Scholarships are grants, or gifts of money that do not need to be paid back, offered to students at all levels in recognition of outstanding accomplishments and/or financial need. In the United States, scholarships are most commonly awarded at the collegiate level.

There are two main types of scholarships: Need-based, or those granted to students who cannot afford full tuition, and non-need-based (also known as merit-based), which are awarded in recognition of academic, cocurricular, or athletic accomplishments.

Scholarships are offered by many groups and organizations. Most private schools and both public and private colleges and universities offer scholarships, and many private organizations offer scholarships to their members, children of their members, and local residents or other interested students who apply. For example, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation offers many different scholarships to students in need, as do local chapters of the Daughters of the American Revolution, Rotary International, and the United Negro College Fund, amongst others.

Many scholarships, especially those awarded for outstanding student accomplishments, are known worldwide. The Fulbright Program, George J. Mitchell Scholarship, Rhodes Scholarship, Marshall Scholarship, and Truman Scholarship are major scholarships awarded annually. Even the Miss America Pageant is a scholarship program, since its winners receive cash prizes to be used for their college education.