Financial constraints often come in the way of a student’s academic dreams. With rising education costs, many students belonging to economically disadvantaged sections find it difficult to continue their education. This is where scholarships come into the picture. Scholarships are monetary grants awarded to students based on merit, need or some other criteria to support their academic expenses. These scholarships make quality education accessible and affordable for deserving students by easing their financial burdens.
In India, scholarships are provided by the central government, state governments, public sector undertakings, private organizations, NGOs, colleges and universities. Certain scholarships are open for students of all categories while some are reserved for specific categories like SC, ST, OBC, minorities, etc. A common concern among General category students is whether can general category get scholarship .
Through this article, we aim to provide comprehensive information on the various scholarship opportunities that students belonging to the General category can avail in India.
Scholarships for General Category Students in India
The General category consists of all the sections of society that do not fall under reserved categories like SC, ST and OBC. In India, 50.5% of the population comes under the General category. This includes upper castes, minorities, EWS and other sections.
While quotas provide benefits for reserved categories, scholarships open the door for needy and meritorious General category students to fulfill their academic aspirations. Some key scholarships that students belonging to the General category can apply for are:
- National Means cum Merit Scholarship Scheme (NMMSS) – This central sector scholarship scheme awards scholarships to meritorious students of economically weaker sections from the General category. Students studying in Class 9 can apply for the scholarship which is continued till undergraduate level if the student scores minimum 60% in Class 12.
- Scholarships for Top Class Education – These scholarships are awarded by the central government to support General category students to pursue studies at premier institutions in India like IITs, NITs, IISc, etc. It covers tuition fees and other expenses.
- Post Matric Scholarship – Some states like Uttar Pradesh offer post-metric scholarships for General category students who excel academically but lack financial resources.
- State government scholarships – Various state governments announce scholarships for which General category students can apply provided they meet the eligibility norms related to residency, income, academics, etc.
- Merit Scholarships – Many reputed colleges and universities provide merit scholarships based on Class 12 scores and/or entrance exam rankings. These are open for General category students also.
- Sports Quota Scholarships – Academic institutions also award scholarships under sports quota for excelling in sports and games at regional, state or national level competitions.
- Armed Forces Scholarships – Colleges funded by the armed forces or defence sector offer scholarships for wards of armed forces personnel.
- Need-based Aid Funds – Some colleges provide financial aid from student aid funds to deserving and needy students belonging to General category.
- Corporate Scholarships – Many private companies and public sector enterprises award scholarships to children of their employees and for deserving students of underprivileged background. These scholarships are open for General category applicants.
- NGO Scholarships – There are several NGOs and charitable trusts which offer scholarships for General category students based on need or merit or a combination of both.
- Community Scholarships – Scholarships are also provided by community trusts, foundations, religious institutions, etc. for students of their communities. General category students can apply for relevant ones.
Therefore, there are plenty of scholarship opportunities that students of the General category can avail through government schemes, academic institutions as well as private organizations. The key is to find scholarships you are eligible for and apply well in time.
Eligibility Criteria for Scholarships for General Category Students
While each scholarship has its own eligibility norms, some common criteria for scholarships for General category students are:
- Academic merit as evidenced through scores/rankings in Class 10, Class 12, competitive/entrance exams, etc.
- Annual family income below a specified threshold (e.g. Rs 1 lakh, Rs 2 lakhs, etc)
- Age limit that is generally below 20 years for school-level and below 30 years for college-level scholarships
- Domicile/residence requirement of particular state, district, etc
- Specific subject specialization like science, engineering, medicine, commerce, etc for certain scholarships
- Children of armed forces personnel for defence scholarships
- Employees’ children for corporate scholarships
- Membership of community organizations for community scholarships
Therefore, the applicant must check that they satisfy all the eligibility conditions prescribed for a particular scholarship. Income certificates and relevant documentation need to be submitted along with applications. Concessions are sometimes provided on income criteria for persons with disabilities.
How to Apply for Scholarships under the General Category?
The application process varies depending upon the scholarship:
- Government Scholarships – Most government scholarships require online application through the National Scholarship Portal (NSP) with registration, submission of form and documents.
- Institutional Scholarships – Direct application has to be made to the educational institution as per their guidelines and timelines.
- Private Scholarships – Application process is as prescribed by the specific sponsoring organization which may include online forms, offline forms, interviews, tests, etc.
Some key points to note during scholarship application:
- Carefully read through the scholarship advertisement/notification to know all instructions and requirements.
- Provide accurate and complete information in the prescribed application format. attach required supporting documents.
- Submit the application form before the specified deadline. Follow up periodically on application status.
- Appear for any entrance tests, interviews as applicable. Contact the scholarship provider for any queries.
- Merely applying does not guarantee award of scholarship. Selection is based on fulfilling defined criteria.
- Students cannot receive multiple scholarships concurrently. So apply judiciously.
Major Government Scholarship Schemes for General Category Students
Some prominent government scholarships that students belonging to General category can avail are:
National Means cum Merit Scholarship Scheme (NMMSS)
This is a centrally sponsored scholarship scheme implemented by the Ministry of Education, Government of India. It awards scholarships to meritorious students from economically weaker sections of the General category.
- Students studying in Class 9 in recognized schools
- Annual family income less than Rs 3.5 lakhs
- Minimum 55% marks in Class 8 exam
- Appeared in Class 9 annual exam
Scholarship – Rs 12000 per annum (Rs 1000 per month)
Selection – Based on merit list prepared from Class 8 scores of applicants from each state.
Uttar Pradesh Post Matric Scholarship
This scholarship is awarded by the Department of Social Welfare, Government of Uttar Pradesh to promote higher education among financially weak students of the general category.
- Domicile of Uttar Pradesh
- Annual family income below Rs 2 lakhs
- 50% marks in Class 12 (60% for professional courses)
Scholarship – Enrolment/tuition fees + Rs 450 per month for hostellers, Rs 350 per month for day scholars
Selection – Merit list prepared based on Class 12 percentage of eligible applicants
Post Matric Scholarship for EBC Students
This scholarship is awarded by the Government of Maharashtra through the Department of VJNT, OBC and SBC Welfare. It aims to provide financial aid to students of Economically Backward Classes (EBC).
- Domicile of Maharashtra
- Annual family income < Rs 1 lakh
- Not covered under any other scholarship scheme
Scholarship – 100% tuition fees + Rs 1100 per month for hostellers, Rs 550 per month for day scholars
Selection – Applications screened for eligibility, selected applicants awarded
Swami Vivekananda Merit Cum Means Scholarship
This scholarship scheme is implemented by the Ministry of Minority Affairs, Government of India. It provides financial assistance to minority community students including from General category.
- 50% marks in Class 12
- Family income < Rs 2.5 lakhs per annum
Scholarship – Up to Rs 1 lakh per year including tuition fees and maintenance
Selection – Based on merit list prepared from marks in Class 12 exam
Therefore, students from the general category have quite a few government scholarship options at both central and state level if they meet the prescribed eligibility criteria.
Key Scholarships Provided by Academic Institutions
Reputed colleges and universities offer various scholarships, awards, fellowships and financial aid options for which General category students can also apply. Some leading institutional scholarships are:
IIT Merit-Cum-Means Scholarship
The Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) provide merit-cum-means scholarships for deserving students facing financial constraints. It aims to prevent meritorious students denied IIT admission due to lack of funds.
IIT Merit-Cum-Means Scholarship (continued)
- Annual family income below Rs 4.5 lakhs
- JEE Advanced AIR within 5000
Scholarship – Up to Rs 2 lakhs per year covering tuition fees, hall charges, etc.
Selection – Based on JEE Advanced rank and income certificates
BITS Merit Scholarships
Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS), Pilani provides merit scholarships for deserving students with high scores in Class 12 exams.
- Top 1% scorers on all India basis in Class 12 exams
- First rank students from each central board, state and ICSE across India
Scholarship – 25% to 100% tuition fee waiver based on merit
Selection – Based on Class 12 board exam scores
LSR College Merit Scholarships
Lady Shri Ram (LSR) College, Delhi University offers merit scholarships for its undergraduate programs like BA, BSc, BCom.
- 90%+ scores in Class 12 exams
- Annual family income below Rs 6 lakhs
Scholarship – 50% fee waiver
Selection – Based on Class 12 scores and income certificates
St Stephen’s College Financial Aid
St Stephen’s College, Delhi provides need-based financial assistance to its students facing monetary issues.
- Family income less than Rs 3 lakhs per annum
- Bonafide students of St Stephen’s only
Aid – Full/partial fee waiver and grants
Selection – Based on income certificates and interview
Thus, reputed colleges provide scholarships and financial aid options for their students including from the General category.
Key Private Scholarships for General Category
Apart from governments and academic institutions, the private sector comprising corporates, NGOs, trusts, foundations, etc. also offers scholarships for deserving and needy students. Some leading private scholarships are:
Reliance Foundation provides merit-cum-means scholarships under the Reliance Scholarships scheme to support higher education.
- 60%+ scores in Class 12
- Annual family income < Rs 6 lakhs
Scholarship – 100% coverage of tuition fees, other costs
Selection – Based on eligibility, aptitude test, interviews
Aditya Birla Scholarship
The Aditya Birla Education Trust offers merit-cum-means scholarships for deserving undergraduates.
- 60%+ scores in Class 12
- Annual family income < Rs 4 lakhs
Scholarship – Covers all academic expenses
Selection – Based on eligibility, merit list
The Inlaks Shivdasani Foundation provides scholarships in India and abroad on the basis of merit and need.
- 65%+ scores in Class 12
- Family income < Rs 6 lakhs per annum
Scholarship – Covers tuition fees, living expenses, etc.
Selection – Based on merit, extracurricular achievements
Narotam Sekhsaria Scholarship
Narotam Sekhsaria Foundation offers scholarships for higher studies in India and overseas.
- 85%+ scores in Class 12
- Family income < Rs 5 lakhs per annum
Scholarship – Covers all academic expenses
Selection – Based on merit-cum-income criteria
There are many more private scholarships spanning communities, corporate CSRs, NGOs, etc. which students from the General category can apply for.
Key Tips for Availing Scholarships under General Category
Some useful tips for students of the General category looking for scholarships are:
- Start exploring scholarship options well in advance based on eligibility. Create a target list of scholarships to apply for.
- Prepare meticulously for any qualifying exams required for certain scholarships.
- Gather all relevant documents needed like residence proof, income certificates, academic scores, etc.
- Adhere to all application instructions and timelines. Follow up regularly on application status.
- Leverage online scholarship portals which aggregate various scholarship options at one place.
- Being meritorious and having a strong academic profile will open up more scholarship opportunities.
- Having a well-rounded personality with community service experience, co-curricular activities, etc. helps.
- Consider education loans if required. Scholarships can help repay the loans later.
- Don’t lose hope if a scholarship application gets rejected. Keep trying your luck with other options.
Scholarships enable financially constrained but bright students to access quality education and achieve their full potential. Quotas and reservations limit options for General category students, but scholarships open the doors for them to continue their academic journey. There are ample government and private scholarships that students belonging to the General category can apply for, provided they meet the prescribed eligibility norms. With good awareness, preparation and diligent efforts, General category students have a strong chance of obtaining the required scholarships and funding for their studies.