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  • Jean O'Toole

Scholarship Criteria Cues that Increase Possible Award Opportunities

Many students miss out on scholarship opportunities because they fail to read scholarship descriptions closely. There are several common phrases that every scholarship seeker should pay close attention to in scholarship criteria descriptions. When present, these phases generally indicate that scholarship decision-making committees are flexible in their consideration for a potential applicant. Keeping an eye out for these phases in scholarship criteria descriptions can prove to be extremely rewarding for scholarship seekers. It can increase the potential scholarships that align with their past achievements and future goals.

“Related Fields”

Many scholarships will list, within their criteria, specific academic majors or career pursuits. If the scholarship also includes the language, “or related fields”, the committee is open to candidates who are pursuing degrees that are not specifically listed. For example:

BELDON Scholarship. This scholarship is for students seeking a degree in business, management, communications, marketing or a related field. Deadline is Sept 1st. Award of $1000. Students must have a minimum GPA of 3.5. For more information visit

Related fields for the BELDON scholarship could potentially include, but are not limited to: advertising, public relations or entrepreneurship.

Linda Thompson Memorial Scholarship. This scholarship is open to students internationally pursuing destination management, event management or a related field in a program that is one year or longer. Award is $1000. Deadline is November 1st. For more information visit

Related fields for the Linda Thompson Memorial Scholarship might include, but are not limited to: travel and hospitality, public relations, business management or hotel management.

AmericanTrucks Scholarship. This scholarship is open to high school seniors or full-time students at a US technical institute, 2-year or 4-year college or university program in traditional building trades including carpentry, HVAC, electrical or related fields of study. Certificate programs are eligible. All students ages 18+ are able to apply. Award is $2500. Deadlines are October 15th and June 15th. For more information visit

Related fields for the AmericanTrucks Scholarship might include, but are not limited to: plumbing, architecture or landscape design.

“College Students”

When most scholarship seekers see criteria stating that the scholarship is open to “college students”, they assume that the scholarship is only for enrolled undergraduate students. Check the eligibility for the scholarship for more information. You may learn that the scholarship is open to accepted students as well as currently enrolled students. This opens the door to high school seniors to apply, if they have been accepted at a college or university and are still completing their senior year. It also opens the door to students attending 2-year college programs, graduate programs, doctorate and post-graduate professional programs. A scholarship example would be:

Future Designer Scholarship. This scholarship is from CardsDirect. It is open to students ages 17 and older who are accepted or enrolled at a college or university including community colleges and trade schools. Students can be pursuing any field. Must design a holiday card. Award is $2500. Deadline is November 1st. For more information visit

The Future Designer Scholarship does not offer a maximum age for an applicant and is not specific to an education level. The door is open for students of many educational levels to therefore apply.

“All Education Levels”.

Whenever a scholarship lists that “all education levels may apply”, always research further in their eligibility information to assess if there are age restrictions. If there are no age restrictions, both younger than traditional and older than traditional students may be eligible. For example:

Black Students in Tech Grant. Open to Black current college students or recent graduates at any education level of field of study, who are pursuing or plan to pursue a career in the tech industry. Award is $1000. Deadline is October 11th. For more information visit

The Black Students in Tech Grant does not specify age restrictions for their opportunity. In fact, their scholarship even includes recent graduates of any education level.

I recommend to all scholarship seekers to apply to every possible scholarship they can. Use the FAQ and eligibility information on the scholarship website to determine specific guidelines. Take advantage of any scholarship that does not offer specific guidelines. You may ultimately be the best and most qualified candidate the committee has to consider.

If the door is not clearly closed to you as an applicant, apply to the scholarship.


Jean O’Toole is an educational consultant and author of the bestselling book, Scholarship Strategies Finding and Winning the Money You Need. Over the past 15 years, she has helped tens of thousands of students in the United States. Individuals collectively have been awarded millions of dollars by applying her scholarship strategies. In 2008 she co-founded Connections101, a company specializing in providing motivational tools for scholarship searching. It is her goal to empower students to design their paths to their future without college debt. For more information about Jean, visit


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