Tip #3: Apply early. Like, right now.  Yes, I know. This is the same advice that everyone gives you about everything. But with financial aid, it’s actually really important.  Some reasons:

  • FAFSA now opens October 1st instead of January 1st, allowing you to get your Student Aid Report (SAR) in time for early action or early decision notifications.

  • While FAFSA money doesn’t “run out” as many people believe, money sometimes does run out for scholarships and colleges that use the FAFSA for granting financial aid packages. The early bird gets the $$$.

  • The CSS profile is no walk in the park. The questions are much more detailed than the FAFSA and will require wading through W-2s, bank statements, and other tax documentation. But it’s worth it because free money.

RESOURCE # 3:  My brother created the ultimate Google Sheets document for tracking all of your scholarship research and applying. Copy it here and get started now!

Tip #4: Apply for institutional scholarships. Many schools automatically consider you for merit and institutional scholarships. But many schools offer scholarships that must be applied for separately and often require earlier application dates, additional essays and separate interviews.  Be sure to look for these opportunities by contacting the financial aid offices of schools you’re applying to.

RESOURCE #4: Use Google! It’s your greatest resource in the scholarship search.  Don’t believe me? Look at the first thing that came up when I googled “Scholarships at UVA”

5. Tip #5: Apply for outside scholarships. I know, it’s obvious. But you’d be surprised how few students actually put in the time and effort to apply for these and how easy it is to actually get them.  With smaller scholarships that are less than $2,000, sometimes the quantity that you apply to is more important than quality (or in this case, the size) of the scholarship.

RESOURCE # 5: USA Today explains the 11 best websites for finding outside scholarships here. (I agree with them.)

Ready to get started? There’s billions of dollars in scholarships out there.

Download this then register here to go get it.