The higher cost of higher education
It is not uncommon to hear that thousands of dollars in scholarship money goes unclaimed every year. Most experts agree this is a myth based on a dated calculation of the amount of employer-based scholarship money unclaimed by eligible employees over forty years ago. However, there are some scholarships that go unrewarded every year. These usually fail to find eligible recipients, too. For example, the Loyola University of Chicago Zolp Scholarship is awarded to any student attending Loyola who is Catholic and has the last name Zolp–there are actually a number of name-based scholarships at schools across the country. The Society for Vacuum Coaters Foundation awards a scholarship to a student interested in pursuing employment in the vacuum coating industry. It is possible that there might not always be identifiable candidates for these awards year after year, but most private and public scholarships are claimed. The college money left on the table most often is the Pell Grant. In fact, $2.3 billion in free college aid was unclaimed in 2017. In the state of Missouri, nearly 30 percent of high school students did not submit the FAFSA. Even if students do not think they will be eligible, they should still submit the FAFSA every year to make sure they do not overlook any funding opportunities. The Pell Grant is important because it does not have to be paid back; it is free college aid. When students exhaust their FAFSA options, there are always external private and public scholarships to consider. There are scholarships for short people, tall people, people who know Klingon, and people who can demonstrate their knowledge of fire sprinklers. There is money available for someone who can make the best prom dress out of duct tape and the person who can do wonders with wool. Compass Academics can help locate scholarship opportunities and craft competitive applications for college funding. The field is wide-open and students should apply for every scholarship of interest that they are eligible for. After all, the old adage applies: you can’t win if you don’t play.