By tamara It’s honestly never too early to start planning for college; parents and students can get ahead of the game by creating a plan that not only includes academics, extracurricular activities and volunteer work, but also scholarships. Since most families aren’t even thinking about how to pay for college while their kids are still playing in the sandbox, applying early can really give families an advantage, especially over those who wait until their final year of high school to start applying for scholarships. Surprisingly, many companies and organizations are now offering free money for college to students as early as kindergarten, which means students have plenty of opportunities to save enough money to attend the college of their dreams, if they start applying for scholarships right now. Here are just a few of the college scholarships for children that have upcoming deadlines this spring. 1. Kohl’s Kids Who Care Program Students between the ages of 6 and 18, who have participated in community service within the last 12 months, may apply for this scholarship program. Awards are given out at the local, regional and national level; prizes range from a $50 store gift card to a $10,000 scholarship. Deadline: March 15. 2. Olive Garden ‘Pasta Tales’ Essay Contest Canadian and U.S. students in grades 1 through 12 are eligible to apply for this award. A total of 13 prizes will be offered. The grand prize winner will receive a $2,500 savings bond and a trip for four to New York City. Deadline: March 22. 3. Doodle 4 Google Google is offering a $30,000 college scholarship to one talented student artist. Any student in kindergarten through 12th grade may submit their creative design based on the theme, ‘My Best Day Ever.’ The winning artist’s work will also be displayed on Google’s homepage. Deadline: March 22. 4. The Nicholas A. Virgilio Memorial Haiku Competition Any student in grades 7 through 12, and enrolled in school as of September 2013, may apply for this scholarship. Students may submit up to three haikus for consideration. Six winners will each receive $50. Deadline: March 25. 5. The Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes Students who have completed an extraordinary service project may apply for this award. Applicants must be between the ages of 8 and 18. A total of ten $2,500 scholarships will be awarded. Deadline: April 30. 6. Angela Award Female students in grades 5 through 8, who are involved with science, may be eligible for this award. One winner will receive a $1,000 savings bond and be honored at the Teachers Awards Banquet at the National Science Teachers Association National Conference. Deadline: November 30. One of the largest scholarship programs for children is the Jif® Creative Sandwich Contest™. Each year, Jif® awards four $2,500 scholarships and one $25,000 scholarship to kids ages 6 through 12 just for submitting a sandwich, dessert or other food item that uses peanut butter. The entry period opens in mid-July and runs through October. The top five finalists are brought to New York City in March, where the Grand Prize Winner is announced. It can take some time for students to get the knack of filling out applications and creating the perfect scholarship essays, so the earlier they begin the process, the better. Parents can help by keeping an eye out for creative programs, such as art or writing contests, as well as opportunities that may appear in their local newspaper or be offered through community organizations. The sooner students incorporate scholarships into their routine, the more confident they will become in their abilities. A good plan and a positive attitude can go a long way in winning free money for college.