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Top Ten Myths About Scholarships

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1 Top Ten Myths About Scholarships
Mark Kantrowitz Publisher of Fastweb and FinAid September 23, 2011 This talk was presented as part of a panel at the 2011 National Conference of the National Association for College Admissions Counseling (NACAC) on September 23, The session title was “The Myths Versus Realities of Successfully Applying for Postsecondary Scholarships.”

2 About the Author and this Talk
Mark Kantrowitz is Publisher of and, the two leading free web sites about planning and paying for college Mark is a nationally recognized expert on student financial aid and a member of the board of directors of the National Scholarship Providers Association Mark is the author of the bestselling book Secrets to Winning a Scholarship, which is available through in both paperback and Kindle formats Mark was quoted in more than 1,000 different newspaper and magazine articles in the last 12 months.

3 Overview Only Straight-A Students Win Scholarships
Most Scholarships are Just for Minority Students My Child Will Win a Free Ride with Scholarships I'm Not an Athlete, So I Won't Win Any Money Only the Poor Win Scholarships Only High School Seniors Can Apply for Scholarships Private High School Students Win More Scholarships $6.6 Billion in Scholarships Went Unclaimed Last Year Colleges Reduce Need-Based Aid When You Win Scholarships, So Why Bother? Searching/Applying for Scholarships is Too Much Work

4 Myth: Only “A” Students Win Scholarships
Reality: Students with better grades are more likely to win scholarships, but B and C students do win some Cumulative GPA on a 4.0 Scale High School GPA College GPA % Winning Scholarships % of Scholarship Winners (D- to C) 5.7% 1.3% 7.0% (C to B-) 7.1% 6.2% 9.1% (B- to B) 9.5% 8.1% 10.7% (B to A-) 30.0% 13.1% (A- to A) 18.7% 54.4% 18.8% But you can still win even if your grades aren’t stellar. Every scholarship sponsor is looking for the students who best match their criteria. Instead of academic talent, they might be looking for artistic talent or athletic talent or even something a bit unusual. One of Mark’s favorite unusual scholarships involves making a prom costume out of duct tape. That may seem gray and boring, but duct tape comes in many colors. The winners are incredibly creative and make amazing costumes. It’s a nice way of winning $5,000 each for you and your date. Above average test scores twice as likely to win as below average test scores. Average SAT is about 1,000 and average ACT is about 21. SAT >= 1,000 (9.2%) twice as likely to win as SAT < 1,000 (3.8%) ACT >= 21 (9.0%) twice as likely to win as ACT < 21 (3.7%) Two-thirds (64.2%) of private scholarships are won by students with SAT >= 1000. Two-thirds (68.3%) of private scholarships are won by students with ACT >= 21. Majors Also Matter. Students studying mathematics, engineering and the sciences are much more likely to win scholarships. Of students enrolled full-time at 4-year colleges, 17.0% of STEM win scholarships vs. 12.1% of students in non-STEM fields. More than a third of private scholarships are won by students in STEM fields.

5 The Race Myth: Only Minorities Win
Reality: White students win more than their fair share of scholarships, not minority students Race Percent of Recipients Percent Winning Average Award White 71.5% 14.4% $2,645 Black or African American 10.5% 11.4% $2,962 Hispanic or Latino 8.1% 9.1% $2,353 Asian 4.4% $3,170 American Indian or Alaska Native 1.4% 32.7% $3,967 More than One Race 3.4% 16.0% $4,891 All Minority Students 28.5% 11.2% $3,167 Minority students are less likely to win scholarships than white students enrolled full-time at 4-year colleges. White students are 61.8% of college population, but win 71.5% of the scholarships. Minority students are 38.2% of college population, but win 28.5% of the scholarships. This is probably not due to intentional discrimination, but rather because the sponsors of scholarships establish the scholarship programs based on their interests and values, and these criteria resonate more with students of the same race. For example, minority students are much less likely to pursue equestrian sports or water polo as Caucasian students and are more likely to major in business than in mathematics, science or economics. Geography may also have an impact.

6 Myth: My Child Will Win a Free Ride
Very few students win a completely free ride Of students enrolled full-time at a 4-year college 0.3% get enough grants to cover the full COA 1.0% get enough grants to cover 90% or more of the COA 3.4% get enough grants to cover 75% or more of the COA 14.3% get enough grants to cover 50% or more of the COA Of students winning scholarships, more than two-thirds (69.1%) received less than $2,500 Scholarships are part of the plan for paying for college, but not the entire plan Most students will have to rely on student loans and student employment to pay for college

7 Myth: Only Athletes Win Scholarships
1.4% of students in Bachelor’s degree programs received athletic scholarships in The average athletic scholarship was $7,855, a third of the total cost of attendance Athletic scholarships represent only 5.4% of institutional grants and 2.1% of all college grants Athletic scholarships enable students to attend more expensive colleges, but do not yield a significant financial advantage. Total institutional grants are $3,979 higher than for non-recipients, but the cost is $4,560 higher Men received 53.7% of athletic scholarships in (women 46.3%), even though they represent 45.2% of the student population (women 54.8%).

8 Myth: Only the Poor Win Scholarships
Reality: Middle-income students are more likely to win private scholarships than lower-income or upper-income students Most private scholarships are not based on financial need Full-time Students at 4-Year Colleges % of Students Winning Scholarships % of Aid Applicants Winning Scholarships AGI less than $50,000 10.6% 11.3% AGI $50,000 to $100,000 13.8% 15.6% AGI $100,000 or more 10.8% 14.3% Lower-income students outnumber middle and upper income students and are more likely to apply for financial aid, so the lower percentages are not due to self-selection.

9 Myth: Just for High School Seniors
There are scholarships with deadlines in every month of the year Deadlines peak in the fall and spring Summer is the low point Many families wait until spring of the senior year in high school to figure out how to pay for college, missing half the deadlines for seniors There are many scholarships for students in lower grades, even elementary school Continue searching for scholarships after you have enrolled in college Scholarships for students in younger grades (see because of COPPA). There are many scholarships that you can’t apply for until you have already enrolled in college. Fastweb automatically notifies students of new awards that match their personal background profile and will stick with them throughout their college career. The site assumes automatic grade progression.

10 Myth: Private K-12 Students Win More
Reality: Students who graduate from private high schools win more private scholarships, but not enough to compensate for the higher cost of private school tuition Only about $1,000 more in private scholarships 48.5% of private-school students enroll at private non-profit colleges vs. 26.7% of public-school students Type of High School % Winning Scholarships Average Scholarship % Receiving Any Merit Aid Total Merit Aid Public 12.3% $2,631 27.0% $5,700 Private 10.0% $3,463 30.9% $6,705 Higher cost of private non-profit colleges may account for the difference in amount of aid, with average cost about $4,400 higher (out-of-pocket cost about $3,500 higher) A private high school education does not lead to a free ticket to college.

11 Myth: $6.6 Billion Went Unclaimed Last Year
The unclaimed aid myth is based on a academic year study by the National Institute of Work and Learning (NIWL) NIWL estimated that $7 billion was available from employers in employer tuition assistance, but only $300 to $400 million was being used The myth is more than 30 years old, is based on an unsubstantiated estimate and has nothing to do with scholarships The only scholarships that go unclaimed can’t be claimed due to restrictive eligibility criteria The Zolp scholarship at Loyola University in Chicago is for a Catholic student born with a last name of Zolp. Most years they have a few students who qualify, but some years they don’t have any. Most years they have one or two students who qualify. But some years they don’t. You can’t change your name to qualify, as the Zolp surname must appear on your birth certificate and your christening certificate. The unclaimed aid myth is often used by scholarship scams that are trying to convince you to pay them money. Beware: If you have to pay money to get money, it’s probably a scam. Never invest more than a postage stamp to get information about scholarships or to apply for a scholarship.

12 Myth: Colleges Will Cut Aid, So Why Bother?
Colleges do displace private scholarships, but most colleges will try to ensure that the student gets some financial benefit Private scholarships first fill the gap (unmet need) Then some of the private scholarship money will be used to reduce the student’s loan and work burden Every college has an outside scholarship policy which dictates how the college reduces need-based aid when a student wins a scholarship Check the college’s policy to see how your scholarship and bottom-line cost will be affected Substituting scholarship for loans cuts your costs because loans have to be repaid while scholarships do not

13 Myth: Searching and Applying for Scholarships is Too Much Work
Searching for scholarships is the easy part Fastweb matches your background with scholarships It takes about half an hour to search the database Applying for scholarships is hard, but then so is applying for college admission It gets much easier after your first half-dozen applications, since you can reuse and adapt your previous application essays Some students don’t like essay contests and small scholarships, making them easier to win Other places to find scholarships: Look for local scholarships on bulletin boards near the guidance counselor or financial aid offices, or the library’s jobs and careers section Use scholarship listing books in your library or bookstore for random exploration Look in the coupon section of the newspaper Answer the optional questions on a scholarship matching service for twice as many matches Winning scholarships is easier than repaying student loans. Every dollar you win in scholarships is a dollar less you will need to borrow. Every dollar you borrow will cost you about two dollars by the time you repay the debt. Apply for every scholarship for which you are eligible to increase your chances of winning a scholarship. It's a numbers game. Even among talented students, winning involves a bit of luck, not just skill. Small scholarships also add up and add lines to your resume to make it easier to win bigger awards. But don’t apply if you don’t qualify. You might be a wonderful student, but if you don’t qualify for the scholarship, it is a waste of your time to apply. Scholarship sponsors receive far more qualified applicants than they have funds available. They use the selection criteria to narrow the number of applications they have to review.

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