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It’s Never Too Early (or Too Late) to Apply to Scholarships: A Guide for College Students & Families

Why it's never too early or too late to apply to scholarships for college students shared by college financial aid advisor Jodi Okun
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As college tuition costs continue to rise, the search for scholarships becomes increasingly crucial for students and their families. Whether you’re a high school student preparing for college or already navigating your way through higher education, the pursuit of scholarships should never be underestimated. Here’s why it’s important to start early and maintain your search throughout your academic journey.

Start Early, Reap Rewards:

For high school students, the adage “the early bird catches the worm” couldn’t be more fitting. Scholarships are available for students as early as middle school, targeting various achievements, talents, and demographics. Starting your scholarship search early allows you to:

Maximize Opportunities:

Many scholarships have specific eligibility criteria that align with academic achievements, extracurricular involvement, community service, and more. By identifying these requirements early, you can tailor your activities to meet them and increase your chances of qualifying.

Build a Strong Portfolio:

Scholarships often require essays, letters of recommendation, and detailed applications. Starting early gives you time to develop your writing skills, gather necessary documents, and refine your applications for maximum impact. It’s not generally as simple as filling out a form. It will require work and creating a strong set of materials to apply! But, the good news is that once you’ve got most of the standard pieces, you can easily apply them to most applications and gather modified essays or letters. 

Reduce Financial Burden:

The financial support from scholarships can significantly alleviate the burden of college expenses, including tuition, books, and living costs. By securing scholarships early, you can better plan your finances and potentially reduce the need for student loans.

Scholarships During College:

Even if you missed out on applying for scholarships as a high school student, it’s never too late to start during your college years. Many scholarships are available specifically for current college students, covering a wide range of majors, academic achievements, and personal backgrounds. Here’s why continuing to search for scholarships in college is beneficial:

Offset Rising Costs: 

College expenses don’t end after freshman year. Scholarships for current students can help cover tuition increases, study abroad programs, internships, and other educational expenses that arise throughout your college journey.

Support for Specific Needs: 

There are scholarships tailored for various demographics, including minorities, first-generation students, veterans, and students with disabilities. Researching scholarships that align with your background and circumstances can provide much-needed financial support.

Enhance Resume and Network:

Winning scholarships can bolster your resume and demonstrate to future employers or graduate schools your dedication, achievements, and ability to compete for prestigious awards. Additionally, some scholarships provide opportunities to connect with mentors and professionals in your field of study.

The pursuit of scholarships should be a continuous effort. Starting early allows you to maximize opportunities, build a strong application portfolio, and reduce the financial burden of college expenses. Even if you’re already in college, there are numerous scholarships available to support your academic journey and career aspirations. It’s never too early or too late to start this process – and remember, scholarships are FREE money that you will not have to pay back! 

More about Jodi and College Financial Aid Advisors

Jodi is a FAFSA financial advisor who helps with the financial aid process to help families of college students maximize their financial aid. From completing the FAFSA and completing the CSS Profile to reviewing the SAR, responding to requests for verification, comparing financial aid offers and understanding student loan options, Jodi is a fantastic resource when it comes to student financial aid. Schedule a 15 Minute Power Chat to learn more about finding ways to pay for college.

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