships apply only if the student is pursuing a particular degree. If you elect to get an additional major or advanced degree, you would have to find additional funding.

Room and Board

Full-ride scholarships cover living and eating expenses as well. Even if you move off campus, the scholarship usually takes care of your rent, within reason. The scholarship also pays for the two or three meals served by day in a college cafeteria. Other scholarships may cover partial room and board. For example, a scholarship may pay for a particular amount of food each week or semester. You're expected to use your own money to make up for the other meals.

Books and Fees

Books, another significant college expense, may or may not be included in a scholarship. Some local or niche scholarships are set up for books alone, or they may have flexible awards that can apply to any school-related cost. Scholarship money can also apply to student fees. Those fees, which go toward things like student activity funds, are normally attached to the tuition.

About the Author

Neil Kokemuller has been an active business, finance and education writer and content media website developer since 2007. He has been a college marketing professor since 2004. Kokemuller has additional professional experience in marketing, retail and small business. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Iowa State University.

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