College Scholarships: The When, Where and How

Dear College Made Simple Reader,

Sorting through the piles of admissions material, logging thousands of miles of travel for open houses, worrying about SAT scores and report cards…

It doesn’t leave families with a lot of time to find a good deal when it comes to paying for college.

But in the midst of the college admissions whirlwind, there are ways to help make your student’s college tuition as affordable as possible.

It comes down to three core tasks:

  1. Understanding the right way to go after scholarships.
  2. Learning how to taking advantage of every college funding strategy available that could potentially lower your college costs by thousands of dollars.
  3. Selecting the colleges that give you the most money – (in other words, more free money and fewer loans).

How much success you have reaching these goals will play a huge role in how much you pay for college.

Today let’s take a close look at the first goal: scholarships.

– Scott

College Scholarships: The When, Where and How

If your student is a candidate for scholarship money, don’t make the mistake of thinking that a simple application and transcript is all it takes.

There’s definitely an art to applying for scholarship funds.

WHEN: The earlier the better. The earliest deadlines for scholarships are in October and most are due at the latest by March.

Remember, that money follows you wherever you go. So don’t think you have to have a school chosen before applying. It spends the same way at any college.

If you miss a scholarship deadline, you’re often times out of luck. So get those applications in ASAP. That way if you have any errors or changes you need to make, you still have some wiggle room. Waiting until the last minute leaves you no margin for error.

Above all, remember that most scholarship money is first come, first served. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. So beat the rush, get there early and get as much of it as you can.

WHERE: Choosing the right scholarship to apply for can be a huge drain on time. Don’t waste your time with the wrong ones.

The best way to find the perfect match is to make a list of your academic, athletic or extracurricular qualifications. Then find the grants that you stand the best chance of winning based off of that.

Even if the money is great with the other scholarships, it doesn’t pay to spend time trying to compete when there are other applicants far better suited.

HOW: Knowing the rules of a particular college’s financial aid office are key when it comes to scholarship money.

Some will take any grants you win and subtract them from financial aid packages. Some will deduct them from student loans or work study programs. And some will even let you subtract the scholarship amount from your expected family contribution.

That means more financial aid for you.

In short, knowing the rules can mean thousands of dollars in savings.

In Part 2, I’ll go over the next step: how to maximize the amount of funding you get.

To your family’s college funding success,

Scott Weingold
Co-founder, College Planning Network, LLC

College Made Simple – The Free Educational Resource of College Planning Network, LLC

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