Finding the funds to pay for a college education can be challenging. In recent years, rising tuition costs combined with increasingly tighter budgets have placed the cost of a college education more than most families can afford to pay. Financial aid can be the determining factor in whether a student can attend college. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, approximately 85 percent of all first-year, full-time students attending a four-year university during the 2012-2013 school year received financial aid of some sort. Although many students received student loans — which must be repaid — many more have been able to finance their educations through scholarships, which typically do not require repayment. Students who wish to attend a Christian college are often surprised to learn that there are numerous scholarships available for them. Here are the five best sources for scholarships to Christian colleges.
Students who have a specific college in mind should first check with the school to see what scholarships are available for which the student may be eligible. Colorado Christian University, for example, offers numerous scholarships for both transfer and first-time students. Some scholarships are based on academic record, but others are reserved for children of CCU alumni or graduates of specific high schools. Other Christian colleges may limit eligibility to students pursuing specific majors, those who will be the first generation in their family to attend college or students of particular ethnicity, race or gender.
Students planning to attend a Christian college should not overlook the possibility of obtaining a scholarship from a national organization. Some scholarships, such as the Young Christian Leaders Scholarship, can be used at any school, but the student must be a permanent resident of Connecticut, New Jersey or New York. Others limit the choice of studies, such as the Christian Association of Psychological Studies. However, there are also secular organizations, including the Daughters of the American Revolution, which offer an extensive range of scholarships that can be used at Christian colleges, while the National Society of Professional Engineers awards scholarships to students pursuing engineering degrees.
Local and Regional Scholarships
Local and regional scholarships typically have strict residency requirements. For example, the Diamonds in the Rough Scholarship is limited to female residents of Texas. The Community Foundation of Northern Illinois offers more than 80 scholarships annually for students residing in the Illinois counties of Winnebago, Boone, Stephenson and Ogle; students can major in diverse areas, including athletics, education, arts, fire science, business and music. Other local scholarships may require graduation from a specific high school, such as the Anna Schiller Scholarship offered to graduating seniors at Rockford Christian High School.
Church councils or organizations can be excellent sources of scholarships for Christian students. Some are interdenominational, but others, such as the National Presbyterian College Scholarship and the American Baptist Churches USA, require applicants to be members of specific churches. Local and regional church organizations typically have residency requirements and/or require students to attend specific universities. Examples of regional organizations include the Foundation for College Christian Leaders, which requires residency in the states of Washington, California or Oregon, and the Ed E. Gladys Hurly Foundation, which requires applicants to be residents of Texas, Arkansas or Louisiana.
Private scholarships are another option for students planning to attend a Christian college. Some companies offer scholarships for employees or children of employees; Walmart, McDonald’s, Siemens and Verizon are just a few companies offering such scholarships. Individual churches may offer scholarships to their members. Other private scholarships may be based on a parent’s affiliations, such as membership in a civic organization or service with a specific military unit. Another option would be for members of the student’s extended family to contribute to his or her scholarship fund with the proceeds paid directly to the college.
Related Resource: Can You Get Financial Aid at a Christian College?
Choosing a Christian college does not mean that students must forego financial aid. Although there are some Christian universities, such as New Saint Andrews College, that do not accept financial awards funded by the federal government, many Christian colleges are willing to combine scholarships with needs-based federal grants, such as the Pell Grant. Most colleges will also allow students to use more than one scholarship, such as a scholarship from a national church council and a scholarship from a parent’s employer, as long as the total amount does not exceed actual costs. The keys to finding the best scholarships for Christian colleges are perseverance, research and a little imagination.