Updated: June 15, 2024

California Scholarships

California Scholarships

Finding, applying for, and winning scholarships in California can significantly reduce the overall cost of attendance for college students. These scholarships can be fairly broad or designed for specific types of students. For example, some may be exclusively for those in specific counties or regions of California. Read on to learn how to find, apply for and win California scholarships.

Continue reading the article below the scholarship list.

25 California Scholarships with Approaching Deadlines

What is a California scholarship?

California offers a multitude of scholarship opportunities to undergraduate and graduate students. These scholarships aim to support eligible students in their pursuit of a college education and cover a wide range of academic disciplines.

Whether you are a high school senior or a transfer student, scholarships are available for students at every stage of their educational journey. In addition to academic achievement, scholarships also consider factors such as financial need, extracurricular activities, and community involvement.

Scholarships are open to a diverse range of students, including underrepresented groups, first-generation college students, and undocumented students. It is important to note that California scholarships can come from various sources, such as private organizations, federal grants, and even the state's own Cal Grant program. With these scholarship opportunities, students are able to fulfill their educational dreams and contribute to their communities.

Some California scholarships are available to any student living in the state; others have strict geographic restrictions. For example, the Folsom Garden Club Scholarship is only available to students living in or attending school in Placer, Sacramento, El Dorado, or Yolo County.

Types of California Scholarships

California offers many scholarships for higher education. These scholarships vary in type and requirements.

California offers merit-based scholarships. These awards go to students with superior academic performance or talent in a particular field. Private businesses, foundations, and institutions offer merit-based scholarships.

Colleges and universities offer institutional awards to eligible students. Financial need, academic performance, and topic of study might determine these grants. They provide crucial financial aid to California private college students.

Federal grants are available to California students. These federal subsidies are for financially needy students. The Pell Grant, which helps low-income undergraduates, is the most well-known federal grant.

Scholarships help California school seniors afford high education prices. The cost of tuition, books, and living expenses might deter many students. Scholarships help students achieve their academic goals without student loan obligations.

Finally, California offers merit-based, institutional, and federal scholarships. Scholarships are crucial to helping students pay high education costs and achieve their goals.

Undergraduate Students

California undergraduates have many scholarship options to pay for their studies. These scholarships are for California community college, private college, and public university undergraduates. Scholarships can be merit-based and awarded for academic excellence, extracurricular activities, community involvement, and leadership. First-year, transfer, and first-generation college students can get scholarships. Scholarships help undergraduate students achieve their educational goals when tuition costs rise and college enrollment rises.

Eligibility Requirements

California undergraduate scholarship eligibility standards vary per program. However, high school seniors and BIPOC students should know the common criteria.

Most California undergraduate scholarships require college enrollment or preparation to enroll. GPA and academic excellence are usually required for applicants. They may also need to demonstrate leadership, extracurriculars, or community service. BIPOC students often receive scholarships customized to their experiences and backgrounds. These grants encourage diversity and provide minority scholarships to these students to present them with chances to complete their college degree. Race, ethnicity, culture, and first-generation college student status may be considered for such awards. Scholarships may need financial support or aid information as well. Several scholarships are offered for low-income or underprivileged students.

Indigenous or Native American students, notably Coast Miwok, receive precedence in California to ensure equal educational opportunities. Coast Miwok students may qualify for unique scholarships and services.

Students should check each scholarship's eligibility conditions before applying to make sure they meet all requirements.

Available Scholarships for Undergraduates

There are many undergraduate scholarships in California. Scholarships recognize and support students' different origins and experiences. Merit-based scholarships recognize academic accomplishment. These grants help students with superior academic performance.

Students studying certain fields receive departmental scholarships. Academic departments at colleges and universities offer these grants. They help students with remarkable skills and passion in their subjects.

Students with leadership and community service skills who have a history of civic involvement and social action can apply for the Lasallian Leadership Award scholarship. This program honors community leaders and funds their undergraduate education.

Alumni Legacy Students with family members who attended the same institution or university can receive scholarships. These awards highlight family connections and help students continue their family's educational legacy.

Veteran and dependent scholarships are also available. These scholarships honor military service and offer education for their families.

California undergraduates can receive merit-based, departmental, Lasallian Leadership Award, alumni legacies, and veteran scholarships. These awards help students pursue their passions and academic aspirations.

Financial Aid and Grants for Undergraduate Students

Undergraduate students in California have many financial assistance and grant possibilities. These resources make college more affordable by reducing educational costs.

Cal Grants are a major source of undergraduate financial aid in California. Students receive tuition and other educational expenses from these awards based on financial need and academic performance. Cal Grants are available to undergraduates.

California undergraduates can get federal funds like the Pell Grant and FSEOG in addition to Cal funds. Financial necessity awards can dramatically lower tuition and other expenditures.

Additionally, several California schools and universities offer undergraduate institutional grants and scholarships. Student merit or need-based awards provide financial aid based on academic performance or other criteria. These grants can lower tuition and student debt.

These financial assistance choices and awards for California undergraduates make college more affordable and accessible. They enable eligible students to succeed academically by covering educational costs.

Graduate Students

Graduate Students: Getting a graduate degree might be expensive, but California has many scholarships for graduate students. These scholarships enable students in various fields of study and disciplines to pay for tuition and other educational expenditures. Graduate students can apply for merit-based, field-specific, and underrepresented or disadvantaged scholarships. California graduate students can boost their chances of receiving post-secondary financial aid by studying scholarships, satisfying eligibility conditions, and submitting quality applications.

Eligibility Requirements for Graduate Students in California

California graduate students can apply for many scholarships, but they must meet certain requirements. Scholarship programs and institutions have different eligibility requirements.

Field of study, academic achievement, financial need, and community activity can affect California graduate scholarship eligibility. Many scholarships require enrollment in or acceptance into a graduate degree program at a recognized California institution or college.

Graduate students must have an undergraduate degree and a specified GPA, though requirements vary. Some scholarships examine applicants' research or employment experience in their profession.

Graduate students in California can apply for merit-based, need-based, institutional, and major-specific scholarships. Students should investigate and apply for these opportunities through their institutions, professional associations, or private foundations.

How to apply for a California scholarship

California scholarships can differ greatly in terms of their requirements and deadlines. The first step is to start researching scholarships as soon as possible, ideally during your freshman year in high school. There may be some scholarships that you can qualify for and even be awarded well before your senior year.

Make sure to be mindful of any due dates and give yourself plenty of time to apply, compose an essay or essays if required and to source recommendation letters. Also, try not to write your essay at the last minute. Give yourself at least a week to write the essay, another week to get someone else to read it and then an extra week to make any necessary changes.

Once you’re enrolled in college, you can still keep applying for California scholarships. Don’t assume that just because you’re already enrolled in college, you can’t qualify for a California scholarship. There are plenty for college undergraduate and even graduate and doctorate scholarships available.

Frequently asked questions about California scholarships

Do I have to attend school in California to apply for a California scholarship?

Typically, you will need to either live in or attend college in California. For some, you may actually need to reside there in high school and also be accepted to and attending a California college or university.

For example, the AAUW Re-Entry Women Scholarship says you can either live in or attend school in San Diego County. This means that out-of-state students can still apply.

Is the Cal Grant also a California scholarship?

The Cal Grant is a state grant given to California students who meet basic residency criteria and who attend school in the state. Like other kinds of California scholarships, the Cal Grant does not have to be paid back after graduation. This would be a good example of the programs which require both residency and attendance in California.

To apply for the Cal Grant, you must fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or the CA Dream Act application for undocumented students who do not qualify for the FAFSA.

Completing the FAFSA will also make you eligible for federal student loans and federal grants, including the Pell grant. Some schools even require that students complete the FAFSA to be eligible for their own scholarships.

How long do I need to live in California to qualify for a California scholarship?

Every California scholarship will have its own residency rules, but usually just attending college in California doesn’t count. You may need to have lived in California for at least one year before enrolling in college or have a parent who is a California resident to qualify.

If you want to attend school in California, you can consider moving there and establishing residency by getting a job. After a year, you may qualify for in-state status. This can also help you get in-state tuition rates at California schools, which are usually significantly less expensive than out-of-state tuition.

Are California scholarships only available for undergraduate degrees?

Eligibility requirements for California scholarships are very different, and many awards are given for community college or vocational students as well as graduate or professional students. While undergraduate scholarships for four-year programs may be the most common, they aren’t the only opportunities available.

No matter what kind of school you're enrolled in, you‘ll likely be able to find relevant California scholarships. The only potential caveat is if you're attending a school that is not accredited. In this case, finding awards may be trickier than if you were attending an accredited school.