Expert: Millions in scholarships going unused

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Paying for college is a worry for many high school seniors and their parents. Yet, despite the increasing cost of higher education, millions of dollars in scholarships go unused year after year.

No longer is it enough to just apply to college and hope to be granted admission. High School seniors like Jillian Barnabe have to take into consideration how much money she’ll get in financial aid.

“I’m not going to the school unless they give me money,” said Barnabe.

“She has high aspirations as to where she wants to go to school so every little bit helps,” added Barnabe’s mother, Carol.

Often times, what a college or university may offer in financial aid still isn’t enough to cover the costs of getting a degree. That’s where a scholarship can fill the gap.

Companies like Amazon, Coca-Cola, Burger King, Foot Locker, Verizon and Sunoco all offer scholarships – and combined, the assistance adds up to millions of dollars.

However, according to the country’s largest scholarship administrator, Scholarship America, millions of dollars in scholarship money are going unused every year.

Chris Gray knows just how much scholarship money isn’t being taken advantage of when it comes time to paying for college. Gray didn’t pay for college. Not even a cent.

Instead, he applied for numerous scholarships and eventually ended up being awarded more than $1 million.

Gray admits, finding those scholarships wasn’t an easy task. “The hardest part about getting money for college is finding it,” said Gray.

Co-founder of the company Scholly, Gray aims to make the scholarship search easier. His application lists thousands of scholarships for prospective college students to scroll through.

“We helped students raise over $15 million…students are getting free rides,” Gray told Eyewitness News.

The scholarships available are from the expected to the bizarre – like the Zombie Apocalypse Scholarship. Applicants for the $2,000 are asked to write an essay about what they would do if their high school was overrun with zombies.

Other money up for grabs includes $10,000 from The Gallery Collection. What’s required of the applicant? Create a greeting card.

If food is more your thing, the student with the best essay on their favorite flavor of ice cream can win the Flavor of the Month scholarship worth $1,500 – just a small scoop of the tens of thousands of dollars waiting for your application.

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