You've heard the news stories millions of dollars in scholarships go unclaimed every year because no one applies for them. Is that true?
I can't say I have first hand knowledge of millions in unclaimed scholarships. What I do know is that I have searched through scores of scholarships that have eligibility requirements so narrow that none of the families I have helped qualified to even apply.
For example, there are scholarships offered to residents of certain counties in the USA, and/or with a specific ethnicity, and/or who plan to farm, and/or are of a particularly impoverished class of families. I know personally of a political organization in one North Carolina county that offers a one-time, $500 scholarship to a deserving resident of that county whose family subscribes to a similar political philosophy. In that, mostly rural county only a few dozen students may meet the eligibility requirements.
Nevertheless, how would even those few know about the opportunity? The most likely source of information is the guidance office at their high school. That, in fact, is the biggest hint we can offer. Check with your school guidance office about private scholarships that are offered. They will know about nearly all of the possibilities.
Next fact about scholarships:
- a private scholarship accepted must be claimed on FAFSA
- it may reduce the amount of financial aid your student will be offered
- any offered directly from the college itself (more properly called grant-in-aid) will not otherwise reduce financial aid eligibility because it is part of the financial aid award.
Are we talking about "six of one and half-dozen of the other"? Perhaps, but let's look at an example. If a student/family's eligibility for financial aid is $8,000 and a private, $1,000 scholarship is awarded to the student, the financial aid award may be reduce by as much as the full amount of the scholarship. Therefore, that family could not count on total assistance of $9,000 (the college's aid offer plus the private scholarship), but only $8,000, total.
Given all of that, should you even bother to look for private scholarships? Yes, your student should. Notice, we recommend that your student look.
- The work may pay an equivalent "dollar per hour" result that is justifiable for your student, but not for the value of your time.
- The process will help college become "real" for your student, and will give them some "sweat equity" in the endeavor.
- Your student probably has greater facility using the internet than you do, and through the internet is where the opportunity resides.
Your high school guidance office will have a resource list for searching out private scholarship opportunities. Also, check with your employer, your student's employer, your church, fraternal, political and civic organizations in your community.
Ask the colleges where you student is applying what competitive scholarship opportunities may be options.