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How Rare Are Full-Ride Scholarships?

Roll of $100 billsHow many students earn full-ride scholarships and grants to college?

I've always known that it wasn't many students, but thanks to a new book, Secrets to Winning a Scholarship, I appreciate just how rare these full-ride scholarships and grants are.

According to author Mark Kantrowitz, who is publisher of FastWeb and FinAid, less than 20,000 students a year receive a completely free ride to college.

Among full-time college students enrolled at four-year colleges, just .3% received enough grants and scholarships to cover the full cost of college.

These lucky students received a full ride through any combination of money from the colleges themselves, federal and state grants and outside private scholarships.

The odds of receiving a full-ride private scholarship is even more remote. According to Kantrowitz, there are less than 250 private scholarships in this country that provide enough money to cover all college costs.

Bottom Line: While there are billions of dollars in scholarships and grants available to students from all income levels and abilities, you shouldn't plan on anyone outside your own family picking up the entire tab.

Lynn O'Shaughnessy is the author of The College Solution and she also writes for TheCollegeSolutionBlog.

More on CBS MoneyWatch:

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Scholarships and grant image by AMagill. CC 2.0.
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