When it comes to the amount of scholarships you should apply for, there’s no magic number. So, you might not like my answer, which is – apply for as many scholarships as you can.
I’m not saying you should apply for thousands of scholarships. But set a reasonable goal each week.
Get a support system
When I was starting to prepare for college, I sat down with my dad every weekend, and we did it together. Every Saturday, before I was allowed to meet up with my friends, we would apply for 5 scholarships.
You don’t have to sit down with a parent, but any friend or family member will do. Having someone there to help edit your essays, give you constructive feedback, and even cheer you on when you get discouraged will be a huge help.
Do some math
When figuring out how many scholarships to apply for, calculate your cost of attendance (COA). Your COA is built of tuition, housing, meal plans, transportation, books, supplies, and even childcare if you’re a parent.
Needing $60,000 vs. $1,000 will impact how many scholarships you need to apply for. The higher your cost, the more scholarships you should apply for.
Now that you have your estimated costs for school, it’s time to start researching what scholarships you might qualify for. Look for the scholarships that have the best return on your time. If you know you can qualify for the scholarship, and it pays well, it’s a good starting point in your scholarship quest.
Separate the scholarships by the time it might take you to complete an application into hard, medium, and easy categories.
The hard category would be scholarships that require essays, documentation, reference letters, and other submission requirements that might take you more time to get together.
Medium would be something you can finish pretty easily, with maybe a short essay and small submission guidelines.
Easy is something as simple as submitting your information, a photo, or your transcripts.
Weigh the time it takes you to complete something against the award amount, and organize your time and resources appropriately.
Don’t stop at just a few, scholarship hunting is a game of numbers, so the more you continue to apply for, the better your odds of getting more financial aid.
Even the smaller ones add up quickly, so don’t rule anything out.
Set a reasonable timeline
Begin your scholarship search as soon as you can. Some scholarships are available to even freshmen students in high school, so there’s not necessarily a time too early to start the process.
Each scholarship will have specific deadlines, keep track of deadlines to make sure you turn in everything in on time.
Don’t overwhelm yourself with applications, either. Set a goal for each week as to how many applications you are going to submit. If that goal is 3-5 applications, then stick to that.
In time, those applications are going to add up and result in more aid awards, which will put more money in your pocket.
You’re almost there
If you feel overwhelmed, take a deep breath and think of your end goal of earning your degree. All the time you’re investing in your future is going to pay off (literally).
Pursuing a degree shouldn’t be a debt sentence, so don’t stop the scholarship hunt.