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Service-Oriented Scholarships

Key to Know: You can do well and do good! More and more financial aid is available for service-minded students - read on to learn more:

Service Based Merit Awards Gaining Momentum

As reported in a USA Today article in early 2009, service-based merit aid is gaining momentum. The current generation of college students has a greater service orientation than previous generations, and colleges are accommodating that focus in order to be cometitive attracting students. President Obama keyed in on this during his presidential campaign, making federal financial aid for community service the key aspect of his college affordability program.

Today, the federal work-study program stipulates that schools devote 7% of their funds to paying students for community service work. And in addition to the federal program, more and more schools are also earmarking more of their own fund for aid in retrun for service.

There are currently 79 colleges that will match tuition awards students have earned through AmeriCorps, the federal community service program. Two years ago, Drew announced plans to spend $1 million each year to support a dozen service-oriented students in each new freshman class. The College of New Jersey and Tufts University are two examples of schools with a similar type of program, and 27 colleges have teamed up with the Bonner Foundation to provide 4-year service scholarships to about 1,500 students. The Bonner Foundation also works with about 50 other institutions in a separate but related program - see below for more. Other schools such as Duke and others offer scholarships that are based at least in part on service.

Drew Civic Scholars Example

Drew Civic Scholars attend special classes and work in off-campus projects as part of a commitment to learning through civic engagement intended to set the school apart from peers, according to president Robert Weisbuch. According to Drew's website, “The Drew Civic Scholarships make up one program of the Center. Drew Civic Scholars are students who show extraordinary commitment to community. They not only receive a monetary award(which can approach $40,000, covering the student's cost for an entire year), but also join an exciting new civic engagement program that will increase their serviceand leadership skills and experiences. Drew Civic Scholars participate in special classes, workshops, seminars, and off-campus service projects. They also mentor and lead students from all disciplines who are interested in making the world a better Learn more about Drew's program.

The Bonner Foundation

The president of the Bonner Foundation challenges colleges and universities to offer service-oriented aid similar to the financial assistance packages they put together for their football players. According to administrators, programs should in fact not be just one-time awards for past service activity, but very much like college sports scholarships. The time commitment to required to “earn back” the scholarship begins immediately and can include up to 300 hours each year. They also stipulate a commitment to projects that relate service activitiy back to learning on campus.

Bonner Scholarships are currently available at 22 colleges and universities, and you may complete a common application to apply for one of them. Find a list of the participating institutions and learn how to apply at the Bonner Foundation website.


Since 1994 AmeriCorps programs have provided opportunities for American citizens to make a meaningful and major commitment to hands-on service. Through local, state, and national service programs, Americorps engages more than 75,000 Americans in intensive service activities each year.

As noted on their web site, AmeriCorps members serve through more than 3,000 nonprofits, public agencies,and faith-based and other community organizations, helping meet critical needs in education, public safety, health and the environment. The variety of service opportunities is almost unlimited. Members may tutor and mentor youth, build affordable housing, teach computer skills, clean parks and streams, run after-school programs, or help communities respond to disasters.

AmeriCorps members you’ll “gain new skills and experiences—and you’ll also find the tremendous satisfaction that comes from helping others. In addition, full-time members who complete their service earn a Segal AmeriCorps Education Award to pay for college, graduate school, or to pay back qualified student loans; members who serve part-time receive a partial Award. Some AmeriCorps members may also receive a modest living allowance during their term of service.”

In addition, as noted in the opening section of this page, There are currently 79 colleges that will match tuition awards students have earned through AmeriCorps.

Learn much more about Americorps' application process.

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service-oriented_scholarships.txt · Last modified: 2011/03/01 23:39 by admin