When to start looking for scholarships? The short answer is: whenever you can! A common myth is that only high school seniors can or need to apply for scholarships. However, not only are scholarships available to all high school grade students, but they are for all college students too!
There are billions of dollars in FREE money in the form of scholarships available for students. And there are new scholarships being offered all the time. So, while application deadlines vary, looking for what scholarships are available is kind of an anytime conversation.
It’s important to note though that scholarships will have varying criteria. Not all scholarships that are open to high school students will be available to college students, for example.
Why Should You Apply to Scholarships?
Scholarships, both federal and privately funded, are probably the best way to pay for college. They don’t have to be paid back, unlike loans, and there are plenty of opportunities out there for all kinds of students. The US Department of Education alone awards over 46 billion dollars worth of scholarships and grants every single year. Add the colleges/universities that also award aid on top of private sources, and you could get a substantial amount of money if you win.
Scholarships are Available Year Round
As stated above, you should begin looking for scholarships when you’re in high school. But awards will have different deadlines throughout the year. Just because you have a few scholarships due on September 1st, it doesn’t mean all scholarships will be due on that date.
Scholarships are offered year round. Many students use the free time during their winter break to search for awards and crank out as many applications as possible. And while this is a good idea, it doesn’t mean you should only apply during your winter break.
Most scholarship deadlines are between September and May—the academic school year—and so waiting for winter break to come around can be a costly decision. What about the scholarships with September, October, and November deadlines? You could have missed out on some amazing awards if you waited.
Creating a schedule will help you stay on top of your school work, college applications, and scholarship searches while ensuring you’re not getting overwhelmed.
And while the last thing many students want to think about during their summer break is school, summer is a great time to go scholarship hunting. Even if you’re prepping for college or have a summer job, you won’t have the additional burden of homework or test studying to worry about, so use some of that extra time for scholarships. The effort you put in now will pay off later.
Students in High School and College Are Eligible for Scholarships
As we said earlier, there’s a myth that only high school seniors apply for scholarships. While some scholarships might be restricted to high school seniors only, a majority are not. It’s important to pay attention to the requirements of a scholarship, but scholarship opportunities can be open to high school students, college students, and even graduate students.
High school seniors aren’t the only students in need of financial aid. The scholarships you earn during senior year will likely not be enough to significantly pay for your higher education. By starting early, you may be able to rack up a few awards before you even enter your senior year.
And of course, keep applying for scholarships once you get to college. Sometimes scholarship opportunities are bundled with paid internships once you reach college, which can be a big boost in funds to pay tuition and other college costs.
When to start looking for scholarships is NOW! The most important thing to remember? Apply, apply, apply. The more scholarships you apply to, the more likely you are to receive some aid. And the more aid you get, the less financial strain you have to put on your education.
Want to easily find scholarships you may be eligible for? Use College Raptor’s Scholarship Search tool to identify a few.