Most students dream of going to college so that they can better themselves and improve their chances for career opportunities and gainful employment. Many also hope that they can get some scholarship money to help them pay the tab.
Although higher education is no longer limited to the privileged and wealthy elite, it is still too expensive for many young adults. For this reason, most rely on help from their parents, federal financial aid (i.e. student loans), and grants and scholarships.
Before you start seeking and applying for scholarships, however, there are a few common myths you should probably debunk so that you don’t go in with the wrong idea.
- Scholarships Negate Student Aid
This is not necessarily true. Receiving scholarship funds to help you pay for your education will not disqualify you from receiving financial aid.
In some cases, being awarded scholarships could reduce the amount of student aid you’re eligible for, however, so you should make sure you understand the rules. Just keep in mind that scholarships are preferable to student aid because you won’t have to pay them back after graduation.
- Age is a Qualification Factor
This is absolutely untrue. There is a common myth that only high school seniors and young college students can apply for scholarships. You may therefore think you’re too old or too young to apply.
This is not the case. High school students as young as about 13 can start applying for scholarships, which they will receive when they start college if scholarship funds are awarded. In addition, you’re never too old to apply for scholarships.
If you start college later in life or you return to school after an extended absence, there’s nothing to stop you from applying for scholarships. Your age will not be a factor in determining awards.
- You Have to Have aSpecial Talent or Skill
It’s true that gifted athletes and intellectuals are eligible for certain scholarships due to the things that make them stand out from their peers. However, there are also scholarship opportunities for students that may not be at the top of any given field or hobby.
For example, there are scholarships for first generation Americans. So if your parents emigrated to the U.S. you could qualify. There are also scholarships for redheads, twins, and vegans, just for example.
There are scholarships offered by major and even by interests. If you like to write mysteries, create greeting cards, or master duck calls, you might be surprised to learn that there are scholarship opportunities that cater to your interests and talents.
The point is that you never know what you might find when you start looking for scholarships, so it pays to seek out opportunities that may apply to you.
- Scholarships Will Come to Me
Even if you’re good at sports, you’re the president of the student council, or you’re the valedictorian, you still need to apply for scholarships. There are a rare few who are offered scholarships when they apply at Harvard, UCLA, or PSU online, but you cannot rely on this outcome.
- Getting a Scholarship is Like Winning the Lottery
Many students apply for scholarships, it’s true. It pays to keep in mind, however, that some scholarships are more popular than others and therefore incite greater competition.
There are also plenty of scholarships that go unclaimed each year because students don’t find or apply for them. Some have strict criteria that limit the number of students eligible to apply, but you definitely won’t get the scholarships you never apply for.