Now that you’ve done Step 1 and Step 2, what’s next to find scholarships? Step 3 is starting to build a spreadsheet of colleges that are likely to offer you scholarships so that you keep track of and meet application requirements and deadlines.
If you don’t want to create your own, here is my college research spreadsheet. It includes columns for financial aid and scholarship considerations.
Many scholarships are awarded automatically, but others require additional applications. Some even require you to apply before a certain date in order to be considered.
In addition, some colleges offer rolling admissions where admission and scholarships are doled out on a first-come, first-served basis. If any college you are considering does this, you’ll want to get your application in sooner rather than later. (This is different from applying Early Decision, which usually isn’t a great choice when scholarships and financial aid are priorities.)
As you look at colleges, managing expectations is important too. That’s where some third-party sites come in handy. Collegedata and College Navigator both show what percent of students receive need-based and merit scholarships at each college, and what percent of financial need is met. (On Collegedata, enter a college name and then click on the Financials tab. On College Navigator, enter a college name and then expand the Financial Aid section.) If a college shows high scholarship dollars on its website but Collegedata or College Navigator show a low percent of students receiving scholarships, be sure to note that so you’re not surprised if your aid package doesn’t look like what you hoped for.
Here’s a shameless plug: my online course, The College Financial Plan, helps families of high school students find colleges that will offer scholarships to their student, and so much more! Or check out my book, How to Pay for College, to develop a financial plan to get your kids a great education without putting your other financial goals at risk.