The time to start applying for scholarship money is right now

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DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) -- Even though high school seniors went back to class roughly a month ago, it's already time to start preparing for college.

It's a tough decision, choosing where to further your education after graduation.

"After high school, you want to be successful,” said one senior of Ashford High School in Ashford, Alabama.

And with so many different options, the possibilities are endless. Close to 40 colleges and universities met at Northview High School's Convocation Center in Dothan, Alabama on Monday. Around 500 students from area schools took part.

But before Blake Roddam even starts applying to schools, scholarship applications is top priority.

"It’s important to help your parents out financially, because not everybody has the money some others have," Roddam said.

Roddam has applied for two scholarships so far. He would like to attend Troy or the University of South Alabama.

Project coordinator Rachel Davidson says there's a lot of scholarship money that goes unused each year. Her advice for students: don't wait.

"A lot of students think they can wait until the spring to do it, but a lot of scholarship applications are open now,” said Davidson.

She also recommends checking Fastweb and doing a scholarship match. But a lot of the "big money" scholarships are coming directly from the schools.

"When you go on their websites and get in touch with the admissions counselors and show them your ACT, financial need and GPA, they can help you find out what you can apply for," Davidson explained.

The time to get started is right now. To be considered for federal student aid for the 2017-2018 award year, you can complete a FAFSA starting Oct. 1. Davidson recommends getting them in around Thanksgiving.

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