5 Scholarship Benefits That Last Longer Than Cash

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1.04% to 11.98% 1

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Scholarship benefits might seem self-explanatory. These awards help you shrink your cost of attendance and afford your next semester or school year.

The benefits of scholarships for college span much longer, however — they could last a lifetime.

How scholarships can benefit you over the long haul

These five long-term scholarship benefits could be just as meaningful (or even more) as receiving a check in the mail and a pat on the back.

1. Lessen your student loan debt
2. Get a potential career mentor
3. Build out your professional network
4. Beef up your resume and LinkedIn profile
5. Gain an unforgettable experience

1. Lessen your student loan debt

Every dollar you earn via scholarships is one less dollar you have to put toward college tuition, books and other fees. It’s also one less dollar you’ll have to borrow — and repay with interest — via federal and private student loans.

It might not be possible for you to avoid loans altogether — after all, class of 2019 graduates left school with an average student loan debt of $29,900. Winning scholarships for college is a great way to lessen your debt burden down the road.

Say you borrow $20,000 in loans at 6.00% and repay it over 10 years. You’d have to fork over $6,645 in interest, according to our student loan payment calculator.

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Now say you earn a $10,000 scholarship and have to borrow only $10,000 at 6.00% — in this case, your interest charge would be a more reasonable $3,322.

You’d save more than $3,000 in interest thanks to your scholarship benefits. And with less debt to worry about after graduation, you’ll be able to focus on other financial goals, such as scoring your first job.

2. Get a potential career mentor

A scholarship benefit might last a year, or longer if it’s renewable. But if it’s a scholarship that includes other advantages, such as on-campus support, you could be in a position to find a mentor who will guide you for the next decade.

The UNCF/Koch Scholars Program, for example, awards up to $5,000 a year to African American students interested in entrepreneurship. It also matches these students with a faculty member, community leader or off-campus subject matter expert via its mentorship program.

So if you’re a business major, the right business school scholarship could pair you with a professional who can show you what it takes to make it in commerce.

Other scholarship benefits might feature less formal mentorship programs, but the opportunity exists anytime you win an award from a private foundation. Try to build rapport with the people leading the program so you can make the proper connections.

Like with all relationships, you get what you put in. Just remember that careers are all about connections, and you could make great ones via a scholarship. You never know how that benefactor-turned-mentor could help you down the road.

3. Build out your professional network

While scholarships can help you save money, they also can help you earn money as you begin forging professional relationships. Winning awards now can help you add peers to your professional network.

While hunting for journalism scholarships, for example, you might land awards that include out-of-town trips, off-campus lunches and networking events with fellow winners.

Anytime a scholarship benefits more than one student, you have the opportunity to meet a fellow striver, someone who’s also climbing the ladder in college and beyond. They too could be a long-term connection to commiserate with or even partner with down the road.

To make meaningful connections, apply for scholarship benefits advertised by professional associations. They typically include a conference visit, where you can rub shoulders with your regional or national peers. To get started, become involved with the local or on-campus chapter of an association connected to your field.

4. Beef up your resume and LinkedIn profile

If you’re still in school, writing a resume or filling in your LinkedIn profile could be something of a chore. You might be too young to list part-time jobs, summer internships and full-time work.

Scholarships make for solid stand-ins on your resume, at least until you have more career achievements to highlight.

If you’re asked about these financial aid victories during a job interview, you’ll be able to talk about how you took the initiative to apply for them. This could go a long way with a company that’s seeking an independent, autonomous employee.

5. Gain an unforgettable experience

As much as they can positively affect your future, scholarship benefits also help you make everlasting memories. You could win study abroad scholarships, for example, and discover your passions (or yourself) on another continent.

That’s the true benefit of a scholarship award that spans more than a semester or two — it might grant you an experience that could change your life.

With that in mind, expand your search to include scholarship benefits that include an experience — whether that’s volunteering in your community, taking on a leadership role on campus or traveling the globe. The rewards might not be obvious right away, but give them time to manifest accordingly.

As you start applying for scholarships, make sure you avoid common essay mistakes so you can put your best application forward.

Reap the benefits of scholarships

You might equate applying for scholarships with going to the dentist or doing the dishes, but it could help you afford the school of your dreams.

In fact, students and parents cover about 31% of college costs with scholarships and grants, according to an annual survey by private lender Sallie Mae.

Don’t miss out on scholarship benefits that could limit your student debt, further your career or help with self-discovery. Start by applying for scholarships that cater to your skills or background.

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