Can You Use Scholarship Money for Anything? Tips, Examples, Common Mistakes

Over the last four decades, college tuition has increased by more than 180%. Tuition, room and board, books, and other education-related expenses can make it seem like the bills never end. Fortunately, numerous scholarship programs are available to assist you in affording higher education.

If you’ve applied to any of them, you’re probably wondering if you can use the scholarship money for anything. The answer is a little more complicated. But we’re here to assist you in making sense of it all. It is important to note that many awards will be paid directly to your college or university. Check out the tips below to help decipher different scholarship rules for those who come straight to you.

Read More: Why Using Video Cameras In Physical Education Is Important?

What can you use the scholarship money for 

Most scholarship funds are very specific about what types of expenses they will and will not cover. Tuition, books, and other course materials are typically covered, but what constitutes “education-related” expenses varies by provider, so be sure to read the rules for each award.


Tuition will most likely be your largest expense when it comes to paying for your college education, depending on your financial aid package. The majority of scholarships, particularly those from private foundations and government grants, will state that scholarship funds must be used solely for tuition.

Many awards that renew each academic year are intended to cover this cost. Even if your scholarship does not specify that it must be used for tuition, most college students would be wise to put this money to use.

Room and Board

The cost of living varies by college. If your university is located in a high-cost area of the country, your room and board expenses may be higher. Colleges frequently provide subsidized on-campus housing.

While not all scholarship programs cover room and board, many do consider it a part of the cost of attending college. Many scholarships, however, distinguish between on-campus and off-campus housing, with a preference for on-campus living.


If you’ve ever visited an on-campus bookstore, you’ll know that textbooks and other course materials can be expensive. However, having access to the necessary materials is critical to your ability to learn, and many scholarship providers want to assist you in paying for the tools you need to succeed.

There are even private scholarships available to cover the cost of books. Even more important than paying for the books is actually using them. Need some pointers on how to study for that big midterm?


Sitting in a lecture hall trying to scribble notes by hand can make getting that perfect GPA even more difficult, which is why most college students prefer to use laptop computers. Some providers consider this an educational expense, while others do not. Before you use scholarship money to buy a computer, double-check the fine print on your private scholarships.


When people discuss “tuition and fees,” it can be perplexing. Fees can include a variety of education-related expenses such as enrollment fees, library costs, and printing charges. If you contact your school’s financial aid office, many colleges and universities will provide a detailed breakdown of fees. Many scholarship programs cover fees, and students receiving financial aid can also apply for fee waivers.


Another difficult-to-calculate cost of attendance is transportation to and from campus. Some awards will cover expenses such as bus tickets or parking. Many other scholarship programs, however, consider this a personal expense, especially if you are traveling between states or across the country.

Parking and on-campus transportation are frequently included as part of a university’s tuition. If your scholarship award covers fees, your transportation costs will be covered as well.

What you can’t use the scholarship money for 

Private scholarships are frequently need-based and competitive, which is why college students should never take advantage of the free money that comes with these awards. It is critical to read the fine print on all forms of financial aid in order to understand what is and is not covered.

There are a few awards that can be used for absolutely anything. If you believe you have won one of these scholarships, double-check all of the requirements. To be extra sure, contact the provider and ask questions before spending your scholarship money on one of the following expenses.

Recreational trips

If you’re planning to spend your scholarship money on a spring break trip, reconsider. Scholarship funds may never be spent on personal travel. This may seem like an obvious example, but personal expenses such as travel, whether for a spring break trip or a trip home to see family, are never covered by scholarship money.

One exception: educational trips, such as studying abroad or pursuing an out-of-town internship, may be covered by specific scholarships. If you want to study abroad in the future, include those in your scholarship search.

Car payments

Many college students incur the expense of purchasing a car to drive to and from campus. Unfortunately, it will not be covered by scholarship funds. A car payment is considered a personal expense because it can be used for so many different things, such as travel, recreation, and commuting to work.

Personal expenses

Personal expenses that most scholarship awards do not cover include Twin XL sheets for your new dorm room bed, a microwave to heat up cups of instant ramen, and a puffy coat to handle that long walk across campus in the cold. This category also includes on-campus living expenses such as activity fees, clubs, sporting event attendance, and workout classes.

Student loans

Many college students wonder if they can use scholarship money to pay off student loans. Although it is a nice idea, the answer is no. Money from awards cannot be used to repay federal or private student loans. It may be tempting to put extra money into your bank account to help pay off your student loans, but this is one college expense that should be avoided. Depending on your financial situation, you may be eligible for student loan forgiveness on certain federal student loans. Check out this helpful primer on federal financial assistance.


While saving for the future is a noble goal, using your scholarship money to invest in stocks and bonds is not permitted. This type of spending is not considered an educational expense, even if you plan to major in finance or economics.

Instead of looking for other ways to invest, college students can invest in themselves through their education. So, aim for a high GPA and learn everything you can. Your future self will appreciate the investment.

What happens if I use my scholarship money on something other than my education?

College scholarships can fill the gap between out-of-pocket expenses and financial aid awards. These funds, however, must be used correctly.

Failure to use scholarship funds for educational expenses may result in your award being revoked or you being forced to repay what you spent. In extreme cases, providers may resort to legal action.

Most students do not have malicious intentions, which is why it is critical to becoming acquainted with the specifics of your scholarship award. Fortunately, most scholarship funds are not deposited directly into your bank account. However, if it is, it is critical to double-check the terms of the award before you begin spending.

What happens to unused scholarship money?

Receiving an excessive amount of scholarship money is a rare but possible scenario. If you receive scholarship funds that exceed your tuition and fees, your college or university will often send you a refund for the difference.

You may be able to use these funds for another educational expense depending on the terms of your scholarship. If you have any unused scholarship funds, you should contact your school’s financial aid office because you will be required to pay taxes on these funds as income.

Furthermore, if your scholarship funds exceed the cost of your tuition, you could contact the scholarship committees for each of your awards to discuss your options. Depending on their policies, you may be able to use the scholarship funds for other educational purposes.

Can scholarship money affect my financial aid

Yes, your scholarship money can have an impact on your financial aid. Most of the time, it does not. However, if you are fortunate enough to receive a scholarship award, you must notify your school’s financial aid office of this change.

Earning a scholarship will influence how your school perceives your financial needs, which may result in changes to your financial aid package. If your award is renewable, your financial aid may change over the course of four years.

However, don’t let this discourage you from applying for scholarships. Money for nothing is never a bad thing. The effect on your financial aid will frequently be a reduction in student loans or work-study programs. It should not necessitate you paying more money for college.

15 Easy scholarships to apply for right now

Scholarship funds can be used to cover a wide range of educational costs. There are numerous types of scholarships available to college students looking to supplement their financial aid package. Some scholarships require a lengthy application process, which is why we’ve compiled a list of 15 simple scholarships to get you started on the path to earning money for your education.

No letters of recommendation, minimum GPAs, or essays longer than 1000 words are required for any of these scholarship programs. If you’re looking for more scholarships like these, we’ve found 26 more with no-hassle applications.

1. $100,000 Stand Up for Students Sweepstakes

The sum is $100,000.

Earnest LLC is the supplier.

Requirements for Eligibility:

Except for Massachusetts and Nevada, you can be a resident of any state.
Currently enrolled or intending to enroll in a college/university
N/A Application Requirements

Earnest is committed to reducing the financial burden of attending college, which is why they provide accessible, flexible student loans. They also provide a variety of private scholarships, including the $100,000 Stand Up for Students Sweepstakes. To be eligible for this valuable award, simply create a profile on their website. Then you’ll request a student loan eligibility check and interest rate estimate. The application is completed in less than 5 minutes. To be eligible for the scholarship, you do not need to apply for a loan. The recipients of this award will be chosen at random.

2. Taco Bell Live Más Scholarship

The sum is $25,000

Taco Bell is the provider.

Requirements for Eligibility:

Currently enrolled or intending to enroll in a college or university
between the ages of 16 and 26
I am not a Taco Bell employee.
Application Prerequisites: Essay in video form

The Taco Bell Live Más Scholarship, one of the most valuable and simple scholarships on this list, wants to send you to college with a $25,000 award. Taco Bell wants to know why you think higher education is important, what you hope to achieve in the future, and how a college degree will help you get there. Remember that in English, “Live Más” translates to “Live More,” so keep that expansive, visionary spirit in mind as you film your video essay.

3. Hispanic Scholarship Fund

Maximum amount: $5,000

Hispanic Scholarship Fund is the provider.

Requirements for Eligibility:

For high school students, a minimum GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale is required.
For college or graduate students, a minimum GPA of 2.5 on a 4.0 scale is required.
Enrolled or planning to enroll in a college/university full-time
Application Prerequisites: FAFSA® completed, transcript

The Hispanic Scholarship Fund was established to make higher education more accessible to Latin American students throughout the United States. The fund is open to both US citizens and students who are legal permanent residents or have DACA. The amount of the award varies depending on the student’s financial need. Every year, the fund awards approximately 10,000 scholarships to deserving Hispanic students.

4. Visionary Scholarship

Maximum amount: $5,000

American College Foundation is the provider.

Requirements for Eligibility:

Currently enrolled or intending to enroll in a college/university
Application Prerequisites: Essay, transcript

The American College Foundation is a website that provides resources to help high school students prepare for college. They understand that paying for higher education is only half of the battle, which is why they established the Visionary Scholarship.

Students can receive up to $5,000 through this scholarship program once during their college career. Students’ applications will be evaluated based on their unofficial high school transcripts and responses to the essay prompt “Why College is Important to Me.” Your essay should not be more than 500 words long.

5. Residential Design Scholarship

The total amount is $2,500.

Houzz is the service provider.

Requirements for Eligibility:

Currently enrolled or intending to enroll in a college/university
Ages 17 and up
Interior design, architecture, or landscape architecture has been declared as a field of study.
Application Prerequisites: Essay and work samples

Houzz, a software platform used by interior designers, architects, and other design professionals, is eager to invest in the next generation of design talent. That is why the Residential Design Scholarship was created. To enter, write a 400-word essay about the most influential people in your interior design style. Your Houzz profile, which should showcase your portfolio and personal style, is another component of the application. Both undergraduate and graduate students are eligible for this award.

6. Porch Skilled Trade & Technology Scholarship

The sum is $2,000

The porch is the provider.

Requirements for Eligibility:

A minimum GPA of 3.4 on a 4.0 scale is required.
18 years old and enrolled or planning to enroll in a college/university
Declared field of study in a field related to home construction, improvement, or other Porch services
N/A Application Requirements

The porch is an online marketplace that connects home remodelers with contractors and other skilled laborers. The porch provides the opportunity to invest in future leaders in this field.

To apply, simply complete their online questionnaire, which requests students’ GPA, the field of study, and college/university name. That’s all. Porch awards this award four times a year, so you can apply only once per cycle. The winners will be chosen at random.

7. The Easiest Scholarship Ever

The sum is $1,000.

Going Merry is the provider.

Requirements for Eligibility:

Currently enrolled or intending to enroll in a college/university
N/A Application Requirements

This one’s name says it all: if you want to win The Easiest Scholarship Ever, look no further. This contest, sponsored by Going Merry, a one-stop shop for all your scholarship needs, requires very little work from you. There are no essays or additional forms required for the application, and it is open to almost every type of student. To apply, simply sign up for Going Merry and enter the competition on our website.

8. Don’t Text and Drive Scholarship

The sum is $1,000.

Digital Responsibility is a provider.

Requirements for Eligibility:

Currently enrolled or intending to enroll in a college/university
N/A Application Requirements

A group of technology executives founded Digital Responsibility to teach young people how to use technology responsibly. In support of this mission, they established the Don’t Text and Drive Scholarship to promote safe driving.

To apply, simply write a 140-character statement that concludes this sentence: “I pledge to not text and drive because…” Applicants who provide the most unique responses will advance to the second round, where they will write a 500-1,000-word essay about the dangers of texting and driving.

9. RealtyHop Scholarship 

The sum is $1,000.

RealtyHop is a service provider.

Requirements for Eligibility:

Enrolled in a college/university Requirements for Application: Essay

RealtyHop is a platform that connects investors with undervalued real estate. Through their RealtyHop Scholarship, they are looking for students who demonstrate ambition and entrepreneurship.

The application is straightforward, and some might even say enjoyable. You will write a 500-word essay about your ideal life. Find a listing on RealtyHop and imagine yourself living in your favorite room of that property in the future. Some lucky winners may even be offered an internship at RealtyHop.

10. Gen and Kelly Tanabe Scholarship

The sum is $1,000.

Gen and Kelly Tanabe Foundation is the provider.

Requirements for Eligibility:

Enrolled or planning to enroll in a college/university Requirements for Application: Essay

Gen and Kelly Tanabe are best-selling authors who write about education and want to help you pursue your own. The Gen and Kelly Tanabe Scholarship is a merit-based award available to students in high school, college, or graduate school. All you have to do is fill out their website’s form and write a 250-word essay about your future goals or why you deserve to win the scholarship. This award can be used for any educational expense, including room and board and fees.

11. Mattress Advisor’s Sleep Science Scholarship

The sum is $1,000.

Mattress Advisor is the provider.

Requirements for Eligibility:

Enrolled or planning to enroll in a college/university full-time
Application Prerequisites: Acceptance/enrollment proof, essay

It goes without saying that college students require a lot of sleep. College requires time to recharge between maintaining your GPA, making new friends, and deciding on a major. Mattress Advisor, a website that curates mattress reviews and products, wants to help you sleep better while also paying for college. You’ll need to write a short 800 to 1,000-word essay about sleep health and its impact on your education to apply for their Mattress Advisor’s Sleep Science Scholarship.

12. MyBioSource Inc. Scholarship for Students with Disabilities

The sum is $1,000.

MyBioSource Inc. is the provider.

Requirements for Eligibility:

Currently enrolled or intending to enroll in a college/university
Learning disability that has been documented
Application Prerequisites: Essay

MyBioSource Inc, a biotechnology product distribution company, is deeply committed to empowering students with learning disabilities. They sponsor two $1,000 non-renewable awards each year for undergraduate or graduate students with a documented learning disability.

Write a 250-word response explaining why you chose your specific major and why you deserve this scholarship award to apply for the MyBioSource Inc. Scholarship for Students with Disabilities. If answering the question feels difficult, read this blog post for tips on how to write your best response.

13. Cer ScholarshipareerFitt

The sum is $1,000.

CareerFitter is the service provider.

Requirements for Eligibility:

A minimum GPA of 2.4 on a 4.0 scale is required.
Enrolled or planning to enroll in a college or university full-time
Application Prerequisites: Essay, transcript

If you’re not sure what you want to study in college or what you want to do after graduation, CareerFitter may be able to assist you. They’ve pioneered a career test with psychologists to help you find a meaningful career that matches your goals.

Once you’ve found your dream job, apply for the CareerFitter Scholarship by writing about why you want to go down that path. Your response should be no more than 900 characters long. Dream big and have fun imagining your future.

14. Kopfler & Hermann Overcoming Adversity Scholarship

The sum is $1,000.

Kopfler & Hermann is the provider.

Requirements for Eligibility:

A minimum GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale is required.
Currently enrolled or intending to enroll in a college/university
An essay and resume are required for application.

Kopfler & Hermann is a law firm based in Louisiana, but their Kopfler & Hermann Overcoming Adversity Scholarship is open to students from all over the country. They specialize in personal injury law and are interested in hearing about a time when you faced and overcame adversity. Write an essay of 500 to 1000 words describing this experience to be eligible to win $1,000 toward your college education.

15. CarBrain Scholarship

The sum is $1,000.

CarBrain is the provider.

Requirements for Eligibility:

Currently enrolled or intending to enroll in a college/university
Application Prerequisites: Acceptance/enrollment proof, essay

Do you envision a future with self-driving cars? Do you prefer to drive a traditional stick shift? CarBrain, a platform for buying and selling cars, wants to know what you think will happen in the automotive industry. Answer their essay prompt: “Is self-driving vehicle technology the way of the future?” in 500 to 1000 words. “Can you explain why or why not?” You will then be entered to win the CarBrain Scholarship.




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