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Could you please tell me your experiences with your dc applying for college scholarships from websites like fastweb.  Are these worth investing time applying?  If you have used these, how much scholarship money has your student received? 


Thanks for your response. 

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The odds of landing a sizable scholarship via FastWeb are pretty slim, when you consider how they are open nationally, so many people apply. And these types of "outside" scholarships account for only about 6% of all financial aid awarded to all students in the U.S. annually. In contrast, scholarships awarded directly by the college the student attends make up almost 1/4 of all the types of financial aid awarded. (see the statistics below)


Also, the amount of "outside" scholarships earned is usually fairly small to the overall cost of college, and they are usually 1-time awards -- which can knock your student out of the running for the "inside" (awarded by the college) scholarships that are awarded to freshmen (larger awards and renewable -- so good for more than 1 year). The reason for this is that many (not all) colleges reduce the amount of they would have awarded to a student as an "inside" scholarship, by the amount of the "outside" scholarship.


You might want to check in to local scholarship awards to see if it's more worthwhile to apply locally, where the pool of applicants is much smaller, and so your odds of landing a scholarship are much greater. A homeschooler in our local group just landed a full-tuition 4-year scholarship to our local state university for being top student in last year's Mock Trial competition! :) So it can be done.


Not saying it's not worth your while to check out FastWeb et.al., but I think you might have a better chance at increasing scholarship money by using that time for test prepping to boost scores, and in researching for colleges where your student's test scores are guaranteed to land them good merit aid. That's where most of the scholarship money is -- at the universities themselves.


Good luck in your scholarship search! :) Warmest regards, Lori D.



Check out the chart on page 11 of this College Board 2016 Document on Trends in Student Aid:

33% = federal loans

23% = University grants/scholarships

15% = Federal Pell grants (based on FAFSA-determined "need")

9% = Federal Education Tax Credits & Discounts (based on FAFSA-determined "need")

7% = Veterans & Military grants (based on military service of student or student's relative)

6% = Private & Employer grants/scholarships

6% = State grants (based on FAFSA-determined "need")

1% = Federal Work Study  (based on FAFSA-determined "need")


So scholarships make up only 29% of the total financial aid distributed, 38% of financial aid comes from "free money" (grants and work study) that is awarded based on "need" determined by FAFSA, and the remaining 33% of financial aid comes from federal loans.


And then on page 14 of the same document, here is the break-down of sources for scholarships + need-based grants:

43% = University grants/scholarships

34% = Federal grants (based on FAFSA-determined "need")

14% = Private & Employer grants/scholarships

8% = State grants (based on FAFSA-determined "need")

Edited by Lori D.
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Generally, the odds are more in your favor to target colleges that give merit aid. After that, target scholarships from local organizations where the competition pool is smaller. Finally, if you have a student who may be truly nationally competitive, try the general scholarships.


In addition to the longer odds of winning private scholarships versus school scholarships, note that private scholarships will be considered a resource available to pay for college and often reduce the financial aid package you would otherwise receive from the school. (Generally they take away the loan portion first, but it could also reduce your grant money.) Obviously, if you don't qualify for aid anyway, this would not be an issue. However, many private scholarships consider need and you wouldn't receive those.

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