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Federal Scholarships

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The federal government provides several financial aid options to students, including education loans, scholarships, etc. While education loans need to be repaid to the government, you are not required to repay a federal scholarship under normal circumstances.

A few notable federal scholarships are offered by agencies like the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, the Department of Transportation, and the National Institutes of Health.

Criteria For Federal Scholarships

Federal scholarships are given based on various criteria. Some scholarships are merit-based. Such scholarships might be awarded based on a combination of academics and special talent or academic achievement and can be earned by meeting standards set by the awarding/issuing Departments.

Some federal scholarships are awarded to students based on their parents’ occupation. For instance, scholarships are awarded to students belonging to military families. And some scholarships are awarded to specific groups of people, like scholarships for women or graduate students, and others are based on financial needs.

The thought of paying for college tuition can be daunting for some families. Fortunately, finding access to scholarships and other forms of financial aid might be much easier than you think.

6 Types of Scholarships

  • Academic Scholarship
  • Athletic Scholarship
  • Fine Arts Scholarship
  • Need-Based Scholarship
  • Underrepresented Student Scholarship
  • Military Scholarship

Scholarship opportunities come in many forms, often complementing other types of financial aid such as federal student loans.

Scholarships aren’t just for the valedictorian and the star athlete. Scholarships come in a range of choices for a wide variety of students. Sources such as the federal government, private institutions, corporations, and colleges and universities themselves offer tremendous scholarship support for students attending college. You just need to know where to look. If you’re interested in learning more about scholarship opportunities, you’ve come to the right place.

Academic Scholarship

Academic scholarships are offered by many different types of organizations, including colleges and universities. Academic scholarships are classified as merit-based scholarships. They are awarded to students based on their history of academic achievement and are not tied to a student or family’s level of financial need like federal student grants or other vehicles for financial aid.

Academic scholarships are offered at many different dollar amounts, and in some cases may pay all of a student’s tuition and other associated costs, such as room and board.

The highest academic scholarships are extremely prestigious and are awarded to students with high GPAs, high test scores, and a history of school involvement. But you don’t have to be at the top of the class to secure a college scholarship. While a student with an average GPA may not earn the top academic scholarships, they still may be eligible for other scholarships that can help cover a portion of tuition. Don’t sell yourself short – apply for academic scholarships wherever you can.

Athletic Scholarship

Athletic scholarships are awarded to top athletes whose performance makes them attractive to a college or university. An athletic scholarship is also a merit scholarship, so it’s unrelated to a student’s financial situation. These scholarships are extremely competitive. Depending on the particular college or university, athletic scholarships are highly visible and prestigious, covering all tuition and other related costs.

Top college athletic programs offer highly competitive athletic scholarships and financial aid packages to attract the highest caliber student-athletes to their programs. While the most competitive athletic scholarship offers are generally reserved for high-profile sports like football, baseball, and basketball, you can find scholarships for just about any sport, including golf, tennis, track, and cross country.

Fine Arts Scholarship

Fine arts scholarships are designed to attract students with the highest level of talent in areas like theater, music, art, dance, and other creative fields. These scholarships are based solely on the merit and talent of the particular student and typically do not consider the student’s level of financial need. Fine arts scholarships are highly competitive and usually involve the submission of previous creative work or a formal audition.

For talented and creative students who seek to study fine arts, these scholarships can be a tremendous resource for covering their tuition and other associated college costs.

Need-Based Scholarship

Need-based scholarships may recognize students based on their academic, athletic, or creative accomplishments, but they also consider the student or family’s level of need for financial aid. Need-based scholarships typically designate a household income that applicants must fall below to qualify.

Other eligibility requirements often include grades, volunteer service, leadership, and extracurricular participation. When applying for need-based scholarships or other financial aid, make sure to familiarize yourself with particular program requirements, as they may vary widely. For example, some need-based programs will not become active until all other federal student aid options are exhausted.

Underrepresented Student Scholarship

Many colleges and universities recognize that their student populations have not historically reflected the communities around them. These schools may offer minority scholarships to help attract students from demographic groups that historically have been underrepresented on their campuses. The goal of a minority scholarship is to help diversify the campus community so that all students benefit from the learning environment created by the diversity of thought and experience.

Some corporations and other organizations may sponsor specific private scholarships designed to help diversify a field of study or vocation. For example, you can find many scholarships designed to help students who are underrepresented in STEM fields, including women and ethnic groups. Program requirements vary widely, with some being need-based, but many being awarded based on merit rather than financial need.

Military Scholarship

All five branches of the U.S. military offer financial aid to veterans and reserve members who choose to complete a college education. In many cases, these tuition benefits may also extend to military dependents, spouses, or other family members.

Students who participate in the Reserve Officers Training Corps may be eligible for more than $274 million in scholarships awarded each year by the Army ROTC program alone. Each year, roughly 13,000 students across the country receive some level of scholarship support from the Army ROTC program.

List Of Scholarships

Many federal scholarships are designed for high-need field students or students doing coursework relevant to the mission of a particular federal agency.

STEM Scholarships

The federal government gives STEM scholarships to help you pay for a STEM degree. To qualify for this scholarship, you should opt for majors like science, engineering, technology, math, or any related fields that promote innovation and critical thinking.

The following federal agencies award STEM scholarships:

  • Department of Defence (DoD)
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
  • Department Of Energy (DOE)
  • National Institutes of Health (NIH)
  • Department of Transportation (DOT)
  • Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
  • Department Of Transportation (DOT)
  • U.S. Census Bureau
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
  • U.S. Geological Survey ( USGS)
  • National Science Foundation (NSF)
  • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration
  • Smithsonian Institution
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

The listed federal agencies award several scholarships for college students. They include, but are not limited to:

NIH Dissertation Award

The National Institutes of Health offers this program to help students cover their dissertation research costs in accredited research doctoral programs.

You must meet the following criteria to qualify for the program:

  • You must be a citizen of the United States or a permanent resident.
  • You must be enrolled in a doctoral degree program.

CyberCorps(R) Scholarship for Service (SFS)

The National Science Foundation sponsors this program. The CyberCorps scholarship provides you educational opportunities if you are an undergraduate or a graduate student. The scholarship offers you indirect funding at the undergraduate or graduate level or focuses on educational developments, including curricula development, retention, or training.

Science, Mathematics and Research for Transformation (SMART)

Funded by the Department Of Defence, the SMART scholarship offers financial assistance if you pursue your studies in science, mathematics, technology, engineering, and disciplines critical to the DoD’s national security functions.

To qualify for the SMART Scholarship, you should meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • You must be a citizen of the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, or New Zealand at the time of application.
  • You must be 18 years of age or older at the time of application.
  • You are willing to accept a post-graduation job with the DoD.
  • You complete at least one summer internship at a DoD center.
  • You have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale.
  • You are pursuing a technical undergraduate or graduate degree in any of the 21 STEM disciplines listed by the SMART.
  • You are requesting at least 1.5 years of degree funding before your graduation.
  • You can generate a fall 2020 college transcript from an ABET-accredited program at a U.S. university or college that is regionally accredited or are pursuing a graduate degree at a U.S. university or college that is regionally accredited.

NOAA Graduate Research and Training Scholarship Program (GRTSP)

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration provides this scholarship. The program offers assistance if you are a graduate student in NOAA-supported fields and are studying research-based masters and doctoral degrees at accredited academic institutions associated with the NOAA Cooperative Science Centers (CSC).

You should meet several eligibility requirements to qualify for this scholarship. They include:

  • You are a citizen of the United States.
  • You have a minimum GPA of 3.5 or above for the duration of the program.
  • You have an undergraduate degree in STEM.
  • You have completed one academic term of graduate coursework.
  • You have enrolled in a Ph.D. or M.S. program and enrolled in a STEM discipline that supports NOAA’s mission.

Nancy Foster Scholarship

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration sponsors this scholarship. The NOAA’s Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarship encourages independent graduate-level research (especially if you are a female or a minority student) in NOAA mission-related marine biology and maritime archaeology, sciences of oceanography, engineering, and resource management of ocean and coastal areas. This scholarship is awarded based on academic excellence, research and career goals, letters of recommendation, and financial need.

Before applying for this scholarship, assess the following points as they will help you determine if you are likely to have a successful application:

  • You have exceptional letters of recommendation.
  • Your research proposal aligns with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s mission, with particular emphasis on meeting the science requirements of the NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries.
  • Your financial status documents a strong financial need due to hardships, challenges, or other information through a convincing personal narrative.

Note –

  1. It is not advised to apply for this program if you are in the final year of your Masters or Ph.D. program.
  2. Proposals that do not support the NOAA’s National Marine Sanctuary System’s science needs do not rank high.

Visit to know more about the STEM scholarships, internships, and fellowships.

FEEA Scholarships

Federal Employee Education & Assistance (FEEA) scholarships are given to full-time or part-time permanent federal civilians, their spouses, children, step-children, and legal dependents. It also provides scholarships to postal workers employed with the federal government for 3+ years, their spouses, children, step-children, and legal dependents.

Some unions and associations partner with FEEA to offer scholarships for their employees, employees’ spouses, children, grandchildren, or retirees’ children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

While applying for FEEA scholarships, you must provide the following documents:

  • Complete college or high school transcripts
  • A list of community extracurricular activities, services, and awards
  • A copy of the federal employee sponsor’s current SF-50 (not required for retired NARFE members)

Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program

The Benjamin A. Gilman program offers help if you are an undergraduate student with limited financial means to study or intern abroad. Under this program, the John McCain International Scholarship for Children of Military Families supports you to study or intern abroad, but only if you are an undergraduate student and a child of active-duty military personnel.

To qualify for the Gilman program, you should meet several eligibility criteria, including:

  • You must be a United States citizen.
  • You are an undergraduate student at an accredited institution of higher education in the U.S. (both two-year and four-year institutions).
  • You should apply for credit-bearing study abroad programs in an area or country with an overall Travel Advisory Level 1 or 2 (according to the United States Department of State’s Travel Advisory System).
  • You must receive a Federal Pell Grant while submitting the application or provide proof that you will receive a Pell Grant during your study program term or internship period.

The Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program

It is an overseas cultural and language immersion program for American students enrolled at United States colleges and universities. To qualify for this program, you must meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • You must be a U.S. citizen or national during the time of your application.
  • You must be at least 18 years of age.
  • You must complete at least one full year of study (two semesters or three quarters) if you are pursuing an undergraduate program (associate’s or bachelor’s) by the beginning of the CLS Program.
  • You must be enrolled in an accredited United States degree-granting program at the undergraduate (associate’s, bachelor’s) or graduate (master’s, professional, doctoral, degree) level during the time of your application.

Note –

There are limited exceptions to the enrollment in an accredited U.S. degree-granting program requirement. To know more about it, visit

Project G.O.

All qualified ROTC students can apply for scholarships in critical language study abroad and domestically through this program. To qualify for this program, you must be:

  • A citizen of the United States
  • An undergraduate or graduate student on track to commission through the Naval, Army, or Air Force Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC), uncontracted or contracted, at a regionally accredited U.S. college or university
  • Marine Platoon Leaders Class (PLC) students

Drilling members of the National Guard or Reserve, newly commissioned officers awaiting active duty, and Army Green to Gold members qualify for Project G.O. domestic programs.

Federal Student Scholarships

Most of us are well aware that college tuition is expensive. The good news is that there are many sources of scholarship opportunities, grants, and other types of financial aid that can help undergraduate students pay for their studies.

The investment is worth it. Studies have repeatedly shown that getting a college education dramatically increases the chances of finding a job you love. By some estimates, college graduates have as much as 57% more job opportunities available to them than non-graduates. Getting a college degree has even more impact on your earnings over time – throughout your career, you’ll likely earn 74% more with a bachelor’s degree than with just a high school diploma.

Don’t let fear of the tuition price tag be the thing that holds you back from pursuing a college education. Talk with a college admissions office to learn more about the many sources of student scholarships that are available.