The flashy big bucks of nationally publicized scholarships may make you wonder if small awards are worth your time. After all, $300 from a local American Legion post pales in comparison to $20,000 from the Coca Cola Scholars Foundation.
But financial blogger Adam Chudy (who graduated from college debt free) calls minor scholarships the “the hidden gems of the financial aid universe,” and here’s why . . .
- Easier to win – You have a greater chance of winning small scholarships because they often don’t appear nationally on websites like scholarships.com and fastweb.com. With fewer applicants, you have a greater chance of winning.
- Good value – Combined, multiple small scholarships have just as much value as bigger scholarships.
- Practice perfection –Your chances for winning scholarships increase with the number of applications you complete, providing you complete them fully and correctly according to the instructions that accompany each award. Applying for small scholarships gives you practice applying for the bigger ticket awards.
- Adds credentials – Each small scholarship you win adds “credentials” to your student resume. The more credentials you collect, the more impressive your resume will look to future award selection committees.
- Minimizes loans – Every dollar you win means less money you have to borrow. If you take a pass on applying for a $300 scholarship and end up borrowing $300 instead, you will have to pay back the $300 plus interest.
- Valuable use of your time – According to Edvisors.com, the hour you spend applying for a $500 scholarship with a one in ten chance of winning comes to $50 per hour.
- Covers overlooked expenses – Small scholarships can pay for books, travel, student activities and other often overlooked expenses that add up.
- Facilitates focus – Small scholarships also may save you from having to get a part-time job during school, allowing you to focus on studies, sports or other activities that you value.
Where to Look For Small Scholarships
Keep an eye on announcements in your local newspaper. Also, ask these persons or groups:
- Your employer
- Your parents’ employers, unions and/or fraternal associations
- Your church, ethnic groups or cultural organizations
- Local civic and professional clubs, including the PTA
- Your high school guidance office
- Community banks and businesses not part of a national chain
- Community foundations
Small Message, Profound Impact
Here is Greenville-U graduate Arley Cornell as he appeared several years ago when he and fellow classmates examined the sustainability of short-term missions projects for their senior capstone project. Arley, a digital media major, created a powerful little video to summarize their work. His video made its way all the way to top offices at World Vision, Open Doors, and World Hope. Here's another sample of Arley's little, but powerful storytelling: Water Changes Everything.