Scholarship awards help students go to the college or university of their choice more affordably. Not only do they help young people get the education they want, but they are also linked to success in higher education. An MIT study found that students who receive scholarships as financial aid are more likely to succeed in school and graduate.
The Evaluating College Support study looked at Nebraska students who received aid from the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation, one of the largest private providers of financial aid to college students. The foundation provides $40 million in aid to more than 4,000 students every year. These awards encourage students to attend public colleges and universities in the state of Nebraska.
The study showed differences in graduation rates for four-year undergraduate degrees between those who received the scholarships and those who did not. It concluded that by six years after receiving the awards, they increased bachelor’s degree completion rates by 8.4 percentage points. For students who went to the University of Nebraska in Omaha in particular, there was a 15 percent difference in graduation rates between those who received the foundation’s aid and those who did not.
How Does Aid Benefit Students?
Scholarships, along with other forms of aid including grants and student loans, allow students to attend college. Scholarships can be need-based or merit-based, and there are many private providers in addition to schools themselves offering scholarship awards. Not all students can graduate for various reasons, but financial reasons are common. Mary Schmidt Campbell, president of Spelman College in Georgia, told US News, “What we’ve determined is that overwhelmingly, the primary reason is financial.”
Non-loan financial help makes college more accessible to low-income students and allows them to attend college without having them work other jobs to repay loans in the future. They can be anticipated to do better academically and have more time to dedicate to their studies with these demands removed, resulting in greater graduation rates within four or six years.
Evidence of Links Between Financial Aid and Graduation
Scholarships and graduation rates are related, according to other sources. The outcomes could be explained by several different factors. Scholarships might make it easier for students to continue their education, but they can also go to students who were already determined to finish their education and were more likely to succeed on their own. But in 2017, the Borough of Manhattan Community College discovered that recipients of scholarships had a 20% higher rate of graduation than applicants who met the requirements but were unsuccessful in getting them.
Since all those surveyed were qualified, this demonstrates that there is a difference even among students who were equally committed to completing college based on their academic goals or starting financial situation. So there’s more reason to think that receiving the scholarship award is what helped these students graduate successfully, rather than scholarships simply going to the students who had the most motivation and resources that helped them to both apply for scholarships and complete their coursework.
What This Means
If scholarships predict success in higher education, then students should take advantage of them at every opportunity to give themselves more support that may help them graduate. Financial awards are available from a variety of sources. Students can find a need for merit-based scholarships through their college or apply for open private scholarships online.
Failing to graduate college is a disappointing result that discourages many students. 6-year graduation rates for full-time students are at around 59%, though this number also doesn’t distinguish between dropouts and transfers. Improving the graduation rate is hugely important to promote higher education and give young people greater opportunities in their careers. For this reason, they should seek out scholarships and find ways to stay committed to their education in the long term.