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How Do I Choose the Best Community College Scholarships?

By Alicia Sparks
Updated May 17, 2024
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Choosing the best community college scholarships means choosing the scholarships that will adequately cover your specific needs. Generally, all scholarships are designed to provide financial assistance covering education and related expenses, and this assistance might be merit- or need-based. Since community colleges differ somewhat from four-year universities, the amount of assistance community college scholarships provide, as well as the reasons for providing it, might also differ. This means that to find the community college scholarships that meet all or at least most of your needs, you might have to spend more time searching and applying for them. Your guidance counselor and the college’s admissions office can help you find information about where to find, how to compare, and how to apply for different community college scholarships.

Scholarships are designed to help students pay for their education costs and various related expenses including food, housing, and even commuting costs. In this sense, community college scholarships provide some of the same kinds of financial assistance as other scholarships. Still, since there are differences between the two kinds of higher education institutions, there also are differences between two-year college scholarships and scholarships for four-year colleges and universities. For example, since obtaining a two-year degree typically doesn’t cost as much as obtaining a four-year degree, community college scholarships might offer less money, overall. Also, a two-year college might not provide the same kinds of athletic scholarships that a four-year educational institution will offer, because most community colleges don’t have as many sports teams as four-year universities.

Given those differences, it’s important to look for community college scholarships that cover your specific needs. Some of the most common needs are tuition, books, and school supplies. If the college doesn’t offer on-campus housing but you still need to pay for housing, you can still look for scholarships that provide enough money for your rent and utilities costs. The same is true for any commuting expenses you acquire, such as the cost of fuel, bus passes, tolls, or parking permits. Note that whether you receive enough money to cover all or only some of your expenses will depend on factors such as how much money the scholarship provides and whether it’s considered a full or partial scholarship.

Similar to scholarships for four-year colleges, community college scholarships are offered in a variety of ways and from an assortment of institutions, organizations, and programs. You might apply for scholarships offered by the community college itself, or you might apply for scholarships offered by various organizations, institutions, or businesses in your community. Oftentimes, local establishments provide scholarships of various amounts and conditions to graduating high school seniors. Depending on where you live, you also might be able to apply for a government-funded scholarship. In the United States, this means completing a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), and the amount of assistance you receive typically is based on your, or your family’s, income.

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