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 35% of college costs with scholarships and grants, according to Sallie Mae.
Although scholarship awards come with great short-term benefits, such as shrinking your cost of attendance for a semester or school year, consider these five long-term benefits as well.
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 2017 graduates left school with an average student loan debt of $39,400. But 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.
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. 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 might last a year, or longer if it’s renewable. But if it’s a scholarship that includes other benefits, 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, you could get paired with a business professional who can show you what it takes to make it in the business world.
Other scholarships might have less formal mentor-mentee arrangements, 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’ll get what you put in. Just remember that careers are all about connections, and you can make a great ones via scholarships. 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 scholarships now can help you add peers to your social and professional networks later.
While hunting for journalism scholarships, for example, I was fortunate to land awards that included out-of-town trips, off-campus lunches, and networking events with my fellow winners.
Anytime a scholarship rewards more than one student, you have the opportunity to meet a fellow striver, someone who is 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 scholarships offered 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, filling in your one-page resume 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 job interviews, 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, scholarships 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 benefit of a scholarship award that spans more than a semester or two. It could last a lifetime.
With that in mind, expand your search to include scholarships offering 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 these common essay mistakes so you can put your best application forward.
Need a student loan?Here are our top student loan lenders of 2019!
|1 Important Disclosures for Ascent.
Before taking out private student loans, you should explore and compare all financial aid alternatives, including grants, scholarships, and federal student loans and consider your future monthly payments and income. Applying with a cosigner may improve your chance of getting approved and could help you qualify for a lower interest rate. Ascent Student Loans may be funded by Richland State Bank (RSB). Ascent Student Loan products are subject to credit qualification, completion of a loan application, verification of application information and certification of loan amount by a participating school. Loan products may not be available in certain jurisdictions, and certain restrictions, limitations; and terms and conditions may apply. Ascent is a federally registered trademark of Turnstile Capital Management (TCM) and may be used by RSB under limited license. Richland State Bank is a federally registered service mark of Richland State Bank.
* Application times vary depending on the applicants ability to supply the necessary information for submission.
2 Important Disclosures for CollegeAve.
College Ave Student Loans products are made available through either Firstrust Bank, member FDIC or M.Y. Safra Bank, FSB, member FDIC. All loans are subject to individual approval and adherence to underwriting guidelines. Program restrictions, other terms, and conditions apply.
Information advertised valid as of 2/1/2019. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation.
3 Important Disclosures for Discover.
* The Sallie Mae partner referenced is not the creditor for these loans and is compensated by Sallie Mae for the referral of Smart Option Student Loan customers.
4 = Sallie Mae Disclaimer: Click here for important information. Terms, conditions and limitations apply.
5 Important Disclosures for SunTrust.
Before applying for a private student loan, SunTrust recommends comparing all financial aid alternatives including grants, scholarships, and both federal and private student loans. To view and compare the available features of SunTrust private student loans, visit https://www.suntrust.com/loans/student-loans/private.
Certain restrictions and limitations may apply. SunTrust Bank reserves the right to change or discontinue this loan program without notice. Availability of all loan programs is subject to approval under the SunTrust credit policy and other criteria and may not be available in certain jurisdictions.
SunTrust Bank, Member FDIC. ©2019 SunTrust Banks, Inc. SUNTRUST, the SunTrust logo and Custom Choice Loan are trademarks of SunTrust Banks, Inc. All rights reserved.
6 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Additional terms and conditions apply. For more details see LendKey
7 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
A government loan is made according to rules set by the U.S. Department of Education. Government loans have fixed interest rates, meaning that the interest rate on a government loan will never go up or down.
Government loans also permit borrowers in financial trouble to use certain options, such as income-based repayment, which may help some borrowers. Depending on the type of loan that you have, the government may discharge your loan if you die or become permanently disabled.
Depending on what type of government loan that you have, you may be eligible for loan forgiveness in exchange for performing certain types of public service. If you are an active-duty service member and you obtained your government loan before you were called to active duty, you are entitled to interest rate and repayment benefits for your loan.
A private student loan is not a government loan and is not regulated by the Department of Education. A private student loan is instead regulated like other consumer loans under both state and federal law and by the terms of the promissory note with your lender.
If your private student loan has a fixed interest rate, then that rate will never go up or down. If your private student loan has a variable interest rate, then that rate will vary depending on an index rate disclosed in your application. If the interest rate on the new private student loan is less than the interest rate on your government loans, your payments will be less if you refinance.
If you don’t pay a private student loan as agreed, the lender can refer your loan to a collection agency or sue you for the unpaid amount.
Remember also that like government loans, most private loans cannot be discharged if you file bankruptcy unless you can demonstrate that repayment of the loan would cause you an undue hardship. In most bankruptcy courts, proving undue hardship is very difficult for most borrowers.
8 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
|4.23% – 13.23%1||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|4.20% – 11.44%2||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents|
|4.84% – 13.49%3||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|4.50% – 10.11%*,4||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|4.25% – 13.25%5||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|5.85% – 6.99%6||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|3.95% – 9.81%7||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents|
|4.45% – 12.42%8||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents|