|Approved Scholarships and Grants, and Educational Courses|
In his research document, Professor Heller concluded that “Over the last decade, there has been a fundamental shift in the awarding of scholarships to undergraduate students in the United States.” In his Scholarships and Grants research paper, Prof. Heller further states that”…More and more, these [scholarships]/grants are being made not based on the financial need of the student and her family – which has been the predominant criterion since the passage of the Higher Education Act of 1965 over 40 years ago – but instead, are being awarded using measures of academic merit without consideration of financial need.”
A common source used to obtain data regarding the trends in National Scholarships and Grants, including the racial, demographic, and economic data of those students receiving scholarships and grants, is data and statistics from the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS), which is a department of the U.S. Department of Education.
Using this data, we, can analyze changes in institutional national scholarships, and grant awards. The research paper on Scholarships and Grants by Heller in 2008 is important because it is necessary to address the dominant topics and themes of his report while we fast-forward to the ever-changing Scholarships and Grant landscape of 2013.
In 2008, if one were to search the statistics and data regarding the distribution of Scholarships, and Grants, one would most likely find data that mirrors the survey conducted by Heller which covered approximately 6,000 Title-IV eligible colleges and universities in the U.S.A. in the year the study was conducted.
A substantial amount of information regarding scholarships and grants was collected from students and parents through telephone or web-based interviews, as well as from institutional records and federal financial aid databases.
In 1995, for example, national scholarships and grant to undergraduate students for colleges and universities across the country totaled approximately $6.9 billion. Much of these scholarship and grant funds were the result of savings from undergraduate students from their own resources. By 2003, the amount of scholarships and grants had more than doubled to $14.1 billion, according to Heller. In every scholarship and grant sector, institutional financial-aid spending/granting grew faster than tuition increases over this period, which averaged 44 percent at community colleges, 65 percent at public 4-year institutions, and 55 percent at private 4-year institutions , according to the a College Board report published in 2005 regarding a similar study about scholarships and grants.
The growth in the popularity of state merit grants and national scholarships is often attributed to the implementation of the HOPE National Scholarship program in Georgia. Since the development of this national scholarship program in 1993,fourteen states have created similar, broad-based national scholarship programs (Heller & Marin, 2002,2004). Unlike need-based grants, which are universally funded from state general revenues and are subject to the dictates of the politically-driven appropriation process in each state, states use a variety of funding mechanisms – including general funds, lottery revenues, and funds from tobacco litigation settlements to fund national scholarships.
During this time period, a substantial number of national scholarships, and grants were funded from proceeds of litigation against major cigarette manufacturers. However, as the time period moved forward into the new century, this sort of funding dried up.
Degradation of National Scholarships: Loss of Prestige
In or about 2008, and beyond, several scholarship search organizations began to create quirky, and odd national scholarship models based upon a scholarship points system, or lottery-style scholarship prizes, and scholarship giveaways that had little to do with traditional criteria associated with merit and achievement, and essays. Scholarships.Com, College Prowler, Scholarship Points, FastWeb, are a few of the several scholarship and grant search organizations or listing agencies that now offer or sponsor what we term merit-less scholarships based upon social-gaming. The creation of these lottery-style National Scholarships have confused students and parents. Employers typically have little respect for these lottery-style National Scholarships, but they are popular amongst students because they are viewed as easy. Nonetheless, national scholarships have been degraded by scholarship search listing companies because sponsoring scholarships and listing scholarships are entirely different, and the former requires far more expertise and care.
Unlike 10 years ago, students today not only have more federal and private sources of national scholarships, and grants, but the Internet has spawned a new source of quasi-scholarship sponsors. Instead of being content with providing just a scholarship search service, scholarship search organizations like Scholarships.Com, College Prowler, and FastWeb offer a series a clumsy scholarships that verify their lack of expertise as legitimate scholarship sponsors. Many of these scholarship search organizations, although seemingly legitimate, now sponsor crude forms of scholarships that do not rely upon merit, essays, teacher recommendations, or traditional character evaluations.
Gambling/Social-Gaming Styled National Scholarships
Instead, for example, the sexy scholarship points system used by Scholarship Points has been characterized by some as no different than social-gaming. Under this model, students accumulate scholarship points as a dominant gauge to select [choose] scholarship recipients. Under the social-gaming theory, students have flocked to scholarship sites like Scholarships.Com, and ScholarshipPoints that promote or advertise dubious and suspect National Scholarships that more resemble lottery-style pay-offs rather than scholarships.
For example, on or about January 28, 2013, and thereafter, the website Scholarships.Com announced “What better way is there to kick off spring semester than an additional $1,000 to put towards your college education?” Scholarships.Com was promoting a gaming/gambling-type national scholarship called a Weekly Essay Contest. Apparently, the participants needed only to “write a two to three sentence essay..” and that was sufficient enough to be a called a “National Scholarship.” Gambling and lottery-style national scholarships designed as merit scholarships DO NOT IMPRESS EMPLOYERS!!
Censorship of National Scholarship Databases Limits Choices
The censorship of national scholarship databases limits choices. National Scholarships connected to the National Scholarship Providers Association are typically the most censored of national scholarship databases. The creation and founding of the National Scholarship Providers Association is traced to controversial public figure Mark Kantrowitz. Kantrowitz is a businessman and founder of FinAid.org. He has a detailed history of censorship and database suppression of national scholarships that apparently do not fit his self-styled criteria of suitability. For example, in the 1990’s Mark Kantrowitz publicly announced a set of strict criteria that national scholarship sponsors must meet before their national scholarships could be included in his finaid.org database. Other scholarship listing services like Scholarships.Com quickly followed suit because national scholarship search companies connected to National Scholarship Providers Association typically act as group or block; similar to anti-trust violators.
In fact, it is argued that one of the dominant original purposes of the National Scholarship Providers Association was to censor and weed out national scholarship sponsors that were not connected to organizations that sponsored FinAid.org.
The most legitimate National Scholarships DO NOT have a middle-man or middle-organization in between the organization and the possible participants. No legitimate national scholarship sponsor, for example, really needs an organization like the the National Scholarship Providers Association to promote a national scholarship. The National Scholarship Providers Association charges a fee, and those fees are deducted from national scholarship funds, and thus leaving less for students.