"I've told my kids to not bother applying for scholarships that are under $10,000."
Really? $500 is more than you had in the bank yesterday!
A lot of families are looking for high-dollar scholarships. I understand. It seems like a waste of time to apply for $500 or $1000 scholarships when there are $20,000 to $100,000 or more $ available. And as cute as that sounds, it's a very poor scholarship strategy.
I hear it often enough though so I thought I should at least address it.
There are some REALLY big scholarship opportunities, some that almost anyone can apply for.:
The Dr Pepper Tuition Giveaway
Ronal McDonald House Charities Scholarship
Burger King Scholars
Davidson Fellow Scholarship
Elks National Foundation Most Valuable Student Scholarship
GE-Reagan Foundation Scholarship
The majority of private scholarships are for high school seniors, including the large dollar amount scholarships, but most are for $500 to $1000 each. Her kid is a high school sophomore so kudos to her for starting early. Scholarships begin as early as Kindergarten and go through professional school.
Of the 1.8 million private scholarships available very few are 20k+. Many of those will have a need-based component although how much that plays into their decision varies. For example, the Elks Most Valuable Student scholarship begins at the local level with smaller amounts ($500), but the best applications move “up” to regional and national ($4000-$20,000). It has a need component but we were making 6 figures when both of my kids won this scholarship. Jack Kent Cooke is another that can be a large amount but the amount actually “supplements” what the college scholarship or grant doesn’t cover. So it’s not a specific number. I have a client from Africa who won a scholarship for international students that covers any college in the U.S.
You can do an internet search for "large dollar amount private scholarships." But there won't be many for students who are not high school seniors. Getting an early start and understanding the search process and criteria is important to not leaving money on the table.
As nice as the large dollar private scholarships are, they will have more competition since there are plenty more families that won't bother with the smaller $500-$1000 scholarships.
Oh, and I have to mention, most high school counselors discourage students from applying to national scholarships of any kind saying that it's too difficult to win, too much competition. Yes, there will be more competition but that shouldn't deter you. Each of my homeschooled teens won 3 national scholarships.
Scholarships are for everyone. And anyone can win.