With the sky-high cost of a college education in 2018, both aspiring and current students are willing to go to great measures to get a bachelor's degree.

Juggling the stresses of academia and the working world, some college students will hold a job, or multiple, throughout their college tenures. 

Of course, student loans are also a popular method to pay for college. According to The Student Loan Report, roughly 70 percent of college students take out loans at some point during their time at college. Furthermore, the average student debtor owes $27,975 in educational loans.

​However, holding a job in college means you ​​take valuable time away from your studies. And if you take on student loan debt, it needs to be repaid eventually.

However, there is a third method for affording higher education that doesn't require repayment nor long work hours: scholarships.

Scholarships are a terrific tool for college students on shoestring budgets looking to complete their education. Different types of scholarships consider various factors including ethnicity, area of study, income level, and many other fields. The great thing about scholarships is that they do not need to be paid back, meaning the money goes straight towards cutting the recipient's college costs.

Surveying 1,000 current four-year college students, The Student Loan Report ​​uncovered some interesting findings ​about the current state of college scholarships.

Before College, Most Students Apply for Scholarships, Not as Many Win

1. Before you started college, did you apply for scholarships as a way to pay for your degree?

84.5 percent of current four-year college students did apply for scholarships before starting college.

2. Did you ​win any of the scholarships you applied for before starting college?

Of those ​who did apply for a scholarship before starting college, 55.86 percent won at least one of the scholarships that they applied for. 

It's encouraging to see that so many college students applied for scholarships before they entered school. There's no harm in applying for a scholarship before entering a higher education institution, and you can reap the benefits of getting some of your tuition paid if you win. 

Just ​over half of the respondents won a scholarship ​they had applied for before entering college. Congratulations to them! Let's find out exactly how much they ​received.

The graphic above reveals some notable trends. The average Black respondent was receiving nearly $13,000 in scholarship money, compared to Asians who were getting almost $10,000, and Hispanic/Latino respondents who were getting nearly $9,000. White respondents were receiving the lowest average amount in scholarships before entering college at around $7,600.

Male respondents were also getting nearly twice as much scholarship money, $11,618.89 on average, before entering college or university when compared to female respondents, who were getting an average of $6,091.31 in scholarship money.  

How did these results carry over when we asked respondents about applying to scholarships during college?

While in College, Less Students Apply for Scholarships, and Even Less Win

3. Since college started, have you applied for scholarships as a way to finance your degree?

69.1 percent of current four-year college students did apply for scholarships during college.

4. Did you ever win one of the scholarships you applied for after starting college?

Of those ​who did apply for a scholarship during college, 48.77 percent won at least one of the scholarships ​they applied for. 

As the results ​show, the number of college students ​who apply for scholarships during college as compared to those who apply before starting college drops by nearly 20 percent. Maybe these students are onto something, because the survey results also showed that it's harder to win a scholarship while in college as opposed to before college.

Less than half of the college-going poll participants, 48.77 percent, won at least one of the scholarships that they applied for during college. That win rate is more than seven percentage points lower than the scholarship win rate for applying before college starts.

While the percentages changed from one pair of questions to the next, the trends regarding average scholarship amount distributed did not. 

Based on the two graphics featured in this study so far, it appears that while scholarship win rates are similar throughout all genders and races, the amount of scholarship money won fluctuates greatly based on gender and race.

​Many College Students Are Being Asked to Pay Before Applying for a Scholarship, and Most ​of Them Do

5. Have you ever been asked to pay money before applying for a scholarship?

40.96 percent of respondents answered "yes" when asked if they were asked to pay money before applying for a scholarship.

6. Did you pay the money that was asked of you before you applied for the scholarship?

Of those ​who were asked to pay money before applying for a scholarship, 73.14 percent of them said that they have in fact paid money before applying for a scholarship.

Scholarship scams are a serious issue in the higher education space. There are many scholarship scammers that will ask a potential applicant to pay an application fee, and the student sees nothing in return. Often times, scholarship-hopefuls will never follow up with the scholarship services simply because they believe they have not won.

Then, there are also scholarship scams that ​charge ​an application fee, while also collecting thousands ​of applications. At that point, the scholarship service is able to reward very few winners with a very small scholarship, while taking the rest of the money home as profit. An applicant's chance of winning one of these scholarships is slim to none due to the outrageously crowded applicant pool.

While fewer than half of current college students have been asked to pay a fee before applying for a scholarship, nearly three-quarters of those who are asked end up paying said fee. Whether or not these students fell for a scam is impossible to say, but it is best to proceed with extreme caution and diligence if you are ever asked to pay money before applying for a scholarship. 

Good News: There Appears to Be Plenty of Scholarship Information Available

7. Do you feel as if your college provided enough information regarding scholarships to help make you aware of the process?

A combined 65.5 percent of respondents either said "yes, they helped a lot," or "yes, but they could have done a little more." However, 22.6 percent answered with either "no, they did the bare minimum," or "no, they did nothing at all," while 11.9 percent were "indifferent."

8. Do you feel as if there is enough information out there to help make you aware of the scholarship process?

A combined 61.2 percent of respondents either said "yes, there is a lot," or "yes, but there needs to be more." However, 25.7 percent answered with either "no, there needs to be more," or "no, there is nothing out there," while 13.1 percent were "indifferent."

There is a general consensus that both higher education institutions and third-party publications are providing enough scholarship resources to help make current college students aware of the entire process. This was excellent news​. Now, if only more college students check​ed out these resources so as to avoid getting scammed into paying a scholarship application fee. 


For this particular survey, The Student Loan Report ​used Pollfish, an online polling company. We surveyed 1,000 current college students attending a four-year college or university. This poll ran over the course of four days, ​starting on March 10, 2018 and ​ending on March 13, 2018.