2 Worst Places to Look for College Cash

This week I intend to share with you a few of the money saving tips in my new eBook, Shrinking the Cost of Colleges: 152 Tips to Cut the Price of a Bachelor’s Degree. Inside the eBook, you’ll find the best sources of college cash.

Here’s Lesson No. 1: One of the most important things you can do to shrink college costs is to know what the best and worst places are for college cash.

Here’s the good news: two-thirds of all full-time college students ultimately snag some of this cash through college grants. College grants are the best kind of aid to receive because it’s free money. You don’t have to pay it back.

How does your child qualify for these grants or scholarships? Unfortunately, many families tend to look in the wrong places for help with paying for college.

Families often assume that the ticket to slashing college costs is the win a private college scholarship. Others hope their teenage jocks will win an athletic scholarship.

Here’s your wake-up call on these two sources of college cash:

Private scholarships. A mere 7% or so of college grants come from private scholarships. These are the scholarships that organizations like the Rotary Club, Kiwanis Club, corporations and charities dole out.  The average private scholarship is worth a mere $2,500 and it’s rarely renewable.

Athletic scholarships. Only about 2% of high school athletes, roughly 130,000 students, win a Division I or II college athletic scholarships.

The average sports scholarship is worth $10,400. And these athletic scholarships are not guaranteed for four years! Athletic scholarships are renewable at the discretion of coaches.  Here’s a horror story that I just stumbled across today about a student at the University of Missouri (my alma mater)  losing his athletic scholarship when a new crop of prospects showed up.

So where is the big money? That’s the subject for my next blog post.

Lynn O’Shaughnessy is the author of The College Solution and she also wrote the new eBook, Shrinking the Cost of College, which is currently on sale . Follow her on Twitter.

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  1. Lynn,

    I especially like your point about athletic scholarships. Yes, sports scholarships only go to a small percentage of students, they’re not huge not guaranteed for four years. Yet somehow they still offer this powerful, irrational incentive to athletic students and their families to put all their eggs in the “sports basket”: at their kids’ peril!

    In my practice, parents often apologize about their kid’s grades, then quickly say, “But he’s a great athlete and we’re hoping that can be his ace in the hole.” They are hoping that his athletic prowess will get him accepted AND get him money! A tall order! They are usually wrong on both counts. And the worst part is, all the time that has been devoted to sports has siphoned off time that could have been spent studying to earn a strong GPA.

    At the end of the day, admissions people care more about a student’s high school grades than any extra-curricular activity. In our sports-crazed culture, where kids join traveling soccer teams in third grade, why is it so hard to understand that colleges actually want kids who know how to study? It is, after all, college!

    So, pursuing the athletic scholarship mirage is not only ineffective for getting money, it can be a distraction that is hazardous to a student’s academic record.