A scholarship award from a college or university is a much-welcomed acknowledgement of a student's outstanding accomplishments in a particular area. It can also be a strong motivator to attend one particular school over another -- after all, who doesn't like to feel they've earned something special, or be recognized for all their hard work?
But there's another aspect to college scholarships to consider. Colleges and universities know that these financial awards provide a strong incentive that can often tip an attendance decision in their favor. That means scholarship offers can be thought of as a marketing tool used by the college. As Professor Bill Anderson, the director of Engineering admissions at University at Waterloo, points out,
Scholarships to U.S. colleges will often look much bigger and better than ours, but their tuition and other fees may also be much higher. This may be part of a marketing strategy known as “tuition discounting”, and it is not so common in Canada.
You may be asking, so what? Who cares if it's considered a marketing strategy, or a tuition discount; it's 'free money'! Well, if you understand more about what is driving the offer, even before you apply to a school, you may be able to use that knowledge to your advantage.
As the Lumina Foundation reports in its study Unintended Consequences of Tuition Discounting,
Institutions use the discounts for a variety of purposes, but generally their goal is to manage or tailor enrollment for one or more reasons: to increase racial, ethnic or income diversity on their campuses or to woo students who have shown superior academic performance or other special skills.
This means that scholarships are a way for the school to help improve institutional goals they have. How?
Let's say a private college is trying to improve their average standardized test scores, and, at the same time, their female to male demographic, which is lagging behind the national average. They decide to offer scholarship money to female students whose standardized test scores are substantially higher than the school's average.
How can you use this to your advantage? Find out in our free ebook designed to help you minimize student debt and maximize your college dollars. You will also learn how tocompare offers from more than one school, and negotiate with the financial aid office. To learn more, download our free 45-page ebook, where we dive in to the details and help you learn how to save money on your college tuition.