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Christian Students’ Guide to College and Scholarships
Although the number of college students with no religious affiliation has tripled from 1986 to 2016, the number of college-age students who attend Christian universities continues to rise. According to an article published on U.S. News, the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) reported a nearly 18% increase in the number of full-time students from the years 2003 to 2015.
While the reason behind each student’s desire to attend a Christian college varies, researchers believe that the cost of tuition plays a big role. Found in the same article, the U.S. News reports that Christian colleges cost 20% less than other private universities.
Throughout this article, prospective students of Christian colleges or universities will find resources on how to choose a college, financial assistance options, and tips for finding scholarships.
College Options for Christian Students
There are colleges for different faiths that adhere to different standards than secular colleges. A secular college is “a system of public education in countries with a secular government or separation between religion and state.” Secular colleges are not affiliated with any single religion or belief.
Similar to Bible colleges, however, non-secular colleges take pride in their faith and include it in their curriculum and culture. The main difference between non-secular and Bible schools is that those who attend a Bible college usually do so to become a pastor, missionary, or biblical studies educator. Non-secular, faith-affiliated institutions often offer the same range of degrees and areas of study as any other university, and can be used as a springboard into virtually any profession or career path.
As a Christian student choosing a college, considering the different types of colleges, along with the tips listed below, can help you decide on a school to attend.
Things to Consider When Choosing a College
There are several factors that go into choosing a college. Not only do you have to ensure you have access to the type of curriculum that most attracts you but you’ll also want to ensure that the environment is right for you.
You’ll want to take the student population and demographics into consideration. Is there a diverse student body? Does the school seem overly crowded? Does a majority of the student body have the same values as you?
Other things to consider include:
- Campus clubs, activities, and sports;
- Campus policies;
- Curriculum and required courses;
- On-campus religious centers/places of worship;
- Support groups;
- The student code of conduct.
A great way to ensure that the college you are considering offers everything you’re looking for is to ask for a tour of the campus. Another thing to keep in mind when scouting for a school is whether or not they’ll accept the scholarships and financial aid you qualify for.
Scholarships and Financial Aid for Christian Students
Scholarships are used to help college students pay for their schooling. Typically, scholarships do not have to be paid back. Because of this, those who offer scholarships tend to be pickier with who they select to give the award to.
Thankfully, there are numerous types of scholarships available that prospective students can apply for.
Check with each college to see if they offer institution-specific scholarships or other forms of financial assistance. In the meantime, here are a few private scholarships you may want to consider applying for:
- Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation: 150 high school seniors will be selected to receive a scholarship for $20,000.
- Cooke College Scholarship Program: Awards will vary based on the winner’s cost of attendance and other expenses. This award is available for students in any area of study and could include up to $40,000 per year for a four-year accredited undergraduate school.
- The Gates Scholarship: Each year, the Gates Scholarship will reward 300 students. To be eligible for the scholarship, students must be a high school senior, Pell-eligible, and identify as at least one of the following ethnicities:
- Alaska Native;
- Asian and Pacific Islander-American;
- The National Merit Scholarship Program: To apply for the National Merit Scholarship Program, a student must:
- Take the PSAT/NMSQT in the specified year of the high school program and no later than the third year in grades 9 through 12;
- Be enrolled as a high school student (traditional or homeschooled), progressing normally toward graduation or completion of high school, and planning to accept admission to college no later than the fall following completion of high school;
- Attend high school in the United States, the District of Columbia, or U.S. commonwealth and territory; or meet the citizenship requirements for students attending high school outside the United States.
One benefit of attending a Christian college is having access to a variety of faith-based scholarships.
- American Baptist Home Mission Societies (ABHMS) Undergraduate Scholarship: Each year, the ABHMS undergraduate scholarship is open from January 15th through April 30th. Applicants must have a minimum GPA of 2.75 or higher and reside in the United States or Puerto Rico. Scholarship amounts vary and are paid directly to the college or university.
- Catholic Order of Foresters Fraternal Scholarship: This scholarship awards 50 individuals with $600 to go towards their schooling. Applicants must be 17 years of age or older and be in good academic standing for at least two years.
- Chaplain Samuel Grover Powell Scholarship: To apply for the Chaplain Samuel Grover Powell scholarship, applicants must be enrolled at an accredited theological seminary. They must also “be involved in the Chaplain Candidate (Seminarian) Program or serving a military reserve component after having completed an active duty tour in one of the United States armed forces.”
- Christian Missionary Scholarship: This scholarship has benefited over 100 applicants in 36 different countries. To apply for the Christian Missionary scholarship, students must be children of missionaries currently on or recently returned from serving a mission. Recipients of the award must also attend one of the following colleges:
- Calvin University (Grand Rapids, MI);
- Dordt University (Sioux Center, IA);
- Hope College (Holland, MI);
- Kuyper College (Grand Rapids, MI);
- Trinity Christian College (Palos Heights, IL);
- Wheaton College (Wheaton, IL).
- Dollars for Scholars: This program involves “matching support from a student’s church, UMHEF, participating United Methodist-related schools, and participating UMC conference foundations.” Selected winners will receive an award ranging from $2,000 to $4,000 per student.
- Native American Seminary Scholarship: Funded by the Native American Ministries special Sunday offering, this scholarship is awarded to Native Americans who attend a GBHEM approved course of study. Applicants must prove their affiliation with their tribal card.
- Young Christian Leadership Scholarship: The award amount of $1,000 will be directly applied to the winner’s college or university. Applicants must have a GPA of 3.0 or higher with a transcript to prove it. Applicants must also be a permanent resident of New York, New Jersey or Connecticut, but may attend school outside of these areas.
Major/Degree Specific Scholarships
If you have your heart set on a major already, then the following scholarships may be for you.
Here is a list of scholarships for future business administration majors:
- General Electric (GE)/Lulac Scholarship: This scholarship is available for “disadvantaged minority students with career interests in business or engineering.” Winners will receive a scholarship amount of $5,000 to apply towards their tuition and fees.
- Ritchie-Jennings Memorial Scholarship Program: This scholarship offers various award amounts ranging from $1,000 to $10,000. Applicants must have declared a major in accounting, business administration, finance, or criminal justice. Ideally, applicants will want to pursue a career in fraud examination.
Here is a list of a few scholarships for future accounting majors:
- AICPA/Robert Half Student Scholarship Award: Four recipients will be selected to win a scholarship for $10,000. An eligible applicant must be pursuing a degree in accounting or an accounting-related major/minor.
- PCPS George Willie Ethnically Diverse Student Scholarship and Internship: 10 winners will be selected to win $10,000 to apply towards their schooling. Applicants should also plan to pursue CPA credentials and be a minority student (African-American, Hispanic/Latinx, Native American, Alaska Native, Asian or Pacific Islander, and/or Multi-ethnic.). Those wishing to apply for this scholarship must also be an AICPA Student Affiliate member (or have submitted a new member application).
- William (Bill) Ezzell Scholarship: An award of $10,000 will be awarded to five individuals who qualified and applied for the William (Bill) Ezzell scholarship. Individuals who wish to apply for this scholarship must be CPA certified, have a minimum of three years of professional experience in accounting, and are U.S. citizens.
Here is a list of scholarships for future finance majors:
- Accounting and Financial Women’s Alliance (AFWA) Undergraduate Scholarship Program: The AFWA offers a variety of scholarships geared towards women who are looking to advance in the world of accounting and finance. Prospecting applicants are encouraged to review each scholarship to find one that best fits their needs.
- Daniel B. Goldberg Scholarship: This scholarship “provides several scholarship opportunities for students interested in pursuing a career in state/provincial or local government finance.” Applicants must be a resident of the United States or Canada. They must also plan to pursue a career in state/provincial or local government finance.
Here is a scholarship for theology and religion majors:
- Bethesda Student Scholastic and Service Scholarship: “Each year, Bethesda Auxiliary, in partnership with Bethesda, awards college and seminary/post-graduate students scholarships for their commitment to careers in Lutheran ministry with people living with intellectual and developmental disabilities.”
For more scholarships, students can visit the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry scholarship board.
Scholarships for Non-Traditional Students
A “non-traditional college student” could mean a variety of individuals — returning students, students who only attend online courses, single parents, and even students who are well above their teens and twenties. Let’s take a look at a few scholarships that are intended for non-traditional students.
- American Legion Auxiliary Non-Traditional Student Scholarship: This scholarship specifically benefits veterans and/or the descendants of veterans. There are four different scholarships eligible applicants could apply for. However, the Non-Traditional Student Scholarship is intended for those who qualify as non-traditional students.
- Association for Non-Traditional Students in Higher Education (ANTSHE): The ANTSHE scholarship offers multiple award winners with varying amounts. Applicants are required to be enrolled full-time or plan to enroll for the academic year at an accredited college or university in a four-year undergraduate program of study.
Tips for Finding Scholarships
Because there are so many available, finding a scholarship can be intimidating. However, the following tips can help ease your mind and guide you towards finding a scholarship or two that you qualify for.
- Apply for every scholarship you qualify for — the more you apply for, the bigger your odds are at getting chosen;
- Ask your academic advisor for assistance;
- Pay close attention to scholarship deadlines;
- Read the qualifications closely. It could be stressful filling out an entire application just to get to the end and realizing you don’t even qualify;
- Research scholarships that are local to your area/school;
- Research scholarships by religion;
- Take both the ACT and SAT.
Regardless of your background or religion, there is sure to be at least one scholarship that you are eligible for. You just have to be willing to put in the work and find it.
Additional Resources for Christian Students
Scholarships aren’t the only thing you need to look into. Here are a few additional resources students may find useful when applying for a Christian college.
- Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities (ACCU): ACCU offers various programs and services that help to strengthen and promote the Catholic religion. “ACCU also maintains ongoing relations with the Catholic and secular media and with organizations conducting research concerning Catholic higher education.”
- BASIC College Ministries: BASIC is “a network of college students in the Northeast who come together to enjoy life, learn about God, and make a difference in the world.” This is a great resource for students who want to connect with others all over the world and share the love for their faith.
- Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU): The CCCU is a higher education association involved with more than 180 Christian colleges and universities worldwide. The CCCU’s mission is “to advance the cause of Christ-centered higher education and to help [their] institutions transform lives by faithfully relating scholarship and service to biblical truth.”
- National Catholic Education Association: The National Catholic Education Association (NCEA) is the largest, private professional education association in the world. They work with Catholic educators to help support ongoing faith and with the teaching of the Catholic church.
- The National Catholic College Admission Association: The National CCAA is a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to promoting the value of Catholic higher education.
No matter where you choose to continue your education, know there are plenty of resources available to help you along the way. Avoid being hesitant or afraid to reach out for assistance. Asking for help can ensure that your transition to college is smooth and straightforward.
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