After you enter college, you should continue to apply for scholarships. Now is the ideal time to increase your application volume and get ready for the upcoming years. While first-year students are eligible for many scholarships, this is not the case for all of them. You can find scholarships for your college career with the help of the guide below.
Can You Still Get Scholarships While In College?
Yes, you can. Scholarships are still available to college students while they are enrolled in classes. Experts advise students to check with their school’s academic department or financial aid office as some of the best places to look for scholarships.
Why you should apply for scholarships in college
- Scholarships are an ideal source of college funding since they don’t have to be paid back.
- Winning additional scholarships once you’ve already started school can help you fill in funding gaps and reduce your out-of-pocket expenses and need to borrow.
- Scholarships can help pay for unexpected expenses that you may not have initially budgeted for.
- Additionally, there may be awards that you weren’t eligible for when you initially tackled scholarship applications. For example, scholarships for students in a major you had not yet declared or those specifically for upperclassmen. Not applying for them once you’re in college could mean potentially leaving free money on the table.
Where to find scholarships for college students
- Your school: In high school, the counseling center is a first-line resource for scholarship intel. Once you’re in college, your school’s financial aid office fills a similar role. They should have information about local, national, or regional awards, as well as those only for students at your school.
- Your academic department: An advisor within your department should also be able to direct you to scholarships intended for students in your major or field of study and will likely be a valuable resource on how to win one.
- Large companies: Many large companies provide scholarships to their employees or the children of their employees, so it’s always a good idea to check with your and/or your parent’s employer about what they may offer. In addition to scholarships, look into tuition reimbursement programs.
- Online search tools: You can use a free online search tool to help you find scholarships based on academics, hobbies and interests, family background, and more. To find ones for college students, filter the results for your current year in school.
How Do I Apply for College Scholarships?
The process of applying for college scholarships may be different depending on the specific scholarship and its requirements. Students should review a scholarship’s website to learn how to apply, but here are some common steps to follow:
- Check your eligibility.
- File the FAFSA.
- Complete the assigned essay prompt or video assignment.
- Compile required materials such as a school transcript, ID, test scores or letters of recommendation.
- Meet posted deadlines.
Increase your odds of winning scholarship money in college
Once you’re in college, you’ll have lots of demands on your time. Maximize the impact of your efforts by following these tips.
- Continue applying: Set up a routine for yourself that allows you to search for and send in applications year-round. For example, maybe you devote an hour or two every Sunday night to scholarship applications.
- Apply again: If there’s an award you think you’re perfect for but don’t get, try again the next year. You can apply for most scholarships as many times as you want as long as you remain eligible. Put a calendar reminder in your phone for a month before the next due date. And if you see something that you’re not quite eligible for, but may be soon, set a reminder to revisit it at a later date.
- Don’t ignore small scholarships: While it can be tempting to only go for the big fish, scholarships with bigger awards will be more competitive. Don’t overlook scholarships with smaller award amounts. Every bit helps, and a bunch of smaller awards can add up to a large amount.
- Learn from past winners: Use your resources to learn what you can about previous winners. Often scholarship websites will list their winners’ bios. Read those and try to discern what made the winners stand out, such as their extracurricular activities. If you notice, for example, that several of the winners regularly volunteer, try upping your service hours.
- Secure references: College professors can be an incredible resource for references. Impress them with your class performance and let them know you’d like a reference for a particular scholarship. Once you raise the subject, you might find out that your professor can give you advice on making your application stand out.
- Search for renewable scholarships: These scholarships continue to pay awards every year or semester, as long as you continue to meet the requirements. Some may not automatically renew, so you’ll have to submit a renewal application each year, but it’s still easier than starting from scratch.
Searching and applying for scholarships is a wise move, regardless of whether you’re a senior approaching your final year of college or just starting your studies. Scholarships based on your grade level, major, academic standing, or interests may be available, even though they might not meet all of your requirements.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Is it hard to get scholarships while in college?
Students should be able to find as many scholarships in college as they did in high school. In other words, the difficulty of finding a scholarship does not change between high school and college. Students will still need to look through dozens of scholarships to find opportunities they are eligible for.
2. Do you apply for scholarships before or after applying for college?
Students can apply for scholarships before applying to college or after they are accepted. There is no period when a student will not be eligible for scholarships because of their grade level.
3. Is there a limit on the number of scholarships I can apply for or win?
No! You can apply for as many as you like — the more the better. You may encounter some restrictions against winning multiple awards from the same admin, but it still doesn’t hurt to apply. Most of the time, there’s no limit at all on the awards you can win. If you’ve won an award in the past, and you’re not sure if you’re able to apply for it again, you should contact the admin directly for details.