How Many Scholarships Should I Apply For? A Quick Guide

Scholarships can give you a lot of money, but how many should you apply for?

Flickr user Mary-Lynn

Your parents will likely tell you to look for scholarships, find some, and then keep looking. It could be that your school will offer enough aid that you don’t need more scholarships, but for many students that is not the case. In that scenario, how many scholarships do you apply for? What kinds of scholarships should you look at?


How many scholarships should you apply for?

The short answer is that you should apply to as many as you can, as early as you can. This means that you need to be looking early, and finding out when deadlines are. But remember, you don’t want to make a career out of scholarship searching and application. Leave yourself enough time for fun in addition to your schoolwork. You can’t put “excellent at applying for scholarships” on a resume.

Pick ones that suit your interests

You want to find scholarships that fit your interests. If you want to go into architecture, you should probably ignore the scholarship dedicated to potato research (it exists). If you are undecided on what your major will be, that’s okay! There are plenty of open scholarships that are not limited by major or career path. Look at national-level scholarships for those. Another great place to look is within your community. Your high school guidance counselor probably has a list of available scholarships for graduating seniors. Applying for local awards—however small or large they might be—is also great practice for applying to scholarships with a larger pool of applicants.

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Does your college offer scholarships?

If you know exactly where you are going to college (i.e., you’ve applied/have been accepted by a school), then you should look into the scholarships that are offered by your school. Many schools have scholarships specific for incoming freshmen. Others go by major, intended career path, demographic background, military benefits, etc. Knowing what you can apply for there (even if it’s in the future) can help direct your search for broader scholarships.

Regional scholarships are great if you have a general area where you’re looking at schools or if you’ve been accepted by a few in the same area. For example, some states have scholarship funds for in-state students attending one of the public universities (or some list of accredited schools). This is a great opportunity for students looking to stay in-state for their college careers.

Where does scholarship money come from?

However, most scholarship money actually comes from the government and the schools themselves—87% of it, in fact! College Raptor can help you find not only great college matches for you, but also the scholarships and other forms of aid that can help you pay for you higher education! We also have many posts about scholarships for different majors, interests, needs, and locations!

Tailor your scholarship search

There are plenty of other scholarships to apply for. You can often tailor your search by your specific needs or interests. It’s good to keep in mind that the larger scholarship awards are going to be more competitive (although, Many schools offer significant, non-competitive scholarships based only on test scores and grades. In fact, College Raptor’s net price calculators show those!). So yes, that $25k/year award would take care of almost all your school costs—and you should definitely apply for it—but winning a number of smaller awards can add up quickly. Keep your options open when you’re looking.

When applying for scholarships, it’s important to remember that you need to craft each application carefully. Award judges don’t like generic essays that could work for any number of scholarships. Focus in on what the application is asking for. Give it your best effort. And remember, there are scholarships for you out there!

Use College Raptor’s free match tool to discover individualized college matches, personalized school price estimates, your acceptance odds, and potential financial aid at schools around the country!


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