Private Scholarships: Exposing the Truth About Them


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Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.com

In the early 1970s, the U.S. auto industry received warnings from economic experts: If they continued to focus on the wrong thing, Japanese car companies would soon put them out of business. The “Detroit Three” automakers — General Motors, Ford and Chrysler — were told that if they continued to produce oversized, inefficient American-style models, they would soon be surpassed by compact, fuel-efficient Japanese cars if the price of gasoline were to increase drastically.

U.S. auto executives laughed off these dire warnings and continued with business as usual. Over the course of the decade, the price of oil skyrocketed due to a changing atmosphere in the Middle East, and the American car companies crumbled. If you’ve ever seen Eminem’s movie “8 Mile” or an episode of “Hardcore Pawn,” you have an idea of how things turned out in the Motor City.

It’s easy to become fixated on details that are new, shiny and fun (like a ’72 Corvette) and ignore others that are counter to our belief system. Such is the case with how prospective college students and their families seek financial aid. For whatever reason, students and parents alike spend an inordinate amount of time seeking out private scholarships from employers, nonprofits and local organizations, and not enough time focusing on where the bulk of aid money actually comes from.

Surprising Numbers

During the 2014-15 academic year, roughly $184 billion in student aid was awarded to undergrads. According to the College Board’s Trends in Student Aid publication, the overwhelming majority of student aid comes from the federal government, representing 66 percent of all aid awarded. Institutional aid from colleges and universities represents 22 percent, and state governments give 5 percent of total aid. A mere 6 percent comes from employer and private scholarships, a number that doesn’t quite support all of the hype.

Unclaimed Money

Many people mistakenly believe that the majority of aid comes in the form of private scholarships, so they spend precious time scouring through scholarship websites, books and other sources looking for what amounts to only a fraction of the total aid awarded. Their hunt is fueled each year by hearing that millions of dollars in scholarships go unused. While there is some truth to that statement, the fact also remains that many of those scholarships are inaccessible because the qualifying requirements are so limiting. For example, there may be a scholarship at a regional university specifically aimed at a student from a particular county who has a high school GPA of 3.5 or higher and is majoring in interior design. If no incoming student meets these criteria, the scholarship may go unclaimed.

Effect on Financial Aid Packages

It’s important to note that since the federal government requires colleges to consider private scholarships when calculating financial aid, those outside scholarships can actually reduce your total aid package. Let’s say, for example, that a family’s expected family contribution is $17,000 and the cost of tuition is $30,000. In order to meet this cost, the college offers $13,000 in aid to assist the family. Now let’s say that the student wins a $3,000 scholarship from a local employer. In this instance, most schools would then reduce their respective financial aid offers by $3,000. Hopefully, these reductions target loan awards, rather than grant awards, although that isn’t always the case at every school. All in all, private scholarships have very little impact on the “bottom line” for students requiring need-based aid, since scholarships often lead to a reduction in their original financial aid award. For affluent students who do not require aid, however, scholarships will undoubtedly impact out-of-pocket costs by reducing the amount they owe.

By no means do we want to discourage you from applying for private scholarships; we just encourage you to avoid dedicating an excessive amount of time to these pursuits.

Dave Bergman, Ed.D., is a co-founder of College Transitions, a team of college planning experts committed to guiding families through the college admissions process. Learn more at collegetransitions.com.

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College Transitions

Expert advice for finding the right fit


About This Blog

College Transitions is a team of college planning experts committed to guiding families through the college admissions process. As counselors and published higher education researchers, we aim to bring perspective (and some sanity) to college planning, and we strive to provide students with the support they need to enroll and succeed at a college that is right for them. Learn more at collegetransitions.com

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Calendar

August 2017

Kids can enjoy a free cookie with any purchase, and enjoy kid's books, chess, tic tac toe, and card games. 

Cost: Free

Where:
41 North Coffee Company
41 N. Main St.
Wendell, NC  27591
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Sponsor: 41 North Coffee Co
Telephone: 919-995-0680
Contact Name: Dana
Website »

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Unplug, slow down and have fun on the Triangle’s Train. At 12 miles per hour, families ride through natural beauty over a trestle and through scenic woods. All ages. Purchase tickets...

Cost: $10/adult, $7/child

Where:
New Hope Valley Railway
3900 Bonsal Rd.
New Hill, NC  27562
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Website »

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Cost: $10/adults, $7/kids ages 2-12. Free for ages 1 and younger.

Where:
New Hope Valley Railway
3917 Bonsal Rd.
New Hill, NC  27562
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Website »

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Clowns, daredevils, dance groups, contortionists and more highlight this lively circus act. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $19-$35

Where:
PNC Arena
1400 Edwards Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

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Watch a brief slideshow and explore the inner workings of the mill itself. Witness the power of water as it turns the milling machinery. Registration encouraged. Tickets available inside...

Cost: $5/adult, $3 ages 7-16. Free for ages 6 and younger

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC
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Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

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Children make treasured memories while increasing their knowledge of plants and animals. Ages 7-10. Register online.

Cost: $8/resident, $10/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

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Learn about these fascinating critters and meet a live snake and turtle. All ages. Meet at the Cypress Shelter.

Cost: $1/person

Where:
Harris Lake County Park
2112 County Park Dr.
New Hill, NC  27562
View map »


Sponsor: Harris Lake County Park
Telephone: 919-387-4342
Contact Name: Joanne St. Clair
Website »

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Clowns, daredevils, dance groups, contortionists and more highlight this lively circus act. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $19-$35

Where:
PNC Arena
1400 Edwards Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

More information

Clowns, daredevils, dance groups, contortionists and more highlight this lively circus act. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $19-$35

Where:
PNC Arena
1400 Edwards Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

More information

Enjoy the spectacle of giant puppets, stilt dancers, shadow puppets and live music. All ages. A pre-show begins at 6:20 p.m.

Cost: Suggested donations are $8 for kids, $15 for adults

Where:
Forest Theatre
123 S. Boundary St.
Chapel Hill, NC  27514
View map »


Telephone: 919-962-0522
Website »

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Explore the five senses in nature. Make a smelly painting and splash in our sink/float bucket. Ages 18 mos-3 yrs with adult. Register online.

Cost: $2/child

Where:
Crowder District Park
4709 Ten-Ten Rd.
Apex, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-662-2850
Website »

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Learn about water. Playing a water cycle game and take part in a water recycling relay race. Ages 6–13. Meet at the Beech Shelter Register online.

Cost: Free

Where:
Lake Crabtree County Park
1400 Aviation Pkwy.
Morrisville, NC  27560
View map »


Sponsor: Lake Crabtree County Park
Telephone: 919-460-3355
Contact Name: Carol Cunningham
Website »

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Toddlers enjoy a story.

Cost: Free

Where:
Barnes & Noble
760 S.E Maynard Rd.
Cary, NC  27511
View map »


Website »

More information

Kids ages 6 and younger enjoy stories. Take part in an optional arts and crafts session after storytime for $5.

Cost: Free

Where:
Read With Me Book Shop
111 E. Hargett St., $110
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Website »

More information

Join others for an easy-paced walk along the greenway accompanied by a naturalist. Registration encouraged. Choose course #203546.

Cost: Free

Where:
Walnut Creek Wetland Park
950 Peterson St.
Raleigh, NC  27610
View map »


Sponsor: Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources
Telephone: 919-996-2760
Contact Name: Stacie Hagwood
Website »

More information

Learn about their habitat, adaptations and life cycle through hands-on activities and games.  All ages with adult. Register online.

Cost: $1/person

Where:
Crowder District Park
4709 Ten-Ten Rd.
Apex, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-662-2850
Website »

More information

Ages 5-12 learn about healthy fruits and vegetables, kitchen and food safety, and enjoy a healthy snack. Meet in the bakery side of the cafe. Email sherry.thrasher@wholefoods.com to...

Cost: Free

Where:
Whole Foods North Raleigh
8710 Six Forks Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27615
View map »


Telephone: 919-354-0350
Contact Name: Sherry Thrasher

More information

Clowns, daredevils, dance groups, contortionists and more highlight this lively circus act. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $19-$35

Where:
PNC Arena
1400 Edwards Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

More information

Orphaned in India, 11-year-old Mary Lennox returns to Yorkshire to live with her embittered, reclusive uncle Archibald and his son Colin. The estate's many wonders include a magic...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Fletcher Theater
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

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Toddler Time is a special time for ages 5 and younger to bounce under the supervision of their parents, and without interference from the big kids. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $7-$10

Where:
Sky Zone Durham
1720 Guess Rd., Ste. 90
Durham, NC  27701
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Website »

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Ages 3-6 enjoy fun games and drills. Call to RSVP.  

Cost: $5/child

Where:
Fitness4Life
6701 Glenwood Ave.
Suite 103
Raleigh, NC  27612
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Sponsor: Fitness4Life
Telephone: 919-787-2250
Contact Name: George Whitten
Website »

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Enjoy a story.

Cost: Free

Where:
Barnes & Noble Cary
760 S.E. Maynard Rd.
Cary, NC  27511
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Telephone: 919-467-3866
Website »

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Enjoy stories with Amy Godfrey.

Cost: Free

Where:
The Regulator Bookshop
720 Ninth St.
Durham, NC  27705
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Website »

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Kids ages 6 and younger enjoy stories. Take part in an optional arts and crafts session after storytime for $5.

Cost: Free

Where:
Read With Me Book Shop
111 E. Hargett St., $110
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

Clowns, daredevils, dance groups, contortionists and more highlight this lively circus act. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $19-$35

Where:
PNC Arena
1400 Edwards Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

More information

Games and activities feature nature's essential element. Ages 2 and older with adult. Register online.

Cost: Free

Where:
Dorothea Dix Park Big Field
Barbour Dr.
Raleigh, NC
View map »


Sponsor: City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources
Website »

More information

Read "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" and discover caterpillars' favorite foods. Learn the life cycle of butterflies and make a caterpillar necklace. Ages 3-5 with adult. Register online.

Cost: $4/child

Where:
Crowder District Park
4709 Ten-Ten Rd.
Apex, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-662-2850
Website »

More information

Learn to fish. Instruction and bait provided. Participants 16 and older must have a valid N.C. fishing license. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Meet at the boat rental dock. Registration...

Cost: Free

Where:
Lake Crabtree County Park
1400 Aviation Parkway
Morrisville, NC  27560
View map »


Sponsor: Lake Crabtree County Park
Telephone: 919-460-3355
Contact Name: Carol Cunningham
Website »

More information

Orphaned in India, 11-year-old Mary Lennox returns to Yorkshire to live with her embittered, reclusive uncle Archibald and his son Colin. The estate's many wonders include a magic...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Fletcher Theater
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

Clowns, daredevils, dance groups, contortionists and more highlight this lively circus act. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $19-$35

Where:
PNC Arena
1400 Edwards Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Explore the ways you can plan ahead for the heat and care for yourself while outdoors on hot days. Explore how wildlife deals with the heat. All ages. Register online.

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Clowns, daredevils, dance groups, contortionists and more highlight this lively circus act. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $19-$35

Where:
PNC Arena
1400 Edwards Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

More information

Orphaned in India, 11-year-old Mary Lennox returns to Yorkshire to live with her embittered, reclusive uncle Archibald and his son Colin. The estate's many wonders include a magic...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Fletcher Theater
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Make music with FIT4MOM Chapel Hill and Erica Berry, Director of Jammin Baby. Enjoy songs and rhymes, movement activities, and instrument play.

Cost: Free

Where:
Southern Village Green
400 Market St.
Chapel Hill, NC  27516
View map »


Website »

More information

Parent and child explore the gardens together to find the perfect spot to spread a picnic blanket for garden stories and crafts. Ages 3-5. Program begins at the Bobby G. Wilder...

Cost: $5/nonmembers. Free for members

Where:
JC Raulston Arboretum
4415 Beryl Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27606
View map »


Sponsor: JC Raulston Arboretum
Telephone: 919-513-7011
Contact Name: Elizabeth Overcash
Website »

More information

Take part in a class that teaches individualized ways to foster motor development for your child. Learn about tummy time alternatives, best positions for your baby, how to help your child learn to...

Cost: $18

Where:
Open Arts
1222 Copeland Oaks Dr.
Morrisville, NC  27560
View map »


Sponsor: Babies On The MOVE
Contact Name: Rebecca Quinones
Website »

More information

Parent and child explore the gardens together to find the perfect spot to spread a picnic blanket for garden stories and crafts. Ages 3-5. Program begins at the Bobby G. Wilder...

Cost: $5/nonmembers. Free for members

Where:
JC Raulston Arboretum
4415 Beryl Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27606
View map »


Telephone: 919-513-7011
Contact Name: Elizabeth Overcash
Website »

More information

Preschoolers enjoy a story.

Cost: Free

Where:
Barnes & Noble
8030 Renaissance Parkway, Ste. 855
Durham, NC  27713
View map »


Telephone: 919-806-1930
Website »

More information

A wonderfully kid-paced hour featuring music, play and dancing with toddler stars singing on the mic at Cotton's gently amplified & participatory music show. Children delight in...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Pump It Up Raleigh
10700 World Trade Blvd, #112
Raleigh, NC  27617
View map »


Sponsor: Pump it Up
Telephone: 919-828-3344
Contact Name: Owner/manager Kellie Paterson McHugh
Website »

More information

Hear a few of tales about corn, learn corn facts, and make a corny craft to take home. All ages with adult. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, AL
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Take part in a class that teaches individualized ways to foster motor development for your child. Learn about carry positions, best positions for your baby, how to help your child learn to crawl,...

Cost: $18

Where:
Open Arts
1222 Copeland Oaks Dr.
Morrisville, NC  27560
View map »


Sponsor: Babies On The MOVE
Contact Name: Rebecca Quinones
Website »

More information

Preschoolers enjoy a story.

Cost: Free

Where:
Barnes & Noble
5959 Triangle Town Blvd.
Raleigh, NC  27616
View map »


Telephone: 919-806-1930
Website »

More information

Discover wildlife, their habits and their habitats through hikes, activities and crafts. Ages 5-8. Register online.

Cost: $12/resident, $16/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

Kids explore nature, play games and make a craft. Dress to get dirty. Ages 5-10. Register online. Choose course #203560.

Cost: $4/child

Where:
Walnut Creek Wetland Park
950 Peterson St.
Raleigh, NC  27610
View map »


Sponsor: Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources
Telephone: 919-996-2760
Contact Name: Stacie Hagwood
Website »

More information

Play super-sized classic favorites, become a mini golf master, build and drop parachutes off a treehouse, design your own gamepiece and more. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $25/family

Where:
Kidzu Children's Museum
201 S. Estes Dr.
Chapel Hill, NC  27514
View map »


Sponsor: Kidzu Children's Museum
Telephone: 919-933-1455
Contact Name: Kidzu Marketing
Website »

More information

Enjoy the spectacle of giant puppets, stilt dancers, shadow puppets and live music. All ages. A pre-show begins at 6:20 p.m.

Cost: Suggested donations are $8 for kids, $15 for adults

Where:
Forest Theatre
123 S. Boundary St.
Chapel Hill, NC  27514
View map »


Telephone: 919-962-0522
Website »

More information

Play nature games, observe nocturnal animals, and roast s'mores around the campfire. All ages with adult. Register online.

Cost: $1/person

Where:
Crowder District Park
4709 Ten Ten Rd.
Apex, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-662-2850
Website »

More information

Orphaned in India, 11-year-old Mary Lennox returns to Yorkshire to live with her embittered, reclusive uncle Archibald and his son Colin. The estate's many wonders include a magic...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Fletcher Theater
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Kindergarten students entering the traditional school calendar practice a lunch line, get moving at recess, hop on a school bus and more.  

Cost: Free

Where:
Marbles Kids Museum
201 E. Hargett St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

Toddler Time is a special time for ages 5 and younger to bounce under the supervision of their parents, and without interference from the big kids. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $7-$10

Where:
Sky Zone Durham
1720 Guess Rd., Ste. 90
Durham, NC  27701
View map »


Website »

More information

Step back in time with a 19th-century costumed interpreter and watch the millstones at work grinding corn into meal. Registration encouraged online. Tickets available at the...

Cost: $5/adult, $3 ages 7-16. Free for ages 6 and younger

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Young entrepreneurs, ages 6 -14, have an opportunity to sell their products or services to the general public. Participants can keep any profits from sales they make at the fair and will earn cash...

Cost: Free

Where:
Park West Village
Village Market Place
Morrisville, NC  27560
View map »


Sponsor: Triangle Children's Business Fair
Website »

More information

Go nutty for nature as children satisfy some of their curiosity about the world around them and parents share in the joy of discovery. Ages 3-5 with parent. Register online.

Cost: $10/resident, $13/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

Infants-age 6 enjoy storytime featuring books related to a particular social justice theme. Stories are paired with an activity and music. May: Differently Abled People; June: Women...

Cost: Free

Where:
302 West Main Street
Durham, NC  27701
View map »


Sponsor: Social Justice Storytime
Telephone: 919-714-3377
Contact Name: Jessica Hulick
Website »

More information

Enjoy a fun-filled family day with interactive activities, train rides, DJ, face painting and giveaways

Cost: Free

Where:
Northgate Mall
1058 W. Club Blvd.
Durham, NC  27701
View map »


Website »

More information

Kids ages 6 and younger enjoy stories. Take part in an optional arts and crafts session after storytime for $5.

Cost: Free

Where:
Read With Me Book Shop
111 E. Hargett St., $110
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

Do you feel intimidated by sergers? Join us for this relaxed hands-on class and learn the basics of home overlock sewing machines (AKA sergers) including thread operation and what to do if the...

Cost: $30 (tuition + materials)

Where:
The Scrap Exchange
2050 Chapel Hill Rd.
Durham, NC  27707
View map »


Sponsor: The Scrap Exchange
Telephone: 191-921-31278
Contact Name: Anna Graves
Website »

More information

Discover what's happening in the forest as the sun sets and listen to stories around a campfire. All ages with adult. Register online.

Cost: $18/resident, $24/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

Explore how bees pollinate flowers and help gardens grow. Discover how bee hives works, exploring the ways that bee-keepers have historically housed and cared for their hives, and see what a...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Step back in time with a 19th-century costumed interpreter and watch the millstones at work grinding corn into meal. Registration encouraged online. Tickets available at the...

Cost: $5/adult, $3 ages 7-16. Free for ages 6 and younger

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Explore the historic nature of Leigh Farm Park with a friendly guide. Venture inside the historic farmhouse while being captivated by tales about life at Leigh Farm throughout the years.

Cost: Free

Where:
Leigh Farm Park
370 Leigh Farm Rd.
Durham, NC  27707
View map »


Sponsor: Durham Parks and Recreation
Telephone: 919-560-1116
Contact Name: Natalya Buckel
Website »

More information

Take part in an all-day block party and community festival on Hillsborough Street. The rain-or-shine event, features more than 325 booths and dozens of departments, student organizations and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Hillsborough Street
2011 Hillsborough St.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Sponsor: Live it Up! Hillsborough Street Community Service Corporation
Contact Name: Lara Bannister
Website »

More information

Find out more about the coderschool's programs and discounts. If you're ready to jump in, we'll be offering two free coding workshops for a Back-2-School event, so sign up below...

Cost: Free

Where:
thecoderschool - Cary
201 Davis Grove Circle
Cary, NC  27519
View map »


Sponsor: theCoderSchool - Cary
Telephone: 919-234-5193
Contact Name: Nidhi Joshi
Website »

More information

Orphaned in India, 11-year-old Mary Lennox returns to Yorkshire to live with her embittered, reclusive uncle Archibald and his son Colin. The estate's many wonders include a magic...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Fletcher Theater
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

Enjoy the spectacle of giant puppets, stilt dancers, shadow puppets and live music. All ages. A pre-show begins at 6:20 p.m.

Cost: Suggested donations are $8 for kids, $15 for adults

Where:
Forest Theatre
123 S. Boundary St.
Chapel Hill, NC  27514
View map »


Telephone: 919-962-0522
Website »

More information

Orphaned in India, 11-year-old Mary Lennox returns to Yorkshire to live with her embittered, reclusive uncle Archibald and his son Colin. The estate's many wonders include a magic...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Fletcher Theater
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

See Raleigh native Tift Merrit and friends perform and enjoy food trucks, family play and more. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $29-$39. Free for ages 5 and younger; ticket required.

Where:
N.C. Museum of Art
2110 Blue Ridge Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

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