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Where to Find Last Minute Scholarships

By Gabriel Jimenez-Ekman

Gabriel Jimenez-Ekman is a content editor and writer at Scholarships360. He has managed communications and written content for a diverse array of organizations, including a farmer’s market, a concert venue, a student farm, an environmental NGO, and a PR agency. Gabriel graduated from Kenyon College with a degree in sociology.

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Edited by Maria Geiger

Maria Geiger is Director of Content at Scholarships360. She is a former online educational technology instructor and adjunct writing instructor. In addition to education reform, Maria’s interests include viewpoint diversity, blended/flipped learning, digital communication, and integrating media/web tools into the curriculum to better facilitate student engagement. Maria earned both a B.A. and an M.A. in English Literature from Monmouth University, an M. Ed. in Education from Monmouth University, and a Virtual Online Teaching Certificate (VOLT) from the University of Pennsylvania.

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Updated: December 4th, 2023
Where to Find Last Minute Scholarships

If you’ve waited until the last minute to look for scholarships, you won’t have the same options available as students who started applying in the earlier stages of the admissions process. However, you still have a lot of opportunities to help pay for your education. There are many opportunities out there, and they have deadlines all year round, so there will always be some open. Here is a collection of resources to help you find last minute scholarships.

Related: An insider’s view of what happens inside a college admissions office

College’s financial aid office

Your college’s financial aid office might offer specific scholarships and grants based on need or merit. If you are having trouble meeting your college expenses, reach out to the financial aid office and express your interest in attending the school and the trouble you’re having with finances. They might be able to offer you opportunities directly or refer you to ones that they have heard of. These financial aid officers are connected in the financial aid world, and it is their job to help ensure that students can afford the school.

Also see: How to write a financial aid appeal letter

Low-effort and no-essay scholarships

If you are applying for scholarships at the last minute, you might have trouble getting all of your application resources together. Letters of recommendation, essays, and resumes all take time. However, there are many opportunities out there that have simpler application processes. Check out our list of easy scholarships and our list of scholarships that don’t require essays (including our very own $10,000 no-essay scholarship!)

Despite their convenience, you shouldn’t place too much faith in these scholarships. Because it is so easy to apply, they typically end up receiving a huge number of applications. The winners are sometimes chosen randomly, or they can be chosen by merit or demographic. But the flipside of an easy application process is that you have less opportunities to stand out from the crowd. When it comes to easy scholarships, you’ll want to apply far and wide, because chances are you will not win the vast majority that you apply for.

Your employer or your parents’ employer

Many employers offer scholarships to their employees and the families of their employees. This is especially common at mid and larger sized corporations. These opportunities typically don’t have any firm deadline, and employees can apply whenever they’d like. So, if you waited until the last minute to apply for scholarships, this is a good opportunity to apply to a promising opportunity with no firm deadline.

Employer scholarships are also typically more promising than ones open to the general public because they have a smaller applicant pool. Some employers even guarantee the scholarships to employees as long as they attend a certified educational program.

Related: Employer tuition reimbursement: What it is and who offers it

Local organizations

Local organizations are a great resource for last minute scholarships. Many neighborhood, county, or city organizations offer local scholarships. Because only students from certain regions can apply, these scholarships have less applicants and therefore a higher chance of success. Try talking to students from the area who are attending college to see where they looked for local scholarships.

Also see: How to earn local scholarships

Your high school’s guidance counselor

Your guidance counselor should have a list of scholarships available to students from your high school. If you’re applying last-minute, some of the deadlines may have already passed, but chances are, there are a few that are still open. You can send your counselor an email or make an appointment to see them in-person. They might have a pre-prepared list for you, but if you ask for specific recommendations, you might learn about even more opportunities.

Our scholarship search tool

We might be biased, but we can’t recommend our scholarship search tool highly enough! The tool will provide you with a comprehensive list of vetted scholarships custom-matched to your demographics and interests. We list opportunities that are due all year round, and will continue to update them with new opportunities. Using this tool, you can even continue to earn money for college once you’ve arrived at school and started your semester. Sign up today to start receiving vetted opportunities matched just to your situation.

Work study

Strictly speaking, work study is not a scholarship. However, it is a great way to help pay for college and you can often land a work study job throughout the school year. So, if you are having trouble paying your college bills, look into work study opportunities to make ends meet. Some work study jobs might even be relevant to your major and help you land jobs when you leave college.

One of the most profitable work study jobs for undergraduates is typically the resident assistant position. Many resident assistants receive a comparable salary to other work study students, but on top of that, the college pays for their room and board. This can effectively double your salary, or even triple it. In 2022-2023, the average room and board cost was between $14,000 and $15,500 per year, and it has only gotten higher since then. This is a huge cost to save each academic year for resident assistants.

See also: Is work study worth it?

Planning for future scholarships

Just because you’re on the hunt for last-minute scholarships this year, doesn’t mean you have to be next year. Plan to start your scholarship application process earlier next year to help save more money. Remember that it’s just as easy to apply for scholarships as a college freshman as it is a high school senior. Each year, you’ll qualify for new opportunities, so stay on the hunt. Our scholarship search tool will automatically update with new opportunities as you advance through school.

Key Takeaways

Key Takeaways

Key Takeaways

  • Apply for easy scholarships with a simple application process
  • Contact you or your parents’ employer to inquire about tuition reimbursement and company scholarship opportunities
  • Local organizations and high school guidance counselors are great resources for scholarships that match your demographics
  • Apply for scholarships all year-round, there is no such thing as a last-minute scholarship because there are new opportunities being offered all the time
Key Takeaways

Frequently asked questions about where to find last minute scholarships

How do you find scholarships that almost nobody knows about?

The key to finding scholarships that nobody else knows about is to be specific in your search! Don’t just seek out general scholarships for graduating seniors or college freshmen; think about the things you are a part of. Are you into a certain sport? Do you like to cook? Are you a first generation college student? Even tiny details about you may offer scholarships you never knew were available!

How many scholarships are left unclaimed?

According to the National Scholarship Providers Association, over $100 million dollars in scholarship money is left unclaimed each! That’s a lot of money! When you’re on the hunt for scholarships, it can feel like you get no, after no, after no from scholarship awarders, but this number should hopefully tell you that there are plenty out there to help you! You just need to stay determined and remember to be specific in your search!

What happens to leftover scholarship money?

If you received enough scholarships to cover all of your academic expenses, you will likely receive the leftovers from those scholarships in a refund check. Scholarships are usually paid directly to the school you are attending. If a school receives more than the amount you owe them, you will be sent a refund check. Different schools will have different policies about when these checks are dispersed. If you think you should be receiving a refund check, contact your financial aid office.

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