Flickr user Joanna Poe

Flickr user Joanna Poe

Scholarships are the most well-known form of financial aid, and for good reason: scholarships and grants make up about 57% of all aid awarded each year. But just because their well-known doesn’t mean they’re always well-understood. Myths and misconceptions have sneaked their way into the conversations over the years and have muddled the truth about scholarships.

So we’re here to clear up a few of the most common scholarship-based myths that are floating around out there.

Only students with good grades get scholarships

True, higher GPA and test scores can help a student qualify for more scholarships, but don’t be totally discouraged if your grades are average or less than stellar. There are many different types of scholarships out there, and not all of them are academic-based.

Many scholarships are actually need-based, meaning they are awarded to students who are in financial need, and require some monetary assistance in order to pay for college. Need-based scholarships are generally non-competitive and are most commonly awarded by the colleges themselves as well as the federal government—so make sure you file your FAFSA!

Only high school seniors can apply for scholarships

College is often at the forefront of many senior-student conversations. As such, many talk about seniors applying for scholarships—but the fact of the matter is, you can apply for scholarships every year you attend undergraduate (or graduate) school, AND even during your high school junior, sophomore, and freshman years.

While there are a lot of scholarships that focus on graduating seniors, there are awards out there for students of other grade levels. You’ve just got to put in the effort and time into searching for them.

I should only go for full-ride scholarships

Banking your entire college financial plan on a full-ride is not the greatest move. Full-rides are relatively rare and highly competitive. And what happens if you don’t earn a full-ride? Do you have a backup plan ready to go? Have you been saving up, applying for aid, and comparing college costs? If not, you may want to start.

I should only apply to scholarships that offer a lot of money

Like full-rides, scholarships that award a lot of money are highly competitive. It’s a lot more appealing to apply for something that might give you $10,000 instead of just $1,000, right? But don’t ignore the smaller-amount scholarships just yet. Smaller awards are much more common and draw in less competition, which greatly increases your chances of earning them.

Scholarships are too competitive, I won’t win anything

Sure, some well-known scholarships are highly sought-after, but not all scholarships are competitive—or at least, not nearly as competitive. Scholarships with more requirements like certain GPAs, students of a specific racial background, students interested in a specific major, or even local scholarships awarded within a single school system, will make the applicant pool much smaller.

Also, federal and college-given scholarships are generally given out on a first-come, first-serve basis. Here, speed and attention is more important than direct competition or impressive accolades.

We hope by clearing up these myths is paves the way to learn more about scholarships and financial aid. By learning more, students are better prepared to create a college payment plan and will make better decisions about financial choices in the future.

Another great tool to help with college finances? College Raptor! With our free match tool you can discover personalized college price estimates based on your financial situation—for nearly every college in the country!