Affordable Opportunities: How to Qualify for Online College Scholarships


One of the top reasons why distance learning education is increasing is the affordability it offers. While tuition, in most cases, is the same, online students, especially those who apply for online college scholarships, can save on other major areas. These include relocation, transportation, and housing expenses.

According to the Education Data Initiative, the average cost of room & board at 4-year institutions is $12,917. Additionally, students living on campus spend another $3,790 annually on additional expenses. Students save thousands of dollars each year by pursuing an online college.

However, even with these savings, the cost of tuition can still be a significant barrier. That’s where scholarships come into play.

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Scholarships are one of the numerous types of financial aid available. They are the most in-demand and most accessible. Unlike loans, online college scholarships do not require repayment.

We aim to help you gain better, more manageable access to higher education. This guide will delve into different methods on how to qualify for scholarships. This will be helpful whether you’re a high school student preparing for your college education, an adult learner returning to college, or a college student.

Understanding Scholarship Eligibility Criteria

There are different types of scholarships for online degrees, each with its own set of criteria. Here’s a quick overview of the most common requirements of online education scholarships.

General Point Average

GPA is an important factor in college admissions. It’s also the most common basis of the majority of scholarships for online schooling.

Most scholarships for students require a 3.0 or even 3.5 GPA. If the scholarship is renewable and given out yearly, you might be asked to keep up a certain GPA each year, or you could lose it. This rule can also motivate students, especially when school gets too challenging.

Financial need

Financial need is the next most common requirement of scholarships for online students. This requirement applies to need-based scholarship programs. It aims to help students with family incomes below a specific threshold.

Some of the most common questions in these scholarships programs include:

  • What’s your family’s income?
  • Do you work? How much do you earn?
  • How much extra money do you need for college?
  • How would this scholarship benefit you?

Your response should probably cover both your financial needs and your goals for your education and career. You want to show how the scholarship will help you financially and support your academic or career ambitions.


Essays are a common scholarship eligibility criteria, including merit-based awards, club scholarships, and those based on financial need. The essay’s topic and requirements can vary widely. Some prompts are specific, asking questions like “What are your plans if you win?” while others are more open-ended.

It’s essential to review the guidelines before writing carefully. Make sure to brainstorm ideas, stick to the word count, and have someone proofread your essay.

Letters of Recommendation

Similar to the admissions process, several competitive scholarship programs require a letter of recommendation. Strong recommendation letters are a great supplement to the scholarship requirements. This material will emphasize your qualifications, successes, and grit.

Basic Information

Beyond anything else, scholarships will need your accurate information. Some of the most important details include:

  • Your government name
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Email
  • Date of birth
  • High school or college details

Failing to meet this requirement could result in missing out on the scholarship altogether.

Other Scholarship Requirements to Expect

In addition to the discussed common requirements, some scholarships for online college students may also ask for the following:

  • Your citizenship
  • Your location
  • Your age, grade, or education level
  • Academic achievements
  • Extracurricular activities
  • Financial need

Some more unique requirements of online degree scholarships include:

  • Artwork or art portfolio
  • Childhood photo
  • Cover letter
  • Current photo
  • Documentation of immigration or family’s immigration to the country
  • Evidence of your interest in a specific major or your history of interest in the field of study
  • Resume
  • Video essay

Academic Achievement Scholarships

Academic scholarships are financial awards given to students who excel in school. They may cover part or all of the tuition fees and sometimes include extra money for books or living expenses. It can lead to special programs, networking, and mentorship opportunities for scholars.

Some of the most notable online scholarship programs are:

Mississippi College

  • The Speed Scholarship accepts incoming first-year students and transfer students. However, applicants must have a GPA of 2.5 or higher to be considered.

Southwestern Assemblies of God University

  • Online students at SAGU can qualify for different Academic Scholarships based on the applicant’s high school GPA, and ACT or SAT scores. These scholarships range from $3,000 annually for the President’s Academic Scholarship to $1,000 annually for the Dean’s Academic Scholarship.

Eastern Kentucky University

  • This school offers scholarships ranging from $3,000 to the full cost of in-state tuition (3.80 to 4.0 GPA and ACT 28+).

Texas A&M – Texarkana

  • First-year students can apply for a $8,500 renewable scholarship if they have a 3.65 GPA and a minimum ACT score of 26.

You can ask a financial aid advisor how to find scholarships for online education based on your eligibility and academic achievements. Additionally, it’s important to explore scholarship opportunities offered by professional organizations, companies, and foundations.

Community Involvement Scholarships

Getting involved in your community can help you win scholarships. Scholarship providers, who are usually big on giving back, like to support students who care about positively impacting their communities.

The selection process for these scholarships often involves

  1. assessing the applicant’s involvement in various community service activities
  2. the impact of their contributions
  3. their future goals aligned with community development

Applicants may be required to provide documentation or letters of recommendation attesting to their involvement and impact.

Inspiring Success Stories

Jesus Guardiola: Overcoming Financial Barriers to Pursue Teaching Passion

Jesus Guardiola, a first-generation college student, faced financial struggles that threatened his education. With just nine hours left to complete his degree, financial hardship loomed. However, a timely community scholarship changed his trajectory. “I passed my courses that semester and could walk across the stage,” Jesus shares gratefully. Today, he stands as a testament to the transformative power of community support, working as a dedicated high school biology teacher.

Enji Tuvshinzaya: From Valedictorian to Academic Success with Community Backing

Enji Tuvshinzaya dreamt of academic success as a determined high school valedictorian but faced financial obstacles. The Arlington Community Foundation Scholarship opened doors, allowing her to attend a four-year college and pursue her ambitions. Overwhelmed with emotion upon receiving the scholarship, Enji reflects, “It meant an open door and new opportunities.” Now, thriving as a product analyst and a devoted mother, Enji’s journey is a beacon of hope and resilience.

Field of Study Scholarships

Another popular form of scholarship is field-based scholarship. These scholarships are intended to assist students in their academic and professional aspirations and are frequently given out by corporations, trade associations, or professional organizations.

Here are a few instances of scholarships for particular academic disciplines:





How to Improve Your Chances of Getting a Scholarship

Finding a scholarship for online college is more difficult than finding one for traditional on-campus programs. You need to have a solid plan to increase your chances of obtaining one. Here are a few practical tips:

#1: Maintain good grades.

  • Attend all your classes.
  • Get organized. You can use a planner or other organization system.
  • Don’t procrastinate.
  • Practice self-care throughout your studies to maintain a healthy overall well-being.

#2: Participate in extracurricular activities.

Participating in extracurricular activities enriches your college experience and shows your dedication. However, extracurricular activities must not get in the way of your studies. Be very picky about your extracurriculars; choose those that will help you the most.

#3 Get involved in the community/seek leadership roles.

Consider taking on responsibilities such as volunteering, organizing events, or participating in outreach programs. These experiences not only impress scholarship providers but also help you develop essential qualities like teamwork, communication, and problem-solving, which scholarship committees look for.

#4 Apply for as many scholarships as you possibly can.

Utilize online databases, consult with your school’s financial aid office, and engage with community organizations to discover available opportunities and submit multiple applications, increasing your likelihood of success.

#5 Apply early.

By submitting your applications ahead of deadlines, you demonstrate your commitment and professionalism to scholarship providers, increasing your likelihood of receiving funding for your online college studies.


There are hundreds of scholarship opportunities you can apply to. However, with thousands of applicants, it’s important to stand out.

You need to have a “well-rounded” scholarship application. You must showcase your skills, academic excellence, and personal qualities in various areas. These attributes give scholarship committees a fuller picture of who you are and why you deserve their support.

Apply for as many scholarships as possible and do so early to show your commitment.