Scholarships are, without a doubt, the ideal way to pay for college. Even with all the hype they get, however, there’s still a few misconceptions that surround scholarships. Some think that scholarships are only for graduating high school seniors (they’re not), some think you only apply for scholarships the summer before school (nope), and other believe you only really get scholarships to cover your freshman year (incorrect). So, let’s talk about why you should apply to scholarships regularly, whether that’s before starting college or during.
Countless Scholarship Opportunities
There are scholarships for just about anything. For your major, your sport skills, your hobbies, your financial need, your ethnicity, your religion, your talents, your intended career path, and so on. There’s literally a scholarship for everyone, no matter how niche you think your hobby or field is. With so many opportunities available, you’ll have no trouble finding plenty of scholarships you’re eligible for.
You should apply to every scholarship that you qualify for. And when we say qualify, we mean 100%. Don’t waste your time applying to scholarships you don’t completely qualify for, even if you meet 3 out of the 4 requirements. Your time is better spent on scholarships that fit you. Again, scholarship are the best way to fund your higher education—unlike loans, you don’t have to pay them back.
Note: The amount of outside scholarship money you earn will affect your financial aid award letter from your college, but that doesn’t mean you should avoid seeking scholarships. More scholarships still means less student loans.
Apply to Scholarships No Matter Your Grade
Ready for a mindblowing fact? Kindergartners can apply for scholarships. Really. Granted, they may not be common, but they’re out there. The point is: scholarships aren’t not limited to high school seniors. Starting junior year, you should start looking and applying for these opportunities, and continue to do so until you graduate college! And beyond that, if you want to attend grad school. There’s no limit on how many scholarships you can apply for, or even when, so you may as well keep going. The more scholarship award money you get, the less you have to take out in student loans. Who doesn’t want to graduate with less debt?
Year Round Searching
Federal scholarships and grants may have annual deadlines, but there are scholarships out there all around the calendar year. In other words, you can apply for scholarships whenever you want. There isn’t really a “best” time to apply for them. Additionally, create a weekly, bi-weekly, or once-a-month schedule to apply for scholarships. You don’t want to rush your applications or cut the deadline close. Take your time, space out your applications, even spend an hour every few days working on applications. You’ll thank yourself later when you don’t have as much student loan debt.
And if scholarships aren’t quite enough, you’ll need a student loan that fits your situation. Use College Raptor’s free Student Loan Finder to compare lenders and interest rates side by side.