Ready to Apply for College Scholarships? Here Is Everything You Need to Know
Moving from high school into college is full of decisions, applications, and often stress. One of the biggest burdens is cost. Really understanding college scholarship applications and how and when to apply for scholarships is a great way to ease the stress.
This is your ultimate guide to college scholarship applications. We will get into everything you need to know, including:
- Basic scholarship 101 info
- How to apply for scholarships
- When to apply for scholarships
- Tips to know before you apply for a scholarship
- Where to find scholarships to apply for
This guide to scholarship applications is helpful for students entering their senior year, but it is also important for students of any age.
It is always better to understand college scholarship applications and how to apply for scholarships well before it is time to do so.
College Scholarship Applications 101
The biggest difference between paying for college expenses through a scholarship rather than a loan is that the scholarship is a gift. You never have to pay it back. The scholarship can be anywhere from a few extra dollars or fees for books to a full college experience for free.
These scholarships can come from:
- The college you will be attending
- Your employer or your parent’s employer
- Religious groups
- Ethnicity-based groups
- Professional organizations
- Community-based organizations
- Private individuals
When you fill out scholarship applications, you are officially asking those above to consider you for their money.
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There are many different ways they will allow you to qualify for a scholarship:
- You can apply for scholarships based on grades
- You can apply for a scholarship based on skills (music, sports, art, etc.)
- You can apply for scholarships based on financial need
- You can apply for a scholarship based on a group you are a part of (volunteer work, religious affiliation, ethnicity, etc.)
How to Apply for Scholarships
When you apply for college scholarships, you may find it takes a considerable amount of time. But that does not mean it isn’t easy. It is actually a very simple and straightforward process.
Here is the simple three-point way to apply for scholarships:
Find the scholarships you are eligible for: First you must find your scholarships to apply for—you will never meet the requirements for all scholarship applications, but you will always find multiple options that can work for you.
Start the application process: How you actually apply for scholarships varies from scholarship to scholarship. Some may be as simple as filling in a few blanks. Others may need all of your information plus a long entrance essay.
Follow up: After you apply for scholarships, see if you have been accepted or denied. If you have been accepted, track down the money to see where it is going. Sometimes it will come to you; other times it will go straight to your college.
The only reason scholarship applications can take time is simply due to the fact that you will be entering your information over and over again and writing multiple essays.
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When to Fill Out College Scholarship Applications
The biggest mistake with college scholarship applications is waiting to long before applying. You may be surprised how early you need to apply for scholarships.
The general consensus for starting the process of college scholarship applications is the summer before your senior year of high school. This means as soon as you finish junior year, you should actively apply for college scholarships.
This process will rarely be done in the summer. You can often continue to apply for a scholarship even into the first semester of your senior year, but this is not when you should begin.
Also remember that figuring out which scholarships to apply for can begin even before the summer before your senior year. Throughout your junior year research online and talk to your school counselor about possible scholarships to apply for.
7 Tips When You Apply for Scholarships
Knowing which scholarships to apply for is incredibly important, but so is knowing how to apply for scholarships well. Here are five tips when you are working on your college scholarship applications:
Notice Eligibility Requirements: When you apply for college scholarships, it can take a lot of time. Do not add even more time to the process by filling out scholarship applications you actually are not even eligible for. Check and then double-check all eligibility requirements.
Stay Organized: Create a calendar to track all scholarship registration deadlines. Have a “cheat sheet” with all the common info needed when you apply for scholarships (GPA, SAT scores, family income, tax information, etc.).
Do Not Lie: If you lie to try to get a scholarship, you will be found out. Avoid any legal issues and the headache and apply for a scholarship with honesty.
Pay Attention to the Directions: All scholarship registration and application requirements are different. Some need significant information, some need less, some need an essay, and some need copies of documents. Pay close attention.
Submit Early: Think about how many applicants will be sending in their scholarship applications on the due date. The organization will be inundated with them. Not only will you stand out, you will also prevent last-minute technical difficulties stopping your application.
Apply, Apply, Apply: There is no limit to the number of scholarships you can receive, so why not apply for as many as possible? The time you put in applying today can save you thousands and thousands of dollars. Time really is money in this situation.
Try Hard and Easy: The harder (longer) applications may have fewer students applying—simply because they are so time-intensive. That can give you an upper hand. But also look for easy scholarships to apply for since they will take only a short amount of time and effort.
Keep Copies of Everything: If anything gets lost or accidentally deleted, make sure you have a backup copy of everything you have sent for your college scholarship applications.
Websites to Find Scholarships to Apply For
One great way to find scholarships to apply for is through scholarship registration websites. These websites will have hundreds—even thousands—of college scholarship applications that may work for you.
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Normally you fill in some information (like your GPA, desired major, financial information, ethnicity, religion, etc.) and the websites will show you which scholarships to apply for.
Here are only a few of the more popular websites you can use to find scholarships to apply for:
- College Board
- Sallie Mae: Scholarship Search
- Scholarship Monkey
Other Ways to Find Scholarships to Apply For
While it may be easy to apply for scholarships on some of the a comprehensive online tools above, do not forget to ask about other scholarship opportunities around your community
Here are six people you should talk to about potential college scholarship applications:
- Your high school’s college advisor
- The financial aid office at your desired universities
- A leader of the church or religious group you are affiliated with
- Ethnicity-based organization
- Your employer
- Your parent’s employer
The goal here should be to cover all bases. The more money you can get for free, the more opportunities will be at your disposal (without suffocating student debt).
Easy Scholarships to Apply For
As you will quickly see, many of these college scholarship applications are quite time-intensive. Luckily, the more you apply, the quicker the process can become. But that does not mean you may not want to check out easy scholarships to apply for.
Many of these websites for college scholarship applications have lists of easy scholarships to apply for, which means they are:
- Simple to apply for (do not need time-intensive information)
- Fairly easy to get (you do not need a perfect GPA or have volunteered for the past 10 years to be accepted)
- Many times do not require you to write an essay
These can be great ways to “fill-in” money gaps just in case some of your top scholarship applications do not pan out. They are definitely the “why not?” scholarships to apply for.
Here are a few of those lists with easy scholarships to apply for:
- Unigo: “Easy Scholarships That Are No-Brainers”
- Fastweb: “Quick and Easy Scholarships”
- Edvisors: “Easy Scholarships That Are Easy to Enter”
- Niche: “Easy Scholarships To Apply For”
- Peterson’s “4 Scholarships That Are Easy to Apply For”
- PrepScholar “The 12 Easiest Scholarships to Apply For”
Some of these easy scholarships to apply for are as simple as taking a picture, sending in an essay you’ve already written in school, or just living in a certain state.
Conclusion—Apply for Scholarships with Confidence
Now you have the basics of everything you should know to apply for college scholarships. Here are your next steps:
- Go through our list of “other ways to find scholarships to apply for” and talk to everyone in these categories
- Look through the scholarship websites and see which ones you like best
- Fill out the questionnaires on the scholarship websites and see which ones you are eligible for
- Make a list of all the scholarship applications you will be filling out and make a note of the scholarship registration deadlines
- Begin the process and apply for a scholarship one at a time; eventually you will get through them all (pay attention to our 7 tips for scholarship applications!)
- Then try the easy scholarships to apply for
- Finally, follow up with all of your college scholarship applications to see if you qualified and where the money has gone
The concept of scholarship applications may seem overwhelming at first, but as long as you follow these suggestions, it should be a positive experience. And remember: every dollar you earn with a scholarship is one dollar you do not have of debt!
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