How to Get Scholarships without a High GPA

 Contrary to popular belief, students don’t need a 4.0 GPA or higher to get scholarships.

Universities are looking for dedicated minority students who contributed to their community and are interested in being part of STEM organizations or mentorship opportunities. They want to see how diverse students face obstacles with resiliency and dedication.  While these qualities can be reflected in a GPA, they mostly shine through extracurricular activities.

As the Founder of IOScholarships, I found that the process of preparing and applying for scholarship opportunities was much less intimidating when I seek the help of mentors and other students applying for scholarships and careers in STEM. 

There’s no limit to how many scholarships students can apply for. I recommend students to apply to as many scholarships as they can.

Every dollar counts and the more scholarships students apply the less money they have to borrow. The average private and external scholarship can be between $1,500 and $5,000. But $1,500 is easily the difference between buying a laptop or not. 

There’s plenty of money that goes unused every year, students just have to search for it. Using IOScholarships allows diverse students to apply for opportunities which they already qualify for, and their ethnic and cultural background is valued.

Again, it’s a huge myth that only students with a 4.0 GPA can get a scholarship. Register at today. There are many just waiting for your interest regardless of your GPA. Happy hunting!

If you need more information to help you win big scholarships read the following article.

Find the Best Scholarships for You

Black student financial aid

These might be those based on your major and ethnicity. If you don’t have a STEM major set yet, you might concentrate on your extracurricular activities or community service. Getting organized helps you stay on track and gives you time to complete all the applications available.

Start by applying for your favorite scholarships and organize them with IOScholarships organizer. Getting organized helps you stay on track and gives you time to complete all the applications available.

Learn about the scholarship organization

Most of IOScholarships are awarded by a private organization or corporation. Take time to research the institution mission and vision so you learn what they might be looking for in a scholarship applicant.

Use a great hook

Having a strong introduction can help you stand right of the gate. Use an anecdote or a story which shows why you are interested in pursuing your STEM major. Starting your essay with a surprising fact, compelling anecdote or unexpected question can grab the reader’s attention and make a good impression right away.

Showcase how challenges taught you resilience

Detailing hardships can be difficult for you to share, but showcasing how you overcame those hardships (or plan to with the help of this scholarship) might be great to showcase how these challenges have taught you resiliency and grit.

Try to leave the reader feeling hopeful about your future by staying positive throughout your essay, even if you’re talking about hard topics or feelings.

Giving specific examples of how the award relates to your life is more impactful than simply explaining why you deserve to win.

Proofread and follow directions

Check the deadline, submission scholarship application and pay particular attention to the scholarship essay criteria such as word count. Ask a mentor to proofread your essay or utilize a professional proofreading service. Everyone needs an editor, so use a proofreading service to see what improvements could be made.

Founder of IOScholarships Shares Her Tips on Getting Free STEM College Money


Customize each essay
Scholarship judges can tell if you’ve adapted a previously written essay to meet their criteria.  I customized each application and use the beginning of my essay to showcase my unique skills. Remember, the time you are spending to tailor your essay can be rewarded with a college debt free future. Also, details are very important. Your essay might be very appealing but grammar mistakes and spelling errors can stand between you and a $100,000 award as careless mistakes can been seen as lack of dedication.

A scholarship essay is the most essential part of your application. This essay can either help you win or lose the opportunity to get a scholarship.

When writing essays for school, the most basic structure is: intro, body, conclusion. The same applies to a personal scholarship essay. A general outline for a scholarship essay should look like this:

  • Introduction: Open the essay grabbing the reader’s attention and why you deserve a scholarship.
  • 1-3 Body paragraphs: Tell your story such as what has been a significant challenge in your life and how did you overcome this. . Be sure to highlight things scholarship committees are looking for, like leadership skills, mentorship and community activities.
  • Conclusion: Wrap up your essay by restating your interest in the scholarship and showing how the story you’ve shared demonstrates your readiness for college.

Student writing essay


  • A hook that grabs the reader’s attention
  • Thesis statement (why do you deserve a scholarship?)


  • What has been a significant challenge in your life?
  • How did you overcome this?
  • What is/are your educational and career goal(s)?
  • What is/are your current educational goal(s)?
  • Why did you choose this particular college or university?
  • Why did you choose this field of study?
  • How will a scholarship help you achieve your educational goal(s)?
  • What is/are your long-term career goal(s)?
  • What will you do with your degree?
  • How will the scholarship help you in achieving your long-term career goal(s)?
  • Real-life examples that support main arguments


  • Brief summary of your key points
  • Restate the thesis (how the scholarship will help you reach your goals.

Submit scholarship applications early
Meet the deadlines and don’t wait until the due date. I followed the organizations’ application criteria. If the organization asks you to mail the application, don’t try to email it and if there is a maximum word count limit, don’t go over it. Most scholarship providers receive more qualified applications than available funds, so reduce your chances of being disqualified because you didn’t follow their requirements.

Treat the application process as a part-time job
The more applications you submit, the greater your chances are of winning scholarships.  I treated the application process as a part-time job dedicating 15-25 hours per week. I figured if I spent two hours applying for a scholarship and won $1000, that was like making $500 per hour; an AMAZING part-time job!

It was difficult at first, because I was putting in hours and hours in the application process before winning scholarships but it got easier as time went on. I wrestled with self-doubt. But don’t let the competition discourage you. IOScholarships help narrow your search. Results are generated based on your ethnic background and interests. Don’t wait, apply today!


Free access to scholarships that are perfect for you!

We offer thousands of scholarships and valuable resources for Hispanic American, African American, American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian Pacific Islander and STEM students of diverse backgrounds.

College Myth: Only Students with a 4.0 GPA Win STEM Scholarships