Tips and Strategies for a Successful Scholarship Search

(adapted from FAME webinar)

  1. Start early (even before high school!) - use the websites below to find scholarships that are available.
  2. Make a spreadsheet to keep track - create a spreadsheet with the following categories (in order): deadline, scholarship name, amount, specific qualifications, and requirements. This helps to have all information in one place so you can keep track of deadlines. Also, it is a convenient way to see if the requirements are similar to one another - maybe one essay could count for multiple scholarships.
  3. Make Time!
  4. No amount is too small - Free money is good money!
  5. Get your essays proofread.
  6. File your FAFSA early (as soon after October 1 as possible) - some scholarships require a copy of your FAFSA information.
  7. **If you receive an early scholarship award, mention it on your college application! If you're earning more money on your own, you will cost them less money.**

Financial Aid

All students should submit the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). The FAFSA is used by all schools to determine eligibility for federal and state financial aid. Many schools also use the FAFSA to determine eligibility for their institutional financial aid. Most families can complete the FAFSA in less than 30 minutes.

Get Ready to File the FAFSA
There are some things you need to do before you can file your FAFSA.

Know When to File the FAFSA
The FAFSA becomes available on October 1 each year. You must file a FAFSA every year to be considered for financial aid.

Many schools have different priority filing deadlines, with some as early as December 1. Research deadlines by visiting the financial aid section of each school’s website. Meeting priority deadlines is the best way to maximize your financial aid eligibility.

Even schools without a deadline may offer aid on a first-come, first-served basis, so file as early as possible.

If you’ve missed your school’s priority filing deadline, still file your FAFSA. Some types of aid (like Federal Pell Grants and Federal Direct Loans) may be available even after priority filing deadlines.

Before you can file the FAFSA, you will need to create an FSA (Federal Student Aid) ID. Your FSA ID is the username and password you will use to access all Federal Student Aid websites, including Creating an FSA ID takes about 10 minutes, and we recommend creating your FSA ID before you file the FAFSA.

When you’re ready to create your FSA ID, go to and click on “Create Account.” And be sure to download FAME’s Create Your Federal Student Aid Account (FSA ID) Sheet to keep track of your FSA ID information.

For more information on creating an FSA ID, watch FAME's Creating an FSA ID video.

Have questions? FAME offers three ways to get help with the FAFSA:

1. Contact a FAME expert:

2. Attend a virtual FAFSA Help Session:

3. Use FAME's Online Help:

FAME will also be sharing reminders and FAFSA completion tips via social media:

Financial Aid Websites:


Smart Scholar