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When to Start Applying for Scholarships: A Timeline for High School Juniors and Seniors

Several coins and one dollar bill

Applying for scholarships is an excellent way to pay for college and reduce the amount of money you need to borrow in student loans. But when should you start applying for scholarships? In this blog, we'll go over when you should start applying for scholarships with a timeline to help you stay on track.

Junior Year

Fall of Junior Year:

  • Begin researching scholarships that you may be eligible for, such as local, state, and national scholarships. Local scholarships can often have fewer applicants and may be easier to win. Also, consider scholarships related to your intended major or extracurricular activities. You can use scholarship search engines like Fastweb,, and Cappex to find scholarships that match your profile. Start compiling a list of potential scholarships to apply for.

  • Keep track of scholarship deadlines and requirements in a spreadsheet or calendar, and create a plan for completing all of your applications on time. This can help you stay organized and avoid missing deadlines.

  • Some scholarships have early deadlines, so be sure to begin working on those applications as soon as possible. This can help you avoid rushing to complete applications later.

  • Take the PSAT/NMSQT in the fall, as this test can qualify you for the National Merit Scholarship Program and other scholarship opportunities. Plan ahead and study for the test to increase your chances of qualifying.

Spring of Junior Year:

  • Continue researching scholarships and prioritizing them based on the amount of the award and the fit with your interests and qualifications.

  • Some scholarships may require transcripts or letters of recommendation from your teachers or guidance counselor. Be sure to request these documents early so that you have them ready when it's time to apply.

  • Start preparing for the ACT or SAT. Preparing for the ACT or SAT can help you achieve a higher score, which can increase your eligibility for scholarships.

Senior Year

Summer before Senior Year:

  • Refine your list of scholarships to apply for, and prioritize them based on their deadlines and requirements. Keep in mind that some scholarships may require essays or certain qualifications or achievements.

  • Begin working on scholarship applications, including drafting essays and gathering any necessary documentation, such as transcripts or resumes. Be sure to proofread your essays carefully, and have someone else review them for clarity and grammar.

  • Consider attending scholarship workshops or webinars to get tips and advice on applying for scholarships.

  • Keep studying for the SAT/ACT over the summer to maximize your chances of winning scholarships.

Early Fall of Senior Year:

  • Finalize and submit any scholarship applications that have early deadlines, including those that require essays, transcripts, or recommendation letters. Be sure to proofread all your application materials carefully before submitting.

  • Reach out to your guidance counselor or college advisor for help with identifying additional scholarship opportunities. They may have information about local or school-specific scholarships that you can apply for.

  • Complete the FAFSA as soon as possible (the 2024-2025 FAFSA becomes available in December), as many scholarships require applicants to submit the FAFSA to demonstrate financial need. Even scholarships that don't have a specific financial need requirement may still consider FAFSA data when evaluating applications.

Late Fall of Senior Year:

  • Continue working on scholarship applications, particularly those with later deadlines. Keep in mind that some scholarships may have rolling deadlines or accept applications throughout the year.

  • Stay organized and make sure you're meeting all the requirements for each scholarship, including submitting all required documents and essays.

  • Follow up with scholarship providers to confirm that they have received your application materials. This can help you ensure that your application is complete and being considered.

Winter of Senior Year:

  • Continue applying for scholarships and working on any remaining essays or application materials. New scholarships become available throughout the year, so keep an eye out for new opportunities.

  • Be sure to submit any scholarship applications that have winter or early spring deadlines. Stay on top of your application schedule to avoid missing out on opportunities.

  • Consider contacting scholarship providers directly to express your interest and ask any questions you may have about their scholarship program. This can help you demonstrate your enthusiasm and stand out from other applicants.

Spring of Senior Year:

  • Continue monitoring your scholarship applications and following up with scholarship providers as needed. Some scholarships may have a later notification date, so be patient and persistent in following up.

  • Review and compare scholarship offers, and make a final decision on which scholarships to accept. Consider the value of each scholarship, as well as any requirements associated with it, such as maintaining a certain GPA or pursuing a specific course of study.

  • Notify scholarship providers of your decision, and thank them for their support.

  • Once you have been awarded a scholarship from an outside source, you should let your college's financial aid office know about it. Depending on the school, you may need to disclose all scholarships or just the ones that exceed a specific value, so it's important to check with the financial aid office to make sure you comply with their requirements.

By following this timeline, you can maximize your chances of winning scholarships and minimizing stress during the application process. Stay organized, focus on the applications that matter the most to you, and start early to avoid missing any deadlines. It might take some hard work, but with persistence, you can succeed in your scholarship search. Also, stay up-to-date on our upcoming scholarship workshops by following Uprooted Academy™ on Instagram!

While searching for scholarships is an important part of the college application process, it's only one piece of the puzzle. Uprooted Academy is here to help you navigate the entire process, from selecting the right schools to submitting your applications. Get started with our FREE Step-by-Step College Advising Video Course and join our family today!



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