Scholarships and Why You Still Need to Save

According to the College Board, about 2/3 of college students receive some form of scholarship or grant. And the NCAA doles out more than $2.9 billion in scholarships annually. Many parents see numbers like those, look at their own children’s awesomeness, and say, “We’ve got this.” But breaking down those numbers shows that you will still pay quite a bit for college and therefore probably need to save.

For instance, that $2.9 billion from the NCAA? It’s spread out over more than 150,000 student-athletes. That averages out to under $20,000 per student-athlete. Take out the marquee sports that dole out the largest chunks of this aid– D1 football and basketball, for instance– and the average athletic scholarship turns out to be around $11,000. In fact, less than 2% of high school athletes receive an athletic scholarship to college.

It is estimated that there is a total of about 20,000 “full ride” scholarships available annually. With over 20 million college students in the US, that means that less than 0.1% of students actually get a full scholarship.

Most families should assume that they will spend somewhere in the neighborhood of their EFC on college each year. Your EFC is likely to be in the range of 20%-33% of your total income– a larger number than you’ll be comfortable paying out of cash flow. That means some combination of savings and cost management is imperative for the vast majority of families.

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