Scholarship Myths

There are so many different types of scholarships available these days and, naturally, almost as many scholarship myths. Some of us might be aware of the more commonly held beliefs about the variety and relative availability of scholarships, both local and national, but I was surprised to discover how many people are almost completely misinformed and stand a much better chance than they think of qualifying for dozens of scholarships, even several dozen in many cases and well over a hundred more often than you might think. Below are some attempts to set the record straight about scholarships and to encourage and inspire you to at least conduct a free college scholarship search at

  • You should begin searching for scholarships during your senior year.

    You can wait until your senior year, but it is really not advisable. If you do begin during your senior year, you should start as early as possible. Many scholarships have deadlines in January, so the sooner you begin the more you will have a chance at winning. Ideally, students should begin searching for scholarships during their junior year, around mid-year.
  • Scholarships are only for top scholars and athletes.

    This one is definitely false. There are so many scholarships that do not take grades or athletic ability/participation into consideration whatsoever and some, while they do consider your GPA, the minimum may be 2.5, rather than 4.0. A lot of high school students have, or can achieve, a 2.5 GPA.
  • You have to be a great essay writer to get one.

    Not so. Often, it is more about what you write than how well it is written. Whether you follow the instructions and address the essay question is often more crucial to your success than how eloquently you write.
  • You have to be a high school student to win a scholarship.

    Many scholarships are for undergraduate students and those no longer in school at all. There are also scholarships for graduate students. You definitely don't need to be in high school to qualify.
  • Most scholarship awards are small and not worth the effort of applying.

    What is small? $1,000? If you win 7 or 8 scholarships that range from $1,000 to $5,000, you could pay for a good deal of your first year in college. Every dollar you are awarded is a LOT more than a dollar you save when you graduate and that money must be repaid with interest if you have to take out loans for 100% of your educational expenses. Sure, you may not pay for ALL of your school with scholarships, but even $3,000 or $4,000 per year would be a big help. Just apply to two or three dozen of them to increase the odds you'll win at least one or two.
  • Scholarships are all heavily weighted towards minorities and those with documented financial need.

    There are scholarships for minorities and those with documented financial need, sure. But there are a lot of scholarships that don't take either of those into consideration. The best way to find out what scholarships you qualify for is to complete a profile on and let US match the scholarships for YOU based on who you are and what your interests, talents and academic credentials are.
  • Scholarship competition is too intense. It's not worth bothering.

    Sure there is competition. But so many of those applying don't take the time to properly read or follow the rules and answer the questions thoughtfully, or even correctly. Do everything correctly and you could be one of a small percentage of applicants who even gets considered. Here's another way to look at it. What if you spent a total of 50 hours searching and applying for scholarships? And, after all that time and effort, you win two or three scholarships, totalling about $2,000. That's $40 per hour, which is at least 4 to 5 times more than you can expect to get paid for doing pretty much any other activity or "job". And that doesn't even include the interest you'd be paying on that money, had you been forced to borrow it from a lender. Apply for as many scholarships as you can and you are bound to win something, provided you make sure to do everything you are asked and follow all of each scholarship provider's instructions.
  • Finding scholarships takes forever and you’re ineligible for 90% of what you find.

    Not with Set aside twenty minutes and complete a profile and we'll show you which scholarships you are eligible for. Now it's just a matter of reading each description and contacting each award provider as instructed by that particular scholarship provider. This is key. As mentioned earlier, if you don't follow the rules, you are probably just going to waste your time applying. Do it right if you want to win.
  • The scholarship application process is a one-time thing.

    Not so. Each year, you need to look for money for the next and, as stated earlier, there is money out there for all of you. High school seniors, college sophomores, graduate students. It's worth searching before the first of January each year to see what is out there.
  • Billions of dollars in scholarship funds go unawarded each year.

    This is a common one, maybe the most common. Sure, there may be a few scholarships that go unawarded each year, it's hard to know for sure, there are so many out there. We have heard this claim roundly rejected time and again, sometimes even countered with a claim that would be hard to back up. The claim that no scholarship money whatsoever goes unawarded might be a bit broad and absolute to actually be 100% accurate. However, you can rest assured it is not some staggering figure, but probably just a few scholarships here and there that don't get marketed to the very specific audience for whom they were founded. This is just something a scholarship scammer might say to tempt you to using their paid service. Never pay to find financial aid for college. You can find it totally free at

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Last Reviewed: March 2018