Don't Drop the Ball on Early Scholarship Deadlines

Here is a sampling of college funding opportunities with fall due dates.

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September is a great time to apply for college scholarships.
September is a great time to apply for college scholarships.

We hate to rush the end of summer, but the next school year is only a few weeks away—if you haven't started classes already. If you're heading into your senior year of high school, there will be a lot to think about in addition to all of the "lasts" you'll be experiencing. Along with your last football game, your last homecoming dance, and your last final exam, you'll experience your first foray into the world as a full-blown adult.

For many of you, that means touring collegesfilling out your FAFSA, and getting ready to move away from your parents. And unless you have a lot of money saved up, you could also end up with your first student loan bill—unless you take some time to apply for scholarships now so you can attend the school of your dreams next year. 

[Get more advice on how to pay for college.]

We know what you're thinking. "Scholarship season is still months away! I have plenty of time to apply!" It's true that many scholarships are awarded in the spring, but there are also plenty whose deadlines fall in August, September, and October. Searching now means you can take full advantage of all the scholarships that are available. Here are a few opportunities we've featured here in the past; the deadlines are right around the corner!

Jane M. Klausman Women in Business ScholarshipIf you're a woman interested in or pursuing a career in business management at the undergraduate or graduate level, consider applying for the Jane M. Klausman Women in Business Scholarship. Scholarships are awarded annually and can be used for tuition, books, or living expenses at any university, college, or institution that offers accredited business courses and degrees. The scholarship is administered by Zonta International, which has clubs throughout the world. Contact the club nearest you to apply. Deadline: September 1 or earlier (deadlines vary by Zonta club).

Atlas Shrugged Essay Contest: Are you a fan of Ayn Rand or willing to read the book Atlas Shrugged? If so, you could win up to $10,000 toward your college education just for answering one of three essay questions about the book. Your essay will be judged on both style and content; the contest is open to high school seniors, undergraduate students, and grad students, and several winners will receive awards ranging from $50 to $10,000. Deadline: September 17.

[Check out these scholarships for book lovers.]

QuestBridge National College Match Program: If your family struggles to make ends meet, but you have a stellar academic profile, you may want to check out QuestBridge's National College Match Program, which helps exceptional low-income high school seniors gain a full-ride admission to some of the nation's most selective colleges. Most finalists come from households earning less than $60,000 a year, and more than 75 percent are in the top 5 percent of their high school class. If you match this description, we highly recommend you apply. Deadline: September 28.

A GPA Isn't Everything ScholarshipWe all know that there's more to being a good student than having a fantastic GPA. If you're a well-rounded student with a lot to offer, but your grades aren't over the top, don't get discouraged. There are still opportunities out there for you, including this scholarship. To apply, create a free profile through scholarship search engine Cappex, find the scholarship, and write about about your volunteer, leadership, and extracurricular activities. You'll be eligible to win $1,000. Deadline: September 30.

[Learn about scholarships that award leadership.]

Emerge ScholarshipsThankfully, not every scholarship is designed just for seniors in high school, because there are plenty of nontraditional students looking for some extra cash to help them achieve the dream of going to college. The Emerge Scholarship program does just that. Each year, approximately seven women—nontraditional students whose education was delayed—receive between $2,000 and $5,000 each in scholarship assistance. If you're a woman with a vision to succeed, regardless of the obstacles you've faced so far, you might consider applying for this one. Deadline: September 30.

We've only touched on a handful of scholarships whose deadlines are just around the corner. If you're hoping to cash in on free money for college, our advice is to start now. You'll be one step ahead of everyone else.

Michelle Showalter joined Scholarship America in 2007 and is an alumna of Luther College in Decorah, Iowa.