Shelf Life

Excerpt: Secrets To Winning a Scholarship

Christina Huh Apr 15, 2011

The following excerpt is from “Secrets To Winning a Scholarship.” Listen to an interview with Mark Kantrowitz and learn more about the book.

Very Few Students Win a Completely Free Ride

Very few students receive enough need-based and non-need-based grants to cover all college costs. Of students enrolled full-time at four-year colleges in 2007-08, only 0.3% received enough grants (including federal and state grants, institutional grants and private scholarships) to cover the full cost of attendance. Only 1.0% received enough grants to cover 90% or more of the cost of attendance; 3.4%, to cover 75% or more of the cost of attendance; and 14.3%, to cover more than half the cost of attendance.

Roughly 0.2% of students enrolled full-time at four-year colleges used private scholarships totaling more than $15,000, 0.7% used scholarships totaling more than $10,000, 1.8% used scholarships totaling more than $5,000 and 4.1% used scholarships totaling more than $2,500. Of the students winning scholarships, more than two-thirds (69.1%) used less than $2,500, representing roughly 9.2% of students enrolled full-time at four-year colleges.

This means that fewer than 20,000 students a year receive a completely free ride when one counts all types of grants, not just private scholarships. There are fewer than 250 private scholarships that provide enough money on their own to cover all college costs.
Most full-tuition scholarships are awarded by less-popular colleges to attract talented students and meet enrollment goals.

But don’t get discouraged. Winning scholarships is still an important part of your plan for paying for college. Every dollar you win in scholarships is a dollar less you have to borrow. Winning scholarships enables you to choose the college that is the best match for you, even if it happens to cost more than a less prestigious institution. And perhaps you’ll be one of the few students each year who wins a gazillion dollars for college.

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