Is it hard to get a scholarship? – CollegeOnomics (2023)

You hear of many lucky students who sailed through college on a full scholarship. Then you hear of others who are struggling to payoff their massive student loans. So does one have to be very lucky to get a scholarship that covers all college expenses? Is it very hard to land a full scholarship?

Luck has a role in everything we do, but to get a good scholarship, there are 3 prerequisites:

1) Apply for federal aid with FAFSA application and other state aid,

What is the average age of college ...

What is the average age of college graduates? – CollegeOnomics

2) Apply on time and much ahead of the application deadlines and,

3) Apply for as many additional scholarships as possible so you greatly increase your chances of getting a good scholarship.

So getting a scholarship is neither hard nor easy, it just takes considerable planning and a lot of initial work while applying for as many scholarships and grants as possible.

Dates, Aid and Applications

Is it hard to get a scholarship? – CollegeOnomics (1)

Some colleges in the US have extended the last date for submitting scholarship application from May 1 to June 1 this 2020. The date by which students need to confirm their college enrollment has also been set at June 1. For exact dates at your college, be sure to contact them directly.

Filling out the FAFSA application becomes available from October of the previous year until June 30th. But it is best not to wait until June and the sooner the FAFSA is completed the better. Individual states also have their own FAFSA application deadlines which can vary anywhere from January to June though there is likely to be some extension in view of the pandemic this year.

There are expected to be much fewer international students this year due to the global visa and travel restrictions. This will result in a huge financial loss for colleges who will therefore be unable to offer enough financial aid to their US students.

FAFSA Procedure

Applying for US scholarships starts with the FAFSA which stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. This application helps determine a family’s expected contribution for college and to figure out the eligibility for need-based aid.

Once you fill this application, a Student Aid Report (or SAR) is generated which will be required for receiving federal aid and when you apply for state scholarships. For more information on other college-specific scholarships, be sure to approach the college’s financial aid office.

Though the application can be filled on paper, or a PDF form or completely online, completing the FAFSA application completely online is the most preferred. There are lesser chances of errors online, and its faster and a student can list up to 10 shortlisted colleges online while the paper form has space for only 4 colleges.

For detailed information on FAFSA, refer to our article titled How to Apply for College Scholarships in the US. Also, FastWeb has several cool checklists, calendars and resources for college students and high school seniors as follows:

1) FAFSA Student Bulletin

2) FAFSA & Financial Aid Info – Towards the right of the page in the side bar, there are additional documents to download such as the Student Calendars and much more.

3) Evaluating Financial Aid Award Letters – The key takeaway in the award letters is that parents and students should consider their out-of-pocket expenses and not the net cost when comparing financial awards.

Also, there is no standard format for these letters, so pay close attention to each one separately. The last page of this pdf link also lists 10 Questions to Ask the College Financial Aid Administrators.

4) Financial Aid Tips – As for writing essays, FastWeb advises that if you find writing student essays hard (for the scholarship applications), then start by recording your answers loudly and then put those answers in writing and then further expand on them.

Some important financial aid tips include:

1) Start saving for college as soon as possible as they will add up and make college expenses easier to handle

2) Apply for as many scholarships as possible to maximize your chances of sufficient financial aid to cover all of your college expenses

3) Always prefer scholarships, aid and saving money to taking student loans. Student loans are a huge future liability and it is best to save as much money as possible to avoid getting into the trap of student loans.

Scholarships and Grants

Once you have your SAR report from submitting your FAFSA application, you can start to apply for many college scholarships, both on your own and upon referral from your chosen colleges.

Is it hard to get a scholarship? – CollegeOnomics (2)

1) Federal Grants and Work-Study funds

When you’ve completed your FAFSA and upon applying to a college, the college’s financial aid office with send you an award letter stating which federal and state grants you qualify for. The US federal government provides over $150 billion dollars every year of grants and other aid to students so this is the best option to start your scholarship search from. There are some grants which may involve work-study programs depending on the type of college that provides such programs.

For more information on the types of federal aid available, refer to the FederalStudentAid website.

2) State grants

The College Promise program is a state scholarship that could help pay the reminder of your college expenses that are not covered by a federal scholarship. So before you consider taking any form of loans, try your best to not take loans but instead search for state grants to cover the remainder of your college expenses. Here is a post detailing more about the state scholarships as part of the college promise program.


Starting in 2020, is offering a $5 million in scholarships to students as part of its Opportunity scholarships. 25 lucky students have already received this scholarship in 2020. The good thing about this scholarship is that students become eligible for more aid as they complete the 6 college application steps.

For example, building the college list is worth $500, the practicing ST is another $500, and culminating in FAFSA and the applying to the colleges for the entire $40,000 scholarship eligibility.

There is also a scholarships search and college search feature at BigFuture.

4) U.S. Department of Labor’s Scholarship Finder

This brings up a search of over 8000 scholarships that have something for everyone ranging from $1000 to $10,000 as a one-time award. There are also many awards for women, or minorities and so on and for just about everyone else too.

Be sure to also Explore Careers and take a Self-Assessment of your own interests and skills and how they would match specific careers. Compare different occupations to determine the type of education required for each occupation. There are also additional job search and training resources on this website.

The contacts for various state grants can be found here.

5) The Clark website

This lists many interesting scholarship options including the Fastweb college search and many more. Be sure to checkout this website and to apply for all the scholarships you’re eligible for here.


Getting scholarships to cover a majority of your 4 year college expenses is definitely possible with careful planning and by applying for scholarships and college admissions much ahead of time. So do not wait until the last moment, start early, write your SAT/ ACT early and get as much help as possible from your high school as well for your college planning.

Be sure to ask for help from your family and parents and more than ever, just be positive and confident knowing very well that you can definitely get good college scholarships if you stay focused and committed to finding the money for college.

It’s just a question of your intentions and interest and follow up work with scholarship applications. That’s just all it takes to complete college in a breeze with ample scholarship money.

Is it hard to get a scholarship? – CollegeOnomics (3)

Also, another important thing to note is that your careful spending and living habits while in college will help you to stay on budget and not exceed them. So skip the expensive housing, just find a good and comfortable housing, eat simple and healthy, focus on studies and less on shopping and you’ll be all set.

You have the rest of your life for the consumerism and shopping, so get on with college, keep it simple and graduate with zero loans and move on to a great career!


How hard is it to get accepted for scholarship? ›

Odds of Winning a Scholarship

Only about 1 in 8 college students wins a scholarship, and the average amount used to pay for college is about $4,200 a year. Very few students win $25,000 or more in scholarships each year (only about 0.1%). Among the students who win scholarships, 97% win $2,500 or less.

Is it possible to get enough scholarships to pay for college? ›

Many parents and students believe the myth that a student can fully pay for college tuition with just a few scholarships. Sadly, this is not the case. While scholarships can definitely be helpful and can go a long way towards paying tuition, it is extremely rare for it to cover the entire cost.

How rare is it to win a scholarship? ›

Full-ride scholarships are awarded to only about 0.1% of students (Wignall, 2021). Nearly just as rare are full-tuition scholarships, which are awarded to only 1.5% of students (ThinkImpact, 2021). A regular high school student may have the qualifications for as many as 50 to 100 scholarships (Dickler, 2021).

What is the #1 way to increase your chances for a scholarship? ›

If you apply to more scholarships, you will increase your chances of winning a scholarship. Often students dislike smaller scholarships and essay competitions. But these scholarships are less competitive, so they are easier to win. Small scholarships do add up and may make it easier to win bigger awards.

What GPA is good enough for scholarship? ›

Some scholarship committees only consider applicants whose GPA meets a certain threshold. Minimum requirements range from around 2.0 on the lower end to 3.75 or higher for competitive academic scholarships. Generally speaking, a 3.0 GPA or higher will give you a decent shot at qualifying for a variety of scholarships.

Can you get denied a scholarship? ›

Scholarship applications are rejected for a wide variety of reasons. Sometimes it is because the essays submitted weren't as high in quality as those submitted by other candidates. It can also be related to poor GPA, low amounts of extracurricular activities, neglecting to submit all required materials, etc…

What does the average student get in scholarships? ›

Scholarships statistics

The average scholarship award was $6,041 in 2022 — a 22 percent decrease from last year. During the 2021-22 academic year, 60 percent of American families used scholarships to pay for college.

How many scholarships should I apply for to get money? ›

The short answer is that you should apply to as many as you can, as early as you can. This means that you need to be looking early, and finding out when deadlines are. But remember, you don't want to make a career out of scholarship searching and application.

What percent of people get scholarships for college? ›

Over 1.7 million scholarships are awarded annually. However, only 7% of college students will receive a scholarship.
Public Scholarships.
MajorTotal Amount of Grant Aid Received
Computer/Information Science4.6%
9 more rows
Nov 5, 2022

What is the hardest type of scholarship to get? ›

A full-ride scholarship is the unicorn of scholarships. It's estimated that fewer than 20,000 students per year will manage to get one of these scholarships—that's less than 1 percent of the students who will enroll in college!

Who is most likely to get a scholarship? ›

Over 33% of private scholarships are provided to STEM students. The chances of a white student getting a scholarship are 14.2%, while the odds for minority students are 11.2%. What is this? The odds of a Black student winning a scholarship is 11.4%, 9.1% for Hispanic students, and 10.5% for Asian students.

What is the most difficult part of finding scholarships? ›

The main challenges of searching for scholarships are finding opportunities you are eligible for, as mentioned, and taking the time to search for scholarships. Though most students have a busy schedule, it can really pay off in the end if students can find the time to apply for a few scholarships.

What do colleges look for when giving scholarships? ›

Scholarship committees are looking for people who can communicate effectively and who showcase their leadership potential. Leaders are not only confident in their own abilities, but they know how to work as part of a team as well. They also know how to express their ideas confidently.

What are scholarship judges looking for? ›

Down in the nitty gritty, judges will compare GPAs, test scores, experiences, essays, in order to see which candidate is most suited for their scholarship award. After this step, they'll pick their winner—or winners, depending—and send out notifications to the lucky and deserving student.

How do you impress scholarship judges? ›

There are six ways to ensure your application impresses the scholarship committee judging your entry and how to win college scholarships:
  1. First Impression is KEY.
  2. Follow Directions.
  3. Essay Scholarships Must Address the Essay Topic.
  4. Showcase your uniqueness.
  5. Judges really like these qualities in applicants.

What GPA is required for Harvard? ›

The GPA requirements for Harvard University are between 3.9 to 4.1. You will need an incredibly high GPA and will likely be graduating at the top of their class in order to get into Harvard University.

Can you get a full-ride with a 4.0 GPA? ›

Getting a full-ride scholarship with a 4.0 GPA is possible, but it isn't as common as you might think. Most scholarships only cover a certain percentage of your tuition, so you will still have to pay some of the cost of college.

Do grades matter for scholarships? ›

While some scholarships are based on a student's GPA, most scholarship aren't only about a student's GPA. Rather, providers use grade point averages as a piece of scholarship qualification criteria (For example, the details may note, “Students must have a 3.0 GPA or above to apply.”)

What info should you never provide for a scholarship? ›

Students should never give out personal details or banking information when applying for a scholarship. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is! Warning Signs To Be Aware Of: Promises for a Low-interest Student Loan for a Fee.

What are two things you should never do when applying for a scholarship? ›

Here are seven mistakes to avoid when searching for and filling out scholarship applications.
  1. Starting Research Too Late. ...
  2. Missing Deadlines. ...
  3. Filling Out a Scam Application. ...
  4. Ignoring Scholarship Requirements. ...
  5. Bypassing Smaller Scholarships. ...
  6. Leaving an Application Incomplete. ...
  7. Making Errors on an Application.
Feb 21, 2023

What can stop you from getting a scholarship? ›

Six Things to Avoid When Applying for Scholarships
  • Paying for scholarship assistance. ...
  • Failure to meet the application deadline. ...
  • Failure to follow directions. ...
  • Failure to send in a complete application. ...
  • Failure to write legibly. ...
  • Failure to proofread their application.
Mar 9, 2021

How much money is considered a full scholarship? ›

And not just tuition—a full-ride scholarship also covers your housing, meals, books, lab fees, and sometimes even living costs. In money terms, it can be worth anywhere from $20,000 to more than $50,000, depending on your school's costs.

Can an average student get a full-ride scholarship? ›

Yes, average high school seniors and college students can win scholarships. There are many types of scholarships and knowing which ones to apply to can greatly increase your chances of winning a college scholarship.

What is the average GPA for a full scholarship? ›

Although a strong GPA helps increase your chances of getting a full-ride scholarship, you don't need a perfect 4.0 to be qualified. In fact, GPA requirements are most commonly set at a 3.0 average, with what's considered to be a "good GPA" typically being a score between 3.5 and 3.8.

Can you ask a college for more scholarship money? ›

Answer: Yes, you can absolutely ask a college for more merit aid. In fact, many of your peers will do so. And since this type of aid is given on a first-come, first-served basis, you will want to submit your request as soon as possible.

What happens if you get a scholarship and don t go to college? ›

Many times if the student has not enrolled in classes during those 12 months, it expires. In almost all cases, scholarships are put directly towards your college's tuition and expenses, rather than a check sent to you. If you choose not to go to school, it will not be put in a savings account for later use.

Can you keep extra fafsa money? ›

Any money left over is paid to you directly for other education expenses. If you get your loan money, but then you realize that you don't need the money after all, you may cancel all or part of your loan within 120 days of receiving it and no interest or fees will be charged.

Where do most college scholarships come from? ›

Scholarships come from a variety of different sources, including clubs, organizations, charities, foundations, businesses, colleges, the government and individuals.

How many scholarships do people usually apply for? ›

For those that want solid numbers, on average, many of the students I work with are applying for anywhere between 3-7+ scholarships, each, per week. Some weeks those numbers are much higher, and other weeks students are preparing or taking the week off to recharge mentally.

Is there a limit to how many scholarships you can receive as a college student? ›

There is no limit to how many scholarships you can get!

What is the easiest type of scholarship to get? ›

Some colleges, especially private schools, automatically consider each applicant for a merit-based scholarship, which is awarded during the acceptance process. These types of scholarships are often the easiest to obtain, since they do not require a separate application.

What are the two most common scholarships? ›

Common types of scholarships for college are merit-based scholarships, need-based scholarships, and athletic scholarships.

What is better than a scholarship? ›

Fellowships generally offer more money than scholarships.

Students use all sorts of financial aid to pay for college, including grants, scholarships, loans, and fellowships.

How do you find scholarships that almost nobody knows about? ›

Talk to your high school counselor. Use the Department of Labor's scholarship search tool to sort more than 8,000 opportunities for student aid. Inquire at the financial aid office at your college of choice. See if your employer or your parents' employers offer assistance.

What is the 5 strong scholarship? ›

The mission of the 5 Strong Scholarship Foundation is to increase the retention and graduation rates at partnering Historically Black Colleges and Universities by assisting in the enrollment and success of academically promising student leaders until graduation.

What are the odds of getting a college scholarship? ›

Odds of Receiving a Scholarship

What is this? 7% or 1 in 8 students are likely to receive a scholarship. Only 0.2% of students receive upwards of $25,000 in scholarships. 5% of students in bachelor programs got enough of scholarships to cover 100% of costs.

Can I get a scholarship with a 2.5 GPA? ›

The national average GPA is 3.0, which means that a 2.5 GPA is below average. Students with low GPAs still have options for funding their education, so do not be discouraged by having a low GPA as many universities and scholarship programs will still assist future college students.

Can I get a scholarship with a 3.5 GPA? ›

A 3.5 GPA will make it easier to find scholarships, but it won't guarantee you a scholarship. You'll also need to have good test scores and extracurriculars in order for your application to be considered. Nevertheless, there are numerous benefits to applying for a 3.5 GPA scholarship.

How much does the average student get in scholarships? ›

The average institutional scholarship award is $6,335. About four in 10 scholarship recipients received funds from their state, with an average award of over $2,362.

What is a good scholarship amount? ›

The average scholarship amount is $5,000 to $10,000 annually. These scholarships are typically available through the college you are planning on attending. Community partners and professional organizations offer them as well.

What percent of students don't get scholarships? ›

Report Highlights. Over 1.7 million scholarships are awarded annually. However, only 7% of college students will receive a scholarship.

Do scholarships verify GPA? ›

Many scholarships require a transcript to verify your GPA. What is a transcript? It's a complete record of all of your academic achievements. It lists every class you've taken, the grades you got and when.

Do scholarships check your GPA? ›

While some scholarships are based on a student's GPA, most scholarship aren't only about a student's GPA. Rather, providers use grade point averages as a piece of scholarship qualification criteria (For example, the details may note, “Students must have a 3.0 GPA or above to apply.”)

Do scholarships look at weighted GPA? ›

On college and scholarship applications, you will likely find questions about your GPA. Ideally, these questions will specify whether they want you to include your weighted GPA or your unweighted GPA. If the application does not specify which GPA, your default should be to list your weighted GPA as it is higher.

Can you get a full ride with a 4.0 GPA? ›

Getting a full-ride scholarship with a 4.0 GPA is possible, but it isn't as common as you might think. Most scholarships only cover a certain percentage of your tuition, so you will still have to pay some of the cost of college.

Can I get a full ride with a 3.2 GPA? ›

You're eligible for a large number of scholarships with a 3.2 GPA. While some may require a 3.5 GPA or higher, the majority require a 3.0 as their minimum. Apply for plenty of scholarships prior to (and during) college to save some money on tuition!

What major has the most scholarships? ›

The best opportunities might surprise you.
  • STEM Majors. For those who are unfamiliar with the acronym, STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. ...
  • English Majors. ...
  • Accounting and Business. ...
  • Teaching. ...
  • Future Scholarship-Yielding Majors?


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