Thousands of dollars’ worth of scholarships could be going unclaimed with university students simply unaware they are eligible.
Despite crippling education loans, students have revealed to 9News.com.au they didn’t know they could apply for help across a range of areas.
There are thousands of scholarships available, some of which are worth up to $150,000.
Student Willabel Bennet told 9News.com.au her university isn’t doing enough to ensure students know about opportunities to apply.
“I’ve never heard them promoted by staff, occasionally I’ll get an email, but predominantly you have to go search for them yourself.”
She says past-experience has deterred her from continuing to apply for scholarship opportunities.
“I applied for a financial aid scholarship and never even heard anything back, I found out the results through a friend, for all I know my application was never even received.”
“It takes so much effort to apply for a scholarship so why would I go to the trouble of applying when I have no idea if it will even be read?”
Editor of The Good Universities Guide, Patrick Evans, told 9News.com.au it’s not a lack of scholarship opportunities that is problematic but the lack of awareness about what’s on offer.
“There are lots of those scholarships which don’t get awarded.”
Mr Evans says old-fashioned views on scholarships are preventing more students from applying.
“I think there’s this old-fashioned view that those people that perform really well in high-school are the ones that get the scholarships.”
Mr Evans believes there’s a close-mindedness about the types of scholarships that are worth applying for.
“Yes, there are full academic ones but there are also a lot of smaller ones that might be able to cover immediate costs like textbooks, an internship or networking opportunities,” he said.
The average HECS debt has been steadily rising for the last decade, with about 150,000 people owing more than $50,000 each in the last financial year.
Text books, accommodation or just general living costs push some students to the edge, making scholarships of even a few hundred dollars valuable.
In a statement from the University of Sydney, Sally Sitou said the university does its best to promote scholarships.
“We do this by going out to high schools and talking directly to students, holding information events for students and parents, through our newsletter, on our website and through social media.”
A recipient of the prestigious all-rounder scholarship at the University of New South Wales, Sitou said it is students in the latter end of their degrees that struggle most.
“It’s much easier for school leavers but the further into your degree you get, the harder it is to meet eligibility criteria and the less you know about what’s on offer,” she said.
Mr Evans’ advice to students starting tertiary study is to keep an open mind.
“Just because you’re not the top of the class doesn’t mean you can’t get a scholarship,” he said.
“There’s something out there for everyone if you’re willing to look for it.”
To explore the 3,700 scholarships available on The Good Universities Guide website, vistwww.gooduniversitiesguide.com.au/scholarships.
This article originally appeared on 9News.com.au – Thousands of dollars’ worth of scholarships could be going unclaimed with university students unaware of eligibility