Whether you're a high school junior just getting started on scholarship applications, or a college student with a sheaf of essays, you've learned by now that applying for college cash can take awhile.
But that's not always the case. More and more scholarship programs are testing faster and easier applications that involve creating videos, sending tweets or texts or even just registering for a mailing list. These quick-and-easy applications are a great way to boost scholarship chances without committing too much time – which is always in short supply for students.
There are a few potential drawbacks to scholarship programs like these. Because they're easy to apply for, you'll have a lot of competition and your academic and community achievements won't have much effect on your chances.
[Find out how you can make your scholarship essay stand out.]
In addition, some programs may require you to share marketing messages or solicit votes in order to increase your chances. It's up to you whether you're comfortable doing so, but you should always check those expectations before you apply.
If you're ready to hop on your phone and start applying, one of your first stops should be DoSomething.org's scholarship listing. The long-standing youth activism organization offers a rotating array of scholarship competitions that usually require nothing more than a text message to enter.
Current open programs include the $4,000 "Fed Up" School Lunch Scholarship, where all you need to do is text in a picture of your school lunch and answer 10 questions about school nutrition to be eligible. If you want to loop in a few friends, invite them to play "The Bully Text," an anti-bullying game. You'll automatically be entered to win $3,000.
Deadlines and programs vary, so it's worth following @DoSomething on Twitter for updates.
As you explore your college choices, take advantage of built-in scholarship programs from a couple of the nation's largest school searches. College Prowler offers registered users a monthly chance to win their $2,000 "No Essay" scholarship just for having an account.
And CollegeWeekLive, which hosts online college fairs and live chats with admissions representatives, gives out a $1,000 monthly scholarship to students who log in and visit three colleges that interest them.
[Compare five of the top scholarship search engines.]
Your random knowledge can turn into quick and easy scholarship applications, as well. The Common Knowledge Scholarship Foundation offers scholarships ranging from $250 to $2,500.
To apply, all you need to do is to sign up for the site and play trivia quizzes. Topics range from general knowledge to specific subjects, books or films, and there are even occasional quizzes that your parents can play to help earn you points.
For more specific testing, check out the American Fire Sprinkler Association's $2,000 scholarship for high school seniors. Even if you don't know the first thing about sprinklers, you can enter the contest by reading a brief essay and answering a 10-question open-book quiz.
Those aren't the only ways to use your online presence for college cash, either. The Dr Pepper Tuition Giveaway awards over $1 million in tuition to students around the country. To get started, students 18 and older have the opportunity to tell their story to Dr Pepper by submitting a short statement.
Once submitted, students are asked to promote their stories with their social networks, and their friends and followers will then have the opportunity to vote for their favorites. The five stories with the most votes by the end of the promotion will each win $10,000 to be used toward tuition.
[Learn how to use social media in your scholarship search.]
To up the ante, this year each student between the ages of 18 and 24 whose story receives at least 50 votes will be invited to submit a 60-second video as well. Dr Pepper judges will select contestants with the most compelling videos to compete for a chance to win one of four $100,000 tuition grand prizes during halftime competitions at the Dr Pepper ACC Championship, Big Ten Championship, PAC-12 Championship and SEC Championship football games.
Finally, you can also enter a number of scholarship competitions on Twitter. These 140-character contests crop up frequently and we try and keep our eye on them at our Twitter account.
Most aren't as lucrative as the University of Iowa's $38,000 one-tweet business-school award, but programs like 1ForAll's #FreeToTweet contest, the 140 Scholarship and the Short and Tweet Scholarship are still well worth entering.
With all of these scholarship programs, you don't have anything to lose!
Matt Konrad has been with Scholarship America since 2005. He is an alumnus of the University of Minnesota and a former scholarship recipient.