Scholarship Deadlines and You: Your Scholarship Timeline

When should you be applying for scholarships? Find out how to manage your scholarship deadlines.

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Applying for college is a busy time, so it’s important to set up a timeline for your scholarship deadlines to stay on top of all the different aspects of the process. There are several different kinds of scholarships for high school seniors—need-based financial aid (through FASFA), merit based scholarships, and college grants. Each will have its own deadlines and rules.

With all the applications and paperwork you’ll be filling out, it’s important to stay on top of your scholarship deadlines and set a schedule to ensure you get all the required materials submitted on time.

There are many opportunities to help you pay for college that extend beyond high school graduation.

FASFA Deadlines

Every prospective college student should fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FASFA). This application determines eligibility for most federal, state, and institutional need-based financial aid. It is important to note that each tier (Federal, state, college) has its own deadline. Each state has a different deadline, so consult with the FASFA website to ensure you get your materials in on time—in some cases, state deadlines may be several months before the Federal deadline.

Note that even if you don’t qualify for need-based financial aid, many colleges will require you to include your FASFA materials in order to receive scholarship money

Each College is Different

When you’re applying for college grants and merit based scholarships, understand that every university has its own set of rules and scholarship deadlines. However, as a general rule of thumb, most (but not all) schools set a deadline at the end of the fall semester. For example, The University of Texas-Austin, Vanderbilt University, and Washington State University each have their own specific scholarship application date—but all end in December as the fall semester comes to a close.

Start Early

Don’t use scholarship deadline dates as a guideline for your applications—set a goal to have the necessary materials ready to go at least a month early. This will give you ample time to consult with teachers, counselors, and admissions officers about your resume, written statement, and any other materials that will be included in your application.

Don’t Stop After High School

There are many opportunities to help you pay for college that extend beyond high school graduation. Almost every college has scholarships reserved for students who are in their sophomore year and beyond. Once you get to college, don’t think your opportunities have dried up—continue to consult with your teachers and counselors to stay aware of the scholarships that may be available to you.

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