Loans and the ecosystem of money have been a conversation that one cannot escape when talking about education
As the education scene remains unpredictable with the ebbs and flows of the previous two years, there has been a wider conversation that remains unaddressed.
In 2021, there was an outstanding Rs 84,965 crores in student debt in the country, out of which a total of Rs 8,263 crores were accounted for as NPAs (Non-performing assets). With the rapid rise in debt and the situation being exasperated by the lack of balance in access to equal education, the state has been pushing for students to avail themselves of more scholarships in India.
There has been a severe gap between available scholarships, and the number of scholarships that are availed every year. The myths and ethos surrounding scholarships have been one of the biggest deterrents for students and parents when it comes to applying for scholarships. Mythbusting and making scholarship news more accessible is just the first step to ensuring that scholarships are available for all.
Common Myths about Scholarships:
- All scholarships are merit-based
With the education landscape getting increasingly competitive in the country, it only makes sense that students have the misconception that their grades determine scholarship opportunities. Students should be encouraged to spend their extra-curriculum mettle to boost their chances of getting non-academic scholarships.
Just the sports quotas have helped several students across India receive financial aid and other benefits- students were offered 25 per cent scholarships for participating in national level sports, and a 50 per cent scholarship for winning a medal at a national level in several private institutes.
Online modes of education and school management systems have been introducing mentorship sessions over the past few years to disseminate information about the various scholarships available to students. These institutes need to have an emphasis on scholarships at an elementary and high-school level, but various courses and advisories are available for higher education and upskilling courses too.
- Scholarships are only for a certain economic faction
While it is true that several scholarships are targeted towards minorities, there is an equal amount of scholarships that can be availed by students from all walks of life.
With the pandemic, there have been several schemes and scholarships that are targeted towards people with specific needs. However, no matter what the circumstances, if students are guided on what their education rights are along with the various offerings.
- The application process is daunting
Several scholarships need preparedness and the right timing, but once that is tackled- they’re fairly straightforward. Many government scholarships have been developed to be accessible to students from all backgrounds due to which the process has been simplified.
Students need to have the right assistance from coaches, and the right information from the right sources. The internet has made the application process easier, however, the internet needs to be used aptly to design the course and education process for students.
Educators need to start emphasizing the importance of exchange programs and voluntary services as they help boost the chances of students getting the right scholarship for them.
- Scholarships are restricted to certain courses
In 2018, formal employment was at 31 per cent for the non-agricultural workforce. However, only 13 per cent contributed to the GST of the country while not providing any social security benefits or perks. A majority of these workers hail from rural regions and also Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities.
To help increase awareness of the alternate career options and to help broaden the scope of students from the tinier corners of the country, LMS and Edtech companies have been stressing the importance of scholarships and helping students prepare for them on a national and international scale. The Edtech sector with its self-regulatory approach has helped create 75,000 jobs in the last 5 years and has launched several careers through scholarships and education aid.
While more scholarships are being availed in the country, there is still a major discrepancy in access and how many of the available scholarships are adopted by students. On the bright side, now more than ever, students are availing scholarships thanks to the internet and eLearning. A study showed that students received scholarships through an admissions gateway, and the number had increased from $ 6 million in 2018 to $ 8.5 in 2020. Students have a lot of academic and social pressure that they need to deal with, and navigating the world of scholarships might be challenging. During times like this, educators need to guide them through scholarships and help them get the best opportunities.