Can Parents Apply for Scholarships for Their Child? Here’s How You Can Help.

Parents should not apply for scholarships on behalf of their child. However, you can assist them in the process by:

  1. Helping them hone their time management skills.
  2. Brainstorming essay topics together.
  3. Proofreading their applications and essays.
  4. Helping students search for scholarships.
  5. Completing FAFSA

Definitely don't let your parents apply to scholarships for you

Flickr user Jose Kevo

While parents can technically apply for scholarships for their children, it’s recommended that they don’t. These awards are based on the idea that students are submitting their own applications, and it would be unfair for parents to give their child a possible edge.

In addition, there could be severe consequences if it was ever revealed the applicant did not complete their own application. However, that doesn’t mean parents have to be completely hands-off in the scholarship process.

Can Parents Apply for Scholarships on Behalf of Their Child?

During senior year of high school, students have a lot to tackle between their college applications, homework, ACT/SAT prep, and their classes. Add on scholarship applications and the impending cost of attending college, and it can be easy to see why parents want to help take a load off their students’ shoulders.

But, here are 5 reasons why parents shouldn’t tackle entire applications for their students.

1. It Potentially Gives Them an Unfair Advantage

Scholarship committees operate under the idea that the students are completing the award applications, essays, and accompanying materials independently. If parents are submitting these materials instead, it puts all other applicants at a disadvantage. Many scholarships can be based on merit, too, and the student must earn this award rather than the parent earning it for them.


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2. It’s Plagiarism

While it’s completely okay for parents to help students with their class assignments, it’s not okay for parents to complete the entire assignment for them. If a parent writes a scholarship application essay for their student, it’s actually considered plagiarism.

Making plagiarism a habit can result in serious consequences. If they’re caught stealing work or passing someone else’s writing off as their own in college, it could result in them getting expelled.

3. The Award Committee May Notice

When it comes to essays, many scholarship committees have received hundreds if not thousands of essays. They know how students in high school write and what to expect. If your student submits an essay that is well above what a senior is normally capable of, it could raise some red flags and result in the student not winning the award. (Just like using ChatGBT could cause the same red flag).

4. The Award May Have to Be Paid Back

If it is discovered the parent completed the scholarship application and not the student after the award has been granted, the student can be on the hook for the award money. In this case, the student would have to pay back any money they received for the award or cover the gap in tuition costs.

5. Students Need To Be Able to Tackle Their Own Responsibilities

Students can feel (rightfully) overwhelmed during senior year of high school. However, during college, this speed of responsibilities isn’t going to slow down. It’s better for students to learn how to be responsible with their time while they can still learn under your guidance.

By simply tackling their work for them, you could be hampering their time management skills.

However, Parents Can Help

Just because parents shouldn’t complete their child’s scholarships for them, it doesn’t mean parents need to be completely hands-off during the process! Here are some ways parents can help their future college students:

1. Teach Them Time Management Skills

What time management and productivity tools do you use during your work day? Or at home? These skills and resources can help your student not only tackle their school and college responsibilities but also help them develop a strategy for scholarship applications.

You may want to consider buying them a wall calendar, planner, or whiteboard so they can track their to-do list. You could also help them make the most of their time management tools on their computer or phone by showing them how to set reminders or use their calendars to their fullest potential.

2. Help Them Brainstorm Essay Topics

You can’t write the scholarship essay for your child, but you can certainly brainstorm with them! Consider yourself a sounding board. Let your student present the topics they can write about, and give your thoughts on each one. You can provide direction, give feedback, or even suggest a few topics of your own.

READ MORE >> 20 Creative College Essay Topics

3. Proofread and Edit their Scholarship Applications or Essays

It’s a good idea for students to have their scholarship applications and essays proofread and edited for grammar, spelling, and clarity. Parents: you can fill this role. However, it’s important to keep in mind that editing does not mean rewriting the entire piece.

The essay should still showcase the student’s voice and skillset, but correct grammar and spelling are a must. When it comes to clarity, parents may want to ask their child, “Can this be said in a different way to better explain what you’re trying to say?”

4. Assist with Scholarship Research

Students should be researching scholarships, but a little bit of assistance from their parents won’t hurt. If you come across an award you think they qualify for, send it over to them! Scholarships can be found through online databases, schools, guidance counselors, and local businesses and organizations.

FIND SCHOLARSHIPS >> Free Scholarship Search Tool (

5. Complete the FAFSA

This may not seem directly related to scholarships, but it is. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is used for federal aid such as loans and the Pell Grant, but it is also used by colleges and universities for their own financial aid program including scholarships and grants.

By completing the FAFSA, students may be eligible for further need-based or merit-based awards through their school.

The FAFSA is not something students can complete on their own. Parents need to help unless the student is considered an independent student. You will need to supply your tax and income details for them to apply.

When it’s time to complete the FAFSA (usually October 1st or shortly thereafter), work through the application with your child as you will need to sign with your FSA ID and ensure everything is correct.

How Can Students Improve Their Approach to Scholarship Applications?

Here are some quick tips parents can pass on to their children to help them with their scholarship applications!

  • Use calendars, planners, and other time management tools to track due dates.
  • Time block the scholarship application process so you can set time aside for researching awards, applications, essay writing, and submissions.
  • Mix up your tasks so you don’t get burned out.
  • Use scholarship databases to quickly identify (and apply to) awards you qualify for.
  • Gather all your materials early so you can pull from them as needed rather than running to get them at separate times.

College is expensive, and parents and students are looking for every angle to save money on the cost of tuition. While scholarships can help bridge this gap, parents should not be completing their students’ scholarship applications. It sets a bad precedent, and, if caught, could result in the money having to be paid back. Parents can instead help their students by giving them the resources they need to succeed.

College Raptor’s Scholarship Search Tool can help parents and their students find awards they qualify for in just a few simple steps. And it’s completely free! Get started here.


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