For many students, securing scholarships is a necessity in order to attend college without graduating in significant amounts of debt. However, the process of finding, applying, and winning college scholarships, especially in today's times, has student's brains scattered with question marks all across the board.
Access Scholarships, a completely free-to-use scholarship search engine and student resource platform, was created amid the global pandemic, after co-founder and recent college graduate Ayden Berkey identified the need for a one-stop-shop resource to provide students with all of the information and resources necessary to succeed in the ever-stressful world of scholarships and college.
Alarming trends in student borrowing
According to recent statistics published by Educationdata.org, in 2020 there were 3.2 million new federal student loan borrowers, and the nationwide total student loan debt balance increased by 8.28%. While a reported 86% of college students benefitted from some form of federal aid last year, several billion dollars was left unclaimed.
These statistics suggest that students are not only struggling to come up with ways to pay for college while minimizing debt, but also that there is a knowledge gap between the availability of aid and resources and students who are taking advantage of them.
Leveraging technology and social media to equip students for financial stability and success
In addition to the noticeable upward trends in student borrowing identified above, the Access Scholarships co-founder also noted an increased sense of curiosity, by her peers and other students, towards the world of scholarships. Scholarships are commonly referred to as "free money" by many due to the fact that these funds are awarded to students without the expectation of repayment; a trait which makes winning them both extremely desirable and competitive.
The Access Scholarships platform includes a scholarship search engine and database with thousands of opportunities, pages of student resources and unique scholarship features, and an active blog which covers topics such as how to write scholarship essays and the importance of showcasing leadership through extracurriculars, along with plenty of posts highlighting scholarships for various student groups (think: STEM students, high school seniors, students with disabilities).
However, Berkey didn't stop there.
As a Gen-Z entrepreneur, she understands the importance of connecting with students "on their level" to get her messaging across. That's why, upon launching her website, she immediately turned to social media platforms such as Instagram and TikTok to reach as many students as possible with her scholarship resources.
In the short year since she has created her accounts, she has been able to reach thousands of students, connecting with them through live virtual events, chats, videos and posts, to disperse crucial information regarding financial aid and college success that many of these students wouldn't otherwise have access to.
As Access Scholarships approaches it's one year anniversary of working to prepare students for success in searching and applying for scholarships, securing financial aid, and navigating college admissions and life on campus, Berkey looks forward to the exciting process of continuing to make the cloudy world of college and financial aid as clear as possible.