There’s no “too early” when it comes to scholarships, said Kantrowitz. Some awards are open to kids in elementary school. Options multiply for high school students, especially seniors.
Even shifting your search a few months earlier could help.
“There’s an unfortunate trend where families wait until the spring of their child’s senior year to start searching for scholarships,” Kantrowitz said, yet many awards have fall deadlines.
An early start also offers advantages when it comes to picking a college, helping you go into the search with a better sense of your resources, said Amanda Schwab, director of high school partnerships for Raise.me. The “micro-scholarship” site lets high school students lock in awards at 250 participating colleges by earning good grades, volunteering and other achievements.
(That’s often money the college would offer anyway, she said, but it gives families a guaranteed minimum offer to consider. The average participant earns $26,000 in aid to be spread over four years, but some students have earned upward of $80,000, she said.)