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Do I Wait for Aid Offers Before Applying for Scholarships?

Some students think they should wait to get financial aid offers before applying for scholarships. Here's why you should start your scholarship search earlier!

Kenneth McGheeKenneth McGhee
Financial Aid & Enrollment Management Consultant
You may be thinking a large or full-ride scholarship from the colleges and universities you’ve applied to and sent your FAFSA forms to is coming your way due to your GPA and achievements. As a financial aid administrator for over 25 years, I get concerned when I hear this. Assumptions like this too often lead to students spending little time applying for local scholarships as they wait for colleges to make them generous financial aid offers. This also leads to many students and families only applying to schools with the biggest name recognition (and often the highest tuition prices). You may see media reports talking about students admitted to Ivy League schools winning six-figure dollar amounts in scholarship funds, but the reality is that not every student will receive a full-ride scholarship from their college or university of choice. That’s why you need to start applying for scholarships well before you receive your college acceptance as a senior. This will help you make up the difference between the total costs of going to your school(s) of interest after financial aid has been offered. These are three ways to be proactive when outlining college plans:

  • Understand how financial aid is awarded: There are six types of potential financial aid packages you could receive. Do some research to learn more about them to understand what your financial situation might look like for each.
  • Consider applying to colleges that like your academic profile: Many times, students apply to schools with very low admission rates and ignore offers from lesser-known colleges emailing about their Honors programs. Apply for these other good schools as a quality backup plan for college.
  • Apply for local, regional, and national scholarships: It’s best to apply for as many funding options as possible that match your background and academic profile. You may not receive a full ride like you imagined, but a lot of small awards will add up fast!

Be proactive and start looking for scholarships now using our Scholarship Search tool.

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