In the US, the most talented young people are able to study with minimal expenses thanks to scholarships. There are many scholarship stats out there that can illuminate their importance.

Students can be awarded for many reasons, from having outstanding grades to excelling at sports. Therefore, if you’re a student, you might want to try to get at least one scholarship. If you’re lucky, some of them can cover your college tuition fees in full.

Let's look at some of the key statistics about scholarships so you can learn more about scholarship trends, sports and academic scholarships, the amounts you can get, and other important things.

The Most Important Scholarship Statistics (Editor's Choice)

  • The cost of a four-year public college education is three times higher than 30 years ago.
  • In 2021, the National Merit Scholarship Program will offer 8,700 awards.
  • Only around 2% of students are awarded athletic scholarships.
  • The average annual athletic scholarship per student is between $8,700 and $10,400.
  • In 2018 and 2019, the amount of undergraduate financial aid provided by federal loans was $54 billion.
  • Out-of-state students receive scholarships that are twice as high as those for in-state students.
  • White students are 40% more likely to get private scholarships.
  • 44% of men believe offering female-only scholarships is against gender discrimination laws.

General College Scholarship Statistics

There are many types of scholarships, such as academic and athletic scholarships, scholarships for women and minorities, etc. Each of them has its perks, but not many people are eligible. Still, there are ways to successfully apply for a scholarship, so let's find out why scholarships are so important and how you may be able to get one.

1. Most scholarships (47%) come from federal grants.

There are four major sources of college grants. Apart from federal grants, financial aid is also provided by colleges and universities (35%), private organizations (10%), and state grants (8%). However, grants don’t necessarily cover the total tuition fee, according to scholarships stats. For this reason, it's best to apply for several grant programs.

2. The fees for a four-year public college are three times higher than 30 years ago.

Attending a four-year public college today costs three times more than it did 30 years ago. In addition, the debt related to student loans has reached 1.53 trillion, making it one of the main sources of debt in the US. Despite this, a vast majority of parents (84%) still believe college will aid students in finding a higher-paying job after graduation.

3. Two in three college graduates receive gift aid.

One of the most interesting scholarship facts is that gift aids needn't be repaid. Every year, out of 1.8 million graduates, around 1.2 million receive gift aid. Private colleges typically grant more money than public educational institutions. This would suggest that private colleges and universities are more expensive, but it can even turn out the opposite due to gift aids and other types of scholarships.

4. There are more academic than athletic scholarships.

Various academic scholarships vs. athletic scholarships statistics reveal that, although athletic scholarships are more valuable, there are more academic scholarships available. This is because academic scholarships can come from many different sources, while athletic scholarships are funded by sports-related organizations.

5. The National Merit Scholarship Program will provide 8,700 awards in 2021.

The organization behind this program will offer students around $41 million in 2021. There are three forms of awards: college-sponsored merit scholarships, corporate-sponsored scholarships, and National Merit Scholarships with an average amount of scholarship money per student of $2,500. High school students need to take the PSAT (the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test) to qualify for these scholarships.

6. In 2018, 15% of students got merit-based financial aid.

Between private and public universities, about 15% of students received merit-based financial aid in 2018. Students of private universities are more likely to get this type of scholarship than those enrolled in public colleges. In fact, 18% of private college students received merit scholarships in 2018, compared to only 10% of students at public universities, according to the data collected from 670 private and 420 public institutions.

Athletic Scholarship Stats

Athletic scholarships are a great way for young athletes to lower the cost of their education by doing what they love. Here are some stats about all kinds of sports scholarships, including those for soccer, volleyball, basketball, and other sports played in the US.

7. Only around 2% of students earn athletic college scholarships.

In 2017, 181,306 students received a sports scholarship, out of 7.3 million student-athletes. In other words, 2.45% of students got a scholarship. Athletic scholarship statistics also reveal that only 6.7% of those who managed to secure sports-related financial aid went on to become NCAA student-athletes. 59% of Division I players and 62% of Division II players got an athletic scholarship.

8. High-level college sports are as demanding and time-consuming as full-time jobs.

According to a 2019 survey from the NCAA, Division I athletes playing football spent around 43.3 hours a week at work. College baseball players worked for 42.1 hours, male basketball players 39.2 hours, and female basketball players 37.6 hours a week. These college athletics statistics show that Division I athletes simply don’t have time to study demanding disciplines like, for example, engineering or sciences.

9. 53% of NCAA Division I students graduated with no loans in 2019.

Division I students often have their loans covered by scholarships that can pay for all or part of their college tuition fees. There are three divisions in the NCAA, and Division I includes the highest-ranked athletic colleges in terms of facilities and financial power. These institutions award the most scholarships, which they reserve for their top athletes.

10. The average college athletic scholarships vary from $8,700 to $10,400 per student.

More generous scholarships are typically reserved for male football and basketball players, who are awarded $10,400. Others get less, and not every sport offers full-ride scholarships. For the recipients, it’s important to maintain a certain level of athletic and academic excellence to retain their scholarship and have it renewed every year.

11. This year, more than 30,000 scholarships were awarded only for football.

Scholarship stats regarding football show that there are more scholarships available for football players than other athletes. Interestingly, football scholarships are only available for male students. In fact, looking at all available scholarships in the US, the number is slightly higher for men than women. In 2019 and 2020, there were 7,500 more scholarships for male students.

12. There are 11.7 baseball scholarships for NCAA Division I, 9 scholarships for Division II, and 387 financial aid programs for Division III teams.

According to baseball scholarship stats, although Division III doesn't provide full scholarships, they offer many financial aid packages that can help athletes cover some of their college tuition fees. Division I scholarships are divided between 27 students at most. This means that students on a Division I scholarship get a minimum of 25% of the total scholarship amount.

13. Approximately 1.2% of volleyball players get into a Division I school, but it's hard to get a scholarship.

Division I can offer only 12 full-ride scholarships per team. Volleyball scholarship stats reveal that approximately 27,400 women play across all Division levels. Division I volleyball is classified as a head-count sport, so the scholarships given out must be full-ride.

14. Each NCAA Division II team can get up to 18 scholarships for female hockey players.

The NCAA scholarship amount for Division II female hockey players is around $6,541. A single team counts about 24 members, with 18 scholarships available per team. There are only 132 Division II female hockey players, which means that more than two-thirds of them can get a scholarship.

15. Only 9.9 scholarships are awarded per NCAA Division I soccer team.

As scholarship stats on soccer reveal, a men's NCAA Division I soccer team has approximately 29 players, and only 9.9 of them can get a scholarship. The average scholarship amount per team is $17,747, and it can cover just one-third of an average student-athlete's yearly college costs.

16. Only 12 NCAA Division I gymnastics scholarships are available per school.

Gymnastics is considered a head-count sport, and the average scholarship for a Division I female gymnast is $19,776. NCAA Division II can also award up to 12 female gymnasts per team, but they each get one half of a scholarship, averaging about $8,147 per athlete.

Scholarship Statistics Regarding the Amount of Financial Help

Some scholarships can cover 90% or even 100% of tuition fees, but those are quite scarce. That's why many students apply for other scholarships or types of financial aid. They also apply for as many scholarships as they can to improve their chances of securing one. Let’s look at some statistics regarding the number and value of scholarships.

17. The scholarships the NCAA awards are worth $2.9 billion.

The scholarships are distributed to more than 150,000 student-athletes, which means that every student gets around $16,000. There are opportunities for full-ride scholarships, but they're quite rare. Apart from collegiate athletic scholarships, students find some other ways to cover their expenses. These include various kinds of partial scholarships, such as fees and tuition scholarships.

18. The amount of undergraduate financial aid provided by federal loans in 2018 and 2019 was $54 billion.

There are other types of financial aid for students. For example, $52 billion is available from institutional grants, $28 billion from the Federal Pell Grant program, $1.5 billion from federal education tax benefits, $1.3 billion from private and employer grants, and $1.2 billion from state grants.

19. The average scholarships and grants amount per undergraduate student in 2018 and 2019 was $9,520.

According to the College Board's report from 2019, the average scholarship or grant per undergraduate student was around $9,500. Federal, state, employer, institutional, and private grants are all included in this number.

20. Only 25,000 athletic scholarships are available for incoming freshmen.

Even though there are around 130,000 student-athletes who get a scholarship every year, freshmen only have access to 25,000. For this reason, it's not wise to solely rely on the possibility of getting a scholarship to pay for your undergraduate studies.

21. The average athletic scholarship per student-athlete is around $18,000.

According to the numbers published by the NCAA, a student-athlete with an average scholarship can't cover all college tuition fees. Only some sports award full scholarships, like football (it only provides scholarships for males), basketball, volleyball, tennis, and gymnastics.

22. Out-of-state students typically receive scholarships that are twice as high as those for in-state students.

Students from other states receive more money than in-state students because of the effort to draw more talented students from across the US. In 2018, the average scholarship amount per student from another US state was $8,620 in merit aid, while it was only $4,676 for in-state students.

23. There are more than 1.7 million private scholarships and fellowships awarded each year.

According to 2019 statistics, the total amount of private scholarships awarded was more than $7.4 billion. Private scholarships are a form of independent gift aid typically funded by foundations, philanthropists, or corporations, and they don't have to be repaid.

24. The average unmet need for Asian American students in 2019 was $16,756, thus increasing the demand for scholarships.

The percentage of scholarships based on race differs, but the demand for scholarships among Asian American students has risen. That’s because the average unmet need (i.e., the difference between the cost of tuition and the total cost of living) for these students in 2019 was $16,756. Despite this, around 49% of Asian American population holds a bachelor's degree.

25. The biggest scholarship program for LGBTQ students grants up to $13,600.

The Point Foundation offers scholarships of up to $13,600 to LGBTQ students based on their academic excellence and impact on their local community. This foundation also helps LGBTQ students through mentorship and leadership development programs.

Scholarship Statistics by Race, Ethnicity, and Gender

Diversity should always be encouraged, but some statistics show that there's a significant race gap when it comes to financial aid for students. Namely, Caucasian students are more likely to be awarded scholarships. Is it true that minorities and women face more obstacles to get financial support for their studies? You’ll find out in this section.

26. Caucasian students are 40% more likely to receive private scholarships.

Unfortunately, only 28% of minorities receive any kind of scholarship, even though they represent almost three-quarters of the entire student population. Winning scholarships based on race isn't uncommon, though, as statistics show that Caucasian students receive more than 75% of all merit-based grant and scholarship funding.

27. 44% of men believe offering female-only scholarships is a violation of gender discrimination laws.

According to a 2019 survey, 44% of men were opposed to giving preference to women in order to encourage gender equality, while only about 30% supported it. On the other hand, 40% of women supported such preferences. Interestingly, college scholarships statistics also reveal that 24% of women strongly opposed giving preference to women.

28. 85% of black graduates borrowed federal loans to pay for college, which means they had fewer chances to get a scholarship.

Black bachelor's degree recipients borrowed more money than Caucasians in 2016. Luckily, colleges and universities are working on diversity, and there are more scholarships available for black students who are members of various organizations or associations.

Scholarship Stats – Wrap Up

If you're worried about student loans and amassing debt, you should know that there are other possibilities to pay for your higher education. Right now, there are hundreds of scholarship programs and grants available to students in the US.

Even if full-ride scholarships are extremely rare, you shouldn’t lose hope. While other types of financial aid might not cover all your bills, they can still be of great help.

Conducting thorough research about all available scholarship programs is crucial, and this overview is a great place to start.