Best Scholarships for Low Income Students

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Contributor, Benzinga
May 4, 2022

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Scholarships are awarded based on achievements and based on financial needs. Financial need based scholarships are meant to help support those who are wanting to better their education but cannot afford to do it. 

Scholarships can be used to fund any necessary expenses for educational purposes like books, laptops, housing, and more. Generally, low income scholarships are meant for those living in a household that has a combined annual income below $30,000. 

Grants and scholarships are both meant to help aid one’s financial needs and the words are often used interchangeably. However, the main difference between these two is that grants are generally given based on financial need and scholarships are given based on merit. 

Pell Grant

This is the largest grant program offered by the U.S. Department of Education for undergraduate students. It was created in 1972 and named after Senator Claiborne Pell who is the chief sponsor of the program.

The Pell Grant is a fund run by the U.S. government to help provide for students in need of college tuition aid. It is granted on a need basis and is awarded through the U.S. Department of Education.

This grant does not need to be repaid and can be used to fund college expenses including tuition, school supplies, room and board, and other educational expenses. The grant amount is dependent on the student’s EFC, cost of attendance, and enrollment status (part time or full time student).

How to Get a Pell Grant

To receive a Pell Grant, you'll first need to submit the FAFSA which includes a family’s income and the number of children enrolled in college. Your FAFSA application will determine whether or not you are eligible for a Pell Grant.

Other eligibility requirements include choosing an institution that accepts Pell Grants, displaying exceptional financial need, being a U.S citizen or eligible non-citizen, and having not yet received a bachelor’s, graduate, or professional degree. 

To apply for a Pell Grant, you will need to start by submitting a FAFSA form to From there, the FAFSA form will determine your eligibility and how much aid you will be able to receive. 

College Expenses

Expenses in college can vary greatly however generally they are essential to your education. The most obvious expense being your tuition and fees.

Other expenses for college include room and board costs, textbooks, computers, other school supplies, transportation, and more. While this may seem excessive, all of these expenses will be crucial to your success as a student and it will be worth paying for in the long run.

Some expenses can be avoided though, like choosing an institution closer to home and commuting to avoid the expensive cost of dorms. However other expenses like your textbooks and laptop are often unavoidable.

Scholarships for Tuition and Fees

Your tuition will cover the price of paying for classes. Furthermore, there may be additional fees to be enrolled at your institution and to attend the college. 

Tuition and fees vary for different schools, however, this is generally what is covered. Tuition and fees do not cover your college expenses that we talked about before, meaning that you will need additional funds to cover those costs.

Generally, private universities are the most expensive and community colleges are the most affordable. State universities can also be just as expensive as private colleges, however, there are special rules that help aid these costs for those who are attending a state university in which they are a resident in.

Scholarships for Room and Board

Room and board costs are associated with housing costs and meal plans. Schools will have room and board costs for students living in their dorms, however if you choose to live off-campus this may affect your scholarships and aid. 

Depending on your university and especially its location, will affect how much room and board costs are going to be. If you chose to attend university in a big city or somewhere where the cost of living is high, you can expect to pay more for room and board compared to a school located in the suburbs or in more rural areas. 

Most college grants have loose restrictions and can generally be used towards room and board costs. 

Scholarships for Books and Supplies

Most scholarships will not restrict students from using those funds towards books and supplies, as these things are essential to your education. Grants and loans will also be eligible to use for book and supply costs. 

Scholarships for Personal Expenses

Typically personal expenses in college include money for entertainment, food, and transportation. College grants and scholarships can generally be used to help with living expenses, however, it probably isn’t best to use those funds on personal expenses.

If you need extra money to pay for food outside of your meal plan, transportation costs when not going to school, or just general entertainment expenses, you should consider getting a part time job or possibly a small loan. Because personal expenses are not essential to your educational experience at an institution, there aren’t generally specific scholarships and grants for personal costs.

Scholarships for Transportation

Depending on your campus and where you choose to live, transportation costs will vary. If you are living on campus and can easily walk to class, you will likely have no transportation expenses. 

Also, many schools offer shuttles or buses specifically for their students. Making it easier to get around campus and neighboring areas. 

If you believe transportation costs will be a problem for you while attending college, consider living on campus or near public transportation. Additionally, grant and scholarship money may cover these costs as in order to attend class you will have to get there some how. 

Where to Find Scholarships?

Finding a scholarship can be done through many different resources. School counselors, the financial aid office, and local organizations can all be resources to you to help find you funding for college. 

What to look for?

When looking for a scholarship you will want to ensure the amount you will receive. This will help you budget out your expenses and show you if you’ll need an additional scholarship or grant. 

Also, when looking for scholarships be sure to pay attention to any rule or restrictions placed on how the money can be used and in what cases the scholarship can be revoked. This will help you plan accordingly.

Lastly, be sure to understand the duration of the scholarship. Some scholarships have to be reapplied for annually and you will not be guaranteed the same amount of money as before.

Scholarship Tips

To help get your scholarship application noticed, be sure that you are answering every question, even the optional ones, and to apply to scholarships where you meet all the eligibility criteria. This will ensure that you have the best chance of getting that scholarship and that once considered, you will actually qualify for it. 

Generally speaking though, responding to the application questions genuinely and with passion will translate to the person reading it. Be sure to be honest and thorough in your responses. 

And lastly, be sure to take advantage of every opportunity to the fullest, and apply to as many scholarships as possible. This will help increase your chances of being accepted and you may end up with more scholarships than you expected.

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