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FAQs About Scholarships

Last updated February 15, 2022

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When to Apply

When should I start applying for scholarships?

We recommend starting your search at the end of your junior year. While you start to look, you can also start brainstorming for any application essays and ask teachers/counselors for letters of recommendation. By the time your senior year comes around, you’ll be prepared to start applying!

Should I apply for scholarships before or after I’m admitted to colleges?

We recommend applying to scholarships before being admitted or committing to any college or university. Give yourself enough time to look and apply for as many scholarships as possible. More time spent applying can mean more money for college!

Are there scholarships that we can apply for in early high school but not as a senior?

Yes! There are scholarships for students of all ages (even after you start your college degree). Many scholarship websites allow you to filter scholarships by your graduation year, allowing you to only see the ones you may qualify for.

Scholarship Websites

Where should I look for scholarships? 

Why not start by looking on one of our many hand-picked scholarship lists? We thoroughly vet them and update them often. 

Is Fastweb a good place to look for scholarships?

Yes! Fastweb is a reputable website scholarship that Get Schooled trusts. Click here to learn more about the other scholarship websites we always recommend to students.

Are scholarship websites such as RaiseMe, Scholarship Owl, or Niche legit places to look?

Yes, they’re all legit websites. Be wary of how much information you share with these sites, though, because some of them may sell your personal information. If you’re ever on a website that asks you for too much information or seems sketchy, trust your gut and look somewhere else.


My parents make money that might not qualify me for aid through the FAFSA, but I am still responsible for paying for college. Are there opportunities for me?

Of course! There are so many opportunities you can find to help pay for college - especially scholarships. It’s important that you complete your FAFSA even if you don’t think you’ll qualify for “need-based aid” because FAFSA is also required for lots of “merit-based scholarships” too, these are scholarships given based on something you do or have done, not your income. Fill out your FAFSA and then check out our guide to effectively finding and applying for scholarships here.


Does taking a gap year hurt my scholarship chances?

Potentially, yes. Some scholarships are just for those going directly from high school to college. If you already received a scholarship and now are considering a gap year, be sure to communicate clearly with the scholarship organization about your plans to take a gap year when applying to avoid any confusion down the road.

How can I best stay organized when applying to lots of different scholarships?

You're in luck! We made a free scholarship application tracker to help you stay organized during your scholarship search. 

Do I have to re-apply for scholarships every school year?

It totally depends on the scholarship, some are one-time and others renew each school year based on your course load and grades. When you receive a scholarship, be sure to ask about renewal requirements. You can apply for scholarships every year in college.

Are many scholarships for multiple years or only one year at a time?

It depends on the type of scholarship. Some only are one-time, while others can last multiple years. Be sure to ask about how long you’d receive funding from the scholarship you’re applying to.

Are scholarships universally accepted by all colleges?

Yes, they should be. If your scholarship money isn’t processed by your college’s financial aid office, be sure to visit or call them to get more information. Some scholarships are offered by individual colleges and these aren’t able to be used anywhere else.

How can I find merit-based scholarships?

Different scholarship websites will have a category dedicated to merit scholarships. Check out our list of trusted scholarship websites to start your search!

How are scholarships processed? Do I get a check? Does the money get sent to my school of choice?

It depends on the scholarship. Scholarships awarded directly to you by your college or university will be applied directly to your student aid account. Private scholarships will likely mail a check to you instead.

What are the differences between grants, bursaries and scholarships?

Both bursaries and grants are typically given to those who have financial need. Scholarships are usually merit-based, or take into consideration other things qualities, demographics, hobbies, and skills.

Are there scholarships for students with a GPA less than 3.0?

Of course! Look online for scholarships that have no GPA requirements to start your search.

Does having a 529 affect chances of getting a scholarship?

Potentially. We recommend reading this piece to learn more. You can still earn merit-based scholarships regardless of your financial situation.

Scholarship Deliverables

Do most scholarships require ACT scores?

Different scholarships have different requirements (like essays, test scores, etc.) so it’s super important to thoroughly read the requirements of each individual scholarship. Some may require SAT/ACT scores, while others won’t.

How long should my essay be when applying for scholarships?

It depends on what scholarship you’re applying for. They’ll more than likely give you all the essential information you need before writing the essay - including the length. If they don’t specify the length, a good rule of thumb is to make it at least 5 paragraphs long, including an introduction and conclusion.

For scholarships that require a letter of recommendation, can you reuse past letters of recommendation?

Typically yes - but ALWAYS 1) check with the person who wrote you a letter of recommendation to give them a head’s up before submitting it (so they’ll be prepared in case someone reaches out to them to talk) and 2) be sure the letter of recommendation doesn’t reference a different scholarship. 

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