When it comes to college, students look everywhere for financial aid. That includes scholarships. Unfortunately, many students fall prey to the myth that because their parents have a certain income, they won’t earn scholarships or even be eligible for many other forms of financial aid. However, that myth costs them significant gift aid money. With the cost of college so high, even families who don’t qualify as low-income can need assistance paying for tuition.

Merit Scholarships

Unlike student loans or grants, scholarships aren’t always given out based on financial need. In fact, many scholarship winners are selected solely on merit. What’s important to understand is that ‘merit’ could mean different things depending on the type of scholarship. From your grades to your aspirations, merit can mean many things.

Scholarship organizations offer awards for various purposes and each organization sets their own eligibility criteria depending on their values and mission. For the scholarship to consider you, you have to first meet their eligibility requirements. Keep in mind to only apply for scholarships that you meet all the requirements. Don’t apply to ones that you meet even 4 out of 5 qualifications. Not only is it a waste of time for you, the scholarship already receives plenty of applicants who meet all the requirements. Focus on ones that you completely qualify for. After all, the scholarship selects winners based on their various criteria.

Academic and Sports Scholarships

Many schools and institutions award academic or sports scholarships. For scholarships based on academic merit, the winner will be the student who demonstrates the strongest academic credentials. Winners of athletic scholarships will be those students who outperform their competitors in their particular sport. In other words, these scholarships target students who exceed in their grades or sports.

Competitive Scholarships

For some scholarships, the winner may be the applicant who has written the most compelling essay or one who can demonstrate proof of their passion in that particular field. In other cases, it may be the applicant who has the most potential or is the most skilled in that particular field. It doesn’t have to be a sport either. Competitive scholarships anything that you can compete in, such as creating robots or entering a photography contest.

Demographic Scholarships

There are many, many different kind of demographic scholarships. From religion, to ethnicity, to which state you live in, to certain disabilities, to majors you’re interested in, to sexuality and orientation, and so much more. There are also local scholarships, which are scholarships from your hometown. One of the big requirements for local scholarships is being from the town, so you already have that covered. Either way, you’ll find a scholarship that you fit in demographically, no matter what that demographic is.

Although all of these scholarship opportunities vary widely in terms of their eligibility requirements, one thing they all have in common is that none of them consider your parents income to decide on the winner. The myth stating you won’t earn scholarships is definitely false.