Merit Based. Made popular by colleges. They are the scholarships you receive for achieving a certain GPA/test score combination. The higher your GPA and test scores, the more merit money. And the lower…well, you get the picture. Best part is your college application serves as your scholarship application in this case as well.
Need Based. Once your FAFSA is filed, you'll receive a final financial aid package from the colleges you've narrowed it down to. You may notice, depending on how "needy" you are, that there are other scholarships listed in addition to your merit. These are need based scholarships, and are typically referred to as grants.
Other School scholarships. Yes, there is an "other" category. Oftentimes, colleges will have additional scholarships that require a bit more work--essays, interviews, etc. You can find these scholarships on school websites.
Promotional. You'll find a lot of these scholarships on FastWeb. Companies use scholarships for marketing purposes. By generating scholarship enquiries, they are at the same time increasing awareness of their brand.
Contests. Can be promotional as well, but they typically require more than just an application or essay. Scholarship contests embody a more creative outlet in finding and securing scholarships. Contests oftentimes ask applicants for their secret talent, a homemade movie, or original song lyrics to depict their qualifications for the award. Once again, look for these types of scholarships on FastWeb.