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Hundred-Dollar Scholarship Not Enough to Catch the Eye of Most College-Bound Students

June 29, 2005

When it comes to paying for college, every dollar counts, or does it?

According to a survey of 500 Lunch-Money.com users, more than a quarter would not apply for a scholarship worth less than $5,000.

"Many students are looking for homeruns when it comes to scholarships," Mark Rothbaum, president of Lunch-Money.com, said. "They want to win one big scholarship that makes a huge dent in their tuition bill."

Only 30 percent of respondents would apply for a scholarship award of $100, while another 23 percent were willing to spend the time if the award was at least $500. With the price tag of some top private colleges approaching $40,000 per year, a $100 scholarship may be viewed as just a drop in the bucket by many students.

"These smaller scholarships don't seem worth the time for many kids," Rothbaum said. "However, these students may be missing their best opportunity for money. These smaller awards are often much less competitive, meaning a higher success rate for students. While looking for that homerun, students may be missing a chance to string together a number of singles. Winning a national scholarship can be much more competitive than gaining admittance to an Ivy League university."

One national scholarship program, the Coca Cola Scholars Foundation, awarded 250 scholarships last year, with each award ranging from $1,000 to $4,000 per year for four years. These 250 winners were selected from a pool of over 100,000 applicants, meaning fewer than 1 out of every 400 applicants won an award. By comparison, Harvard admitted 2,074 students into its class of 2009, out of a pool of 22,276 students. The 9.1 percent acceptance rate for the class of 2009 was an all-time low for Harvard, yet it still far outstripped a student's chance of winning a Coca Cola Scholars award.

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