Scholarships for High School Seniors

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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.

What Types of Scholarships for High School Seniors Can You Apply For? 

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 as you 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. 

Scholarship opportunities also exist for high school student athletes who plan to play on a sports team while pursuing a college education. In fact, if you take part in any extracurricular activities (e.g. Eagle Scout) use it to find scholarship programs to apply for. 

There are essay scholarships for high school seniors too. These scholarship competitions ask for a short essay on a prompted question. The Ayn Rand Fountainhead Essay Scholarship provides $500 to $5,000 to eligible eleventh and twelfth graders. Your essays must articulate and answer one of the three essay prompts based on Ayn Rand’s novel.

10 High School Senior Scholarships

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.

  1. American University National Achievement and National Merit Scholarship
  2. 5 Strong Scholarship
  3. Dell Scholars Program
  4. Hispanic Heritage Youth Awards 
  5. Fleet Reserve Association Essay Contest
  6. Elks National Foundation Legacy Awards
  7. Education Dynamics $10K Minority First Generation Scholarship Contest 
  8. PFLAG Flag Football Scholarship 
  9. AXA Achievement Scholarship
  10. AVA Care Medical Scholarship 

How Do You Find Scholarships for High School Seniors?

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. 

Local 

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. 

Schools

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 undergraduate students once you are admitted. These tie to academic achievement and grade point average.

Military

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. 

Scholarship Organizations

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.

When should High School Seniors Start Applying for Scholarships?

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.

Is It Hard to Get a Scholarship?

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.

Scholarship Application Tips

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.

List of Scholarships for High School Seniors

Check out our list of scholarships worth .

Missouri State University Hutchens/SGA Centennial Leaders Scholarship

This scholarship is open to U.S. students who plan to enroll at Missouri State University as freshmen. Students must have a class rank in the top 50 percent or a grade point average of 3.0 or higher AND an ACT score of 20 or higher or an SAT score of 1030 or higher. Students must also excel in three of the following areas: leadership; volunteerism; performing arts; athletics.

Total: $10000

Awards: 1

Deadline: January 30, 2021

Missouri State University Inclusive Excellence Leadership Scholarship & Recognition Award

This scholarship is open to U.S. students who plan to enroll at Missouri State University as incoming freshmen. Students must: rank in the top 50 percent of their class or have a grade point average of 3.0 or higher; and have demonstrated leadership in multicultural school or community activities or organizations. Students with disabilities and/or historically underrepresented populations are encouraged to apply.

Total: $21000

Awards: 1

Deadline: January 30, 2021

Technology Addiction Awareness Scholarship

This award is for U.S. high school, undergraduate, and graduate students. Students must submit a short response and be selected as a semi-finalist to compete for the available scholarships.

Total: $1000

Awards: 1

Deadline: January 30, 2021

Doug Walker Memorial Scholarship

This scholarship is available for high school seniors residing in Hillsborough County, Florida. Applicants must be a member of a varsity basketball team, and must have a grade point average of 2.5 or higher.

Total: $2000

Awards: 1

Deadline: January 31, 2021

Cancer for College Pacific Northwest Scholarship

The Cancer for College Pacific Northwest Scholarship is available for high school seniors and undergraduate students in the U.S. who have been diagnosed with cancer. Applicants must reside in the Pacific Northwest (Washington, Oregon, or Idaho) and must demonstrate academic achievement & unmet financial need.

Total: $25000

Awards: 5

Deadline: January 31, 2021

Thomas J. Rao Jr. Scholarship

The Thomas J. Rao Jr. Scholarship is available for high school seniors in Hillsborough County Florida who demonstrate finanancial need and plan to attend a college, university, or vocational school in Florida. Applicants must have a grade point average of 2.5 or higher.

Total: $1500

Awards: 1

Deadline: January 31, 2021

Adele and Herbert Fishler Memorial Scholarship

This award is available for residents of Nassau County, Florida who are attending Florida State College at Jacksonville. Applicants must have a grade point average of 2.5 or higher, and preference will be given to graduates of Fernandina Beach High School.

Total: $1460

Awards: 1

Deadline: January 31, 2021

Payzer Scholarship

This scholarship is available for U.S. undergraduate students who are majoring in and declare an intention to pursue a professional career in engineering, mathematics, or the physical or biological sciences, with an emphasis on technical information. Students must be recommended by a current Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), Inc. member or be a current, active member of the EAA in order to receive this scholarship.

Total: $5000

Awards: 1

Deadline: January 31, 2021

Pete Gilmore Memorial Kiwanis Scholarship

This scholarship is awarded each year to a local area student who plans on majoring in finance or accounting at an accredited college or university in the state of Florida. Applicants must have a grade point average of 3.25 or higher and qualify for free or reduced school lunches.

Total: $3000

Awards: 1

Deadline: January 31, 2021

Robert Hunter Swadley Horticulture Scholarship

The Robert Hunter Swadley Horticulture Scholarship is for graduating high school seniors with a minimum 3.0 GPA on 4.0 scale who will be entering an accredited college or university located in the United States as a freshman with a major in horticulture. The applicant must be a United States citizen residing in the state of California.

Total: $50000

Awards: 1

Deadline: January 31, 2021

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