Apply to Colleges

Opens: October of Senior Year | Closes: February of Senior Year

Review Your College List

About this Step

Once you have a strong college list with a mix of schools, it’s time to apply.

Seniors who apply to two or more colleges will earn entries in monthly drawings for $500 and $40,000 scholarships.

How to Qualify

  1. Login to your College Board account. 
  2. Go to your college list on BigFuture.
  3. Make sure the colleges you applied to are there.
  4. Add any missing colleges where you also applied.
  5. After applying, change the status of colleges on your list to Applied, Accepted, Waitlisted or Denied.

Dates and Deadlines 

Scholarships for $500 and $40,000 are awarded monthly until February of your senior year. Completing any step enters you in the drawings on the first day of every month. Drawings occur on the first day of every month. 

Class of 2025 Deadline to Complete this Step: Friday, February 28, 2025

Class of 2026 Deadline to Complete this Step: Saturday, February 28, 2026

Increase Your Chances 

Whenever students whose families earn less than $60,000 a year apply to colleges, they’ll earn an extra entry in monthly drawings and have double the chances at a scholarship. Half of all awards are reserved for students who meet the income criteria.

Tips for Applying to Colleges

  • How should I decide where to apply to college?
    Once you've made a list of colleges you're interested in, the next step is to narrow down the list to colleges you'll apply to. If you're at this point in the process, you've probably already looked into things like location, size, and majors. If you haven't already, research things like financial aid packages, variety of academic programs, special programs like study abroad, clubs and activities on campus, and housing options.
  • How many colleges should I apply to?
    Most counselors recommend that students apply to five to eight colleges they’d be happy to attend. It's good to apply to some colleges that are a bit of a stretch for you and some you feel will likely admit you.
  • What are the Coalition and Common Applications?
    They’re standardized applications you use to apply to multiple schools. Instead of filling out six different applications, you simply fill out one and submit it to each college.
    • The Coalition Application is accepted by more than 150 institutions. The platform includes The Locker, a private space for you to collect and organize materials throughout high school you might want to share with colleges and universities.
    • The Common Application is a standardized application used by nearly 900 colleges. Each year, nearly a million students use the Common Application to submit over 4 million applications.
  • Should I apply early?
    It depends. If you’re sure about which college you want to attend, early decision or early action might be the best choice for you. If you're not sure, keep in mind that early decision application plans require you to commit early. You may want to keep your options open.



Who's eligible for scholarships from BigFuture?

Students in the class of 2024, 2025, and 2026 are now eligible for BigFuture Scholarships. They must: have a College Board account and attend public or private high school or are enrolled in a home school in the United States, Puerto Rico, or any other U.S. territories, and U.S. citizens and residents attending Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) schools. When students complete one or more qualifying steps on BigFuture, they'll be automatically entered into monthly drawings for $500 or $40,000 until February of their senior year. Students can opt out of scholarship drawings here. ​

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What are the deadlines to complete each step to qualify for BigFuture Scholarships?

Class of 2024

  • Start Your College List: Friday, June 30, 2023
  • Strengthen Your College List: Tuesday, October 31, 2023
  • Start Your Career List: Thursday, February 29, 2024
  • Start Your Scholarship List: Thursday, February 29, 2024
  • Apply to Colleges: Thursday, February 29, 2024
  • Complete the FAFSA: Thursday, February 29, 2024

Class of 2025

  • Start Your College List: Sunday, June 30, 2024
  • Strengthen Your College List: Thursday, October 31, 2024
  • Start Your Career List: Friday, February 28, 2025
  • Start Your Scholarship List: Friday, February 28, 2025
  • Apply to Colleges: Friday, February 28, 2025
  • Complete the FAFSA: Friday, February 28, 2025

Class of 2026

  • Start Your College List: Monday, June 30, 2025
  • Strengthen Your College List: Friday, October 31, 2025
  • Start Your Career List: Saturday, February 28, 2026
  • Start Your Scholarship List: Saturday, February 28, 2026
  • Apply to Colleges: Saturday, February 28, 2026
  • Complete the FAFSA: Saturday, February 28, 2026

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Are there family income requirements to earn scholarships?

No. These scholarships are open to students regardless of their family income. At least half of all the scholarships will be designated for students whose families earn less than $60,000 per year.

A student may be automatically identified as eligible to increase their chances if they received a fee waiver from College Board for one of our assessments or if they attend a high school where 75% or more of the student body qualifies for free- or reduced-priced lunch. If students haven't been automatically identified as qualifying for extra scholarship entries but feel they qualify because their family earns less than $60,000 per year or they earned fee waivers, they'll be able to indicate they meet these criteria by updating their College Board account. Students who select this option may be asked to verify family income by using a secure document system if they earn a scholarship in a monthly drawing.

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Do students have to participate online via the BigFuture website?

There's a mail-in entry option for students who can't participate online. See the Official Rules for more information. We encourage students to use BigFuture to track their progress and stay up to date on the latest information regarding this program.

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Do students have to take a PSAT-related test or SAT to participate in BigFuture Scholarships?

No. The program is open to all students, even those who don't take a College Board assessment. None of the six steps on BigFuture require sitting for an SAT assessment.

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Can I dispute my activity progress on BigFuture? What do I do if I don’t think my activity on BigFuture is accurate?

It may take up to 24 hours for your activity to be updated in the progress tracker. After that time, if you still feel that your information isn't up to date, please contact Customer Service at 844-298-3554.

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Can I earn entries for the colleges I’m thinking about applying to? Or should I complete my college applications and update my list when my college applications have been submitted?

Submit your college applications and then update BigFuture with the list of schools where you applied. If you’re selected as a winner of a scholarship, you’ll be required to provide confirmation of your applications to the colleges on your list.

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Can I earn an entry for applying to two-year institutions?

Yes. You can earn entries in the scholarship drawings by applying to two- and four-year institutions.

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What if I applied early decision and I don't intend to apply to a second college? Can I still qualify for the Apply to Colleges scholarship?

You can still qualify if you applied binding early decision. On the BigFuture dashboard, once you’ve listed the college where you applied early decision, enter “early decision” in the second text box to earn your entry. Consider preparing other applications as you wait to hear back from your early decision school because you may only have a few weeks left to apply to other schools if you need to.

Keep in mind that, early action and early decision are different. If you applied early action, you’ll need to indicate a second college you’ve applied to qualify for this scholarship. For more information about applying early decision versus early action, review this article.

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If I apply to for-profit colleges and include them in my list of college applications, will I be eligible for an entry?

Yes. However, keep the following in mind: Pursuant to the Official Rules, if you’re selected for a scholarship, we'll not be able to disburse scholarship(s) to colleges that aren't Title IV institutions.

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