ScholarshipOwl conducts a survey every month to develop a deeper understanding of Gen Z students. In April, our survey focused on how Gen Z feels about brands that offer scholarships, and how those feelings might influence their interest in the products and services offered by those brands.
Who participated in the survey?
In April 2023, ScholarshipOwl surveyed over 8600 high school and college students on the ScholarshipOwl scholarship platform to learn more about how Gen Z students feel about brands that offer scholarships. Among the respondents, 61% were female, 37% were male, and 2% identified themselves as other. Nearly half (48%) were Caucasian, 21% were Black, 17% were Hispanic/Latino, 7% were Asian/Pacific Islander and 7% identified as other.
61% of the respondents were high school students, with the vast majority high school seniors; nearly one-third (31%) were college undergraduate students, primarily college freshmen; 5% were graduate students and 3% identified themselves as adult/non-traditional students.
The rising cost of college has significantly impacted Gen Z, resulting in skyrocketing student debt, and a decreased ability for some students to go to college. Federal and state need-based aid is available to help low-income students reduce their out-of-pocket cost, but middle-income students are often not able to qualify for this assistance and end up taking out student loans to defray costs. Low-income students who do receive federal or state grant aid also often take out student loans because grants only cover a portion of the total cost of attendance. Scholarships present an often untapped opportunity to cover the cost of college, but there are simply not enough scholarships available to meet the need.
Most scholarships are offered by nonprofit organizations; however, a growing number of brands are offering scholarships to not only help fill this unmet need, but also to help forge a relationship with Gen Z students to help meet their own business goals. Our survey examines the relationship between Gen Z and the brands who offer scholarships to determine if scholarships are a viable marketing channel for brands.
The first survey question was “How do you feel about a brand that offers a scholarship?” Students selected all responses that applied to them.
Nearly three-quarters (73%) of respondents said that they would have positive feelings about a brand that offers a scholarship. More than two-thirds (68%) responded that they would feel that the brand understands their needs as a student, and 66% said that they would feel that the brand cares for them and other students like them. Over half of the respondents (51%) said they would feel more connected to a brand offering a scholarship, and nearly half (49%) said they would feel more loyal to the brand and its products and services. Only 10% said that their feelings about the brand would be unchanged, and just 2% said that they would have negative feelings about the brand.
As a follow-up question, we asked, “How do you feel about the scholarship offered by the brand?” Students selected all responses that applied to them.
Over two-thirds (69%) of the respondents said that they would feel that the scholarship is more likely to be credible and trustworthy, and the same percentage of students (69%) also said that they would be more likely to apply for the scholarship. Over half of the respondents (53%) said they would feel more interested in the scholarship since they already have a connection to the brand, and nearly half (48%) said they would be more likely to share the scholarship with friends and/or on social media. 12% said that they don’t care who is offering the scholarship – that it wouldn’t make any difference to them, and just 1% said that they would not be interested in applying for a scholarship offered by a brand.
The final survey question was “How would you feel about future interactions with the brand?” Students selected all responses that applied to them.
Among those who were surveyed, three-quarters (75%) of respondents said they would want to be contacted about additional scholarships being offered by the brand. Nearly two-thirds (62%) said they would want to find out more about the brand’s products and/or services. Over half (52%) said they would want to find out about internships and job opportunities offered by the brand, and nearly the same percentage (51%) would want to learn about discounts and loyalty programs offered by the brand. 11% said that whether or not a brand offers a scholarship would not impact their interest in the brand or its products or services, and just 1% said that they would be less interested in interacting with a brand that offers a scholarship.
Key takeaways for brands targeting Gen Z students
The survey results show that 99% of Gen Z students would not only be very interested in scholarships offered by brands; they would also be interested in interacting with brands that offer scholarships. Further, the results indicate that simply by offering a scholarship, a business gains significant brand equity among Gen Z students. Brands who offer scholarships have the opportunity to build an on-going, positive and loyal relationship with Gen Z students, a prized audience for many companies.
To get started, brands can create scholarship campaigns with the ScholarshipOwl for Business platform to quickly and easily launch their scholarship out to the millions of students who apply for scholarships on the ScholarshipOwl platform. Through the launch and promotion of scholarships, brands can attract, engage and nurture Gen Z students to not only fulfill their business goals, but also to help meet the scholarship needs of students who struggle to afford the cost of college.
To find out more about creating and launching a scholarship campaign, visit business.scholarshipowl.com.