Funding College: Why Small Scholarships Matter

January 21, 2016

As the college application season wraps up, the next obstacle that many seniors are facing is conjuring up thousands of dollars to pay for tuition, room and board, and other expenses that they hope would help reduce the cost of an oh-so coveted degree. Sometimes federal aid—for those who take a shot at it—may not be nearly enough to meet students’ financial needs, leaving them to resort to outside merit scholarships to make their dream schools payable. Luckily, there are countless opportunities for free money available on the web, many of which may be offered right in your local area (Hint: Start there first). These amounts can cover upwards of the full cost of attendance at a four-year institution. Some may even offer as little as a one-time payment of $250. But when the cost of college can surpass the average American household income (i.e. New York University [1]), why would anyone even consider applying to scholarships that offer such meager amounts? Here are three reasons:

The obvious reason: Small amounts add up. “Little by little does the trick,” as Aesop’s popular “The Crow and the Pitcher” suggests. Though you may come across a scholarship worth less than the amount of money in your wallet and is dwarfed by the cost of your college of attendance, always remember that it may not be your last and that every little amount makes a difference. A mere $750 scholarship can be enough to cover the cost of a more-than-decent laptop and printer with cash leftover for textbooks and stationery supplies, given that you spend it wisely. And seeing as scholarships aren’t easy to come by these days, if you are able to win just one, chances are you have the skills to win another—and another—and maybe another, as you gradually lower your cost of attendance.

With a little research, you may find that they may not necessarily be “small.” A one-time scholarship of $500 may be enough to cover a couple of credit hours at a public university, but a $500 award that is renewable for up to eight semesters can cover an entire semester’s worth of tuition. Be sure to check the complete description of the scholarship to see exactly what you would be receiving before continuing through the list. Even if it does end up being a one-time award, there may be additional benefits that could net you even more money. For example, The Assistance League of Charlotte Scholarship offers a one-time scholarship of $10,000 to be used at one of 16 universities of the University of North Carolina System. However, students who have previously won this scholarship can elect to apply for a “Previous Recipient Scholarship” that provides additional funds towards tuition, room and board, and other fees [2].

Small scholarships tend to be easier to win. There are two reasons for why this is true. Some of these scholarships are offered by small businesses that target local students. I don’t know about you, but I would feel that my chances of winning these kinds of scholarships are much greater than ones offered by big-name companies like Coca Cola, where I would be competing against thousands of talented students nationwide [3]. Additionally, even large corporations may offer relatively small amounts of scholarships simply so that they can provide a greater quantity and reach out to help more students afford college.

If you’re looking for scholarship opportunities, make sure to apply to AdmitSee’s scholarship for a chance to win $5,000. Simply tell us what the most frustrating thing is about applying to college, and you’ll automatically be entered. If you need help with your applications or essays, find a mentor and talk with them to find out how to get into your dream school. 

[1] “Cost of Attendance.” Office of Financial Aid. NYU. 

[2] Tankle, Deborah. “Previous Recipient Scholarship.” Assistance League of Charlotte. 

[3] “Apply.” Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation. 


About The Author

Drew Evans
Drew Evans

​Drew is a content and social media guru. When he’s not working, he loves to photograph, play music, play sports, and travel. He is also weirdly obsessed with Thai food, Girl Scout cookies, and learning new languages (even though he’s not fluent in any). For any editorial ideas, contact

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