Use Scholarships Before Student Debt: there are Millions of Unused Scholarships Each Year!

This is a first for me.  Up until now I have written all the articles on my blog.  Today I have a guest post for you.  The post is written by Drew Cloud, the founder of the the Student Loan Report.  When Drew contacted me about writing a post about how to get scholarships I was intrigued.  My interest probably had something to do with the fact that I currently have three children in college, so this is a very important topic for me.  With student loans a big problem for many people I know that my children are not the only ones that can benefit from learning how to win more scholarships.  Drew offers some great ideas. 


By Drew Cloud, Founder of The Student Loan Report

Did you know that there are millions in unused or unclaimed scholarships each year? This is because students are not applying for as many scholarships as they could, and many of them just go without being awarded. With this in mind, it makes sense for students to apply for more scholarships so that they can get more of this unclaimed money. With trillions of dollars in student loan debt, there should be $0 in unclaimed scholarships each year. We need to work to make this happen. Why, you may ask? Here are just a few reasons that you should opt for scholarship money.

Why Get Student Loans That You Must Pay Back, When Scholarships are Free Money?

The biggest reason that students should be trying to get as much scholarship money as they can is because it is free money. You never have to pay a scholarship back. They give it to you, and it is said and done. With student loans, you have to pay them back with added interest. It seems like it would be a no brainer that students would want to get more in scholarships so that they could get less in student loans. In fact, many students pay for their entire education with scholarships and grants alone. It is definitely doable. If you have just a small gap after your scholarships are applied, you may even consider a work-study program to help cover the rest. This will help you to get your college education and still remain debt free when it is said and done, putting you a step ahead of most college grads out there.

Scholarships Can Also Open the Door for Professional Opportunities

Aside from offering a financial break, scholarships can also open the door for professional opportunities. Whether you need to get an internship or a job while you are in school, many companies offer first priority to students that have been awarded their scholarships. Keep this in mind when it comes to applying for certain scholarships. Don’t hold yourself back by only applying for a few. Each scholarship can be an opportunity for the future. Look into the scholarships that have a history of hiring people that have received their scholarships in the past. These may need your extra focus, especially if you are looking at the bigger picture of the long term.

There are Need Based and Merit Based Scholarships Available

Some people don’t understand that there is more than one type of scholarship available. Many parents drill into their children the need to focus on their academics because it will help them to get scholarships. While it is true, there are a lot of merit based scholarships that focus on your academic achievements, there are also scholarships available on the basis of need. If you are in financial need, but don’t have the immaculate grades necessary for certain merit based scholarships, apply for some of the need based scholarships. This is another great way to improve your chances of getting multiple scholarships as well.

Finding the Best Scholarship Opportunities

We talked about a variety of reasons why scholarships are such a good idea, but now comes the real task – finding the best opportunities for scholarships. Many students apply for the high dollar scholarships to get more of their education covered, but that really just places all of your eggs in one basket. It is a good idea to seek out multiple scholarship opportunities and apply for them. The worst thing that could happen is you could get rejected for some of them. Look for several smaller dollar amount scholarships, because these are often awarded to multiple people. Sure, keep your applications out there for a few of the high dollar scholarship awards as well, but don’t let that be your only hope.

Here are some keys to finding and winning as many scholarships as possible:

  1. Apply to as many as possible: This will give you the best chance at winning some scholarship money. Also, you should be able to use the same (or similar) application for multiple scholarships.
  2. Seek out local opportunities: Many students only apply for scholarships from the big brands they recognize, such as Coca Cola or Burger King. You will greatly increase your chances of winning if you seek out smaller, local opportunities that have less competition. Check your local church, businesses, and other organizations to see if they offer scholarships.
  3. Write a unique essay: Scholarship application reviewers will read thousands, if not tens of thousands, of essays if one is required. Don’t write the same, dry essay that everyone else will write. Try to think about a significant event in your life that shaped who you are today or some other story that can not only be interesting to read but can also highlight your traits.
  4. Utilize scholarship search engines: With the seemingly countless number of scholarships out there, it can be overwhelming to decide which to apply for. Using a scholarship search engine, like, can help you narrow down the options to ones that you are eligible for and likely to win.

As you can see, scholarships can really prove to be quite beneficial. There is no reason that students should graduate with tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loan debt. Before you apply for student loans for the upcoming term, make sure that you have exhausted all of your options when it comes to scholarship or grant money.   The more ‘free money’ you get to go towards your education, the better. There is nothing more overwhelming than graduating school and realizing that you must begin paying back those student loans that have just been stacking up over the years.

  2 comments for “Use Scholarships Before Student Debt: there are Millions of Unused Scholarships Each Year!

  1. Master_Duke
    August 3, 2017 at 5:10 am

    One of the biggest lessons and mistakes from my college days was not taking advantage of these scholarships.

    I read an article of a student who applied to scholarships all summer…guess how many loans she had after? None! What a smart way to do it!

    • Brent Esplin
      August 3, 2017 at 6:51 am

      I have even heard of some parents making applying for scholarships their son’s or daughter’s “job” during the summer after their junior year of high school. Most of them could earn far more applying for scholarships than working other jobs. Thanks for the input.

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