British Chevening Scholarship
British Chevening Scholarship

What is a need based scholarship? If you’re graduating from high school next year and are planning to avail of college education, you might have already come across this type of financial aid. The word “need” should be descriptive enough to give you an idea what it’s about, but we’ll walk you through the details.

What Is a Need Based Scholarship?

A need based scholarship is basically a financial aid provided for students who cannot afford to pay for tuition without regard to any other factor. A student can qualify for a need based scholarship when he or she meets the eligibility criteria which are solely based on assets and income.

What is a need based scholarship in terms of sources? A need based scholarship can come in the form of a federal, state, institutional, or private aid or a mix of all four, depending on the financial aid package provided by a college’s financial aid office. Typically, a need based scholarship is only awarded for a year. However, students may re-apply for it every year.

How Does One Apply for a Need Based Scholarship?

person behind books

Image via Pexels

A student needs to apply and complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) in order to avail of what is a need based scholarship. The amount of a student’s financial need is determined by subtracting Expected Family Contribution (EFC) from the Cost of Attendance (COA).

Another option is to fill out a College Scholarship Service Profile (CSS Profile) — an online application that was developed and is being maintained by the College Board. One of the most common financial aid applications, a CSS Profile involves approximately 400 colleges, universities, and scholarship programs which require this application for financial aid. However, schools which provide state and federal need based aid (such as public and state universities) typically do not make use of the CSS Profile. It is mostly used by private colleges who provide significant need based institutional aid.

What Is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid?

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a form provided for current and prospective college students who are planning to go to undergraduate or graduate school. Upon completion of the form, it will be determined if a student is eligible for student financial aid.

What Is the Expected Family Contribution?

Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is an index number which determines how much financial aid a student will be receiving from a school institution. The EFC is calculated based on the information a student provides in the FAFSA form. The EFC is calculated based on a formula that was established by law. Included in the calculation are taxed and untaxed family income, assets, and benefits such as Social Security and unemployment. A student’s family size and the number of family members who will be attending college or career school during the year are also considered in the EFC.

What Is the Cost of Attendance?

Cost Of Attendance (COA) is the amount that a student needs to pay for a college education. Two-year and four-year colleges calculate the total cost for the whole school year. For schools with certificate programs or other programs that last longer than a year calculate the COA based on the period of time that a student needs to complete a program.

If a student is attending school for at least half-time, the COA will be an estimate of:- the cost of room and board (or living expenses for students who do not avail of the school’s room and board)

  • the cost of books, supplies, loan fees, miscellaneous expenses, and transportation
  • tuition and fees
  • cost related to disability
  • allowance for child care or care of other dependents
  • reasonable costs for eligible programs for studying abroad

What Is a College Scholarship Service Profile?

A College Scholarship Service Profile is more detailed as compared to the FAFSA. A CSS Profile gives member institutions of the College Board a comprehensive look at both the family and financial situations of students to determine whether they are eligible for institutional financial aid. Questions on the form are mostly about the financial situation of the student and his or her parents.

A CSS Profile allows applicants to provide more information especially about special circumstances such as high medical bills or if a parent or student was recently unemployed. This information is then forwarded to colleges, universities, and scholarship programs which the student specifies. A student’s eligibility for financial aid is then determined by the institution.

First-time college students who qualify for an SAT fee waiver may avail of a CSS Profile fee waiver. Special consideration is also given to orphans or wards of the court who are under the age of 24 or students whose parental income and family size meets the criteria (for 2019-2020 applicants, a family of four with an income of $45,000 or less may qualify).

What Is the Eligibility Criteria?

What is a need based scholarship in terms of criteria? A student who is eligible for a need based scholarship can only avail of financial aid that is equal to the amount of his or her financial need. For example, if the COA is $20,000, and the EFC is $15,000 then the student will only be eligible for a $5,000 need based financial aid.

Which Federal Student Aid Programs Are Need Based?

What is a need based scholarship on a federal level? Federal student aid programs which are need based include the following:

Federal Pell Grant

Clock above books

Image via ?Freepik?

This grant is only awarded to undergraduate students who have exceptional financial need and who have not earned a bachelor’s, graduate, or professional degree. Unlike a student loan, a Federal Pell Grant does not need to be repaid unless any of these circumstances occur:

  • Withdrawing early from a program (for which the grant was given)
  • Enrollment status change (e.g. from a full-time to a part-time enrollment)
  • Outside scholarships or grants were received by the student which reduced the need for a federal student aid

A student is ineligible to receive this grant if he or she is incarcerated in a federal or state penal institution or if the student is subject to an involuntary civil commitment upon completion of a period of incarceration for a forced or a non-forced sexual offense.

The maximum amount for a Federal Pell Grant award can change every year. For example, for 2019-2020 (July 1, 2019 – June 30, 2020) the maximum grant award is at $6,195. It is also possible to qualify for a partial Federal Pell Grant.

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)

This grant is available to students who have “exceptional financial need.” The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) program is administered directly by the financial aid office. However, not all schools participate in this program. Participating schools each receive a determined amount of FSEOG funds every year from the U.S. Department of Education’s office of Federal Student Aid. Once the funds have been awarded and depleted, no additional FSEOG grants will be given for that year. If you’re planning to avail of this need based grant, make sure to apply at the earliest possible time. Deadlines are usually given on the website. You can also call someone from the financial aid office for more information.

Are There State Need Based Scholarships?

Piggy bank near chalkboard

Image via Freepik

Yes, there are also state need based scholarships that students can apply for and avail of. What is a need based scholarship on a state level? There are states who invest in need based financial aid programs to allow students with financial needs to access to postsecondary education. Some of these state need based scholarships include:

Opportunity Scholarship in Idaho

Administered by the state board of education, the Opportunity Scholarship provides hybrid need/merit awards to eligible students who are planning to pursue a college education. However, the program requires students graduating from high school to have a 3.0 GPA and to demonstrate financial need on their FAFSA application. Applicants are ranked and awarded depending on scores — 70 percent of which is based on financial need while 30 percent is based on academic eligibility.

The Alaska Education Grant

This grant is purely need based and is funded through the Alaska Higher Education Investment Fund (consisting of appropriated funds and donations). The Alaska Education Grant is provided for students seeking degrees or certificates who are enrolled at least half-time. Priority for funding is based on the FAFSA filing date. The deadline for filing is June 30th.

The Oregon Opportunity Grant

This is another grant that is entirely need based, with rolling deadlines throughout the year. To become eligible, student and family adjusted gross income must be below $70,000 a year. The maximum award amount for this grant is $2,250.


Person wearing graduation gown jumping

Image via Pexels

These are the factors, requirements, and conditions that comprise what is a need based scholarship. If you’re a student looking for financial aid for college or graduate school and if you believe that you are eligible to receive need based scholarships, it would be best to fill in a FAFSA application or any other need based scholarship application at the earliest time. It would also be good to check if there are need based scholarships available in your state. Remember, the earlier you turn in your application, the better your chances at getting a need based scholarship, for as long as you meet the requirements and eligibility criteria set by the financial aid program you’re applying for.

Featured Image: Freepik

Pin It on Pinterest