If your students want to become engineers, encourage them to explore an array of scholarships offered by colleges and universities, non-profit organizations and foundations, honor societies, companies, and government. They can also compete for prizes. But, caution them that the search can get complicated.
Scholarship amounts can range from $500 to four or more years of tuition. Some require the applicant to be 18 years old or to have already completed several college-level engineering courses. Minimum GPAs are common.
Many awards are made available only to residents of a particular state or region. Others are aimed at women and underrepresented minorities. The Society of Women Engineers, for instance, offers undergraduate scholarships of $1,000 to $10,000 per year. Likewise, the American Indian Science and Engineering Society offers several scholarships from $1,000 to $5,000 per year for undergrads and $2,000 to $10,000 for graduates.
At the University of Rochester, incoming first-year students have the chance to apply for renewable awards of $8,000 or more. In order to qualify, a student must have competed on a FIRST Robotics team and have a letter from his or her team coordinator. The American Society of Mechanical Engineers has similar scholarships associated with FIRST.
In deciding which college to attend, students should check out an institution’s financial aid and scholarship policies and have some familiarity with their families’ ability to pay.
Some universities allow students to receive only one merit-based scholarship per year. While a scholarship might seem generous, it might actually reduce the amount a student would otherwise receive in need-based financial aid. On the other hand, it might shrink the size of loan a student needs to get through school.
There are less tangible benefits to scholarships. Jennifer Martin, of the National Association of Financial Aid Administrators (NAFAA), notes that a merit-based scholarship will always look good on a resume. For institutions, there’s a public relations gain when a student receives a large prestigious award.
Martin, a senior content development specialist at NAFAA, urges students not to overlook engineering departments themselves as sources of scholarships. They often have a pool of money to attract or keep good students. “Establish relations with people in the departments,” she says, so when it comes time for them to make decisions on scholarship money, a student with that edge won’t just be a name on a list.
Find a comprehensive list of scholarships here.
Filed under: Special Features