Getting into college is a huge victory. Paying for college… figuring out how to do so usually follows right behind that initial elation. Today, we’re starting small. We’re calling out scholarships many people often overlook due to their, well, size.
Here’s the thing: every dollar won via scholarship is one less dollar borrowed. Or, as Edvisors puts it, “Every dollar borrowed will cost about two dollars by the time the debt is repaid. So, effectively, a scholarship may be worth twice the nominal award amount.” The gist: smaller subject or interest-specific awards can add up to a lot of money.
Another reason to make the effort to apply for small scholarship — big scholarships tend to be very competitive. “Don’t just apply to free ride scholarships – apply to the ones that are $500 or $1000 as well,” Julie Fulton, owner and head of counselling at Mosaic College Prep. “Smaller ones, especially obscure small ones, have fewer students competing.” Smaller payouts can offset costs like books and supplies. Other scholarship avenues include:
Private Scholarships, also known as outside scholarships, are those awarded by a source in the private sector, such as a philanthropist, company or foundation. They’re generally smaller than college-sponsored scholarships, averaging about $2,500. According to a 2002 article from CNN Money, “Only six percent of college students receive [private scholarships], which means the odds of actually scoring a private grant run about 1 in 17.”
Feel like there can’t possibly be enough college scholarships to go around. Think again. According to College Board’s Annual Survey of Financial Aid Programs there are 2,200 programs and a total of nearly $6 billion available.
Colleges often offer myriad types of scholarships: academic, athletic, minorities, artistic, etc. Among these are academic/merit scholarships, which leads us to…
Typically national awards, merit scholarships tend to have the highest payouts. While some merit scholarships consider financial need, these are based mostly on rewarding talent. Use MeritAid.com to find merit scholarships at specific colleges. The school websites themselves also have valuable information regarding merit scholarship requirements.
Fulton suggests trying to find local scholarships. “Look at school, the library, your parents’ jobs, the Rotary club, chamber of commerce, all over,” she encourages. “These have a much smaller pool of applicants.” Even your high school guidance department may have local and regional scholarship opportunities.
Scholarships.com suggests applying to 5 scholarships in the following mix:
- Two national scholarships (eg/ Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation, Hispanic Scholarship Fund, Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, etc.)
- Three small or local/state scholarships (eg/ Central Massachusetts Community Foundation, City of Boston Scholarship Fund, The Girl Friends Fund Scholarship, etc.)
This way, you still have the opportunity to win a national award, while including smaller local awards increases your chances of success.
Scholarships reward the effort to achieve. By widening your scope and going against the current of students placing all of their eggs in one giant, privatized basket, you can walk away with enough resources to offset the cost of your education. As mentioned, it’s much easier to spend hours perfecting your scholarship applications than years paying off student debt.
Tune in tomorrow for: 10 Great Ways to Win a College Scholarship
Julie Fulton, owner and head of counselling at Mosaic College Prep
CNN Money: Secrets of the Free Ride
College Board: Big Future/Scholarship Search
FinAid: How to Win a Merit Scholarship
College Board/Educational Professionals: Local Scholarships – When advising on scholarships, think, and act, locally
CBS News: 4 Ways to Win a Scholarship
CBS News: 10 Great Ways to Win a College Scholarship
Scholarships.com: How to Win a Scholarship – From a Girl Who’s Applied for 300 Awards
Money: Tips for Winning College Scholarships
Edvisors: How to Win Scholarships
Money: Best Colleges