Strengthen Your College List

Deadline: October During Your Senior Year​

Strengthen Your College List

About the Scholarship

The beginning of senior year is the time to strengthen the college list you built as a junior. You want to make sure your list has a range of schools that interest you–or schools where you’ll apply.

Students who strengthen (or update) their college list with at least three reach colleges, two match colleges, and one safety will earn entries in monthly drawings for $500 and $40,000 scholarships.​

How to Qualify

  1. Log in to BigFuture to view and update your college list.
  2. Make sure your list has at least 6 schools with at least 3 reach, 2 match, and 1 safety.

Tips for Strengthening Your List

  • How can I balance my list?
    Once you’ve made a list of colleges you’re interested in, narrow it down to the colleges that are a good fit and where you plan to apply. You’ll need a minimum of six colleges on your list, including three reach, two match, and one safety. Your school counselor is a great resource as you evaluate colleges and choose those that you’ll apply to.
  • How are reach, match, and safety colleges defined?
    This scholarship defines reach, match, and safety based on SAT scores, ACT scores, and estimated GPA, but remember that past achievement is only one factor for admission. Consider coursework, extracurriculars, potential major, and available financial aid to decide if a college is right for you.
    Compare your highest SAT score, ACT score, or estimated GPA to those of last year’s first-year class. If you don't yet have an SAT or ACT score, you can estimate your score based on a previous PSAT-related test score or take a practice test on Official SAT Practice on Khan Academy.
    • REACH: Your SAT score, ACT score or estimated GPA is lower than the average score range of last year’s first-year class—but don’t let that stop you! Colleges consider a range of factors during the admissions process.
    • MATCH: Your SAT score, ACT score or estimated GPA is solidly in the same score range as last year’s first-year class.
    • SAFETY: Your SAT score, ACT score or estimated GPA is higher than the average score range of last year’s first-year class.

Increase Your Chances

As soon as you strengthen your college list, you’ll be automatically entered into every monthly drawing for $500 and $40,000.

  • The earlier you strengthen your list, the more chances you have to be selected. You’ll receive an entry in every monthly drawing for $500 for strengthening your list.
  • You’ll also get 1 entry in the monthly drawings for $40,000 scholarships. Complete additional steps on BigFuture to earn more entries.
  • Whenever students whose families earn less than $60,000 a year build a college list, 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.

Drawing Notifications

Scholarships for $500 are awarded every month from July 2022 through October 2022. Awards for $40,000 are awarded every month until February 2023. Drawings occur on the first day of every month.

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. For $500 scholarships, we select 150 winners from the  class of 2024 and 150 from the  class of 2025 every month. For $40,000 scholarships, we select a total of two monthly (one from class of 2024 and another from  class of 2025).


How do you find reach, match, and safety colleges?

Strengthen your list by sorting colleges on BigFuture based on your GPA or SAT or ACT scores. You can sort your list by reach, match, and safety colleges to help you make sure your list has different kinds of schools that interest you. Remember to also consider size, location, campus life, available financial aid and other factors as you update your list

Read more

Why is a balanced list important?

By adding a mix of reach, safety, and match schools, you may add colleges you may not have considered before. As you narrow your list, make sure to consider location, campus life, cost, size, and majors. These other factors can help you determine what colleges are an overall good social, financial, and academic fit for you. Your strengthened list should reflect a mix of schools where you will thrive, academically, and socially.

Read more

What if my counselor told me I’m a match for a certain college but BigFuture says it’s a reach?

BigFuture identifies schools as a match based on your GPA or SAT or ACT score. However, past achievement is just one factor that schools consider during the admissions process. Your counselor may have advised you that you’re a good fit based on other factors. To strengthen your list and earn an entry in the scholarship drawings, we recommend adding another match college based on your GPA or SAT or ACT score.

Read more

How will I know when I’ve earned an entry?

After you strengthen your list, you’ll be automatically entered in monthly drawings unless you opt out of participation. You’ll see an update on your dashboard on BigFuture when you earn entries for $500 and $40,000. You’ll also get an email to confirm your drawing entries.  

Read more