Most students can expect to receive $5,000 to $10,000 in scholarships, but that varies widely based on the cost of attendance at the school and how hard the student works on the application process. As you watch your friends approach the magical moment of high school graduation, their junior and senior years have probably been filled with talk of higher education, how expensive it is, and how important it is to get all the scholarships you can. If you’re a student just beginning your own journey or the parent of one, consider these points.
How Likely Is a Full Scholarship?
While the news is full of student-athletes and child prodigies heading off to higher education without having to ante up a penny, the reality is that this is extremely rare. College is expensive, and unless you are in the very top percentage of the most sought-after applicants, full scholarships are unicorns. Even if you excel in athletics and have a grade point average of 4.0, you still need a nice mix of community service, extracurricular activities, and a great story to tell to make yourself stand out against the hundreds of likely candidates you’re competing against.
While full scholarships are scarce, partial scholarships are much more realistic possibilities for most students. But you have to keep an open mind. You may not get the dream offer from your first choice school, but you may get a very enticing package from a school you haven’t given much thought. Also, remember that sometimes money doesn’t come directly from the school at all. Civic organizations, businesses, and professional associations offer thousands of dollars every year, and if you pick up a few of those, they add up quickly.
If you spend hours on your applications but you don’t get the large five or six-figure award letter, have you wasted your time? Not at all. Small scholarships of $5,000 and under can cover big chunks of your education, especially if they can be used for books, dorm fees, and other expenses besides your tuition. Plus the competition is generally less fierce because many students overlook the smaller awards or don’t think it’s worth their time to apply.
Everyone Should Apply?
Even if you’re not the captain of the soccer team or the super genius with the perfect SAT score, you still need to apply for everything you qualify for. Local scholarships are especially appealing because they often go to those with connections to the community. For example, your church or other house of worship may set aside dollars to help young people who are members. Your parents’ employer may offer scholarship funding exclusively to the children of employees.
Related: How to get a scholarship?
These type of awards are small, usually $1,000 or so, but every bit helps. Every dollar you receive is one more you don’t have to come up with out of your own pocket.
Consider the pursuit of scholarships a part-time job that pays commissions later down the road. If you apply for 100 but you only get 10, that might seem like a disappointment. But 10 scholarships of $1,000 each adds up to a big chunk of your college expenses taken care of.