Strategies to Decrease the Cost of College #7 – Chase the Right Scholarships

Scholarships $$ sign

What is the #1 source of scholarship money? Many believe national organizations or competitions are the routes to go?


On the surface becoming a Coca Cola Scholar sounds great. Who wouldn’t want $20,000 grand? Yet if you dig into the numbers…

In 2018, approximately 96,000 students applied and 400 were awarded scholarships, so your odds of winning that $20,000 are less than 1/2%. Minnesota had a whopping four winners in 2018.

What about the National Merit Scholarship Contest?


Annually, approximately 1.6 million students participate.

  • Of these 1.6 million entrants, roughly 50,000 qualify to compete.
  • Of the 50,000, 15,000 become semifinalists.
  • In the end, only 7,500 finalists receive $2,500. 

Again your odds are less than 1%… There is no arguing being recognized as a National Merit Scholar can unlock additional merit awards at certain colleges and universities, yet for 1.5+ million students, is it really worth your time and effort?

Rule of thumb. For every 100 national scholarships you identify, you might qualify for 10. If you apply, you will be lucky to receive one.

For the vast majority of students, there is very little ROI versus the time and effort required to compete for national scholarships. 

Local? Getting warmer…

Roughly 8-10% of students will win a locally sourced scholarship – those available to students at your school or in your district (local chamber of commerce, businesses, organizations, endowed exclusively at your school, etc.).

Apply for these scholarships. Your odds of winning are greater and even though most fall in the $500 to $1,000 range many students are able to cobble together $2,000 – $2,500 towards the cost of college. Less $$ out of your pocket is never a bad thing. 

The #1 source of scholarship money?  Drum roll. 

The colleges themselves!

Stop chasing the wrong scholarships. There is money to be saved by strategically identifying good fit schools where your credentials can garner a significant discount on tuition, often greater than 50%.

Maybe Simpson College is a good fit. Advertised tuition for Fall 2019 = $39,910.

Simpson College

I hope you didn’t read the Sticker Price for Simpson and immediately say, “too expensive”.

Based on the chart below, your tuition bill may be as little as $12,190 – an approximate 70% tuition discount.

Screen Shot 2019-04-28 at 11.43.22 AM

Simpson College 1st Year Scholarship Chart

You can find great values. How? One strategy is to “Chase the Right Scholarships” by strategically expanding your circle of safety.

I help you identify fit good schools to match your unique academic, social and financial needs. Below is a small sample of scholarship monies I helped students find as they begin their Fall 2019 college journeys:

You have more choices than you think. Chase the “right” scholarships and you can significantly reduce your college costs.