Many colleges use the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as the starting point for financial aid package. The new FAFSA is currently available via a "soft launch" where the form will be available for periods of time over the coming days while they monitor site performance and respond in real-time to any potential issues impacting the applicant experience. During the soft launch, they will be initiating pauses to the site, during which time the form will not be available while their team makes improvements. College and universities are aware of the ongoing issues. Students and families will have ample time to complete the 2024-25 FAFSA and do not need to rush to fill out the form immediately when the soft launch period opens. Students and a parent/guardian will need to each create FSA IDs in advance to complete the FAFSA, which we suggest doing as soon as possible. Here are directions for creating an FSA ID: https://studentaid.gov/fsa-id/create-account/launch

    The majority of scholarship money that students receive tends to come directly from the colleges they apply to, some of which will require that students complete the FAFSA, the CSS Profile, and/or a college-specific financial aid/scholarship application. Finding and applying for outside private scholarships can take a lot of time. Private scholarships are offered by organizations and individuals. They are also called “outside scholarships" because they are not offered through the school. These scholarships vary quite a bit with a range of eligibility, funding, and application criteria. Because of the wide range of available options, researching scholarships that meet your needs is important. For example, some private scholarships are available for students interested in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. Speak to your school counselors and research opportunities to find scholarships that are right for you. Statistics show that students have the best chance of receiving scholarships that require an essay as part of the application or those that are local and have more locally targeted qualifications. 

    The OSAC Scholarship application opens for Oregon high school students on November 1st, and by completing it, students can be eligible for over 500 scholarships through one application. Several scholarships on OSAC are specifically for Grant students. There is a priority deadline of February 15th and students have until April 1st to complete their applications. The My Plan essay that students will complete in senior English has the same prompts as the scholarship application.   

    Below are a number of additional resources for finding private scholarships:


    Note whether the scholarship is for one year or renewable. If it is renewable, understand what students need to do to renew it each year (i.e., minimum GPAs or full-time student status.) If you have received federal or school-based financial aid, consider that students must report these “outside scholarships” to the college’s financial aid department. Schools sometimes elect to reduce their financial award package, although many schools will work with the students to minimize this. Some “outside scholarships” come with non-monetary perks, such as mentoring, leadership development, summer employment, and networking opportunities. Beware of scholarship scams. As a general rule, you should not have to pay money to get a scholarship or for a scholarship search.