High School Scholarships
Applying to college represents the pinnacle of your high school career - but it can also be unbelievably stressful. How do you know which schools to choose? What should you major in? And most importantly, how are you actually going to pay for it all? Thankfully, high school scholarships can reduce the cost of tuition and make it possible to graduate with a degree and minimal student loans. Keep reading to learn more about how these scholarships work, how to qualify and when to apply.
What are high school scholarships?
A high school scholarship is an award given to a high school student to be used for their college education. High school scholarships can be given for two-year or four-year schools. Both community college and vocational school students can find scholarships.
High school scholarships can be granted by a third-party organization or directly by the school. Some for-profit companies and individual states also provide scholarships and grants to eligible high school students.
Requirements for high school scholarships will vary, but many ask for a transcript, a copy of standardized test scores, an essay and at least one letter of recommendation. Some scholarships will have a portfolio or video component requirement.
How to apply for high school scholarships
If you've never applied for a scholarship before, the process can seem daunting and complicated. The first step is to read through all the information on the scholarship’s website, so you understand if you’re eligible to apply and what you need to submit the application.Most scholarship providers have FAQ pages that you can review if you have questions. If you still need help, there’s usually a scholarship coordinator you can contact.
While many popular high school scholarships are available to most students, others will have a specific niche. For example, the Cards Against Humanity Science Ambassador Scholarship is given to a high school senior or college student who can thoughtfully and concisely explain a STEM topic they care about in a three-minute video.
Many schools that offer scholarships require that students fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA is the federal government's official form that lets students qualify for federal aid, including student loans, grants and work-study. Submitting the FAFSA is the best way to ensure you’ll maximize your financial aid opportunities.
Some states also offer grants for students attending school locally. If you're a high school student, start researching how to qualify for these grants. There may be a minimum high school GPA that you must have. These state grants may have an extra application form to fill out, but sometimes submitting the FAFSA is enough.
Frequently asked questions about high school scholarships
What are the best high school scholarships?
The QuestBridge Scholarship program is one of the most generous award programs in the country. Winners will receive a full tuition scholarship to one of 50+ schools, including Yale University, Stanford University and Princeton University. This four-year scholarship is worth more than $200,000. High school juniors and seniors are eligible to apply.
The Amazon Future Engineer Scholarship provides a $40,000 award and a guaranteed paid internship at Amazon. High school seniors with a 2.3 GPA or more and an interest in computer science are eligible to apply.
Where can I find high school scholarships?
Our official Scholarship Directory has a general high school scholarship page as well as an exhaustive list of subgroups, where you can find scholarships for all kinds of students.
Make sure to use the filter to discover scholarships that you might be uniquely qualified for. For example, if you play the tuba, look for scholarships for musically inclined students. Pay attention to your teachers if they mention any scholarship opportunities. If you're involved in a local organization, like your church or Girl Scout group, ask if they offer scholarships.
Do I have to be a senior in high school to qualify for a high school scholarship?
High school seniors are usually eligible for most scholarships, but other grade levels can also qualify for significant awards. For example, The Phyliss J. McCarthy Scholarship for Excellence in Writing is open to both high school juniors and seniors. Applicants will have to write a 2,000-word essay to win a $1,000 prize.
Even if you're a high school freshman, you can start looking at scholarship opportunities. Go through the scholarships that you're eligible for and apply for as many as you can. If you find some that you're not old enough for yet, set them aside for later.