Scholarship Statistics

Last Updated: October 25, 2021 by Melanie Hanson

Report Highlights. Over 1.7 million scholarships are awarded annually.

  • However, only 7% of college students will receive a scholarship.
  • The U.S. Department of Education awards an estimated $46 billion in scholarship money annually.
  • The average scholarship is worth $7,400.
  • On average, first time undergraduates who receive government grants and scholarships at a 4-year college receive about $13,690 annually.

Related reports include Financial Aid Statistics | College Savings Statistics | How Do People Pay for College? | Average Student Loan Interest Rate | Student Loan Debt Statistics

Scholarship Aid by Income Level on Education Data Initiative

Scholarship Statistics for Public vs Private 4-year colleges

The terms grant and scholarship are used in close conjunction – almost interchangeably – in the data below. Government sources have occasionally referred to grants as needs-based scholarships.

  • On average, a student who receives a scholarship or grant at a private 4-year college will receive $7,834 more than a student in a public 4-year college.
  • The disparity in money awarded between public and private colleges is greatest among those families with the highest incomes.
  • The graph below uses the combined averages of non-profit private colleges and for profit private colleges.
  • The amount of aid awarded per student in the graph below comes from multiple scholarships and grants – a single scholarship averages $7,400.

Scholarship Aid by Public and Private Schools on Education Data Initiative

Private Scholarships

Private sources award over $7.4 billion in scholarship money annually. In 2003, private sources awarded an estimated $3.3 billion in scholarship money. In the 18 year gap, total private scholarship awards grew by $4.1 billion.

  • The Miss America Foundation awards up to $12,000 maximum per individual.
  • The United Negro College Fund provides funds for over 400 different scholarships.
  • The Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation’s biggest scholarship award is worth $20,000.
  • In 2016, the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) awarded 230 scholarships.
  • Those 230 scholarships amounted to $750,000 total that year.
  • The Center for Women in Technology (CWIT) offers scholarships from $5,000 to $20,000 annually for a maximum of 4 years.
  • In 2003, the average value of an undergraduate private scholarship was $1,982.
  • In 2003, 73% of private financial aid went to dependent students.
  • Meanwhile, 27% of private financial aid went to independent students.

Public Scholarships

Grants are typically awarded based on student need. Other public scholarships may include athletic based awards, program major specific awards, state residency based scholarships, and college specific scholarships.

  • The U.S. Department of Education awards an estimated $46 billion in scholarship money annually.
  • Pell Grants are reserved for students from families with an income below $25,000.
  • The average Pell grant award for undergraduates is $4,418.
  • The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) requires schools that participate in the program to contribute 25% of the aid awarded.
  • The FSEOG awards between $100 to $4,000 in scholarship aid money.
  • The table below uses statistics from 2016 – the most recent available.
  • In 2016, the total amount of federal grant money awarded was $41.7 billion.
  • In 2015, $2.9 billion in federal grant money went unclaimed because 47% of high school students did not complete a FAFSA.
Division of Total Federal Grant Money by College Major
Major Total Amount of Grant Aid Received
Humanities 16.3%
Social/Behavioral Sciences 7.0%
Life Sciences 7.5%
Physical Sciences 1.1%
Math 0.6%
Computer/Information Science 4.6%
Engineering 6.1%
Education 4.5%
Business/Management 15.9%
Health 18.4%
Vocational/Technical 3.2%
Other Technical/Professional 12.3%
Undecided 2.4%

Need-Based Scholarships by Race

The majority of federal grant money went to White students in 2016. The statistics below use public data from 2016 – the most recent available. The statistics below only include undergraduate students.

  • The majority of White students that received federal grant money received $2,100 to $3,599 in aid.
  • The majority of Black students that received federal grant money also received $2,100 to $3,599 in aid.
  • Most Hispanic students that were awarded federal grant money received between $3,600 to $5,699.
  • Most Asian students that were awarded federal grant money received anywhere between $5,700 to $46,000.
  • For American Indians and Alaskan Natives, the majority that did receive federal grant money received between $1 to $2,099.
  • For Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders, the majority that did receive federal grant money received anywhere between $5,700 to $46,000.
  • Finally, for students in the two or more races category, the majority of them received between $3,600 and $5,699.

Division of Grant Money by Race on Education Data Initiative

Athletic Scholarships

Athletic Scholarships are divided based on Division rankings. There are no scholarships for Division III athletes – but other forms of financial aid are available. The award amount also varies by gender.

  • Athletic scholarships are offered to less than 2% of high school student athletes planning to attend college.
  • Yet, more than 180,000 students receive an athletic scholarship annually.
  • Division I and Division II scholarships amount to over $3.6 billion annually.
  • There are 177,559 athletic based scholarships.
  • In the table below, certain sports had scholarships for only one gender.
Average Athletic Scholarship Award By Sport and Gender
Sport Average Scholarship Award Amount (Male) Average Scholarship Award Amount (Female)
Baseball $13,220
Basketball $38,246 $36,758
Football — FBS $36,070
Football — FCS $20,706
Golf $12,066 $21,866
Gymnastics $18,191 $40,172
Ice Hockey $31,756 $41,693
Lacrosse $12,303 $12,884
Skiing $20,275 $19,084
Soccer $15,008 $17,766
Swimming & Diving $16,695 $18,794
Tennis $18,379 $32,630
Track & Field $11,260 $14,574
Wrestling $12,551
Equestrian $10,462
Field Hockey $18,331
Rowing $21,053
Softball $20,715
Volleyball $31,138

Sources

  1. Debt.org: Scholarships & Grants for College Students
  2. Debt.org: Athletic Scholarships for College Students
  3. National Center for Education Statistics (NCES): Table 331.30 – Average amount of grant and scholarship aid 2018-2019
  4. NCES: The National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS) 2016
  5. Institute for Higher Education Policy: Private Scholarships Count
  6. Next College Student Athlete (NCSA): Athletic Scholarships – Everything You Need to Know
  7. The Best Colleges: The 10 Biggest Scholarships in the World