Every Little Bit Helps: The Three C’s of Outside Scholarships

Contributor: Dr. Kyle Brantley

Date: October 20, 2021

One of the most important roles for your recruitment team is to act as a guide for students and families when it comes to the scholarship and financial aid process. Many students and parents are unfamiliar and overwhelmed by the financial process, especially first gen students or families going through this with their first college-bound student. Your Admissions Counselors should take on the heart of a teacher when having these conversations, carefully breaking down the process, the timeline, and the opportunities students can take advantage of in closing the gap of COA.

Hopefully you have a good financial aid review process. It’s obvious most colleges and universities will present the options on the table for in-house scholarships and federal aid. But does your recruitment team provide the full picture when it comes to available scholarship and aid?

Each year, more than 1.7 million private scholarships are awarded, totaling over 7.4 billion in value. That’s a lot of money! While you have some control over the process for your institutional awards and the FAFSA, your role as a guide to the student is to point them in the right direction when it comes to external scholarships.

With so many out there, this can be daunting. There are scholarships for just about every category you can think of (and there are some weird ones), from scholarships for left-handed individuals to duct tape prom attire.

Provide some clarity and direction for your students by pointing them towards the Three C’s of Outside Scholarships.


Their Counselor

First, direct them to their school’s guidance counselor. They should be able to point the student to scholarships former graduates from that high school have qualified for and received. They should be knowledgeable about local scholarships, in particular. Encourage your student to get to know their guidance counselor if they don’t already have a relationship so they can work together on potential external scholarship opportunities.

Corporate Scholarships

There is no shortage of corporate scholarships available to students, from regional companies to national companies. First, start by identifying corporations in your state or your region and searching for scholarship opportunities. The smaller the pool of applicants, the higher your odds (as compared to a national scholarship competition). From there, look into national corporations like Coca-cola, Google, and Wendy’s. There is an ocean of opportunities out there. The more scholarships applied for, the greater the chance for additional college funding.

Community Scholarships

The student’s guidance counselor will hopefully have an idea of some of the local scholarships available, but encourage the student to explore the community themselves. They should check out the local chamber of commerce, local businesses, civic organizations, and/or churches (if a member).

Every little bit helps and these outside scholarships can be just what it takes to close the gap on COA and make your college “doable.” Encourage your students to start as early as their junior year researching potential options and to begin applying the summer before their senior year. Be mindful of deadlines: by the time December hits their senior year, many deadlines will have passed. Students may even want to set a goal to complete 5-10 applications a week during this season. It may not be exciting to apply for so many scholarships or write so many essays during their senior year, remind them that, in the end: The fastest way to succeed is to double your rate of failure.