Scholarships for Homeschoolers
The days when colleges and universities discriminated against homeschoolers is long gone. College Admission Boards will not discriminate against a homeschooled student because of his diploma. In fact, many colleges seek out homeschoolers because they are known to perform, on average, better than their public school peers. Of course, this is no excuse for a homeschooler to have a weak college application. Because it is more difficult to assess the academic level a homeschooled student, home educated students that have strong SATs, early college credits (probably from a community college), and extracurricular activities will be the most competitive candidates for admissions and scholarships.
Homeschoolers are eligible for the same financial aid as any other student. Most scholarships allow for homeschooled applicants. Additionally, there are many scholarships created specifically for home educated students.
This page will hopefully answer any scholarship question you may have. This article has headings so that you can easily skip over sections that aren't of interest to you.
Are homeschoolers eligible for college scholarships?
Because homeschoolers are getting more attention for their academic and extracurricular achievements each year, scholarships that only accepted 'traditional' applicants are allowing home educated applicants.
Can my child apply for the same scholarships and financial aid that public school children do?
This is one of the most common questions that parents of homeschooled students ask. The answer is usually yes. Nevertheless, many homeschoolers are disqualified from scholarships because they failed to follow the exact instructions. Sometimes there are additional steps homeschoolers need to take. Because home educated students do not have a dedicated counselor, they cannot be expected to understand all of the loopholes and minutia. Therefore, it is important to always double-check requirements before applying and always ask questions.
Financial aid for homeschoolers
If your family cannot afford the cost of tuition, you are most likely eligible for financial aid. The best place to start researching financial aid is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). In addition to financial aid, there are scholarships available based on need. FAFSA is a government website and provides more federal student aid than any other organization in the country. Their website is the best place to start.
IMPORTANT: When filling out a FASFA, make sure you check "homeschooled" in order to avoid long processing delays. The earliest you can submit a FASFA is October. It will take at least 30 minutes to complete. The deadline is June, but many other scholarships have earlier deadlines.
If you need help completing a FASFA, go here.
Types of homeschool scholarships
Homeschoolers can apply or qualify for all of the following scholarship types.
Academic and merit-based scholarships
Merit-based scholarships are designed for students that worked hard to maintain good grades throughout their high school years. These scholarships are awarded to students based on their academic achievements (or rankings) as well as their artistic talents. Many different types of scholarships fall under this umbrella. There are first-generation scholarships where the applicant is the first member of their family to attend college. There are leadership scholarships for students who have shown leaderships in extracurricular. This includes team captains, leadership in missions, group leaders or presidents, and so on. Academic merit scholarships are often directly sponsored by a university and may sometimes be tied to a specific academic discipline or school. These scholarships are usually awarded based on GPA, ACT/SAT, and general academic performance.
The criteria for merit-based scholarships varies greatly, making it a favorite of most homeschoolers. Why? A greater variation in criteria allows for scholarships to focus more on accomplishments and achievements than educational background.
These scholarships can range from full tuition scholarships all the way down to much smaller monetary awards. Unlike public school students who often need to be nominated by a teacher in order to apply, a homeschooled student doesn't need to compete against classmates to apply.
How to apply for an academic scholarship
Sometimes these scholarships will consider class ranking, honorary titles, awards, community service, and accolades from 3rd parties. It is important to include any of these things on an application, especially to stay competitive as a homeschooler. In many cases, the parent is the only teacher involved in the assessment and grading of a student. Therefore, it is possible for a home educated student's GPA to be artificially inflated. A competitive homeschool academic scholarship application will have strong test standardized scores and recognition/awards from 3rd parties.
If the scholarship is only for public or private school students the scholarship description will most likely display this very clearly.
Athletic merit scholarships
Sports is almost always a large part of university life. Sports like football often bring in enough revenue to fund scholarships and departments school-wide. Traditionally it has been more difficult for homeschooled students to qualify for some athletic scholarships. This is partially because homeschoolers cannot compete on high school teams and therefore get less recognition for their talents. For some sports, like football, it can be difficult for a homeschooler to even find a team.
Scouts from universities and the NCAA look at many high school competitions in order to find students to recruit. Nevertheless, homeschool athletic leagues are growing at a face pace and catching the attention of recruiters. Homeschool students excel at receiving athletic scholarships for sports that are not team-based, like running, cross-country, swimming, and throwing.
Not all universities offer athletic scholarships. D3 schools never offer athletic scholarships and some D1 and D2 schools follow suit. The majority of D1 and D2 schools do offer athletic scholarships. Even if a school does not offer athletic scholarships, playing a sport may greatly increase the likelihood of an applicant receiving another merit-based award.
Applying for an athletic scholarship
It is difficult to answer 'how to apply for an athletic scholarship' because each sport is different. So, the answer to this question is to talk to the college or university. For many sports, there are recruitment forms on the school's athletic website. Fill these forms out immediately and if the university coach is interested, they will contact you. Also be aware that many sports have recruitment dates and time periods. Sometimes coaches will be unable to talk to the student-athlete until a certain date, but they will be able to talk to the parent. Because each sport is different, talk to your coach first and find out the usual protocol! Then, start doing sport-specific research.
Many states have location exclusive scholarships. Because these scholarships are always unique to the state, each state will not be covered here. All that a homeschooler needs to do is research their state's specific scholarship programs. Sometimes these scholarships are easier to get because the pool of applicants is limited (in comparison to national scholarships).
Some communities also offer scholarships for their local students. Often these come from national organizations with location specific chapters. Some communities also offer scholarships for community service.
Scholarships by demographic/ethnicity
Minorities in the United States are eligible for scholarship based on their demographic. The U.S. Census Bureau reported that 50.4% of American minors come from a minority community. To give all minorities equal opportunities, there has been an influx of demographic-specific financial aid.
Demographic specific scholarships and aid are also available for children with disabilities and children of military veterans.
Other and miscellaneous scholarships
There are some extremely weird scholarships out there. For instance, there are scholarships for clowns, fashion designers, best prom dresses, victims of bullying, asthma, vegetarians, and many more. These scholarships are often less competitive because there is less awareness. On the flip side, it is often more difficult to learn about them.
Tips for scholarship applications
1. Research all of your options
There are so many scholarships out there, you don't want to miss out on free help! Don't forget to search for your state specific, local, and regional scholarships through Google! If you want, you can also talk with your local school board.
2. Do NOT use scholarship search engines
The College Board's BigFuture scholarship search is a reliable place to start because The College Board is a trusted website. For the most part, our recommendation is to AVOID all other scholarship search engines. This includes avoiding Scholarships.com.
But, why? I read on Time4Learning's page that this was a good place to go? While these scholarship search engines may bring up results, they are designed with the sole goal of making money. They are only out there to generate revenue for themselves by consolidating a lots of scholarships, and many of the scholarships will be out of date or not worth your time. Use Google.
Google can find any scholarship that another search engine can. You should also be careful with Google results. To find scholarships it is best to use advanced search queries. Don't worry, it isn't difficult.
Use inurl:scholarship to require Google to only display websites with "scholarship" in the url. Combine inurl:scholarship with a search term like "Alabama" or "dental board" (use double quotes). If you know an organization or website offers a scholarship, but you cannot find it, search Google with site:website.com scholarship. Replace website.com with the website. This will search for Google results only from website.com with scholarship in the page.
Finally, search Google for inurl:outside-scholarship and inurl:external-scholarship. Then, click on the links from .edu websites or reputable sites. These two searches can be goldmines.
3. Compile a large list and then start applying
The best way to approach finding and applying for scholarships is to spend a day doing research and compiling as many opportunities as you can, and then going through each one and applying. Make a list and append each scholarship to the list. Organize the list by deadline and start applying.
4. Little scholarships add up
Never discount a scholarship because the monetary value is small. Many little scholarships can add up. Even if a scholarship only covers a few hundred dollars, this is more than enough to cover buying books.
The most important things for homeschoolers to keep in mind while looking for scholarships
1. Even if the scholarship mentions public/private students you may still be able to apply
If you have found a perfect scholarship but the description mentions it is designed for public and private school students, it is still worth asking the scholarship sponsor directly. It never hurts to ask. In some cases, this scholarship description may be outdated. In other cases, there may be a loophole. Sometimes a scholarship will mention public and private school applicants without disqualifying homeschool students. The takeaway is -- unless a scholarship explicitly says homeschoolers cannot qualify and has a recent updated date, it is worth asking about.
2. Always read the details twice before applying and ask questions
The biggest mistake that homeschool students make when applying for scholarships is being disqualified because they are missing information or did not disclose all the required details. Always read a scholarship description/requirements twice, and if there is anything questionable about an application, ask questions!
3. It doesn't hurt to apply!
Unless a scholarship includes a submission fee, which is rare, it never hurts to apply! The only loss is the time it took to complete the application. Lots of scholarships request that an applicant answers an essay question. Many homeschoolers use these essays as replacements for weekly writing assignments. Kill two birds with one stone!
Excellent additional resources
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Last modified: March 27, 2017