72 Scholarship Statistics: 2023 Data, Facts & Analysis

72 Scholarship Statistics: 2023 Data, Facts & Analysis
Imed Bouchrika, Phd by Imed Bouchrika, Phd
Chief Data Scientist & Head of Content

Scholarships are becoming more relevant with the continuous increase in school fees and the troubling effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the job market. The average tuition fees in the United States for higher education in the 2021-2022 school year have increased across the board, foremost of which is the $410 hike for public schools (four-year, out-of-state) and the $800 jump for private schools (four-year, nonprofit) (Ma & Pender, 2021). Scholarships serve as a remedy because it eases the financial burden of students.

These financial agreements can come in many forms and from a variety of sources. Students, for instance, can learn the difference between full-ride and full-tuition scholarships and select the most suitable ones for their academic lifestyles. But before making any big decision, it is necessary to know the facts and figures behind scholarships and how much money can be saved from having one.

This document navigates the latest scholarship statistics, including the numbers behind the different types and their typical value. It also details the different sources and the likelihood of qualifying for one.

Scholarship Statistics Table of Contents

  1. General Scholarship Statistics
  2. Recipients of Scholarships Statistics
  3. Value of Scholarships Statistics
  4. Funding Sources for Scholarships Statistics
  5. Statistics on Different Types of Scholarships

General Scholarship Statistics

Students have a range of choices when looking for possible scholarships and other forms of financial aid to apply for. Schools are not the only institutions that provide them; learners can also look to the federal government, local districts, and third-party providers. With this, the information below answers questions like “How many scholarships are given each year?” and “How many scholarships does a student typically qualify for?”

  • More than 1.7 million fellowships and private scholarships in the United States are awarded each year (Dickler, 2020).
  •  25% of college students received money from scholarships and grants (Sallie Mae, 2021).
  • Around 1,581,000 scholarships are available to undergraduate and graduate students each year (Scholly, 2020).
  • However, only one in eight college students is awarded a scholarship (Kantrowitz, 2019).
  • Of the students who were awarded scholarships, 97% receive $2,500 or less (Kantrowitz, 2020).
  • Furthermore, only 0.2% of students receive scholarships worth $25,000 or more (Unigo, 2021).
  • 50% of students who were awarded private scholarships experience scholarship displacement. Meanwhile, 62% of schools reduce institutional grants, 55% reduce student loans, and 24% reduce student employment (Kantrowitz, 2021).
  • Of these, 31% of students granted scholarships who inform schools of their private scholarships face reduced institutional grants (Kantrowitz, 2021).
  • Full-ride scholarships are awarded to only about 0.1% of students (Wignall, 2021).
  • Nearly just as rare are full-tuition scholarships, which are awarded to only 1.5% of students (ThinkImpact, 2021).
  • A regular high school student may have the qualifications for as many as 50 to 100 scholarships (Dickler, 2021).
  • Unfortunately, 42% of scholarships cannot be found through a simple Google search (Scholly, 2020).

Scholarship Statistics 1

Recipients of Scholarships Statistics

It has been established that a lot of instruments for financial aid are available to students. The next logical step is to find out what percentage of students get scholarships. As the latest scholarship statistics suggest, there are a host of factors that could possibly influence the likelihood of being awarded a grant or scholarship, from the type of institution one enrolls at, to one’s chosen degree.

  • The college majors with the highest shares of federal grant money received are health at 18.4%, humanities at 16.3%, and business/management at 15.9%. These are followed by technical/professional majors (12.3%), life sciences (7.5%), social and behavioral sciences (7%), engineering (6.1%), computer and information science (4.6%), education (4.5%), and vocation and technical majors (3.2%) (Hanson, 2021).
  • According to the latest figures from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), African-American students are the most likely to receive grants at 88%, followed by Native Americans (87%), Pacific Islanders (84%), Hispanics (82%), students of two or more races (79%), Caucasians (74%), and Asians (66%) (National Center for Education Statistics, 2019).
  • However, when it comes to the average annual value of grants, Asians receive the highest with $13,480. Next are students of two or more races ($11,940), Caucasians ($11,420), African Americans ($11,390), Hispanics ($11,090), Native Americans ($10,750), and Pacific Islanders ($10,280) (National Center for Education Statistics, 2019).
  • 8% of scholarships are granted to students whose families have high incomes (ThinkImpact, 2021).

Source: Education Data Initiative, 2021

Public Schools vs Private Schools

Public schools may offer lower tuition fees, but private institutions award grants and scholarships with bigger monetary values to make education more affordable. As the latest scholarship statistics reflect, entering a four-year private nonprofit institution gives students the highest chance of being awarded a scholarship.

  • At 62%, students from private for-profit institutions are the most likely to receive grants from the federal government (Hanson, 2021).
  • Meanwhile, public university students, at 38%, are the most likely to receive state grants (Hanson, 2021).
  • For four-year institutions, private nonprofit schools have the highest percentage of awarding first-time full-time undergraduate students at 90%, followed by private for-profit schools (88%) and public schools (84%) (National Center for Education Statistics, 2021).
  • For two-year institutions, private nonprofit schools are also the most likely to award aid to first-time full-time undergraduates at 96%, followed by private for-profit schools (87%) and public schools (77%) (National Center of Education Statistics, 2021).

Scholarship Statistics 2

Value of Scholarships Statistics

The collective value of student aid has grown over the past decade, and the same goes for institutional grants for undergraduate and graduate students. This makes scholarships even more relevant tools in reducing education costs in this day and age. Furthermore, the high value of scholarships awarded by private schools makes them more accessible to families who normally would not be able to afford their sticker prices.

  • The total value of student grants in the U.S. increased from $126 billion in A.Y. 2011-2012 to $138.6 billion in A.Y. 2020-2021, accounting for a 10% increase (College Board, 2021).
  • On average, the grant aid awarded to each full-time undergraduate student is $10,050 while a qualified full-time graduate student receives $8,860 (Ma & Pender, 2021).
  • For four-year institutions, private nonprofit schools award the highest average amount of institutional grants per first-time full-time undergraduate student at $22,300, followed by public schools ($6,300) and private nonprofit schools ($5,900) (National Center of Education Statistics, 2021).
  • The same trend follows for two-year institutions, with private nonprofit schools awarding an average of $5,800, higher than those of public schools ($2,100) and private for-profit schools ($1,500) (National Center for Education Statistics, 2021).
  • There was a 112.025% increase in scholarship value for undergraduates and 37% for graduates from what they were in the 2000-2001 academic year (Ma & Pender, 2021).
  • Meanwhile, the average amount of federal and state government aid awarded per student is $13,100 (Hanson, 2021).
  • If the average value of grants and scholarships were subtracted from the cost of attendance in a two-year institution, the average net price of attending a public college is $7,310. For private nonprofit schools, the average net price is $19,180 while $21,560 is the amount for for-profit colleges (National Center for Education Statistics, 2020).
  • For the four-year institutions, the average net price of attending a public college is $13,980, $27,240 for a private nonprofit college, and $23,830 for a private for-profit college (National Center for Education Statistics, 2020).
  • The combined value of all the U.S. scholarships awarded each year is over $7.4 billion (Dickler, 2020).
  • Unfortunately, over $100 million in scholarships are not claimed every year (Scholly, 2020).
  • The average amount leveraged by families in scholarships is $7,293 (ThinkImpact, 2021).
  • According to the latest figures of the Institution of Education Statistics regarding four-year institutions, private nonprofit schools award the highest average value of scholarship and grant aid at $24,500, followed by public schools ($8,400) and private for-profit schools ($6,800) (Irwin et al, 2021).
  • For two-year institutions, private nonprofit schools are also the highest at $7,400, followed by public schools ($5,900) and private for-profit schools ($4,400) (Irwin et al, 2021).

Source: College Board, 2021

Funding Sources for Scholarships Statistics

A student can choose from a variety of scholarships and can apply and qualify for more than one type. If the financial aid provided is not sufficient for a family to shoulder the costs, learners have the option to apply for scholarships offered by outfits outside of school like the ones furnished by corporations, and the government. The Pell Grant comes as an ideal avenue for extra finances since it disburses the largest amount among all federal grants.

  • The largest source of student aid in private four-year nonprofit institutions is institutional grants at 83%. Next are student loans (58%), federal grants (33%), and state/local grants (25%) (National Center of Education Statistics, 2021).
  • In the case of private four-year for-profit schools, student loans are the top source at 70%. Next are federal grants (65%), institutional grants (30%), and state/local grants (11%) (National Center of Education Statistics, 2021).
  • Meanwhile, institutional grants are the biggest source for public four-year schools at 51%, followed by student loans (44%), state/local grants (38%), and federal grants (37%) (National Center of Education Statistics, 2021).
  • For two-year private institutions, student loans are the biggest source of student aid, amounting to 88% for nonprofit institutions and 74% for for-profit schools (National Center of Education Statistics, 2021).
  • Students of two-year public schools, on the other hand, mostly acquire financial aid from federal grants at 52%, followed by state/local grants (42%), student loans (18%), and institutional grants (17%) (National Center of Education Statistics, 2021).
  • For undergraduates, the type of student aid that awards the highest amount of money is institutional grants with $58 billion, followed by federal loans ($45 billion), federal Pell Grants ($26 billion), state grants ($13 billion), and private and employer grants ($12 billion) (College Board, 2021).
  • As for the biggest source of student aid for graduate students, federal loans leads the pack with $39 billion, followed by institutional grants ($13.4 billion), private and employer grants ($4.2 billion), federal veterans benefits ($1.7 billion), and federal education tax benefits (College Board, 2021).
  • The biggest scholarships in the United States in terms of dollar value are Barbizon ($100,000), the Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship Program (up to $55,000), Davidson Fellows Scholarship (up to $50,000), Burger King Foundation (up to $50,000), and the Ron Brown Scholar Program (up to $40,000) (GetSchooled, 2021).
  • District of Columbia has the largest percentage allocation for grant aid expenditures on higher education among all U.S. states at 35%, followed by South Carolina (34%), Lousiana (28%), Virginia (28%), Kentucky (24%), and Georgia (24%) (College Board, 2021).

Source: National Center of Education Statistics, 2021

Pell Grant Statistics

As the largest source of federal funds for education, the Pell Grant awards over $6,000 per qualified student, with over a quarter of new enrollees receiving the grant in 2020-2021. This suggests that a grant is a reliable option that families can turn to for additional funds.

  • Pell Grant is the largest federal scholarship, awarding funds to 7.5 million learners (ThinkImpact, 2021).
  • In fact, 30% of new enrollees in 2020-2021 were awarded Pell Grant funds (College Board, 2021).
  • The maximum Pell Grant award for the 2021-2022 academic year is $6,495 (Federal Student Aid, 2021).
  • It is important to know that the Pell Grant can only be awarded at one school at a time (Federal Student Aid, 2021).
  • The Pell Grant distributed the most funds among all federal grant programs with $25.97 billion awarded in 2020-2021, more so than veteran and military grants ($11.26 billion) and the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant ($856 million) (College Board, 2021).
  • Delving further, the Pell Grant covered 29% of the expenditures for tuition fees and room and board charges in four-year public schools and 13% in four-year private institutions (College Board, 2021).

Scholarship Statistics 3

Statistics on Different Types of Scholarships

Besides needs-based scholarships, students who are highly proficient in school get the chance to qualify for merit-based aid, and this is not limited to academics. Those who demonstrate considerable skill in athletics or other extracurricular activities may qualify for special scholarships. As such, we have compiled the latest academic scholarship, need-based scholarship, and athletic scholarship statistics.

Merit-Based Scholarships

Students who are proficient in their academics have a chance of obtaining merit-based scholarships that could give their finances a significant push. However, not all colleges offer the same terms when screening applicants, so a bit of probing is necessary. After all, more lenient screening and bigger scholarship values can positively influence degree completion rates.

In a study titled “Heterogeneous effects of merit scholarships: do program features matter?” published in Applied Economics, it was discovered that “The amount of scholarship funding awarded and the level of the academic standards play an important role in determining program effectiveness. In particular, programs with lenient academic requirements for initial eligibility are more successful at targeting marginal students and increasing associate’s degree completion, programs with lenient academic requirements for renewal eligibility positively affect degree completion in STEM fields, and programs with generous scholarship funding are particularly effective at increasing college attendance and bachelor’s degree completion.” (Jia, 2019).

  • Learners with a 3.5 or higher GPA (17%) are the most likely to receive private scholarships, followed by those with a GPA of 3.0 to 3.4 (13.1%), 2.5 to 2.9 (10.4%), 2.0 to 2.4 (8.3%), and less than 2.0 (7%) (Kantrowitz, 2019).
  • Moreover, students with an unweighted GPA of 3.5 to 4.0 are twice as likely to be awarded a private scholarship as those with a GPA lower than 3.0 (Kantrowitz, 2019).
  • As far as SAT scores are concerned, students who scored 1,000 or higher are the most likely to be awarded a private scholarship at 12.9%, more so than students who scored lower than 1000 (7.8%) (Kantrowitz, 2019).
  • Meanwhile, at 12.4%, students who scored 21 or higher in the ACT are more likely to be granted a private scholarship than those who scored below 21 (7.7%) (Kantrowitz, 2019).
  • 16.2% of STEM students and 11.5% of learners in non-STEM fields are awarded private scholarships (Kantrowitz, 2019).
  • 48% of student-athletes believe that academic scholarships adequately compensate for their studies while 26% do not (Morning Consult, 2021).
  • 22% of undergraduates are awarded merit-based scholarships (ThinkImpact, 2021).

Source: Saving for College, 2019

Needs-Based Scholarships

There are a lot of avenues for need-based scholarships. Students can apply to those offered by the school, state, federal government, corporations, and nonprofit organizations. Given the ubiquity of needs-based programs, a vast majority of learners in the U.S. have received financial aid while studying.

  • Need-based scholarships distributed $8.8 billion to students (ThinkImpact, 2021).
  • An estimated 53.3% of high school students in 2021 completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which represents a 2.5% decrease from 2020 (Postsecondary National Policy Institute, 2021).
  • The U.S. states with the highest FAFSA completion rates in 2021 are Lousiana (73.7%), Tennessee (71.6%), Washington, D.C. (66%), Illinois (65.7%), and New Jersey (64.3%) (Postsecondary National Policy Insitute, 2021).
  • More than 85% of college students are given financial aid (Fay, 2021).
  • However, 38% of college students fear that they do not have sufficient funds to cover the current semester (Leonhardt, 2020).
  • 58% of U.S. families leveraged need-based scholarships to shoulder higher education expenses (ThinkImpact, 2021).
  • In addition, 37% of high school students cite cost to the family as the top factor in choosing a college while 19% mention financial aid (Fidelity Investments, 2021).
  • Meanwhile, grants and scholarships, at 49%, have the largest share of high school parents believing that it is instrumental for financing college. It is followed by financial aid ( 44%), student loans (35%), general savings (33%), and parents’ income (25%) (Fidelity Investments, 2021).

Scholarship Statistics 4

Athletic Scholarships

Athletes of the highest level are scouted and groomed for full-ride scholarships by schools that compete in prestigious athletics leagues like the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). On the other hand, lower-tier student-athletes are not granted the same level of benefits, but they can still qualify for other athletics scholarships. In fact, 57% of student-athletes received some form of financial aid in 2019, so applying for a scholarship is advised.

  • Athletic scholarships are offered to less than 2% of high school student-athletes (Next College Student Athlete, 2021).
  • However, the amount awarded to those scholars reaches more than $3.1 billion each year for NCAA Divisions I and II alone (Next College Student Athlete, 2021).
  • The U.S. male sports with the highest number of available athletic scholarships are football (27,304), track & cross country (12,271), basketball (9,510), baseball (8,189), and soccer (6,368) (Scholarships Stats, 2021).
  • For women, the highest are track and cross country (16,620), basketball (10,222), soccer (9,870), golf (3,544), and tennis (4,362) (Scholarships Stats, 2021).
  • For male students, the sport that receives the largest average financial amount from NCAA athletic scholarships is basketball with $38,246, followed by football (football bowl subdivision) ($36,070), ice hockey ($31,756), football (football championship subdivision) ($20,706), and skiing ($20,275) (Fay, 2020).
  • For female students, ice hockey receives the highest average financial amount from NCAA athletic scholarships with $41,693, followed by gymnastics ($40,172), basketball ($36,758), tennis ($32,630), and volleyball ($31,138) (Fay, 2020).
  • The athletic association with the highest maximum scholarships given is the NCAA Division I with 74,243, followed by NJCAA (41,195), NCAA Division II (36,343), and NAIA (25,778) (Next College Student Athlete, 2021).

Source: Debt.org, 2020

Prioritize Scholarships Over Loans

Scholarships are an ideal way to decrease the cost of higher education without having to rely on a loan given that the total student debt amounted to a hefty $1.58 trillion as of Q3 2021. The amounts received from grants and scholarships are not repaid to the parties that awarded them, affording convenience to students and families who are shouldering the cost of education.

With the over 1.7 million scholarships awarded each year as well as the different types of scholarships on offer, students have access to a wide range of options, which include needs-based and merit-based aid. Some of these financial packages can be leveraged concurrently to significantly drive down education expenses. In doing so, students can focus on what truly matters—their academic performance and not the costs.

So, which scholarships should you go for? We have prepared a list of the top 100 student scholarships for you to choose from.



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