For a high school senior, few things are more exciting than receiving a scholarship for college -- and there’s good reason to celebrate the hard work that went into earning it! But after a year, or even a semester, reality sinks in: a student has to pay for four years of college, not just one. How is she going to fund those other three years?
It’s a dilemma thousands of students face in a world where student loan debt is the largest form of consumer debt outside of mortgages.
Enter renewable scholarships. With a wide range of award types and amounts, a renewable scholarship -- one that provides funding for two, three or even four years -- can play a vital role in a student’s future success.
So, why should you, as a donor, support students with renewable scholarships?
Renewable scholarships can mean the difference between a student staying in school and dropping out.
The seven-part New York Times series “Degrees of Debt” chronicles the trials and tribulations of students trying to pay for college, including some who felt they had nowhere to turn for help without digging themselves into further debt. An infographic from that series proves how prevalent student debt continues to be: average graduate debt and annual cost of tuition and fees creep up and up with each passing year.
A student’s responsibility to stay in college doesn’t stop at freshman year -- in fact, the work is likely to increase in difficulty each year, both academically and financially. By supporting a student with a renewable scholarship in a difficult economic climate, you can help them stay in college by mitigating the debt they accrue.
Being accepted into a postsecondary program can be a success on its own. Securing a renewable scholarship increases the chances of keeping the student there.
Supporting students keeps you invested in your community.
There are a variety of ways contribute to a renewable scholarship. For example, here at Scholarship America, donations to our Scholarship America Dream Award go directly to support multi-year awards to see students through to graduation.
Giving back through a renewable scholarship can set a precedent of philanthropy for other community members or for the students themselves: they’ll see the value in your contribution and be inspired to do the same.
Whether you’re donating to an organization or setting up a scholarship program through your alma mater, your contribution will connect you to the group and its work. By doing so, you’ll join the mission for postsecondary access -- and success.
A renewable scholarship affects more than just financial health -- it can impact the course of future generations.
In addition, receiving scholarships help students gain self-confidence to continue pursuing their studies -- at all levels of study (case in point: consider just how many recipients of the Google Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship mentioned the increase in their confidence, even as they were working toward their doctoral degrees!). The gift of a scholarship award is clearly not only financial, but psychological.
And while the Google Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship may be a one-time award, the impact of a renewable scholarship can also be felt for years to come.
For example, the Gates Millennium Scholars Program, which awards “good-through-graduation” scholarships, reported that almost half (46.8%) of the class of 2012 scholars were first-generation college students. Given the substantial obstacles that first-generation students can face (89% of low-income, first-generation students leave college within six years without a degree), providing postsecondary access, through renewable scholarships, can change a family’s educational legacy.
Supporting students throughout college now can have society-changing results in the future. Scholarship America’s founder, Dr. Irving Fradkin, says it well: “The most valuable resource this country has is not gold or oil, but the minds of young people.” Renewable scholarships can help those young people realize their potential -- and give back when they do.