Affording higher education in Massachusetts can be a difficult undertaking for many families. While there are various financial aid programs available, qualifying for them may not be possible. A middle-class family may not meet federal guidelines for financial aid, yet not actually make enough to afford college. A low-income person can usually qualify for financial aid, but not receive enough funding to fully pay for a four-year college or for the school of their choice. Without enough funding, individuals must either select a lesser degree or attend a less expensive college such as an online or community school. Scholarships are monetary awards given according to preset criteria, and many are not needs based. They are not a loan, meaning they do not later need to be paid back. When planning to attend college, applying for scholarships early will give individuals a better chance of being awarded at least one. Scholarships can provide the financial funding needed to attend the college of choice.
Types of Scholarships
There are two basic types of scholarships available. While some scholarships fall neatly into one category or the other, some incorporate both types. A need-based scholarship is one based on the financial needs of an individual seeking higher education. These are generally awarded only to those persons demonstrating a financial hardship. A merit-based scholarship is one in which the individual meets criteria such as high grades or an aptitude for certain skills, or it can be based on the traits of the applicant. Athletic scholarships and academic scholarships are merit-based programs. All scholarships offered in the state are awarded to students attending either a public university or college within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The sole exception to this rule is the University of Massachusetts in Amherst.
With over a thousand scholarships available, it may seem difficult to wade through the list to find ones you may qualify for. Start with reviewing the ones offered in Massachusetts. There are at least nine scholarships available for residents wishing to attend college.
Agnes M. Lindsay Scholarship
The Agnes M. Lindsay Scholarship is a program for students from rural areas who have demonstrated financial need. The definition of a rural area, for the purpose of this scholarship, is a non-urban settlement of less than 15,000 residents. The intended student must have applied with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The applicant cannot be in default of either a state or federal student loan or owe a refund of financial aid received previously. As long as the student meets these and additional requirements, he or she may be eligible for this scholarship.
Christian A. Herter Memorial Scholarship
The Christian A. Herter Memorial Scholarship is a program to aid individuals who fall into certain environmental and socioeconomic conditions which hinder their ability to reach higher education goals. Only individuals who have managed to overcome a major adversity may be selected for this scholarship. The adversity may be mental or physical abuse or some catastrophic illness. Conditions that may affect their ability to attend college can be geographic, mental, societal or physical. To be eligible, students must have maintained a cumulative average grade point of no less than 2.5 using a 4.0 scale. To apply, a school or qualified organization or community agency must appoint the student during their 10th or 11th grade in high school. The student may then submit the application for the current year.
How many scholarships can I apply for in Massachusetts?
An individual in Massachusetts may apply for as many scholarships as he or she qualifies for, both those issued to residents and scholarships that are not state-specific. If receiving financial aid, each scholarship awarded will affect the total amount of financial aid that can be provided. It is also possible that other scholarships that are granted will affect any scholarships that were based on financial need.
How Scholarships Affect Financial Assistance
If an individual has applied for financial aid, the amount he or she is awarded is based upon the household’s income. Scholarships are included in the income tally, therefore it will directly affect how much financial aid is granted. Anytime a scholarship is awarded, the recipient must notify the financial aid office of the amount so that it may be subtracted from the amount given. Student loans may also be affected in the same manner. Be sure to speak with the student aid office in regards to any and all scholarships and loans.