Parents are frequently dismayed at the amount of money awarded to their children by college financial aid programs. They often do not expect the amount of disparity between what college will cost and what is being offered. Many are not prepared to make up the difference....so they borrow a PLUS loan (parent loans for undergraduate students).
College funding is very much a do-it-yourself-project in the US. It takes initiative and hard work to get the best results. There are forms for everything. Some of them involve essays and documentation of income.
One reason that students get few scholarships is that many of them do not apply for anything beyond the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). But the FAFSA is the tip of the iceberg. There are many other forms to complete in the race to earn money for college.
Why students are reluctant to apply for scholarships is related to two things: 1) nine out of ten students believe that their parents have tuition handled and 2) students are in a time crunch and are reluctant to devote time to something that may or may not pay off.
Parents can help students get the motivation to apply for scholarships by explaining the limits of the financial help they are willing to give. If students understand that what stands between them going to a local two or four year college and getting to go away to school is scholarships, they will be more willing to complete applications. Parents can also help students by helping them look for scholarships and helping them organize their application efforts and develop a strategy that works for them.