NEWARK, Del.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Latest research confirms that 44% of families didn’t use scholarships last year to pay for college, and nearly three-quarters of those families simply didn’t apply. The reality is, there are millions of scholarships available to students of all backgrounds and interests. They key is knowing where to find them, and of course, when, and how to apply.
Sallie Mae’s Scholarship Search is free and home to 6 million scholarships collectively worth up to $30 billion. Students fill out a brief profile, and in minutes, the tool responds with matches that identify relevant scholarships, and their award amounts, application requirements, and deadlines. Last year, more than 24,000 students who used the tool secured at least one scholarship, covering more than $67 million in college costs. Sallie Mae also offers a Graduate School Scholarship Search, home to 950,000 graduate school scholarships worth up to $1 billion.
“Higher education is a proven pathway to upward mobility and figuring out how best to pay for it makes all the difference,” said Jen O’Donald, senior vice president, Sallie Mae. “That’s why we continue to offer free, best in class scholarship search tools to empower more students and families with the resources they need to access their education.”
Additional tips from Sallie Mae to help families secure scholarships for higher education include:
Start with the FAFSA. In order to qualify for a share of $150 billion in financial aid, including scholarships, students and families should complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as early as possible. Sallie Mae recently launched a free FAFSA application tool that helps students and families complete the form is as little as 7 minutes.
Don’t assume you won’t qualify. Scholarships aren’t just for athletes and valedictorians. There are scholarships for nearly every interest, hobby, or background. For example, there are scholarships for being left-handed, for wearing a duct tape dress to prom, and for creative plans to fight off a zombie apocalypse.
Scholarships aren’t just for incoming freshmen. Despite the emphasis on finding scholarships when entering college, approximately 50% of available scholarships are for students already enrolled. Whether a high school senior, current college student, or graduate school student, research and apply for scholarships each year.
Every dollar counts. Not every scholarship is going to provide a full ride, but every little bit helps. Remember: every scholarship dollar used to pay for college is a dollar that doesn’t need to come out of pocket or be borrowed. No scholarship is too small.
Avoid the scams. Never pay for scholarships, be wary of “guaranteed” money, and don’t be lured in by sites or organizations that charge a fee to access scholarship applications.
Sallie Mae recommends a 1-2-3 approach to paying for college: first, maximize money that does not need to be repaid, such as scholarships and grants; second, explore federal student loans; and third, consider a responsible private student loan.
Sallie Mae (Nasdaq: SLM) believes education and life-long learning, in all forms, help people achieve great things. As the leader in private student lending, we provide financing and know-how to support access to college and offer products and resources to help customers make new goals and experiences, beyond college, happen. Learn more at SallieMae.com. Commonly known as Sallie Mae, SLM Corporation and its subsidiaries are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.