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It’s your final year of high school, and you’re ready to take on a new adventure. That’s college! As a high school senior, you still have hundreds of scholarship opportunities available to you. So, as you’re making plans on what college you want to attend and what major you want to study, be sure to add “applying for scholarships” to your college to do list.
Many college scholarships for high school seniors are usually based on financial need or merit. As long as you meet eligibility, you may apply. These criteria may include being a U.S. citizen, permanent resident and planning to attend an accredited four year college in the United States.
Need based scholarships are for qualifying high school students who have unmet financial need. Merit scholarships for high school seniors look at your academic achievements. So, eligible applicants usually need a good GPA, test scores and community service.
Keep these two types of scholarship awards in mind. You may also use your major, minority status, gender, location or talent to broaden your scholarship search. To give you an idea, there’s the UNCF STEM Scholars Program. It is for African American high school seniors with a 3.0 GPA planning to study science, tech, engineering or math focused majors.
In fact, if you take part in any extracurricular activities (e.g. Eagle Scout) use it to find scholarship programs to apply for. Sports scholarships and essay scholarships for high school seniors also may be available throughout the year.
These essay scholarships ask for a short essay on a prompted question. The Ayn Rand Fountainhead Essay Scholarship provides $500 to $5,000 to eligible 11th and 12th graders. Your essays must articulate and answer one of the three essay prompts based on Ayn Rand’s novel.
We’ve created a short list of scholarships for high school seniors. Apply by the application deadline and make sure you meet all the eligibility requirements.
In order to find high school senior scholarships, you may want to look at local, state and national sources. Military, private organizations, and nonprofits may also provide scholarships for seniors.
If you are starting with a local search, you may want to ask your high school counselor or see whether any student organization offer scholarships for high school seniors. Your place of worship, community center or local businesses may extend scholarships to eligible residents.
During your senior year, you’re probably searching and applying to your perfect college. While you’re searching, you might contact the financial aid office of these prospective schools. Many may offer scholarships for college students once you are admitted. These tie to academic achievement and grade point average.
Do you come from a military family or interested in pursuing a military career? There are a wide range of colleges that partner with ROTC programs. For example, ARMY ROTC scholarships are for high school students attending a four year college program. You may also serve on the Army full time. Some military awards could also be for children of active duty service member or Veterans.
Do you have specific interests or a minority student? There are many professional organizations like The Elks that offer scholarships to high school students. You typically need to be an exclusive member. Many minority organizations like UNCF also fund scholarships to make higher education more affordable.
Businesses and Nonprofits
Many businesses and non profits offer annual scholarships. These may be open to high school seniors who plan to pursue a bachelor’s degree. You may also show qualities of leadership and advocate for a good cause. If your parent works for a big company, they may also offer scholarships as a benefit to employees’ dependents.
Depending on the scholarship’s application deadline, you may want to apply during the summer between your high school junior and senior year. That’s because some scholarships for seniors may have due dates one year before the start of college. So starting early gives you a chance to see what is out there, what you qualify for and acquire as much scholarship funding before college starts.
It may depend on the type of scholarship and if you meet eligibility requirements. Some scholarships have specific requirements for seniors, such as financial need or merit. Other scholarships may have large applicant pools which could increase the competition. There may also be scholarships through random drawings based on luck.
Many U.S. colleges typically award eligible college freshmen with academic scholarships each year. You tend to find out about these within your college admissions letter. If you have good grades and maintain a good academic standing, then you could be eligible for renewable awards each year.
Putting grades aside, many middle and low income students may receive scholarships based on unmet financial need. As a rule, providers rely on the information from your FAFSA to figure out how much to award. You could file the FAFSA every year to make sure you receive enough financial aid to help pay for college.
For other scholarship funds, the bigger the pool of applicants the more competition you may face. But don’t give up! Just take a break from longer applications by applying for easy and no essay scholarships for high school seniors. For many of these, you may enter for a chance to win or random drawing. Scholarships with no essay typically do not require a GPA, test scores or family income.
Set up your scholarship application for success with these 5 tips.
1. Start looking for scholarships early.
This also familiarizes you with things providers look for. It may motivate you to study harder, join the National Honor Society, sports team or civic group.
2. Always read and follow directions.
Many providers disqualify late and incomplete application. Follow the scholarship rules, word count, essay topic and don’t omit any required documents.
3. If you qualify for a scholarship, apply.
Even small sums may lessen the need to borrow student loans! Just take note of any terms and conditions like full time enrollment, grades, etc.
4. Apply on time.
Some providers may specify a deadline like 11:59PM EST. If you are on the pacific or central time zones, make sure to adjust your schedule.
5. Gather references and letters of recommendation.
Many scholarships providers ask for at least one recommender. It could be a teacher, mentor, employer, or coach. Cultivate a relationship and have one recommendation letter ready.
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The sources for school statistics and data is the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System.
This is an offer for educational opportunities that may lead to employment and not an offer for nor a guarantee of employment. Students should consult with a representative from the school they select to learn more about career opportunities in that field. Program outcomes vary according to each institution’s specific program curriculum. Financial aid may be available to those who qualify. The information on this site is for informational and research purposes only and is not an assurance of financial aid.