Flickr user Michael B.

Flickr user Michael B.

Each year, about $46 billion of scholarships and grants are awarded by schools and the federal government. An additional $3.3 billion is awarded by private sources. There is a lot of aid out there, but it isn’t all awarded to just the graduating high school class of the year.

A common misconception is that only high school seniors can apply to and qualify for college scholarships. That simply is not the case. Students in middle school can apply and qualify for scholarships, college juniors can apply and qualify for scholarships, even graduate students can apply and qualify. Essentially, there is a scholarship for every type of student out there.

Qualifications and requirements greatly depend on the scholarships themselves–some might be limited to high school students, but others will only be available to graduates or even college seniors. Sponsors or founders of scholarships often have a certain intent in mind when creating the financial aid–they might want to help out a specific demographic or encourage students towards a particular field of study.

Scholarships are a form of financial aid intended to ease the stress of paying for higher education. College is expensive, and that doesn’t change from one year to another–from high school senior to college freshman, let’s say. Since you pay for college per semester or year, you’ll need to find new sources of aid or funding per semester or year. This means that there are indeed scholarship and grant opportunities available to students of all academic years. Freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors–both in college and high school–can find scholarships aimed towards them.

One reason the myth has come into play is that high school seniors are bombarded with college preparation. They’re in the middle of a big transition, and have sat through countless school talks, college campus visits, and sessions with high school counselors or college advisors. Seniors are at the vocal forefront of college payment plans, and by the time freshman year of college is over, most of that preparation material and cheerleading goes away. But never fear, there are scholarships for you out there, we promise.

So how do you go about finding these opportunities? There are a number of ways to find scholarship opportunities that you will qualify for.

  • Scholarship search sites

Looking online at sites like Unigo, Scholarships.com, or Fastweb are a great way to find niche scholarships. They’ll save you time and open up opportunities you might not have known about before.

  • Talk to advisors / counselors

Whether you’re in high school or already in college, take advantage of one of the best resources in education: the advisors. They’re there to help make things easier for you, keep you on track, and aid where they can. They can put you on the right path to find scholarships you can qualify for.

  • Check in with your school’s financial aid office

Schools and the federal government offer a majority of all scholarships–so it would make sense to talk to the school itself, right? Speaking with someone at the financial aid office can be a great way to discover numerous scholarships for you.

It is important, while searching for scholarships, to ensure that you meet every single eligibility requirement. If, for example, the scholarship calls for a 3.5 or higher GPA, at least a 26 on the ACT, and three letters of recommendation, and you have all that but only a 3.2 GPA–don’t bother applying. Scholarships take their qualifications seriously, so don’t waste your valuable time applying for ones you won’t receive.

Want to see what kind of financial aid you could receive from the schools you’re interested in? College Raptor has your back! Enter your info and see financial aid estimates from colleges around the country!