Should I apply for outside scholarships?

The simple answer is yes. You should apply for outside scholarships. 

If you’re looking to take out less student loan debt and get more gift aid towards your education, scholarships are a great way to do that. 

There are some things to keep in mind.

What is an Outside Scholarship?

An “outside scholarship” is a scholarship awarded by a company, organization, or institution outside of your college or university. 

For example, if you get a scholarship from your local community for contributing to community service throughout high school, that is considered an outside scholarship.

You need to apply for many outside scholarships as well. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) does not include outside scholarships. In most cases, you will need to research scholarships and apply to each one individually

Outside Scholarships Could Reduce Your Aid Package

Some schools will reduce your financial aid package after they factor in any outside scholarships.

When you receive a scholarship, you need to report that to your financial aid office. At that time, you should ask how it might affect your overall aid package. 

Here are some things to ask when you report your package:

  • If it is not a renewable scholarship, ask if the money can be distributed over four years. 
  • Ask how the college will reduce your aid package — if the scholarship is not worth keeping due to this reduction, that’s excellent information to know.
  • Do not ask the college to reduce your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). Colleges are not allowed to do that by law. 

In most cases, you’ll still be able to keep plenty of your college financial aid so that the scholarship will help you in the long run. 

The Benefit of Scholarships

Avoiding student loan debt is a goal for many students. Scholarships are an excellent way to supplement the aid you might have to take out in loans. The less debt you graduate with, the better financial future you set yourself up for!

If you can graduate from college with less debt than you expected, that’s great! Consider applying to multiple scholarships so you can get the most gift aid possible.