Zina Kumok Image Written By: Zina Kumok | Edited By: Kevin Ladd | Updated: July 13, 2024

Scholarships for High School Seniors

If you’re going to college, your senior year of high school will be filled with a long to-do list. You’ll have to apply to college, sort through financial aid information and decide what school to attend - on top of finishing your high school education.

In the midst of that chaos, applying for scholarships can get lost in the shuffle. However, while they may seem like an afterthought, scholarships are absolutely crucial if you want to reduce your college costs.

In the article, we'll show you how to find and apply to scholarships for high school seniors.

About scholarships for high school seniors

Scholarships generally fall into two main categories, merit-based and need-based. Scholarships for high school seniors may also be awarded based on academic, athletic or artistic merit as well as community service involvement. Most scholarships have specific eligibility requirements.

Scholarships.com helps you find scholarships you qualify for by providing a personalized list of scholarship matches.

Well-known scholarships for high school seniors

The Coca-Cola Scholars Program Scholarship

The Coca-Cola Scholars Program awards 1,400 students with scholarships each year, awarding $3.55 million annually. The Coca-Cola Scholars Program Scholarship is a merit-based scholarship for high school seniors who are committed to making a positive impact in their school and community.

One third of the 2024 Coke Scholars are members of the Scholarships.com community. According to the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation, "less than 1/6th of 1% of applicants were chosen", a testament to the leadership, service, and academic achievements of the Scholarships.com community.

The Gates Scholarship

The Gates Scholarship is both a merit-based and need-based scholarship focused on supporting minority high school seniors from low-income households. Applicants must have a minimum GPA of 3.3 however, The Gates Scholarship is highly selective. TGS scholars receive a scholarship for the full cost of college attendance that is not already covered by other financial aid.

Cooke College Scholarship Program

The Cooke College Scholarship Program is open to high school seniors with financial need who plan to attend one of the nation's top four-year colleges and universities. The program is for high-achieving students with a minimum unweighted GPA of 3.5. The selection criteria is based on academic achievements, leadership, persistence, and financial need. According to the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, “the award, which is last dollar funding after all institutional aid, can provide as much as $55,000 per year to pursue a bachelor’s degree at any accredited undergraduate institution.”

Find less competitive scholarships for high school seniors

Well-known scholarships are always worth applying to however, they are much more competitive. Scholarships.com specializes in finding you less competitive scholarships as well. Our scholarship database consists of many local scholarships in your city and state. To help you find scholarships, we will update this article often with new scholarship opportunities.

Below is a list of 25 scholarships for high school seniors to help you pay for school.

Continue reading the article below the scholarship list.

25 Scholarships for High School Seniors with Approaching Deadlines

Where to find scholarships for high school seniors

High school seniors can search our Scholarship Directory where all the scholarships in our database are accessible by category. The directory is designed to help students and parents find scholarships they may qualify for based on academic major, school year, geographic location and other demographics and attributes. For a more personalized experience, high school seniors can create an account to match with scholarships you qualify for.

Another great place to find scholarships is through the school you're applying to. When you fill out a basic college application, you may be automatically considered for many internal awards. Some schools may require additional documents for you to be eligible for those scholarships. Contact the financial aid department and ask them how you can maximize your scholarship opportunities.

Make sure to ask your high school counselor, community foundations, professional organizations, and places of worship for additional access to local scholarships.

How to apply for scholarships for high school seniors

Scholarships.com matches you with scholarships you qualify for but now you have to apply. The most important thing is to stay organized. Our platform allows you to mark your favorite scholarships, those you have applied to, and more. It is a good idea to create a Google Sheets with more detailed scholarship information such as deadlines, scholarship application requirements, and award amounts.

Make sure to follow the scholarship application requirements and reach out to the scholarship provider directly with questions and/or to confirm receipt of your application.

If you're attending college next year, you will need to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) during your senior year of high school. The FAFSA is the official form that students must complete to receive federal student loans and grants.

Most students don't know that completing the FAFSA also gives them access to scholarships they would not otherwise receive. Most schools require that students submit the FAFSA to receive their own grants and scholarships. Even if you don't think you'll qualify for need-based aid, you may still need to fill out the FAFSA to receive merit scholarships.

And contrary to popular opinion, you should still fill out the FAFSA even after you're enrolled in college. It has to be completed every year that you want to receive financial aid.

You should try to complete the FAFSA as soon as possible after the application has been opened. Some institutional scholarships and grants are only given on a first-come, first-serve basis. If you wait too long to apply, you won’t receive those awards.

Also, make sure to monitor two specific deadlines: the school’s financial aid deadline and the state’s financial aid deadline. You should write down whichever deadline is soonest on your calendar and make sure to submit all required materials on or before that date. Missing these deadlines could result in you being ineligible for thousands or even tens of thousands of potential financial aid.

Frequently asked questions about scholarships for high school seniors

Before you start filling out those scholarship applications, make sure to read through the following questions to learn everything you should know about these awards:

Should I only apply for scholarships as a high school senior?

While most students assume that senior year is their only chance to apply for scholarships, this is a false assumption. You can start applying for scholarships at almost any point in your academic career. There are some scholarships that are open for middle school or even elementary school students.

Some students and parents also think that students aren’t eligible for new awards once they’re enrolled in college. But current college students still qualify for many scholarships and other types of financial aid. In short, you should start applying for scholarships as soon as possible and not stop until you graduate.

What are the best scholarships for high school seniors?

High school seniors have access to some of the most generous scholarships available. In fact, there are a number of scholarships that offer tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands in financial aid to deserving students. The best scholarships depend on factors such as academic achievements, demographics, extracurricular involvement, financial need, and unique characteristics. Let's provide you with the best scholarships based on data and research.

Nursing Scholarship

Nursing is the top major selected on Scholarships.com with over 10% of our community interested in pursuing a nursing degree. Nursing students can apply to the Nurse Corps Scholarship Program. According to the Health Resources & Services Administration "if accepted, we pay your tuition, fees, and other educational costs, along with a monthly stipend. In return, after you graduate, you work at an eligible health care facility with a critical shortage of nurses (critical shortage facility)."

Texas Scholarship

Texas is the most frequently selected state on Scholarships.com, with over 13% of our community residing there. High school seniors in Texas can apply for the Terry Traditional Scholarship. Scholarships are awarded to Texas high school seniors who have been accepted for admission to one of the Terry-affiliated public universities in Texas. The program awards scholarships based on academic achievement, community leadership, financial need, and college admission to a Terry-affiliated college.

California Scholarship

California is the second most frequently selected state on Scholarships.com, with over 10% of our community residing there. High school seniors in Southern California can apply to the Edison Scholars Program. This program awards thirty $50,000 scholarships to students who have at least a cumulative 3.0 GPA, plan to major in STEM fields, and demonstrate financial need. Edison Scholars are students focused on shaping a clean energy future.

Are some scholarships only available for high school seniors?

Some scholarships only allow high school seniors to apply, whereas others will accept students from several different grade levels.

For example, the Regeneron Science Talent Search Scholarship is only given to high school seniors who can submit original scientific research solving a major world problem. Approximately 300 students will receive a $2,000 scholarship and can also apply for a summer internship program with Regeneron.

Forty finalists will be chosen for this scholarship, with a top prize of $250,000. These finalists will also receive a one-week trip to Washington, D.C., where they can meet with award-winning scientists.

This is one of the most rigorous scholarship applications because applicants have to conduct independent scientific research to be eligible. Students attending high school in the U.S. are eligible, even if they are not from the U.S.

Are there scholarships for high school seniors from specific backgrounds?

While some scholarships are fairly broad, others have strict requirements and eligibility rules. In fact, you might be surprised at how narrow some scholarships are.

For example, the Organization of Latino Actuaries Scholarship Program is open to Latino students who are interested in becoming actuaries. The winner will receive a $5,000 or $7,500 scholarship, as well as a relevant internship. You must be attending a U.S.-based college or university next year to be eligible.

Students who are part of any minority group may be able to find scholarships they are eligible for. And if you already have a career or industry in mind, then you should look for scholarships specifically geared toward that as well. Remember, the odds of winning a niche award are higher than winning a general award.

Are some high school scholarships only given to those from a certain city or state?

While many scholarships are available to students from across the country, some scholarships have guidelines restricting who can apply for them.

For example, the Vicki Soto Memorial Scholarship is given to four students. Two recipients must be from Stratford, Connecticut, one must be from Connecticut in general, and the final one can be from anywhere in the country. This scholarship is worth $12,000 and can be renewed for four years.

Some geographic-based scholarships may require that students attend school in the same state to be eligible, but that’s not always true. You can still look for regional scholarships even if you're not going to school nearby. Just make sure you understand the eligibility requirements.

Can I apply for a scholarship if I plan to be a part-time college student?

When you attend college, the number of credit hours you take determines if you’re a full-time, part-time, or less than part-time student. This will impact how much financial aid you can receive. For example, if you’re eligible for the Pell Grant, you’ll receive less funding if you’re a part-time student than if you’re a full-time student.

Many scholarships will also require that you be at least a part-time student to be eligible, and some will only award scholarships to full-time students.

This also means that if your status decreases at any point, you may lose some awards. If you’re dropping any classes, make sure you understand how this may impact your scholarship funding.

When should I start applying for high school senior scholarships?

It's best to start looking for scholarships as soon as possible, even before your senior year officially begins. That’s because scholarship deadlines may be different than deadlines for college applications. For example, some may even be due the summer before senior year, months before college application deadlines.

Think of applying for scholarships as an extracurricular activity that you must dedicate time to regularly. Set aside a few hours a week to search for scholarships and organize required materials.

You don't have to know exactly what you want to major in or what school you're attending to start applying for scholarships. Just remember that if a scholarship requires that you attend a certain kind of school and you don't, then you may have to give back the award. Make sure to keep that in mind when you’re deciding where to attend.

Is there a GPA requirement for scholarships for high school seniors?

Contrary to what most people think, you may still qualify for scholarships even if you’re not the best student in high school. Nowadays, many scholarships also don’t require a certain SAT or ACT score to be eligible.

As far as your GPA, the typical minimum is a 3.0, but this may vary depending on the specific scholarship. Some may be as low as 2.5 or 2.0, while others can be as high as 3.5.

For example, the California Credit Union Student Scholarship only asks that students have a 3.0 GPA or higher. To be eligible for this scholarship, you must be planning to attend a four-year school. You must currently be a high school senior or a community college student.

You must also live in one of the following counties in California:

If you don’t meet those residential criteria, you can also qualify for the award if you’re a member or dependent of a member of the California or North Island Credit Union. This award is worth $1,000.

Do high school scholarships require that students take the SAT or ACT exam?

During the early part of the Covid-19 pandemic, many colleges stopped requiring that students take the SAT or ACT exam due to lockdown procedures. And since that time, dozens of schools have kept that test-optional policy in place.

Some scholarships have also followed suit, but there are still awards that require students to provide SAT or ACT results.