Unclaimed scholarships for college do exist but not in abundance. In fact you will have to stumble across them to have any chance of really finding them. Students looking for financial assistance are often looking everywhere they possibly can to root out additional sources of funding. Many of these students have gone through the normal check – looking at the demographic characteristics, checking out career oriented opportunities, consulting with local financial aid offices or considering offerings by individual departments at universities. Still they may come up short and begin searching one last time before they give up and turn to student loans to fill their remaining aid gap.
Unclaimed scholarships are, in reality, fairly rare – most scholarship institutions publicize the heck out of their programs and generally have more applicants than they can afford to cover. Though not entirely a myth, the idea that billions of dollars goes unrewarded every year in the United States is incredibly incorrect, though there are in fact some unclaimed scholarships out there. Students interested in unclaimed scholarships will want to get kind of weird with their searches, looking for quirks that may not have occurred to them originally in their research. Consider for instance tall scholarships or the single left-handed scholarship offered from Juniata University – though these programs rarely qualify as unclaimed scholarships, they are less frequently taken advantage of when compared to larger, nationally offered programs.
The myth which underlies the idea of unclaimed scholarships comes from a number of sources, but most often cited is the 1983 report from the National Commission on Student Financial Assistance. Other claims come from fairly shaky ground in which lose statistical methods have been applied in order to work out an overall lack of funding. Remember the game some kids used to play called Telephone? The effect here is similar – over time as these reports and data have made their rounds from person to person, the information has been exaggerated or used incorrectly, leading to the widespread belief that unclaimed scholarships are incredibly common, when in fact they are unknown scholarships to almost all students and will only reveal themselves by actively looking for student aid.
There is no direct evidence that popular foundations, which are often incredibly overwhelmed with responses to their scholarships offerings, or even other groups, have billions of dollars of unused scholarship money each year. One of the things this myth does get right, however, is that there is pretty clear evidence that people do not often take advantage of employer tuition programs which, apart from a blip in the employee manual, are often left out of an employee’s general knowledge. As a result these programs often end up as unclaimed scholarships.
It is not uncommon for even small businesses to offer tuition assistance programs either in the form of direct scholarship aid or tuition reimbursement, and interested students should either talk to a human resources person or consult their employee manuals for more information. While in some places these programs are widely used, it may be unlikely that say a gas station clerk would guess that their company offers tuition reimbursement programs, which leaves some of these employment areas having unclaimed college scholarships.
Unclaimed scholarships do exist, but they are rare and students will have to do some digging in order to turn them up. Some of these programs come from schools where, as a fictional example, a scholarship for a blind individual may exist but no students on the campus meet the criteria needed to take advantage of the program. Instances of unclaimed college scholarships are normally related to heavy eligibility restrictions which limit applicant pools or local availability where no local person meets the necessary requirements to get access to a program.
Unless a student is so incredibly desperate for financial aid that they will consider a college based on a single unclaimed scholarship which they happen to have the eligibility for, these programs should not really concern students who otherwise would not be able to get an award.
While it can be hard at times to find all of the financial assistance students will need in order to afford college capably, they should focus directly on more attainable programs instead of searching for the rare or extra quirky unclaimed scholarship money that may, on some off-chance, be available somewhere. Of course if a student has some extra time and is still considering their options for educational institutions checking in on what unclaimed scholarships may be available is certainly a good option, but otherwise this sort of search results in a general waste of time and energy.