5 Simple Steps to Get Organized for Scholarship Season

Scholarship America

The day after Christmas, stores suddenly have row upon row of storage solutions, organizers, and cleaning products displayed--and they're probably on sale to boot. That's because January is a great time to get organized. A new year is a fresh start, so why not take this opportunity to put a little organization around your scholarship research?

Here are five simple steps to get you organized well into the new year.

[Follow these New Year's resolutions to find scholarships.]

Step 1: List the scholarships you've already found and for which you're likely to be eligible. Include the name of the sponsoring organization and the address.

Step 2: Bookmark the websites or write down offline resources for these scholarship opportunities so you can refer back to eligibility criteria and application requirements, such as letters of recommendation, essays, transcripts, and FAFSA information.

[Learn more about filling out the FAFSA.]

Step 3: Find the deadlines for the scholarships you will be applying for, and then put the deadlines into the calendar on your smartphone or tablet so you don't miss one.

Be careful, though: Don't just set a reminder for the day the application is due. Set a reminder for two to three weeks in advance of the application deadline so that you have enough time to complete the paperwork and gather all required recommendations.

[Find out how to avoid missing scholarship deadlines.]

Step 4: Note whether the application must be mailed by USPS, or if it can be E-mailed or submitted through an online form. If the application must be mailed by USPS, build extra time into your application schedule for mailing.

Step 5: Now that you have an organization system, do some more research to find additional scholarship opportunities and return to Step 1.

Janine Fugate, the recipient of numerous scholarships at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, holds a bachelor's degree from the College of Saint Benedict, Saint Joseph, Minn., and a Master of Public Affairs from the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota--Twin Cities. Fugate joined Scholarship America in 2002.