How to Apply for College Scholarships Online

By Shannon C , last updated November 8, 2011

Learning how to apply for college scholarships online is generally not a skill that students are taught while in high school. It can often come as a shock to college-bound students that they are turned down for a college scholarship they really thought they were a shoe-in for, or that they have missed the applications deadlines for the scholarships they are eligible for because they missed the deadlines. Learn from experts about the best tips for how to apply for college scholarships online and start early to win the scholarships you are competing for.

Do Your Homework

Research is integral to finding the best fit for college scholarships you are eligible for. Rather than spending a lot of time applying for scholarships you are only moderately eligible for, start researching available scholarships very early and find the ones that you can apply for as a front-runner. Be sure to contact the financial aid offices for the colleges and universities you will be applying to and find out what scholarships they have available to incoming students, how to apply, and what the applications deadlines are. Do the same online at websites like FastWeb, College Board, and Scholarships, and make a spreadsheet that lists out applications deadlines and requirements to be sure you submit all of your paperwork on time.

Read the Fine Print

Even one error on a college scholarship application can render your application invalid, so be sure to read the fine print and adhere to the letter to all guidance and requirements. Start early and spend the time you need to dot all your i's and cross all your t's before submitting your application. Also be sure to line up your references early as most applications require at least two to three reference letters or forms to accompany your application.

Keep a Copy for Yourself

As you are sending in your scholarship applicaitons, be sure to keep a copy for yourself of every form you send in. This is useful for two reasons. One, if the office loses your application for any reason, you have a backup copy to send in as a replacement. Additionally, if you are denied, or even if you are approved, you will have a copy of the application to refine or build on for other applications you may wish to submit.

Prepare in Advance

With an online scholarship application in particular, it is easy to prepare in advance and have template essays and all of the basic information most scholarship forms require readiliy available before you begin the more laborious process of fililng in each online application. You can even note down the basic essay topics and prepare your essays in advance and save them to your computer for easy uploading. Be especially careful to check for formatting issues if you plan to cut-and-paste your essay and other information from your computer to the fill-on form online. You can do the same with your reference letters, sending them out in advance of the deadline to be sure they will be returned to you on time.

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