National Scholarship Month
The month of November is devoted to raising awareness of the need for scholarship support for postsecondary education. Scholarships help students realize their dreams. (National Scholarship Month was previously celebrated in the month of May from 1998 to 2007. It was switched from May to November in 2008 to coincide with the start of the main scholarship application season.)
Scholarships are a form of student financial aid that does not need to be repaid. Scholarships are awarded by foundations, philanthropists, non-profit organizations, businesses and colleges to help students pay for college. Some scholarships are awarded for academic merit, while others may focus on artistic or athletic talent or other personal characteristics. There are even a variety of unusual scholarships based on more esoteric talent such as duck calling or knitting with wool.
Students discover the scholarships for which they are eligible by searching one of several large scholarship matching sites, such as the FastWeb scholarship database.
National Scholarship Month is sponsored by the National Scholarship Providers Association
(NSPA), the national professional organization for scholarship sponsors. NSPA promotes student access to higher education through scholarships. (National Scholarship Month was originally sponsored by Scholarship America, the largest private sector scholarship and educational support organization. ) For more information on creating a scholarship, see FinAid's Scholarship Design & Management
Access and Choice
Scholarships not only make it possible for students to pursue a college education, improving access to higher education, but they also provide the recipients with greater flexibility. This allows students to choose the college that best meets their needs, without worrying about having to pay back large loans.
College scholarships also offer other benefits for students beyond the money. The act of applying for a scholarship can help the student clarify his or her goals and decide upon a career path. Winning a scholarship can be a mark of excellence, opening doors for the student to new educational experiences. Many scholarship sponsors provide their winners with long-term advocacy and support, through mentorship and other services. The scholarship recipients also get to interact with each other, building life-long friendships and creating a synergy that challenges and inspires them to strive for excellence.
Benefits of Investing in Higher Education
The Institute for Higher Education Policy's report, Investing in America's Future: Why Student Aid Pays Office for Society and Individuals, highlights the many ways in which investments in higher education benefit the nation.
Proposal for a Scholarship Sponsorship Tax Credit
Mark Kantrowitz, a nationally recognized financial aid and scholarship expert, has written a proposal for a Scholarship Sponsorship Tax Credit.
. This proposal would establish a tax credit to create a public-private partnership for leveraging increased private sponsorship of college scholarships.
This article originally appeared on FinAid.org.