With the cost of college rising and a pending tax bill that could further increase those charges, more and more families may want to search for scholarships to help defray costs.
There are national scholarships awarded by companies and foundations as well as scholarships from individual schools. TFS Scholarships is a website that includes both, representing more than $41 billion in funding, but the majority of its 7 million listings come from colleges and universities.
School scholarships fund more students than national scholarships and are easier to obtain because fewer students are competing for them, says President Richard Sorensen, who founded the service in 1987 before the commercial internet was widely available and the World Wide Web was born.
Sorensen, who was just getting involved in the technology industry at the time, was inspired by his father, the principal of an inner city school in Salt Lake City. His father wished there was a software program to provide families information about college scholarships because they wanted the information and assumed the school could provide it. The school didn’t have the resources so Sorensen developed his software program.
(Related: How American Families Pay for College: 2017)
At the TFS Scholarship website – TFS stands for Tuition Funding Sources – undergraduate and graduate can research the scholarships available at individual schools that match their interests. Some schools require admittance before a student can submit a scholarship application; others don’t although they may want assurances that the student will attend if accepted.
“Every school is slightly different,” says Sorensen, who recommends that students also contact the school they’re interested in to learn the details about the school’s scholarships.
School scholarships are likely to become more important to families if Congress passes a tax bill. There are currently two bills circulating – a bill that the House has already been passed and a bill approved by the Senate Finance Committee but not yet voted on by the full Senate.
The bills include many different provisions concerning college funding but there is one provision identical in both: a 1.4% tax on the net investment income of university endowments that have more than 500 tuition-paying students and an endowment with assets are equivalent to $250,000 per student. That provision is likely to impact the wealthiest schools with the biggest endowments but they are also among the most expensive.
Both bills also include changes to the unrelated business income tax (UBIT) affecting colleges and universities, which, like the endowment tax, would increase the taxes paid by some universities and potentially limit the monies available for scholarships.
“I’m concerned that anything that causes schools to divert money somewhere else especially giving it back to government, will curtail money available to provide scholarships,” says Sorensen.
The House bill would also tax as income the free tuition that graduate students receive in exchange for research or teaching services, which could discourage many from enrolling in doctoral programs because they would have to find another income source to pay those taxes “Many just won’t go,” says Sorensen.
The TFS Scholarships site is free, with no ads, and adds more than 5,000 new scholarships to its database monthly. It’s currently sponsored by Wells Fargo and was previously sponsored by PepsiCo.
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