One thing that has become clear to me is that many families don't have an accurate understanding of scholarship timelines. The biggest scholarships, outside of what students receive directly from colleges, often have deadlines that occur in the fall of the senior year of high school. Other popular deadlines are January-March of second semester of the senior year.
Families often fail to think about scholarships until late in the second semester of senior year of high school. Prior to that time their focus is on where the student will get accepted. Once they have a college decision, they start to worry about paying the bill. Unfortunately, that is too late. There are VERY few scholarships available at that point and most of those are small amounts of $1,000 to $2,000.
When families call me at this time of year excited about a college acceptance and wondering about scholarship opportunities, I explain that the way to pay costs without scholarships at this point is the Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students (PLUS). Families can pay costs with the PLUS loan for the freshman year and encourage their new college freshman to apply for scholarships for sophomore year so that parent borrowing can be decreased in future years of college. Parents should keep in mind that students worry less about money than they do and that they will need to keep the idea of finding scholarship support in the minds of their new college students.