Scholarships are a form of financial aid awarded to students to further education. Going through college is a costly period in anyone’s life. With average tuition fees in a state college of $26,290 and $35,830 in private non-profit colleges, it is clear that affording higher education in the US is becoming progressively more difficult. The fact that scholarship rising has over paced inflation in the past two decades only goes to say that more people are being left out of higher education than ever before.
Scholarships and grants, as well as aid programs aimed at college students in the US, can ease the financial burden, but only to an extent.
2022 Student Profile
As the average student profile changes, so do the financing options that are available to them. The stereotypical image of a student is that of a young person, fresh out of high school, eager to get a degree and join the work market in about 4 years. However, recent times have seen unprecedented changes in the student profile to the point that even school financing options had to be rethought.
In 2022, a quarter of students in US colleges are parents. 40% of students are older than 25. 65% of students work to help with high tuition costs. Unlike it was in the previous few decades, today, less than 15% of students actually live on campus. High costs of accommodation and limited work opportunities are a part of the reason why these changes can be observed. The University of Boston, for example, charged $11,000 for an academic-year length of accommodation in 2016, far higher than an average 18/19-year-old could ever hope to afford.
Recent developments, such as the COVID-19 pandemic have also taken their toll on the student body. As nearly 47 million Americans lost their jobs during the lockdown, and the Trump administration stalled the essential help for all Americans, it has become increasingly more difficult to afford school-related expenses during the lockdown. As most of the aforementioned working students are part-time employed in the hospitality sector, it is clear that the pandemic and following measures had a big impact on the student diversity in US colleges.
Kinds of Scholarships Awarded:
By far the largest contributor to the total student financial aid in the US, the public sector, has contributed more than $41 Billion in 2016 alone. That said, it is important to note that several billions of dollars go unclaimed every year. A part of the reason is information unavailability. Another part is students not being able to meet the criteria and deadlines.
Private scholarships in the US are awarded either through the alumni network or from funds given by private ventures and companies. With more than $7 million awarded annually, this form of scholarship is a significant contributor to students’ welfare and increasing financial security. An upward trend can be seen in this kind of scholarship giving.
Need-based scholarships have emerged, in part, because they showed that the majority of students receiving financial aid and scholarships in the US were Caucasians. For this reason, scholarships based on one’s race and ethnicity were introduced as well. They are supposed to diversify the ethnic profile of US students and offer help to marginalised groups as well as those coming from communities facing financial hardship.
Although very pronounced in the public eye, financial aid to athletes in the US is offered only to 2% of US high school students. Some of these scholarships are offered to a single-gender only, which is a point of a common quarrel with public opinion. However, with over 170,000 scholarships awarded each year, this form of financial aid is prominent to this day.
As it goes, life is not a straight line and for many who are financially vulnerable (such as low-income students), it has become increasingly difficult to cope with sudden expenses and unplanned events. For this reason, an increasing number of short-term low-amount emergency aid options have become available. Scholarship America’s Dreamkeepers program and CARES Act for Coronavirus Relief are just some examples of these fast-paced financial relief options aimed at college students in the US.
Tuition assistance is the result of private-sector efforts of increasing the number of highly educated people among their own employees. These programs add to the number of adults and employed who study in different US Universities. Regardless of the form of education (in-person or online), it has become a notable contribution to the rising education level of the US population.
Starbucks Tuition Assistance Partnership with Arizona State University has become a legendary example of this kind of tuition assistance. Under the program, Starbucks employees who decide to continue or pursue their education, have their tuition costs covered. For both students and employers, this kind of assistance offers a world of possibilities for aiming the employees in the direction of long-term development due to the company paying for tuition costs.
Besides these financing options, it has become clear that a lot of active students work to be able to afford their education. Self-financing through part-time jobs has become a reality for many students. As time is limited in any study program, many students find sites at LetsGradeIt that offer creative wiring solutions and other forms of academic help. The hybrid model of education offers flexibility and much-needed free time to those who want to use it to reduce their student loans and exit college with less student debt than their peers.
With a changing student profile and ever-increasing student debt and tuition costs, it is becoming apparent that the need to rethink higher education funding is more prominent than ever. With a variety of new forms of financing available to students, new possibilities open up and students, as one of the most financially vulnerable groups, are becoming protected in the face of daily issues. Keeping this in mind, we also observe the need to improve information availability for scholarship and student aid seekers, as large amounts of money dedicated for these purposes are left unused year after year.
Dianne Sherron enjoys writing and always takes multiple approaches when working on any topic. Being able to observe a problem from a multitude of perspectives is the only way to ensure that the resolution proposed is as fair as it can be, she believes. In her free time, she loves reading books on sociology and watching Netflix docuseries.