When Should Students Begin Looking for Scholarships?

When Should Students Begin Looking for Scholarships?

There is really nothing better than using other people’s money to pay for school. College scholarships are a wonderful supplement to federal, state and institutional financial aid. In some cases, colleges simply grant scholarships to deserving students based on their FAFSA information as part of the financial aid package, but there is usually an application process for the rest.

While most families associate scholarships with college, there are scholarships available for students of all ages. Some scholarships even support elementary and middle school academics, with some very impressive amounts available. Others provide prizes to younger students in the form of college scholarships which can be used later to help lessen family expenditures. At the other end of the spectrum are scholarships for students already in college, those attending graduate school, and even adults seeking a degree.

The most common scholarships are those sought by high school seniors as part of their college admissions process. There is usually a mad dash to complete the FAFSA, apply to college, and search for scholarships in the late fall to early winter of the senior year, and then there is no activity afterwards. The truth is that this can severely limit the student’s potential to earn substantial scholarship money. Many quality scholarships are available with later deadlines, and there are even some which are only available after a student is already enrolled in college.

To maximize the likelihood of receiving various scholarships the secret is to begin the search as early as possible, even in the junior year. Find and keep track of possible scholarships when you are not as busy thinking about colleges. Then start organizing your application deadlines and materials. Most scholarships are available on a yearly basis, so you should be able to generate a solid list of those which apply to you.

Get creative in your search process – talk it up, and ask everyone you know. This is much easier to do with the benefit of time on your hands. Then conduct some research online looking for scholarship opportunities instead of just sharing social media posts with your friends. Bookmark possible sites to keep in mind, and think about how you can meet their requirements. Some applications require an essay, video, art submission, letters of recommendation or other materials that you can start gathering now.

Look for scholarships in unusual areas that meet your interests, too. You might be surprised to know that there are scholarships for gamers, creating a prom dress out of Duck Tape, duck calling, amateur radio enthusiasts, and even one for tall students. Chances are there is a scholarship out there with your name on it – you just have to find it!

Lock in scholarship ideas as early as possible, and leave yourself plenty of time for the rest of the college application process. You might just end up saving yourself a lot of money!