Scholarships are a great way to help students pay for higher education, but they can be hard to find. One major item that can help is knowing when they come out. This is useful knowledge for nearly all students, from high school juniors right up to graduate students.

You see, scholarship providers release their scholarships in waves throughout the year.

If you know which organizations tend to release their awards at certain times of year, then you’ll be able to plan ahead so that you’re ready for each new round of applications as soon as they are released. However, with so many scholarship opportunities out there, it can feel like an impossible task to keep up with it all.

So, let’s lay it out in easy terms so you can navigate deadlines and find scholarships to help keep your college costs and education-related expenses down.

Students Can Apply All Year Long

The truth is, all scholarships are not released on one specific day—they appear at different times throughout the year. So even though scholarship season has no official start or end, the best time to find prizes is really any time! Understandably, undergraduate students tend to think about scholarships as the academic year begins and tuition is due. However, you don’t have to wait until the fall to start applying for college scholarships (here’s a list of prizes due this month).

If you’re serious about accumulating scholarship prizes, then it’s great to have habits that position you to win. For instance, scheduling a specific time each month just to find scholarships is a good practice because it will keep you aware of newly released prizes – and you’ll also be one of the earliest to learn of awards that fit your profile well.

The Season for Scholarship Money

This kind of contradicts the section above, but if there is a scholarship season for college students, it’s September to May. It’s the time of year where the greatest number of scholarships are released (again: this doesn’t mean that scholarship applications stop from June to August). This is important to know so that you are always ready to invest the appropriate amount of time into the application process.

To ensure you’re ready for the height of application season, here are some tips that can give you an edge:

  1. Research your options. Take a look at our list of scholarships and see which ones might be a good fit for you. You can also check out our resources on how to write great scholarship essays to get an idea of what kinds of questions scholarship committees ask and what types of answers they want to see. You should also familiarize yourself with the various kinds of scholarships that exist and assess whether you’re most competitive for certain types of prizes (e.g., financial need scholarships, merit-based scholarships, student-specific scholarships, graduate school scholarships).
  2. Get organized. Make a list of all the scholarships you want to apply for, along with their deadlines and requirements, so you don’t miss any important details when it comes time to submit your materials.
  3. Keep track of your progress. To keep track of when to submit applications, use a spreadsheet and list your scholarship options by deadline date. This will help you stay on top of deadlines and allow you to follow up on any applications you’ve already submitted. You may also want to add a field where you list everything that needs to be completed for each individual prize. Given that every college scholarship has its own eligibility requirements and application materials, it’s easy to overlook small, but important, details.

Resources to Find College Scholarships

Even if you’re organized, it can be hard to stay on top of new scholarship opportunities.

The good news is that there are some resources available for students that can help you find scholarships for college. The first thing you can do is sign up for an account on the BridgesEDU Scholarship Finder. This will allow you to create a profile where you can enter information about yourself, your school, and what kind of scholarship(s) you’re looking for. It will then match you with relevant awards you can apply for from a large scholarship database – there’s literally millions in scholarships available. It’s available to both high school and college students.

Another way to find out about upcoming scholarship deadlines is to visit your school’s financial aid office or talk with someone at your college registrar’s office. They should be able to provide information about what kinds of scholarships are available at your institution.

Additionally, one thing that’s often overlooked is the opportunity to find money by doing periodic Google searches for college scholarships. If you’re not sure what kind of scholarship you want, or if you’re not sure how to find them, try conducting some research about your desired field of study. If you’re going into engineering, for example, do some research on what companies offer scholarships in that field. Google is vast, so conducting specific searches can connect you with prizes that you qualify for. Also, focusing on winning scholarships by major is a great strategy because these prizes disqualify students in other fields of study – this makes them less competitive.

Applying for Scholarships While in High School

It’s wise to start looking for prizes while you’re in high school. Why? Because the more scholarships you apply for, the better your chances of winning.

Finding and winning scholarships also gets easier with more experience. Starting early can help you understand what scholarship committees tend to look for. For example, you can increase your chances of winning by volunteering and taking AP classes.

There are specific resources that are available to high school students, too. The first place to start is with your guidance counselor. They’ll help you figure out what kinds of scholarships are available to students from your school and help guide you through the application process. Some schools will also have their own scholarship programs, so check with your counselor about those.

If you do wish to attend college and you’re looking for ways to pay for school, know that guidance counsellors are also a valuable resource when you apply for financial aid, which starts with you filling out a FAFSA form (free application for federal student aid). If you do need this kind of tuition assistance from federal or state agencies, always ensure that you report every scholarship to your college admissions office because each prize can change your financial aid qualification status.  

Final Note

College scholarships are released all year long, and you should get organized and apply regularly. It’s easy to miss some of the opportunities that come your way if you’re not paying attention. But if you’re properly prepared, you can keep track of them all and apply as soon as they become available.

This will ultimately help position you to win a scholarship at any point of the year when the right prize for you gets released.