Scholarships & Grants for College Students
Higher college costs mean more debt. The average college graduate’s debt in 2016 was $37,172. This largely comes from student loans, but there are other ways to pay for college such as scholarships and grants. In fact, they covered 34% of college expenses in 2015-16.
Scholarships and grants are sometimes referred to as “gift aid” because they do not have to be repaid. Keep in mind that you may still need to meet requirements or criteria, such as GPA, for some scholarships, and receiving scholarships or grants outside the government may reduce your federal aid amount.
Types of scholarships and grants
There are many different types of scholarships and grants available. Students – and their parents – are advised to explore the full range of possibilities. Scholarships and grants are often awarded based on merit or financial need, and may be specific to the school, the student, and/or the student’s chosen major.
Merit-based aid is based on a student’s academic, artistic, or athletic achievement. It also goes to students who demonstrate leadership qualities or other abilities, such as extracurricular activities and/or mastery of community service.
Academic scholarships are often awarded by private organizations or by the school, and are based on high scores on standardized tests, a high grade-point average (GPA) in high school, or other forms of measurable, superior academic achievement. Some merit awards are “grade-blind” and are not tied to academic criteria, but to a student’s talent, ability, achievement, or potential. Grade-blind merit aid includes athletic scholarships and scholarships for artistic achievement.
Institutional merit aid typically makes up a small portion of a college’s financial aid budget, and awards are somewhat competitive. There are usually more applicants than available funding, and some schools do not provide any appropriate aid. Private merit scholarships are often awarded based on submitted essays and/or other application criteria outlined by the granting institution.
Grants for College Students
When an 18-year-old is worried about budgeting, you know the cost of college tuition is getting out of hand.
A new survey conducted by the Princeton Review says no. 1 concern among college applicants is that they will take on debt to pay for a college degree. In 2006, the top concern was that he would not be able to get into his top choice college.
The survey results point to a larger point: The cost of a college education has risen over the past decade to the point where even high school students are worried about it.
Tuition and fees to attend a public 4-year university in 2000 cost $3,508. In 2016-17 the cost increased to $9,648, an increase of 275%. College prices have risen at more than twice the rate of inflation.
If the same thing happened to milk, a gallon that cost $2.79 in 2000 would be on the shelf today for $7.67!
While the terms “scholarship” and “grant” are often used interchangeably, they have slightly different meanings: scholarships are usually based on academic or athletic merit, while grants are intended to address financial need.
Each year, an estimated $46 billion in grant and scholarship money is awarded by the US Department of Education and the nation’s colleges and universities. In addition, approximately $3.3 billion in gift aid is provided by private sources, including individuals, foundations, corporations, churches, nonprofit groups, civil societies, veterans groups, professional groups, service clubs, unions, chambers of commerce, associations and many other organizations. happens . .
As the cost of a college education in America has risen, the ability to pay for it has declined. Between 2007 and 2011, 80% of US households’ incomes decreased each year. Thus, scholarships and grants have become an increasingly important way to pay for college.
Need-based aid is intended for students from low-income families. To qualify for this type of aid, which may be school-sponsored or privately funded, students must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and demonstrate financial need to attend college.
The FAFSA uses a formula to analyze a family’s income and assets and determine financial need and the Expected Family Contribution (EFC). He compares it to the cost of attendance (COA) of a college or university. Individual schools often require additional financial forms to verify financial need, such as a College Scholarship Service (CSS) profile and federal tax returns.
There is nothing to lose by filling out the FAFSA, only a lot of money to be gained. Despite this fact, a study conducted by NerdWallet found that 47% of high school students did not complete the FAFSA in 2015, leaving $2.9 billion in unclaimed federal grant money.
Pell Grants are the nation’s largest need-based grant program and are awarded based on the FAFSA. They are funded by the government and administered by the US Department of Education. Pell Grants are generally awarded to students with gross family incomes below $25,000, although students with higher family incomes may still be eligible. For the 2017-18 school year, the maximum Pell Grant is $5,920.
The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) is another government grant program for undergraduate students with exceptional financial need; It is also based on the FAFSA. Each year, schools participating in the program receive funding from the US Department of Education and must contribute 25% of the aid awarded. Per-student aid can range from $100 to $4,000.
Help for women
Women earn only 37% of undergraduate STEM degrees (science, technology, engineering and math) despite making up more than 57% of the college population.
In an effort to increase interest in these fields, numerous groups offer scholarships to women pursuing degrees in those fields. For example, the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) awarded 230 scholarships totaling $750,000 in 2016. The Center for Women in Technology (CWIT) is another organization dedicated to supporting women in STEM. Students who apply can receive scholarships ranging from $5,000-$20,000 per year for four years.
Single mothers can also receive scholarships to help with tuition. Raise the Nation is an organization that provides scholarships and grants for single mothers. They can also help pay off student loans for those who have already graduated college. MyOrganicCompany, which sells organic baby food, awards a $2,000 scholarship to single mothers (or single fathers) twice a year.
Assistance to minorities and other groups
Aid for minorities and other groups is awarded to students based on individual, social or demographic criteria, such as race, religion, sexual orientation, family associations, place of origin, medical history, etc.
The variety of institutional and private student-specific aid is broad and extensive. For example, some aid is only awarded to international students studying in the United States. Some schools offer scholarships to students with disabilities. Some pharmaceutical companies offer grants for students with certain medical conditions. There are also scholarships for students with twins or triplets and for cancer survivors.
Additionally, scholarships exist for students who are part of certain ethnic or religious groups or those with ancestry from certain countries. Some aid is only given to students whose parents or relatives belong to a trade union, or have worked in a particular profession or for a particular company. Some scholarships are reserved for students whose families have some military connection or historical significance.
Students who are veterans of military services, or spouses or survivors of veterans, may qualify for college aid and tuition assistance programs administered by the Veterans Administration (VA) and the Department of Defense (DoD).
Because student-specific aid is awarded by such a variety of groups and organizations, it is important for students to explore each avenue of aid. Amounts can vary from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars or more. Each scholarship will likely have its own requirements and application deadline.
Career-specific aid is awarded to students who plan to pursue a course of study leading to a specific career, such as nursing or teaching. Some federal programs will forgive student debt—effectively acting like retroactive grants—for students who pursue a specific career or a specific type of public service after graduation.
Private and school scholarships are also available for students with more general career goals, ie those who want to work in specific fields such as government service, science and mathematics, culinary arts, finance, journalism, etc.
College-specific aid is awarded by individual colleges and universities to qualified applicants based on academic and/or personal achievement in various categories. Often, these awards are the product of gifts or endowments made by alumni of the school. They may result in “full-ride” scholarships, which cover all expenses for the recipient, or they may cover only a portion of the expenses.
Assistance for graduate students
Graduate students can also receive federal financial aid by filing the FAFSA. If you are employed, look into scholarship and grant opportunities offered by your employer. Companies will often pay their employees to pursue degrees or masters. They can also increase your salary once you get the degree.
Foster Care Aid
Tuition costs can be especially burdensome for those in foster care. That’s part of the reason only 10% of foster youth graduate from college. Fortunately, there are many private organizations and state programs that are available to children who are in foster care or adopted.
Organizations such as the National Foster Parent Association (NFPA), the Horatio Alger Scholarship, and Foster Care to Success offer scholarships and resources for foster children. The sponsored scholarship program is run by Foster Care to Success and connects foster students with donors.
How to apply for scholarships and grants
Applying for need-based aid requires submitting the FAFSA and any other financial forms requested by the college or university. Need-based aid offered privately will also generally require the applicant to provide sufficient and verifiable financial information.
Merit aid may be awarded based on a student’s initial application with no additional information required — especially if the award is for academic achievement — or may require a special application, audition, essay, or portfolio.
Athletic scholarships are awarded only by certain schools and are the result of a complex process governed by rules and regulations promulgated by the federal government and governing bodies such as the National College Athletic Association (NCAA) and the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). . .
All private scholarships and grants must be applied for through the approximately 5,000 groups and organizations across the country that provide such assistance. Each scholarship will have its own set of eligibility procedures, rules and deadlines.
Exploring potential sources of scholarship aid should be part of every student’s agenda. Each high school guidance office will have information about available scholarships and how to apply for them. In addition, colleges and universities provide information about their own financial aid programs through their websites and financial aid offices. Veterans seeking college assistance can obtain information from the VA or DoD.
Finally, there are many websites and books to educate students and parents about the thousands of scholarships and grants that can help make college more affordable. The US News & World Report says the best scholarship search websites are free, including Fastweb.com, Scholarships.com, CollegeBoard.com, CollegeNet.com and ScholarshipMonkey.com.