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

Many high school students are encouraged by their teachers and counselors to search the internet and apply for as many scholarships as possible. This can be helpful for some students, but it’s usually not the most efficient way to reduce your cost of college.

Private scholarships 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 compared to federal and institutional financial aid funds–including need-based and merit aid.

Charts showing that only 13% of gift aid earned by undergraduates students comes from private scholarships while 38% comes from colleges or universities themselves

In fact, private (outside) scholarships made up less than 13 percent of all gift aid awarded in 2013.

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. That’s because it’s not awarded until after you’re accepted to a college and receive a financial aid package.

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.

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.

Other institutional gift aid is awarded to students on the basis of merit AND need.

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.

Reach out to the college financial aid office to get more information about what grants or scholarships you may qualify to receive.

Olivia Pittman

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