For students in the early years of high school, it’s especially beneficial to recognize that there are two types of scholarships–competitive and guaranteed. Competitive scholarships are those limited to a small number of recipients, requiring you to compete against other students in order to win. You can’t plan your financial future based on these, as anything can happen in the selection process.
On the other hand, guaranteed scholarships do allow for some planning. These are scholarships that, provided you meet the criteria, you receive the scholarship. A good example of guaranteed scholarships is the majority of AWANA scholarships. Most colleges do not limit the number of recipients–if you hold the Citation award, for instance, you automatically get the scholarship. Another example is that of school scholarships–often called the Dean’s Scholarship, President’s Scholarship, etc. These depend on your GPA and SAT or ACT test scores. You automatically receive the scholarship that your grades and test scores dictate, although some schools have a limit as to how many are available.
Homeschool scholarships are a mixed bag. Some colleges automatically grant them to all who qualify; some have limits and require competition. Most will specify the requirements on their Web sites.
A word of caution: “guaranteed” doesn’t mean that a college guarantees they will still be offering the scholarship when you get ready to attend. Still, these scholarships are something to aim for, and you will likely be rewarded. Students willing to plan into the future may want to look for stackable guaranteed scholarships. For instance, if you find a college that offers a guaranteed homeschool scholarship, an AWANA scholarship and a Dean’s scholarship, and allows them to be stacked, you may be well on your way to paying for college if you plan your activities around the requirements.
Other guaranteed scholarships to look for include alumni grants (if you had a parent attend the college), denominational grants (for members of a particular religious denomination) and geographic scholarships.