Scholarships are gifts, which unlike other financial help (eg. education loans) need not be repaid. Billions of dollars of scholarships are awarded to students by organisations every year to boost educational equality and to attract the brightest students toward them. While scholarships are a blessing, availing of one is easier than you think!
- There are four types of scholarships that are usually offered to students- Merit-based for students with academic, athletic or artistic excellence
- Need-based for the economically weaker sections
- Special scholarships offered to socially oppressed groups
- The ones that can be availed from your of your parents’ employers depending upon the company’s policy.
We shall discuss the importance of scholarships and how to apply for scholarships as you read further.
Why Scholarships Matter For Students?
Unlike education loans which leave students in debt in the early years of their career, scholarships are financial help that need not be repaid making it desirable for every student. A surge in the college fees and a major drop in economic growth rate along with an increasing cost of living and little help from the state are some other reasons why scholarships are becoming popular among students.
The ‘free’ scholarships, however, are desired by too many, hence the competition to get one of these is extremely high. Every institution offering scholarships has their own set of rules and timeline, which must be followed very strictly to avoid disqualification.
Let’s dive in a little more in understanding why scholarships matter for students.
How much is the average college fee?
The average college fees have been going up in recent years. As per the report by the National Center for Education Statistics, US the estimated total cost of a graduation course is $17,237 at public colleges and over $44,551 at private nonprofit institutions. The total average cost of college, for a 4-year course, falls between $70,000 and $180,000.
How does an average family pay for college?
It has been estimated by Sallie Mae that about 30% of the college fees are paid via scholarships making them indispensable. But why apply for scholarships & not an education loan instead, you ask? Well, there are two reasons.
- Firstly, the cost of student loans is extremely high. The cost of debt or the interest rate is an amount that a borrower pays the lender when given a loan. At the present day, 64% of families expect their children to pay back the loan after graduation, burdening an average borrower with a $37,000 student loan. In a situation like this, scholarships are a blessing.
- Secondly, scholarships offer you benefits beyond the money. Certain scholarships pay for not only your tuition but also, transportation, lodging, meals, and passes for many festivals, events and meetups. Some let you be a part of alumni circles which help you build your network and gain great knowledge.
Now that you know why scholarships matter for students, read further to know how to avail of these.
How to Apply For Scholarships?
While the exact requirements for different scholarships are different, some basic needs must be met in almost all of them. Check them out below:
- Find scholarships that match your profile: You must know that there are scholarships available for everyone. Find the scholarships that value majors that you are studying, the one that aligns with your career interest and co-curricular that you are interested in. Remember to check the government organisations offering scholarships but do not be disheartened if you miss them, there are plenty of private ones available for you.
- Write a great essay: A good essay will take you long ahead in the race to secure a scholarship for yourself. A prompt will be provided to you by the scholarship committee, make your essay appealing, unique and unique to win the scholarship.
- Recommendation letters are a great help: Scholarship committees are impressed if your professors, seniors or even colleagues have nice things to say about you. Request them for a recommendation letter and most of them will be happy to write it for you.
- Download your mark sheets: We live in a digital age. You will be applying to most of your scholarships online which will ask for PDFs of your mark sheet rather than printed copies. Make sure that they are readily available when you are asked for them.
- Keep copies of your standardised test scores: You must keep your SATs and ACTs with you while applying. A good score at standardised exams can help get the scholarship that you are aiming for.
- Provide them with a demonstration of your financial needs: Especially if you are applying for a need-based scholarship, you must keep your and your family's financial papers ready with you.
All or at least some of these requirements must be met while applying to scholarships worldwide. However, different scholarships have a different set of rules, and you must be very well-versed with them before applying. So, don’t miss reading the requirements on the website of the scholarships that you aim for.