College Myth: I Have to Fill Out Hundreds of Applications and Essays to Try to Get Scholarships

Teachers and counselors encourage many of their students to search the internet and apply for as many scholarships as possible. Teachers and counselors push students to get scholarships — as many as they can. This can be helpful for some students, but it’s usually not the most efficient way to reduce your cost of college.

Private scholarship essay make up only a fraction of available financial aid

Yes, there are tons of outside scholarships, but they are typically only a drop in the bucket. At least, compared to federal and institutional financial aid funds–including need-based and merit aid.

Charts showing that only 13% of students get scholarships from private sources

In fact, private (outside) scholarships made up less than 13 percent of all gift aid awarded in 2013. On the other hand, 38 percent of all gift aid came from colleges or universities. That’s almost 3 times as much coming from colleges or universities, compared to private sources.

Most scholarships and grants come from colleges themselves

There’s a good chance you’re not even aware of the bulk of scholarship money that’s available to you. Colleges only send award letters to accepted students. Then, they receive a financial aid package. And don’t forget to file the FAFSA! Filing the FAFSA is how you open yourself up to these institutional scholarships.

There are scholarships and grants available for all kinds of students

Excited about potentially winning a $500 privately funded scholarship? How would you feel about automatically being eligible for $15,000 a year, just for getting good grades? You don’t have to a be genius to earn scholarship money from a college. Often, all you have to do is achieve a reasonable high school GPA and standardized test score–no additional applications required. Even if you don’t have the most stellar grades, there are plenty of merit-based scholarships based on other things, including specific majors and extracurriculars.

The exact criteria for these kind of awards will vary from college to college, but many schools offer grants even to students that fall within the average range of enrolled students on campus. Colleges also award institutional gift aid to students on the basis of merit AND need. In other words, students get gift aid based on both academic and necessary financial qualities.

Grants like these are not as uncommon as you may think, and are significantly larger than most privately funded scholarships. So if you become frustrated with applying for private scholarships, keep in mind that you may have already qualified for some institutional aid–you just don’t know it yet. Again, file the FAFSA and open yourself up to these opportunities! Yes, it takes some time, but it’s definitely worth it.

Have any questions or want to know what you’re eligible for before getting accepted? Reach out to the college financial aid office to get more information about what grants or scholarships you may qualify to receive. They’re a great resource, and who else would know more about financial aid?

Try our free match tool, you’ll be able to see the potential financial aid offered by schools from around the country.

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