Myth: I Can Fully Pay for College With a Few Scholarships

Many parents and students believe the myth that a student can fully pay for college tuition with just a few scholarships. Sadly, this is not the case. While scholarships can definitely be helpful and can go a long way towards paying tuition, it is extremely rare for it to cover the entire cost. Join us while we discuss some must-know facts about scholarship and financial planning for college.

A woman holding several $100 bills to pay for college

Full Ride Scholarships are Rare

There are a number of full ride scholarships available out there that will often cover the entire cost of a 4 year college. However, the chances of winning one are very slim. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t apply for them or hope for one, but you also shouldn’t plan your entire financial future on the chance of winning one.

Full ride scholarships can be granted for a number of different reasons including:

  • Prestige
    • Such as demonstrated leadership
  • State-sponsored
    • Some states give various scholarships for achievements
  • Athletic
    • Certain sports and schools will grant scholarships if you excel in your sport.
  • Merit based
    • Such as high grades or ACT/SAT scores
  • Government
    • You may qualify for this if you are in ROTC or JROTC
  • Financial need
  • Ancestry/Heritage
  • Legacy

It’s important to note that fewer than 20,000 students each year will receive a full ride to college through scholarships. Which is about 0.1% of total 19.6 college students in the nation. (According to Statista).


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You Should Still Apply for Scholarships

Although your chances of winning a full ride scholarship are low, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take the time to apply for them and others. You never know what’s going to happen and even if you didn’t win a full ride, the smaller awards add up. They will help you cover tuition, loans, and other college expenses.

You can apply for scholarships by talking to your advisors and signing up for scholarship databases. These databases will have you complete forms related to your interests, achievements, and goals, and show you scholarships that are best for you. Just as with SAT and ACT test prep, you should set time aside each week to search and apply for scholarships.

Have a Financial Plan

Scholarships can absolutely help you cover costs, but it’s not likely you can fully pay for college on scholarships alone. Instead, developing a financial plan will help ensure you can go to school with less stress. There are a few different tasks you should complete including

  1. Complete your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
  2. Talk to your parents about financial options
  3. Think about work-study programs if available at your school
  4. Apply to scholarships
  5. Explore grants

After you’ve explored your other options, it’s time to start thinking about federal and private loans. You should also come up with a repayment plan if you do start taking out loans. Planning ahead will ensure you’re exploring all financial routes and keeping stress out of the equation as much as possible.

So How Can You Fully Pay for College?

Don’t be deterred by the fact that full ride scholarships are rare. There are plenty of awards you can apply for and they will add up. However, above all else, you should have a financial plan ready to go.

Get started by reviewing our free How to Pay for College Guide! It breaks down the many families and students can create an affordable college financial plan.

Additionally, you can find personalized and affordable college options with our free College Match Tool!



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