Scholarships for High School Seniors
If you’re going to college, your senior year of high school will be filled with a pretty intimidating to-do list. You’ll have to apply to college, sort through the financial aid information and decide where to go - on top of finishing out your high school education. In the midst of all that chaos, applying for scholarships can get lost in the shuffle. But while they may seem like an afterthought, scholarships are absolutely crucial if you want to reduce the cost of attendance. Read below to learn how scholarships for high school seniors work, where to find them and how to apply.
What are scholarships for high school seniors?
A scholarship for a high school senior is an award given to a student in their final year of high school. Some scholarships only allow high school seniors to apply, while others will accept students from other school years as well.
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.
Scholarships for high school seniors may be given on the basis of academic, athletic and artistic merit. Some scholarships may have a community service component or only be granted to those who come from a marginalized group.
The Dell Scholars Program offers not only a $20,000 scholarship to high school seniors who have participated in a Dell-approved college readiness program, but all Dell Scholars also receive a free laptop computer and non-monetary support, such as personal support on financial and emotional issues, among other things.
Scholarships for seniors can usually be used to pay for tuition, room and board, textbooks, laptops and more. These scholarships can be given for multiple years or just for one year. Some scholarships require that students maintain a certain Grade Point Average (GPA) or are committed to a specific academic major, while others are more lenient.
How to apply for scholarships for high school seniors
It's best to start looking for scholarships as soon as possible, even before your senior year officially begins. That’s because deadlines for scholarships may be different from deadlines for college applications. For example, some may be due the summer before senior year, months before college applications are due.
Think of applying for scholarships as an extracurricular activity that you must dedicate time to on a regular basis. Set aside a few hours a week to search for college scholarships and organize the required materials.
High School Seniors can create an account on Scholarships.com, where they can input their demographic information as well as information about their skills, interests, extracurricular activities and more. Once you create an account, you’ll be matched with scholarships that are eligible for.
Frequently asked questions about scholarships for high school seniors
Should I only apply for scholarships as a high school senior?
While many students may assume that senior year is their only chance to apply for scholarships, this is incorrect. You can start applying for scholarships at almost any point in your academic career. There are some scholarships available for virtually all school years, including scholarships for high school juniors, sophomores and even freshmen.
Some students and parents also think that students aren’t eligible for awards once they’re enrolled in college. But current college students may still qualify for scholarships and other types of financial aid. In short, you should start applying for scholarships as soon as possible and never stop until you graduate.
What are the best scholarships for high school seniors?
The Gates Scholarship (TGS) is a highly selective, last-dollar scholarship for outstanding, minority, high school seniors from low-income households. Winners of the scholarship will receive a four-year scholarship that will pay for the full cost of attendance that is not already covered by other financial aid and the expected family contribution. Only students with demonstrated financial need are eligible for this award.
Another great scholarship is offered by the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation. It is an achievement-based scholarship awarded to students in their final year of high school. Students are recognized for their capacity to lead and serve, as well as their commitment to making a significant impact on their schools and communities. 150 Coca-Cola Scholars are selected each year to receive this $20,000 scholarship.
Do high school seniors need to fill out the FAFSA?
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.
Many students may not realize that completing the FAFSA can grant them access to scholarships they would not receive otherwise. 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.
What you also may not realize is that 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.