Is it worth your time to research scholarships for your college education? Is it worth your time to apply for scholarships? Are there any guarantees that you’ll win a scholarship prize if you go through the application process?

As a college student, your time is valuable. You have assignments, tests, and extracurriculars that need your attention. You may even work part-time to help offset the cost of college tuition and minimize student loans.

With all of this in the background, it may help to think about applying to scholarships in a way that considers risks and rewards. Winning scholarships, getting award letters, and depositing money into your bank account is great, but it will cost some time and effort on your end.

So, what are the real pros and cons of applying to scholarships while you’re attending college? Let’s consider both sides in order to empower you with the information you need to win scholarships (and decrease the burden of federal student loans, private student loans, and/or the cost of college tuition).

The Pros of Scholarships

          You don’t have to pay it back

The most obvious benefit of any scholarship program is the money. Winning a scholarship and decreasing your college costs are the fundamental reason why there are so many online scholarship lists, scholarship portals, and other scholarship resources available via colleges and universities and scholarship providers. In short, the money matters!

However, the most positive thing about scholarship money is that you don’t have to pay it back because it is not a personal loan. The money is yours and you won’t have to worry about getting a bill to pay it back at some point in the future.

          Lowers student loans and debt – helps you pay for tuition and college costs

Since you don’t have to pay scholarship money back, it’s a great way for students who qualify for federal student loans or other forms of financial aid to help pay for tuition and college costs. This is an investment in yourself as a college student, but also in your future because you’ll take on less financial strain in the form of financial aid, personal loans, or credit card debt (which has to be paid back at some point).

Ultimately, scholarship programs help you pay for college expenses now so you don’t have to worry about private loans, federal loans, or even parent loans later.

          Builds your profile – Earns you more opportunities

Another pro of winning a college scholarship is that it builds your profile and makes you more competitive for bigger grants and scholarships or opportunities such as student internships or employment openings. 

When a high school senior or a college student is able to say that they won a scholarship, it conveys many positive things about them. A track record of scholarship prizes indicates to any observer that you’re a motivated, driven, and aspirational student, likely with great communication skills. All of these wonderful things are assumed about you when you apply for other scholarship prizes or opportunities in the future, too. In the long run, this may be worth much more than any scholarship money you win right now. 

So, when should you apply to scholarships? Don’t hesitate to start now!

The Cons of Scholarships

          Applications take time

One of the disadvantages of applying for scholarships is that the process takes time. This is particularly true if you’ve never applied for a scholarship prize before. Time for any undergraduate student is an asset (we should note here however, that student loan applications, federal government grants, and other loan options take a lot of time, too).

Applying for scholarships is a skill that can be built over time and there is certainly an art to it. For most students, the first application they put together will not only take more time to write initially, but it will also likely require an investment into editing and revisions.

The good news is that the more you apply for scholarships, the better you’ll get at it. This will likely enhance your chances of landing a scholarship prize, too.

          Rejections will likely outnumber successes, but this doesn’t matter!

Another disadvantage of scholarships is that it can be a number’s game. It is exceptionally rare for students to win most prizes that they apply to. However, don’t let this deter you!

You can think about grants and scholarships like a batting average in baseball. When professional ball players get on base 3 out of 10 that they bat, that’s virtually a hall of fame career. Even though they fail more times than they succeed, it’s still an overwhelming success.

When applied to scholarships, this is a winning model, too. Imagine you applied to one scholarship per month and won two or three every year. When you finish college, you might be able to say that you won approximately ten scholarships (this is well above the college ave.)! Now, that’s impressive!

As we consider the list of scholarship pros and cons above, it seems clear that there are many more positives than drawbacks. What does this mean for you? Don’t hesitate to get started now and ensure that you decrease the amount of private student loans, financial aid, and credit card bills that you’ll have to deal with when you graduate college.

Summary

  • Winning a scholarship can help position you for a better financial future by decreasing private student loans, financial aid, and overall college expenses (this may also increase your credit score), which you’ll have to pay back after graduation
  • You don’t have to pay scholarships back. The money is yours to keep!
  • A track record of winning scholarships communicates many positive things about you. This may open other opportunities for you, as a result
  • The cons of applying for scholarships are fewer than the pros. Scholarship applications take time and you likely won’t win all that you apply to
  • Overall, applying for scholarships is worthwhile and the rewards heavily outweigh the drawbacks for your school or college journey