Top Reasons to Apply for Scholarships & Grants

Alfredo Brillembourg
January 4, 2023

Everyone knows college is expensive. But one of the most surprising things to learn about applying for financial aid is that many students simply skip out on filing FAFSA. They assume their grades, family income, and other factors make them ineligible.

However, even if a student doesn’t believe that they have a chance of receiving a scholarship, they should still apply—and not just fill out the FAFSA, but also seek out private and institutional forms of financial aid.

Most students are, in fact, eligible for financial aid, including scholarships, grants, and work-study programs from the federal government and from private organizations.

Let’s dive into why you should apply for scholarships and grants—as well as a few other helpful tips on student finances in higher education.

Reason #1: There’s a Scholarship Just for You

First, there are a variety of different types of scholarships available. Some are more general forms of financial aid, while others are highly specialized toward specific students. According to Sallie Mae’s How America Pays for College 2022 report, there are merit-based, need-based, private, and college-specific scholarships available for every student.

Merit-based scholarships are awarded based on academic performance, while need-based scholarships are given to students based on their financial need. Private scholarships are offered by organizations of all stripes. These might be a local city council, a TV network, or even a fast food employer like Burger King. Additionally, college-specific scholarships are available through individual colleges.

The latter forms of financial aid for students, including private and collegiate (or institutional) scholarships, can be sought out just about anywhere. For example, one Facebook public group called The $cholarship Club regularly posts private and school-specific scholarships.

With so many different types of scholarships available, it’s worth it to apply, even if someone doesn’t think they’re eligible for financial aid.

Reason #2: And a Grant, Too

Second, there are almost as many grants available to students as there are scholarships. And if there’s one reason you should target higher education grants, it’s because they do not need to be repaid. That’s free tuition money in your bank account.

Additionally, the government is increasing the amount of Pell Grants available. According to CNBC, the Pell Grant program, which provides grants to low-income students who file their FAFSA, could increase to $7,395 for the 2023-2024 academic year. This means that more students in higher education than ever will be eligible for the program—and they’ll be receiving more than ever before.

Reason #3: College Costs are Rising

Third, students should apply for scholarships and grants because the cost of higher education is rising. According to a survey conducted by Education Advisory Board (EAB), the average cost of college tuition and fees for the 2021-2022 school year is $39,677 for private four-year colleges and $11,918 for public four-year colleges.

With the cost of college rising, financial aid like scholarships and grants is an invaluable way to help cover the cost. Once again, keep in mind that federal aid is only the first form of financial assistance available to students.

Reason #4: Scholarships & Grants Are the Tip of the Iceberg

Lastly, it’s important to prioritize scholarships and grants because they can open the doors to other more varied forms of financial aid.

According to the same Sallie Mae report mentioned above, other forms of financial aid for students include employer scholarships, aid offered to veterans and the children of veterans, and work-study programs—just to name a few.

Even if someone doesn’t receive a scholarship or grant, they might still be able to receive financial aid through these other sources. And even if a student doesn’t receive a scholarship, they may still benefit from the application process.

Applying for Aid Opens New Doors

Applying for scholarships can help students hone their writing skills, practice their interviewing skills, and become more organized. These are important skills that can help students in other aspects of their lives, even if they don’t receive a scholarship to help pay for their higher education.

Viewed in these ways, there’s no reason not to apply for scholarships, grants, and other forms of financial aid. Whether or not a student thinks they will be eligible, there could be a few unexpected forms of aid available to them. And even if there isn’t, they’ll learn a few important things about student finances along the way.

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