All about scholarships in India

All you need to know about scholarships in India

"An Investment in Knowledge Pays the Best Interest" ~ Franklin, B.

The right to education is a fundamental right that ensures no child is denied access to good quality education in the country. It, therefore, follows that scholarships at all levels of education ensure that money is not a constraint for access to education. In this post, we'll tell you all you need to know about scholarships in India.

What is a scholarship?

Are you a bright, young student who dreams of being successful? Is your potential being limited by the confines of your family's budget?

The scholarship is a financial award or aid to help students enrolled in elementary as well as higher education. It could either be in the form of a grant or aid, or the form of a fee waiver, or as fellowships. Scholarships differ from loans in that they do not have to be paid back, and they do not require any collateral. A scholarship is not just financial aid, in fact, many scholarships in India reward merit, thus recognizing your talents as well as certifying them for posterity.

What is the difference between fellowship,  grant, and financial aid?

Financial aid is a very specific type of need-based scholarship provided to those belonging to the socio-economically backward sections of the society to provide equal opportunities to all. It is generally not dependent on the subject of study and is more concerned with the lack of opportunity for candidates belonging to certain castes and communities.

Grant and fellowship on the other hand are not dependent on the socio-economic status of the applicant but are given to promote education/ research/ fieldwork in a particular subject or geographical region under study.

While the grant is more often than not awarded to an institution/ department or individual that leads research, fellowship is offered mostly at the post-graduate level to students who through their studies are contributing to research and development in their field of study, thus making fellowship a special type of grant.

How does scholarship work?

Scholarships in India can be awarded for various purposes and reasons, making them an indispensable aspect of higher education. Scholarships can be awarded for either meeting the proposed educational funding for candidates with insufficient means to support their educational dreams, or awarded to recognize student's talents and achievements in academics as well as extracurricular activities. There can be several different criteria for awarding a scholarship, for instance, students belonging to economically weaker or socio-culturally backward households can qualify for many different forms of financially assistances; students with achievements in academics can apply for various merit-based scholarships; meritorious students belonging to economically weaker or socio-culturally backward households can avail merit-cum needs-based scholarships.

Scholarships can sometimes be a one-time check or can be renewed periodically. The scholarship money can either be provided as a one-time lump sum amount or be paid periodically in monthly/semester-wise/ annual installments. The money can either be paid directly to the student as a direct cash benefit or as a payment to the school.

There are different organizations and sources that provide scholarships such as central and state government departments and government bodies, private organizations, individual schools/universities, etc. Scholarship awards contain several details including the obligation of beneficiaries, terms and conditions of the scholarship, etc.

Types of scholarships

Here is a brief introduction to various types of scholarships available to students in the country.

Government Scholarships - This is a financial aid provided by the central and state governments to meritorious students or students belonging to socially backward groups such as SC/ ST/ OBC/ Minorities, or economically weaker sections of the society. These scholarships are provided at pre-matric, post-matric, and higher education levels.

Private Scholarships - These scholarships are provided by private organizations and businesses to students either as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility or as part of their philanthropic ventures. These scholarships are often provided as fellowships to bridge the gap between academics and the industry.

Micro scholarships - They are small grants awarded to students during their high school or college and can be used towards the payment of a student's tuition for higher education.

Academic Scholarships - These are merit-based scholarships provided to students by their academic Institutions or the institutes they have applied to, for excellence in academics.

Extra-curricular Scholarships - These scholarships are provided to students either as a reward for their excellence in extracurricular activities such as sports, culture or are provided to students as a means to gain admission in Institutions that train students to excel in extracurricular activities.

Further, depending on the amount of percentage of tuition covered scholarships can also fall under the following categories - 

Partial Scholarship - Such scholarships offer to cover a part of the tuition fee for the student while the remaining part of the fee is borne by the student or through bank loans. These scholarships can sometimes cover the living expenses while the tuition is borne by the students.

100% Scholarship - This type of Scholarship covers the entire cost of education for a student along with living expenses such as boarding and lodging, travel allowance, etc. 

Importance of Scholarship

Scholarships ensure equality of opportunity for all and can help change the course of your life. Need-based scholarships can help ease the financial burden of education in the family and ensure better career opportunities for students especially those who do not come from a privileged background. With the cost of education increasing every fiscal and the competition getting tougher and skewed in the favor of those with privilege, scholarships level the playing field and allow access to higher education, and by extension better future opportunities to all the students.

Merit based Scholarships on the other hand can firstly, give the students a sense of accomplishment increasing their confidence, and secondly, add value to their Curriculum vitae. They motivate students to work harder and perform better.

Benefits of Scholarship

Scholarship can without a doubt provide financial aid to students thus incentivizing learning at all levels and can further enhance the quality of education by creating a healthy competition for meritorious scholarships across different fields. Scholarships by the government do not only bear a financial incentive but are also considered prestigious and may play an important role in a person's academic and professional career as a certificate of achievement.

While most students are not aware of the various scholarships available to them in the country, many others do not know the full extent of services and benefits they can avail through various scholarships provided by the government as well as the private sector.

Thus, with scholarship playing such a key role in strengthening the education system of India, we must have sufficient information about scholarships. Therefore we have compiled all the information you might require on scholarships in one comprehensive blog.