Here are the three main reasons that AAA charges an application fee, where allowed:
First, processing scholarship applications is very time and labor-intensive due to the strict accountability demanded to properly administer these state-approved scholarships. AAA is a non-profit organization with a small staff and a limited budget. We rely on humans (rather than machines) to process applications. We pay a living wage plus benefits to our employees. The application fees we collect help offset the expenses incurred for processing tens of thousands of applications annually.
Second, we have learned from experience that charging a small, non-refundable, application fee discourages those people who ALREADY KNOW that they will not be awarded a scholarship from applying. How do they already know? Because we are completely transparent when it comes to the eligibility requirements. As noted above, our staff is small so our capacity to process applications timely is limited. Subsequently, spending our limited resources on applications that have zero chance of being approved is wasteful and slows down approvals for those who are actually eligible.
Third, because the application process is time-intensive, we have to encourage everyone who has applied with us to stick with it to the end. Studies have shown that when people have “skin-in-the-game” they show more perseverance toward reaching the goal. Our experience is that applicants are more likely to respond to additional requests for information and/or documentation when they have paid a fee for the chance to be part of that process.
What we hear time and again is that a small application fee for what is very likely to be thousands of dollars in annual k-12 scholarships is well worth the price!