Scholarship Application Tips

3 Smart College Scholarship Application Tips

School is out for the summer, but that doesn’t mean college planning should stop! In fact, summer is an excellent time for things like studying for the ACT or SAT, and applying for scholarships.

By getting a head start on your scholarship applications, you may increase your chances of receiving additional aid. There are plenty of scholarships available this time of year (check this site for a handy list), and it’s a great time of year to research applicable awards and get your applications in early. While most of these outside scholarships will not cover the entire cost of college, they can be of great supplemental help.

The three tips below from will help you to improve your odds of receiving a scholarship to help your family pay for the high cost of college.

1. Write a memorable essay.
You may already know that the essay is the most important part of a scholarship application. Many scholarships (if not most) are awarded largely on the basis of the quality of the essay, so don’t skimp on this part! Students should focus on writing a memorable, personal essay that fully addresses the question involved. Be sure to pay attention to special instructions such as word count as well! If you don’t follow the application instructions, you have little chance of receiving the award, even if you write a compelling essay (see next tip). If your student needs help with his or her essay, we offer annual essay-writing bootcamps for our college planning clients – see for more on how we can help.

2. Follow the application instructions to a “T.”
Most scholarship applications come with very specific details on how to apply, including what needs to be submitted, when, and even in what order. To make sure you hit all the points, it is a good idea to print off a copy of the scholarship application instructions and check off each requirement as it is completed. This can help avoid simple mistakes like leaving out a required piece of paperwork, which may immediately disqualify your application from consideration. Scholarship winners are generally those who follow all instructions exactly, so be sure to check and double-check that all requirements are met before mailing in your application.

3. Apply early and often.
Everyone applies for scholarships in the fall, winter, and early spring, but this often leads to missed deadlines and added stress, as high school seniors rush to meet college application deadlines, finish testing, and keep up with high school coursework all at the same time. There are scholarships available year-round, and not just for high school seniors either. The earlier you start applying, the more scholarships you will be able to find and apply for, and the greater your chances of receiving scholarship money for college. Some experts recommend students start applying for scholarships as early as middle school! But if you’re already in high school, don’t wait until the fall or winter of the senior year to apply. Students already in college should also consider continuing to apply for scholarships, which can help pay for later years in college.

Keeping these 3 tips in mind will help improve your odds of winning a scholarship – or more than one, if you’re lucky. Remember – don’t wait – take advantage of the summer months to start your scholarship search!

If you would like assistance with your scholarship search, paying for the balance of college that scholarships don’t cover, or any other aspect of the college financial aid and admissions process, check out our college planning website to learn how we can help your family.


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