It’s no secret that students are becoming more and more dependant on financial aid to help them pay for their post-secondary education. With tuition rates rising at alarming rates, and student debt loads increasing even faster, simply thinking about the financial burden of attending university or college can be overwhelming.
In such an unprecedented environment, scholarships and educational grants that don’t need to be repaid are more important than ever. Imagine, receiving free money to help you pay for tuition. Sounds amazing!
However, as many scholarship providers and administrators will tell you, a lot of students simply aren’t applying for this readily available free aid. Many are discouraging themselves from even starting applications.
We’ve put together a list a 4 surprising, but common, misconceptions students have about scholarships, along with simple tips for how to quash them!
1. “There aren’t many scholarships available for someone like me”
Perhaps the most significant barrier facing students is a lack of knowledge about the existence and availability of scholarship awards. Many students incorrectly believe that scholarships are only available for those in the top one percent of academics or athletics. Students may tell themselves that their GPA is too low, or their parents make too much money, to receive any awards.
But the truth is, many students simply don’t know where to look to find information about scholarships, and as a result, have the wrong impression. Scholarships are awarded to students with all sorts of interests and talents.
It’s up to scholarship providers and administrators to clearly communicate just how many scholarship awards are available, and the wide range of eligibility criteria that exists.
Luckily, this can be easily accomplished. By listing all scholarships in one place, making it simple for students to find opportunities and their eligibility requirements, and highlighting those for which they’d qualify, students can see the wide variety of opportunities that are actually out there. They’ll quickly realize that everyone is eligible for, and can receive, scholarships!
FluidReview Tip: A great way to showcase a wide range of available scholarships is by implementing a central scholarship portal. There, you can list all of the scholarships that are available across your institution, department or organization, and dynamically match students to opportunities for which they’d be eligible. Contact us to learn more!
2. “Applications are too hard to complete, too much is asked, and I don’t have time.”
Students are busy people. Often times, they’re overwhelmed with coursework, extracurricular activities, and jobs. With so little time to spare, if they see scholarship applications as time consuming and difficult, they’re unlikely to apply.
But there are several things scholarship administrators can do to make the application process straightforward, simple and much more time-efficient:
• Only ask what is necessary: It’s important to reduce or remove unnecessary questions from your application, and only ask for the information you need to make a decision. If you do require a significant amount of information about applicants, consider breaking your application process into stages. In each stage, only ask for the information you need to move students forward. For example, don’t ask for a detailed resume until you’ve determined that applicants meet the basic GPA requirements.
• Use a common application: Many scholarships applications ask students to answer the same questions, over and over again. For example, if a student is applying for ten scholarships, all ten might ask them to submit a short bio. But is it really necessary to ask students to submit this same information multiple times? Definitely not. Consider using a common application form that allows students to submit their information once, and then apply to multiple scholarships using that single application. (This is easy using FluidReview! Contact us to learn more!)
Furthermore, try to help students see the quantifiable benefit of applying for your scholarship. For example, if an application for a $5000 dollar scholarship takes 20 minutes, the potential profit works out to $15,000 per hour! Not many people would be able to turn that offer down.
3. “Scholarship competition is too intense. It’s not worth applying.”
Many students believe that the competition for scholarships is so intense that they shouldn’t even bother applying. They’re discouraged before they even start.
This false belief is rooted in their lack of knowledge about just how many scholarships, and different types of scholarships, are out there. Certainly, there are scholarship programs out there that solicit thousands of applications every year, but there are also those that only receive a handful.
It’s up to scholarship administrators to communicate the wide range of scholarship opportunities that are available, the wide range of competition that exists, and make it easy for students to search through the requirements of each opportunity.
Listing all scholarships in one centralized place is a great start, but take it one step further. Beside each scholarship, publicly display how many applications have been submitted. Students will then be able to decide whether to apply to very popular opportunities, or to search for smaller, niche scholarships. They’ll also realize that not every scholarship receives thousands of applications, and that competition varies from award to award.
4. “Scholarships are only for incoming freshmen. I’m going into my third year, why would I apply?”
At many institutions, administrators do a fantastic job of reaching out to incoming students about scholarship opportunities, and incoming freshmen tend to be the most motivated when it comes to seeking out and applying for awards.
However, as students progress into the later years of their academic careers, the communication and motivation tends to fizzle away. Many students even incorrectly believe that scholarships are only available to incoming freshmen.
How can administrators reach these upper-year students and remind them to keep applying for scholarships? Try broadening your communication approach and targeting announcements directly towards upperclassmen. For example, mass email announcements are a great way to reach all students at once, and are likely to get a better response from second, third and fourth year students than that first year orientation newsletter.
At the end of the day, scholarship administrators are much more than cheque writers and money machines. It’s their job to help encourage, motivate and empower students to pursue their educational goals. With these tips, hopefully these common but completely untrue misconceptions about scholarships can finally be quashed!