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What is non-need-based aid?


    Non-need-based aid is money awarded to prospective or current students that’s not based on financial need. Often, non-need-based aid is based on merits like excellence in academics or talents in fields such as athletics, the arts, or music.

    Non-need-based aid is often given to students by private companies, individuals, or colleges and universities. There’re also non-need-based federal aid programs, like Direct Unsubsidized Loans, Federal Plus Loans, and Teacher Education Access for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grants. This aid helps to supplement any need-based aid packages.

    In this article, let’s dive into what non-need-based aid is and how to access it.

    What’s the difference between need-based aid and non-need-based aid?

    Before going over the finer details of non-need-based aid, it’s important to distinguish between this type of aid and need-based aid. Non-need-based aid is a type of financial aid that doesn’t necessarily consider a student’s finances. Often, it comes in the form of a merit scholarship. Examples might include a football scholarship, a guitar scholarship, or an art scholarship for painting.

    Need-based aid primarily bases eligibility, in part, on a student’s Expected Family Contribution, which considers the income and assets of a student and their family or the assets and income of a student, depending on whether the student is a dependent or independent. A student’s Expected Family Contribution is determined by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®).

    Here’s where things can get confusing (so make sure to read the fine print of scholarships you’re considering applying to): There are merit-based scholarships that are also need-based. For instance, a scholarship for exceptional high school computer coders that only low-income students are eligible for.

    This underscores why it’s so important to carefully read the requirements for all scholarships you’re considering applying to so you don’t waste time applying for something you aren’t eligible for.

    Common misconceptions about non-need-based aid

    One of the biggest misconceptions about non-need-based aid is that it’s only available to professional-caliber athletes and straight-A students.

    If you’re a student with a specific talent or unconventional background, it’s worth looking into non-need-based aid that you might qualify for. After all, scholarships come in many forms.

    How to access non-need-based aid

    Non-need-based aid can come in the form of merit-based scholarships and grants. Don’t be shy when listing talents on your college application or any private scholarship applications. There’s an abundance of scholarships out there, and you might be eligible for more of them than you think.

    You shouldn’t be afraid to take advantage of as many credible non-need-based scholarship opportunities as possible. After all, 10 $1,500 scholarships are just as good as one $15,000 scholarship. Apply to as many scholarship options as possible, and you could potentially amass a good amount of non-need-based aid to help pay for college.

    Final thoughts

    No matter what your financial situation is, a non-need-based scholarship or grant can help offset the costs of tuition and living expenses. It can be an excellent way to help pay for college and may keep your student debt to a minimum.