Can I Still Apply for Scholarships When I'm in College?

Can I Still Apply for Scholarships When I'm in College?

It is easy to find hundreds of scholarships for high school students, but can you get scholarships while you are still in college? Yes, you can. You just need to know where to look.

Even after he began his studies at the University of Texas at Austin, Cameron Clark, 22, was still looking for funding to help him afford his studies, especially since his mother was just laid off and could no longer help with tuition payments. He learned about the Rapoport Service Scholarship from his college adviser during his junior year in 2013.

Clark applied that year and won the $10,000 award, which is given to students who complete 200 hours of community service each summer. Since the scholarship is renewable for up to three years, he received $20,000 total because he met the eligibility requirements for both his junior and senior years. Having completed his service hours in the field of law, his application to Harvard Law School got a real boost.

"Being selected as a Rapoport Scholar was evidence of my commitment to social justice in theory and practice, which grounded my interests in the law and validated my desire to attend law school," said Clark, explaining that he talked about his scholarship experience in great depth in his law school applications.

If you didn't secure enough funding for college in your high school years, it's not too late. Like Clark, you can win scholarships while in college to help fund your undergraduate education and give you an edge in post-grad applications.

Where to Find Scholarships in College

The first place to look for scholarships is with your university. The financial aid office should have postings about widely available scholarships, as well as scholarships specific to your school. An adviser within your major should also be able to direct you to scholarships intended for students in your field of study and will likely be a valuable resource on how to win one.

Look for renewable scholarships like Clark did. He won an additional $10,000 his senior year just by meeting the scholarship's eligibility requirements and submitting a renewal request.

Many large companies — like Walmart, Apple and McDonald's — provide scholarships to their employees or their children, so it's always a good idea to check with your employer or your parents' employers about what they may offer. If your company doesn't give scholarships, inquire about tuition reimbursement programs.

A free online search engine, like the Discover Student Loans Free Scholarship Search, can also be helpful. Just make sure you filter the results for your current year in college to save time. And while this can be a good way to learn about scholarships, it's important to understand that those found online are easily accessible, making them more competitive to win.

Increase Your Odds of Winning a Scholarship in College

How many times can you apply for scholarships in college? You can apply for most scholarships as many times as you want as long as you remain eligible. Lia Saunders is a prime example.

As a fashion major at Indiana University, Saunders, 27, was determined to win the YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund. The $5,000 award comes with an all-expenses-paid trip to New York City and a gala award show for fashion industry professionals. Although she failed to win the YMA Scholarship the first time she applied as a junior, she persisted. Then, in 2011 when she was a senior, she prevailed.

"The second year, I interviewed my peers who'd won the year before," she said. She asked them what they included on their resume and in their case study, a paper that shows in-depth knowledge of fashion buying trends. "As a result, my project was much more successful the second time around, and I won!"

Since many of Saunders' classmates applied for the scholarship, it was easy for her to contact past winners for advice.

If you don't have the same access as Saunders did, try to learn what you can about previous winners anyway. Often scholarship websites will list their winner's bios. Read those and try to discern what made the winners stand out, such as their extracurricular activities. If you notice, for example, that several of the winners regularly volunteer, try upping your service hours.

In college, your professors can be an incredible resource for references. Impress them with your class performance and let them know you'd like a reference for a particular scholarship. If you broach the subject, you might discover that your professor can give you suggestions to help you stand out in your scholarship or contest application, and even write you an excellent recommendation letter if applicable to the scholarship.

Winning scholarships while in college can help you pay for your expenses and even boost your post-grad connections. Apply for scholarships each year, even if you don't win money the first time you apply. Don't ignore scholarships with smaller award amounts either, since every bit will help.