When we hear the words “student grant”, we usually get the automatic image of a government program of some sort. While there are certainly many government sponsored students in this world, there are also many privately sponsored students – and these private sponsorships are not nearly as inundated with competition as the government options.
A private organization might offer grants for humanitarian reasons. This would be like an organization that lobbies against animal cruelty offering grants to those wishing to become veterinarians or animal control officers. The grant is a win/win situation because the organization gets not only one more qualified person in a field that they endorse, but they get a tax deduction for the endowment. The recipient of the student grant obviously gets the advantage of someone else picking up the cost for his or her education.
The other major reason that a private organization would offer a student grant is publicity. The public approves of an organization or person who gives money to assist a struggling student. For a company that relies on donations for their income, this public goodwill is especially important. Even a publicly traded company may see greater loyalty or a willingness to forsake the competition from customers who feel that part of their money is being used to help someone, rather than simply disbursed among the shareholders. Lastly, a person with a great deal of money is usually a hated person. The jealousy of people naturally causes hard feelings toward such a person. Sponsoring a student often alleviates these bad feelings and gives the public the impression that the community benefits from that particular person’s success. As long as the public feels that your success is a good thing, you will have far fewer wanting to drag you down.
Now that we know there are many perfectly good reasons a private organization would offer a student grant, it is easy to understand why the competition for these particular grants is so small. The administrators of government grant programs are professionals whose job is to know how to publicize those programs. In the private sector, the administrator of a given grant program is usually someone who has a full time job doing something else and the responsibility for dealing with the grant business was thrust upon them. Because of the fact that they 1) Don’t know how and 2) Are more concerned with doing their primary job, often these programs are introduced to the public in a very low-key way like a small newspaper ad or an easily missed page on the company’s website.
The best way to uncover these hidden student grants is to make phone calls. Calling the main number of any non-profit organization or any large company in the same industry as the prospective student will turn up tons of grants that even the professional financial aid counselors at schools aren’t aware of.