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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.