Can You Apply For Too Many Scholarships?

Pile of 100 dollar bills.

Flickr user Austin Kirk

Many students hear that they should “apply to as many scholarships as they can,” which is solid advice! But what about the other end of the spectrum? Can you actually apply for too many scholarships? Is that a bad thing?

Too Many Scholarships Affect Financial Aid

This is sort of a “yes and no” answer. The problem isn’t necessarily the amount of scholarships you apply to, but the amount of money you earn from any scholarships you do win.

You’re required to report any sort of outside scholarships or financial aid to your college, so your institutional aid can be adjusted accordingly. Basically, the more outside scholarship money you get, the less money the school itself will give you.

While this may sound like a let down, it does make sense. Earning outside money means you have less financial need. The school, therefore, can focus on giving its funds to other, more needy students in order to pay for their higher education.

Financial Aid Cannot Exceed Cost of Attendance

Say that your college has a Cost of Attendance of $50,000 a year and you earn a full-ride scholarship and a few other outside aid that total up to $51,000? Do you get to keep the extra 1,000?

Well, it depends on two things. It depends on where that 1,000 came from, and it depends on the rules of that scholarship’s sponsor. Some sponsors will be all too happy to let you keep that extra cash to use for college-related things, but others might ask you to return their money since you’ve already got your costs covered.

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