Engineering Scholarships and Financial Aid

Paying for college can be a hardship for many families. This is especially true if a student decides to enter a prestigious engineering program. Add that to the fact that most engineering degrees take nearly five years to complete, and you're looking at a total college tuition of close to $100,000. Because you generally need excellent grades and test scores to be admitted into an engineering program, you should generally qualify for many engineering scholarships. There are many types of engineering scholarships as well as other types of financial aid that can help offset the cost of tuition. In fact, engineering students are typically awarded the highest scholarship amounts, so it is to your advantage to research the many available options and apply for everything for which you are eligible. One of the biggest advantages of scholarships is that you get to keep the money; it does not need to be repaid.

One of the advantages of engineering scholarships is that they tend to be larger than normal. You can expect the average scholarship to be between $1,000 and $5,000. Some universities even offer full-ride scholarships to students who want to study at that particular university. There are also national engineering scholarships available. Although most engineering scholarships are awarded based on good grades, national scholarships tend to award those who are not widely represented in the engineering field, such as women or those of various ethnicities.

The Internet is a good tool for finding engineering scholarships. You can usually find one or two websites that will show you all of the scholarships available nationwide. In addition, you can look at university websites and see what scholarships they have available. These are not usually as widely known. Also, your high school counselor or local library may be aware of some smaller engineering scholarships. Local engineering firms may help out aspiring engineers by offering small scholarship awards, so check them out as well. These generally have fewer applicants due to the smaller award amounts, so this increases your chances of winning one of these. Remember, every little bit counts.

Before applying for engineering scholarships, be sure to read the requirements fully. Some may require a minimum grade point average (GPA), study in a specific field of engineering (such as civil or petroleum engineering) or that you be a woman or minority. Others may require that you graduate from a specific high school or claim residency in a particular state. Almost all engineering scholarships will require that you fill out an application and write a personal essay, so be sure to follow all rules completely. Failing to submit a document can disqualify you. There is fierce competition for the larger engineering scholarships. Some may offer only one award, while some may offer awards to 50 or 100 students. Therefore, it is in your best interest to spend the time necessary to submit a complete application.

If you end up not being awarded any engineering scholarships, you can also try for financial aid, work-study programs or loans. If your family earns below a specific amount, you may qualify for a portion of your tuition to be paid through grants. Check with your school's financial aid office to receive the necessary forms and be sure to submit them on time. If you do not qualify for financial aid, some universities offer work-study programs. These are part-time jobs offered through the university. For some jobs, you may earn a paycheck like a regular job, while some might deduct your pay from your tuition.

For those who have not been awarded any engineering scholarships and have exhausted all other methods of trying to find financial aid, there are also loans available. Loans should only be used a last resort, since they must be paid back. Although many loans have deferred payment and interest until you graduate, they can be very difficult to pay back if you graduate and do not yet have a job. Many students graduate with tens of thousands of dollars in debt and end up spending many years trying to repay the debt.

Last Updated: 06/08/2014

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