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Important Deadlines for Scholarship Seekers

The process of finding and applying for financial aid can be a lot to handle. The trickiest part of this business can be finding the time to successfully meet scholarship application deadlines and unfortunately, the time scholarship applications are due is also a time when students are busy with other academic and extracurricular obligations such as tests, papers, sports and part-time employment. However, it’s important to find the time to meet scholarship deadlines, as some awards for which you’re eligible this year may not be available to you next year. (We’re looking at you, high school seniors.)

Like the rest of the events on the academic calendar, you may want to divide your scholarship applications into fall semester and spring semester scholarships, especially if you will have time to work on applications over winter break. Focus first on the fall semester scholarships (as well as the ones with January deadlines) then turn your attention to the spring deadlines, which you’ll hopefully find time to meet. Keep in mind other deadlines including college application deadlines and financial aid deadlines.

Meeting Deadlines

In addition to being aware of when scholarship application deadlines occur, it’s also important to be aware of what you need to accomplish to meet each deadline. While a scholarship that only requires an online application form with a few short-response essays can be applied for in an evening, a scholarship that requests a well-researched essay or a variety of supporting materials will require much more time. Be sure to budget time not only to complete your part of the application to the best of your ability and to solicit feedback from people around you but to also allow time to acquire supporting materials (i.e., letters of recommendation, tax forms, official transcripts or your FAFSA results), submit your application and take care of errors or unexpected situations that arise. For the vast majority of scholarship competitions, there are no exceptions to posted deadlines so if something gets in the way of you submitting your application, you may lose out entirely on your chance to compete for the award.

Common Scholarship Deadlines

Most scholarship application deadlines will occur during the regular academic year, typically September through May. While this does give you some time to work applying for scholarships into your schedule, it still is a good idea to start searching for scholarships early. Many of the scholarships with the largest awards have the earliest deadlines but there are always outliers so students who figure they don’t have to look for scholarships until December or January may be sorely disappointed. Application deadlines for just a few of the larger scholarship awards for high school students are included below. For the most complete information on scholarship deadlines and requirements, conduct a free college scholarship search.

Big-Ticket Scholarship Deadlines

Below are some of the biggest scholarships you are going to find on the internet or anywhere else. Sure, they are quite competitive but if you do everything right, follow all the rules and get selected as an awardee, you have made a very large difference in your post-college financial situation.

  • Siemens Foundation Competition

    The Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology rewards promising high school students for their original research projects by offering scholarship opportunities and national recognition. Any high school student may apply, individually or as part of a team. Scholarship awards range from $1,000 to $100,000 as students advance in the competition. Applications are due September 30th each year.
  • Coca-Cola Scholars

    High school seniors carrying a minimum GPA of 3.0 can apply for four-year achievement-based scholarships offered by the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation. Each year, 250 four-year scholarships of $10,000 and $20,000 are awarded through this program. The application deadline is October 31st.
  • Intel Science Talent Search

    The Intel Science Talent Search is a scholarship contest in which the best and brightest high school seniors can demonstrate their research projects for the chance to win a $100,000 college scholarship. Each year, 40 finalists are selected to present their research at a week-long national conference. Finalists receive $5,000 scholarships and have a chance to compete for the grand prize award. The application deadline is November 20th.
  • Gates Millennium Scholars

    The Gates Millennium Scholars Program, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, awards scholarships to minority students who are eligible to receive Federal Pell Grants and have achieved academic excellence in high school. The scholarship helps students cover the portion of their college costs not funded by other grant and scholarship awards. Scholarship applicants must be nominated by an educator familiar with their academic backgrounds. Applications are due January 15th.
  • Dell Scholars Program

    The Dell Scholars Program, sponsored by the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, carries an award of $20,000 to help students complete their college educations. High school seniors who have financial need and plan to enroll immediately in bachelor’s degree programs can qualify by enrolling in approved college readiness programs as high school students and completing a Dell Scholars scholarship application online. Applications open on November 1st and the deadline is January 15th.

FAFSA Deadlines

Completing the FAFSA may be required to apply for a number of scholarships, especially need-based scholarships offered by colleges, and it will be necessary to apply for federal and state grants. Many of these awards give priority to students who complete the FAFSA by their state’s application deadline, but some have deadlines that fall earlier or later. The best advice is to complete the FAFSA as soon as possible (new applications become available January 1st each year), but if you can’t do it right away, be sure to be aware of deadlines related to it. Additional information about federal and state financial aid application deadlines can be found on the official FAFSA website. Deadlines for individual campuses may occur earlier than the deadline for your state. Check with your college’s financial aid office to find out deadlines for campus financial aid.

  • Alabama: Check with your financial aid administrator
  • Alaska: AK Education Grant and AK Performance Scholarship - June 30th
  • American Samoa: Check with your financial aid administrator (additional forms may be required)
  • Arizona: Check with your financial aid administrator
  • Arkansas: For Academic Challenge - June 1st; For Workforce Grant - check with your financial aid administrator; For Higher Education Opportunity Grant - June 1st (fall term) and November 1st (spring term)
  • California: For initial awards - March 2nd; For additional community college awards - September 2nd (date postmarked; additional forms may be required)
  • Colorado: Check with your financial aid administrator
  • Connecticut: February 15th (additional forms may be required)
  • Delaware: April 15th
  • District of Columbia: May 31st (additional forms may be required)
  • Federated States of Micronesia: Check with your financial aid administrator (additional forms may be required)
  • Florida: May 15th - date processed
  • Georgia: Check with your financial aid administrator
  • Guam: Check with your financial aid administrator (additional forms may be required)
  • Hawaii: Check with you financial aid administrator (additional forms may be required)
  • Idaho: Opportunity Grant - March 1st (additional forms may be required)
  • Illinois: As soon as possible after January 1st (awards made until funds are depleted)
  • Indiana: March 10th
  • Iowa: July 1st
  • Kansas: April 1st (additional forms may be required)
  • Kentucky: As soon as possible after January 1st (awards made until funds are depleted)
  • Louisiana: June 30th
  • Maine: May 1st
  • Marshall Islands: Check with your financial aid administrator (additional forms may be required)
  • Maryland: March 1st
  • Massachusetts: May 1st
  • Michigan: March 1st
  • Minnesota: 30 days after term starts
  • Mississippi: MTAG and MESG Grants - September 15th; HELP Scholarship - March 31st
  • Missouri: April 1st
  • Montana: March 1st
  • Nebraska: Check with your financial aid administrator (additional forms may be required)
  • Nevada: Check with your financial aid administrator (additional forms may be required)
  • New Hampshire: Not offering a state grant
  • New Jersey: June 1st if you received a Tuition Aid Grant last year; All other applications - October 1st (for fall and spring terms) and March 1st (for spring term only)
  • New Mexico: Check with your financial aid administrator (additional forms may be required)
  • New York: June 30th (additional forms may be required)
  • North Carolina: As soon as possible after January 1st (awards made until funds are depleted)
  • North Dakota: April 15th
  • Northern Mariana Islands: Check with your financial aid administrator (additional forms may be required)
  • Ohio: October 1st
  • Oklahoma: March 1st
  • Oregon: OSAC Private Scholarships - March 1st; Oregon Opportunity Grant - February 1st
  • Palau: Check with your financial aid administrator (additional forms may be required)
  • Pennsylvania: All first-time applicants at a community college, business/trade/technical school, hospital school of nursing or enrolled in a non-transferable two-year program - August 1st; All other applicants - May 1st (additional forms may be required)
  • Puerto Rico: Check with your financial aid administrator
  • Rhode Island: March 1st
  • South Carolina: Tuition Grants - June 30th; SC Commission on Higher Education - As soon as possible after January 1st (awards made until funds are depleted)
  • South Dakota: Check with your financial aid administrator (additional forms may be required)
  • Tennessee: For State Grant - As soon as possible after January 1st (awards made until funds are depleted); For State Lottery - September 1st
  • Texas: Check with your financial aid administrator (additional forms may be required)
  • U.S. Virgin Islands: Check with your financial aid administrator (additional forms may be required)
  • Utah: Check with your financial aid administrator
  • Vermont: As soon as possible after January 1st (awards made until funds are depleted)
  • Virginia: Check with your financial aid administrator (additional forms may be required)
  • Washington: As soon as possible after January 1st (awards made until funds are depleted)
  • West Virginia: Promise Scholarship - March 1st; WV Higher Education Grant Program - April 15th
  • Wisconsin: Check with your financial aid administrator
  • Wyoming: Check with your financial aid administrator (additional forms may be required)

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