When to Begin Your Scholarship Search
Make a plan
Now, obviously, you can't spend 24 hours a day, seven days a week searching for scholarships (you have work to do!), but you can make a schedule. Even if you can only devote five or ten minutes every day to the search, do it. Make it part of your daily routine, whether you do it first thing in the morning or the last thing at night, just keep searching.
Half of the search is weeding through all the web pages listing the scholarships. Bookmark where you left off on your scholarship search so the next day you can pick up the very next scholarship on the list. This will save you time and make your ten minutes that much more productive.
There are some funny scholarships out there, and just because you have average grades or don't have a low income, doesn't mean you can't find money. David Letterman offers scholarships to communications majors with mediocre grades. Duct Tape offers a scholarship to someone willing to go to prom dressed in nothing but Duct Tape. By looking for unusual scholarships, you find ones that don't have as much competition and can garner you some money. Every little bit adds up.
Help your little siblings
Believe it or not, you can start applying for scholarships when you are in grade school. Many are savings bonds that will mature by the time you reach college. If you're reading this, you can pass the information along and help your younger friends or family members!
Keep on looking
Even once you begin college, keep looking for more scholarships. There remains money out there to be had and you can keep applying as long as you're in school. The more money you collect, the less debt you'll have. Some scholarships are designed for upperclassman, while other scholarships are one-time only payments. Even if you received enough money to pay for your first year, it doesn't necessarily carry over to the other years. By continuously looking, you can find more and more money for your education, including advanced degrees.
The only things stopping you from finding money for college is you. The scholarship search is an on-going process that can bring in enough money to pay for tuition, books and even room and board. As long as you have a need, keep your eyes open. You never know where the next great check will come from.