College scholarships are a numbers game. The more you apply for scholarships, the more chances you have to win. However, if you’re successful at winning money, can you hold many scholarships at once?

The answer is both yes and no.

Terms and conditions of various prizes differ. For reasons we’ll cover below, some scholarship opportunities stipulate that you can’t hold simultaneous scholarships. However, other scholarship providers have no such terms attached to their prize. In these cases, you can win an endless amount of scholarship money without encountering any issues. For college scholarships without any such limitations, it’s wise to submit applications as often as possible. Again, winning scholarships is a numbers game.

But, let’s take a brief moment to discuss the elephant in the room and why this information can be a gamechanger for your student finances. It’s almost impossible to read anything related to scholarship applications these days and not see something about soaring educational expenses. That’s because it’s true. College tuition is up. Living costs are up. Basically, all college costs are up. Paying for school is a serious societal issue, and the cost of college is probably a serious issue for you as an individual, too.

So, let’s cover what you need to know about the number of college scholarships you can hold at one time and how scholarship opportunities can help pay for college.

Win Unlimited Prizes

For most scholarships, there are no conditions on how many prizes you can win.

This is particularly true for scholarships that range from $500 to $10,000. In theory, it is possible to win an unlimited number of these scholarship awards as long as the terms and conditions allow it.

In this case, the best strategy to win the most amount of scholarship money involves three steps.

First, compile a large list of scholarships you are eligible for. To do so, research where you can find scholarships. A few suggestions are scholarship databases, scholarship directories, scholarship websites, high school guidance offices, college student financial aid offices, search engines, and your personal network. Your scholarship searches should vary based on your grades, extracurricular activities, and the types of scholarships you’re looking for.

Second, apply for as many scholarships as possible. Also try to ensure that you schedule time to work on your applications. You want to ensure that you communicate why you are a great scholarship candidate to a scholarship committee, and this takes time.

Third, schedule monthly or quarterly scholarship work blocks and repeat steps 1 and 2. The truth is, scholarships are due throughout the year. New prizes come up all the time. You can enhance your chances of finding prizes with the right fit for you if you plan time to do this work. Forming good habits can dramatically increase your chances of winning a scholarship … or many!

Moreover, you should know that there is a wide range in the types of scholarships, including merit scholarships, needs-based scholarships, and student-specific scholarships. Each of these are awarded based on different criteria, so do your research and make a plan.

When You Can Only Hold One Scholarship

On certain occasions, scholarship awards may stipulate that you can only hold one prize. These scholarships tend to have large sums of money attached to them ($10,000 and up/annually), which makes them attractive options.

When terms dictate that you can’t hold another major prize, it’s usually for one of two reasons.

The first is equity. There are many undergraduate and graduate students out there, and having only a few students win multiple prizes seems to counter the spirit of scholarships. After all, the primary idea behind scholarships is to help level the playing field and not to only reward a handful of students.

The second factor that may prevent a student from holding multiple prizes is branding. When scholarship providers reward a student with a large monetary sum, it may come with an expectation to appear on a website or promotional materials. In this way, the student is like an ambassador of the scholarship provider’s brand, which an organization may not want to share. These tend to be very competitive, so your chances of getting this kind of prize is quite small.   

Check Your Financial Aid Packages

The other important thing to consider if you win multiple scholarships is your status for financial aid packages. Sometimes, scholarship wins will change the income details and expected family contribution you may have used when filling out the FAFSA or other student loan documents. Since federal student aid considers income, you should always check whether a scholarship win changes your student loan status. This is also important for students who have qualified for a Pell Grant, state loans, or private student loans.

Summary

  • Scholarship terms and conditions dictate if a student can hold multiple grants and scholarships.
  • In some cases, students can win an unlimited number of scholarships.
  • In other cases, scholarship providers may stipulate that a prize recipient cannot hold other prizes simultaneously.
  • Winning scholarships may change your status for federal student loans or other aid packages so follow up with your college or university’s financial aid office to know where you stand.