6 Scholarship Benefits That Last Longer Than Cash

 June 25, 2021
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Scholarship Benefits

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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.

But the true benefits of scholarships for college span much longer — in fact, they could last a lifetime. For example, a scholarship could limit or erase your need for student loans or potentially make professional connections that could help your postgraduate career.

These sorts of scholarship benefits can be much more meaningful than receiving a check in the mail and a pat on the back. Specifically, they can help you…

1. Spend less time working, more time studying
2. Lessen or avoid student loan debt
3. Connect with a potential career mentor
4. Build out your professional network
5. Beef up your resume and LinkedIn profile
6. Gain an unforgettable experience

1. Spend less time working, more time studying

Every dollar you earn via scholarships is one less dollar you have to put toward college tuition, books and other fees. So, a sizable scholarship award could mean that you don’t have to take on that part-time job on or off campus to make ends meet.

Working through college isn’t all bad. A federal work-study program or a paid internship, for example, could help fray your costs while also delivering a valuable professional experience.

But working while in school can become problematic if it detracts from your studies. It’s all too common, as 1 in 4 students have skipped class due to a job, according to our 2020 survey.

By securing monetary scholarship benefits, however, you might be able to quit your job and give more energy to your classes.

2. Lessen or avoid student loan debt

A scholarship dollar is also one less dollar you might 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, the class of 2019 graduated 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.

3. Connect with 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 Black 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.

4. Build out your professional network

While scholarship benefits 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 alumni 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 achiever, someone who’s also climbing the ladder in college and beyond. They too could be a long-term connection to collaborate or commiserate 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.

Read up on scholarships for…
High school students
Current college students
First-generation students
Asian students
Black students
Latino and Hispanic students
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program students
Minority students
Community service
Military service
Professional development
Single parents
Single moms
Out-of-state students
Studying abroad in Japan
Studying abroad in Canada

5. 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.

6. 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 that spans more than a semester or two — it could 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 think applying for scholarships could be just as dreadful as 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 25% 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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