When Should I Start Applying for College Scholarships? (2023)

Apply to scholarships! In fact, apply to as many scholarships that you possibly can. We are talking about free money for school that you don’t have to pay back.

(Video) Scholarship Deadlines: When to Apply for Scholarships

Don’t Wait to Apply

Federal Student Aid recommends that students start researching for scholarships the summer after your junior year of high school. If you have time and energy, you should even start before that. Every scholarship has different rules and different deadlines. Some even require submissions a year prior to starting college. It might feel like a lot of work, but it’s worth it. The more scholarships you get, the less you have to worry about paying off loans after college.

If you’re a senior reading this, don’t be discouraged! There are plenty of scholarships out there with deadlines that haven’t been hit yet. Start looking right now. We’ll help you start:

College-Based Scholarships

Scholarships are everywhere and often require a bit of digging to find the ones for which you are eligible. Want an easy beginning point? Look into your own prospective schools!

Many colleges offer some form of scholarship from their own private funds to be awarded on top of any federal aid you’re already receiving. The best part is, you might get considered for them automatically! While reviewing your application and your FAFSA information, the admissions team might also be assessing if you’re eligible for any merit- and need-based scholarships.

(Video) How I Got $500,000 in College Scholarships (WHAT NO ONE TELLS YOU) national merit/applying early/ECs

Contact financial aid offices to review their scholarship availability and process. If they don’t consider students automatically, figure out what steps you need to take to be put in the running. Do this sooner rather than later, as some schools require scholarship applications before the admissions deadline.

Get Your Chances Up

One way to be considered for a merit-based scholarship through your prospective schools is to have good test scores (good grades and high-level coursework too). Some schools even give merit-based scholarships to every single student who has scores that meet a specific threshold. Edmit features some of these here.

Private Scholarships

Next, you can look into private scholarships. This search process is much more convoluted.

There are endless scholarships out there about everything, like your love of coffee to your history of volunteerism. And every scholarship is worth something different, like $500 for books and supplies to up to $25K for any educational expense (referring to the scholarships above respectively). It will take time to find scholarships that match your profile and more time to complete the accompanying essay and application.

(Video) When Should Students Apply for Scholarships?

Remember, there is no limit to the amount of scholarships you could receive. So, the more time you give yourself, the more scholarships you have the opportunity to win.

Need More Info?

Get more background with our article covering all of the things you need to know about scholarships. What are they? Who can apply? Where to look for them? Read this as your first step in your scholarship search.

There are a lot of scholarships out there. Regardless of where or when you find them, we can’t say it enough... apply, apply, apply!

Emma is an experienced content writer and copy editor with a Bachelor's Degree in Rhetoric from Bates College and a background in advertising. She has a deep interest in international development, specifically within the context of displaced peoples, and now works full time for a refugee relief organization in their international education technical unit.

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How soon is too soon to apply for scholarships? ›

It's never too early to apply for college scholarships and grants. If you're in your last year in high school, you should start sending out your application the moment you've already decided on what degree to take in college.

What age can you start applying for scholarships? ›

How soon is too soon to apply for scholarships? Students can begin applying for college scholarships as early as age 14. Those under the age of 14 are not yet eligible to apply for scholarships but can get ahead by working on their extracurricular involvement, community service, and academic performance.

Should I start applying for scholarships as a freshman? ›

Is freshman year too early to apply for scholarships? It's never too early to apply for scholarships! Freshman year of high school is a great time to begin applying, as many students wait until later in the process, so you will have less competition in your applications.

When should you start applying for college? ›

When are applications due for college? While schools will vary, most schools require you to apply sometime between January and February. If you plan to apply early decision, the application is typically due in early November.

What month should you apply for scholarships? ›

When to apply for scholarships. Apply for scholarships early and often. Some scholarship deadlines are as early as a year before you start college. You don't need to wait until you've made your final decision about your school to apply.

How can you increase your chances of getting a scholarship? ›

  1. Raise Your GPA for More Scholarships. Many scholarships have requirements surrounding GPA levels. ...
  2. Raise Your ACT / SAT Score. ...
  3. Raise Your Class Rank. ...
  4. File the FAFSA. ...
  5. Participate in Community Service. ...
  6. Brush Up on Your Essay Skills.
Dec 22, 2022

How many scholarships can you use for college? ›

There is no limit to the number of scholarships you can apply for, and you actually should apply to many. Scholarship awards can vary greatly, so you might apply for a few scholarships with huge awards, and you might also apply for some that are only worth a few hundred dollars.

Should you start applying for scholarships as a junior? ›

When it comes to scholarships, the earlier, the better! Remember, it's never too late or too early to apply for funding to put you through college. Many high school juniors start applying over the summer before their senior year. To maximize your chances, it's best to keep applying throughout the year.

Can parents apply for scholarships? ›

Even the most well-meaning parents can get a little carried away when it comes to helping their kid. With college costing what it does, earning scholarships can ease the financial strain for parents as well. Therefore, many parents submit applications for scholarship on behalf of their student.

Does applying for scholarships early help? ›

If there's one thing college applicants should know about applying for scholarships, it's that sooner is always better. When students start preparing early, they have a much better chance of getting great scholarships than those who wait until the last minute.

Is it too late to apply for scholarships for fall 2023? ›

Unless you've graduated college and started a career with no intention of returning to school, you're never too late to apply for scholarships.

Can I start applying for scholarships as a sophomore? ›

Is sophomore year of high school too young to apply for scholarships? It's never too early to begin applying for scholarships! There are even scholarships out there for students in middle school.

Does applying for scholarships affect acceptance? ›

In most cases, submitting an application for financial aid will have absolutely no impact on your admission chances as the majority of colleges operate within a 'need-blind' agenda. This essentially means that financial need does not play any role in the admissions decisions for low-income applicants.


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