Most of the money available for funding scholarships goes into scholarships for high school seniors.
In its broadest terms, a scholarship is any financial assistance given to a student to help them go to college. Scholarships generally do not have to be paid back (at Least in monetary terms). Most of them however have strict terms for keeping them. These requirements could range from maintaining a certain GPA, attending a minimum number of class hours, enrollment in a specific program and joining a certain group.
Scholarships for high school seniors can be classified under three broad categories. These are:
- Merit based scholarships
- Need based scholarships
- Association based scholarships
Merit Based Scholarships: High school seniors can find merit based scholarships from many sources. They are awarded by Universities or colleges, state sponsored scholarships and from individuals and other donors who want to help deserving students go to college. Merit based awardees are generally selected based on their performance in standardized tests such as the SAT or ACT and on the student’s high school academic record. Some merit based awards will also require an essay and take into consideration the student’s extracurricular activities.
Need based scholarships: These scholarships are generally not based on a student’s academic records. They are given to students with financial need though some will require a minimum GPA. The largest sources of financial aid based on need comes from the federal Pell Grant program and the Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant. You should apply for these grants. A lot of state sponsored scholarships are also based on need.
Association based scholarships: High school seniors should look carefully into this category of scholarships. They will be surprised at what opportunities are available. Your parent’s employer, you or your parents association with a specific group (churches, unions, clubs etc.) can yield scholarships. These types of scholarships are sparsely applied for so you have an increased chance of landing such an award. Ask your parents to find out if any of the groups, clubs and societies they belong to has scholarship programs.
How soon should I start the scholarship process?
The process of obtaining a scholarship does not begin with the application form. The process starts with the search for a scholarships. High school students should start planning for college as soon as they possibly can. We encourage students to start in their junior year and even that may not be soon enough.
Students need to be very organized in their quest to find and apply for scholarships for high school seniors. The quest for free scholarship money starts with knowing how much money you need for college. The first thing to do is work out with your parents and find out the actual cost of college and how much you and your family can contribute. Once you know this, you will be able to determine how much money you have to find from elsewhere. This is where you start looking for college grants, scholarships and loans to make up the difference.
After you know how much you need to find, it is time to start searching for scholarships. Work with your high school guidance counselor to determine which scholarships are available to you. The reference section of your school’s library will often have books with a list current scholarships. Avoid dealing with companies that charge you to search for scholarships for you. The information they get you is often inaccurate and out of date. An ordinary internet search for scholarships will yield better results than these companies.
Organize organize organize. We can’t stress this enough. The key to winning lots of scholarship money is to apply for as many scholarships as possible. And the only way you can do this is to be very organized. Most scholarships will require certain common documents. Make sure you organize these documents and have them readily available when you need them. Develop an easy writing strategy. Find out which essay topics are very common. Getting well organized will be a huge progress in your quest to win scholarships.
Apply apply apply. Yes you are going to do a lot of this if you want to win enough money to cover your college education costs. There are few students who pay for their entire college costs with scholarships and graduate with no debt. A large majority of these students would receive awards from multiple sources. There are even few students who have managed to secure over $1 million in scholarships and had the luxury of accepting only the ones they need. They don’t just do it with a couple of applications. Some apply to over 100 scholarship programs. Don’t leave money on the table. Apply for as many awards as you can. Some awards may seem too small in value but every little one counts. Getting well organized will enable you to apply for as many scholarships as possible.
Most scholarships for high school students are for high school seniors or juniors. But the fact that you are not at this level yet should not stop you from researching and putting together an application. Start early and you will be left with little to do by the time you get to your senior year and ready to submit your applications.
List of Scholarships for High School Seniors
The following is a list of some of the many scholarships available to high school seniors
- Intel science talent search scholarship: This program awards scholarships of $7,500 – $100,000 to high school seniors. The winner is determined through competition. Each year high school seniors across the country participate in a science competition. Each student must undertake an original science project which they present at the competition. 40 finalists are selected to attend an event in Washington, D.C. The winners are announced after the event with the winner taking home a $100,000 scholarship. Visit societyforscience.org.
- Siemens Competition in Mathematics, Science and Technology. This award is for high school students and is based on a competition. Students can enter science research projects in high school into the competition. Students can enter as individuals or as part of a team. The program awards scholarships ranging from $1,000 to $100,000. For competition requirements and how to enter, visit collegeboard.org.
- Elks National Foundation Most Valuable Student Competition. This competition is open to all high school seniors nationwide. For the year 2013, the foundation will be awarding 500 scholarships valued from $1,000 to $15,000 per academic year for four years. The foundation has separate competitions for males and females. The criteria for selecting winners include academic excellence, leadership skills and financial need. The applicant will go through local, district and state competitions before moving on to the national competition. For more information on the requirements and how to participate, visit elks.org
- Coca Cola Scholars Program. This is a merit-based program for high school seniors. The program awards 250 four-year scholarships each year ranging from $10,000 – $20,000. Winners are selected based on standardized test scores (ACT/SAT) and high school academic record. For information about eligibility requirements and the application process, visit coca-colascholars.org.
- The Horatio Alger Scholarships Program. This body has several scholarships for high school seniors. It has state awards in every state and the national award. The program is open to only high school seniors. The national award gives out 104 scholarships valued between $2,500 and $20,000. Students must demonstrate strong leadership and community work and also show financial need. Students need a minimum GPA of 2.0. Visit horatioalger.org for more information and how to apply.
- Zinch One Year Free Scholarship. If you have a profile on zinch.com, you will be eligible to enter this competition. The competition is open to any high school student with a profile on the site. Fellow users will vote for your profile until one person wins the award. The scholarship amount on offer is up to $20,000. Visit zinch.com for more information.
- American Angus Auxiliary scholarships: The American Angus Auxiliary provides 10 scholarships valued between $12,000 and $15,000 to high school students across the nation. Each state branch of the Auxiliary will submit one male and one female candidates to the national competition. Applicants must show interest in Angus projects or must have participated in such projects. There are other requirements and applicants can find out more about them by visiting angusauxillary.com.
- Executive Women International Scholarships Program. The program is a competition for high school seniors from all across the nation. The program awards scholarships amounts of up to $5,000. All genders and race qualify for this program. Participants are first nominated by their school for the chapter competition. Chapter winners then advance to the national competition for the top awards. You should ask your school to nominate you if you are interested in this award. Visit ewiconnect.com for more information on eligibility and how to apply.
- The Fountainhead Essay Contest. This is an essay competition open to all high school seniors and juniors from any country. The competition will provide about three essay topics and applicants must select one to write on. Essays must be between 800 – 1600 words. 250 winners will be selected and prizes range from $50 to $10,000 in scholarships money. To apply, you simply need to write and submit your essay. Essays can be submitted online at essaycontest.aynrandnovels.com or mailing your essay to
The Fountainhead Essay Contest
The Ayn Rand Institute
P.O. Box 57044
Irvine, CA 92619-7044
There are thousands more scholarships out there specific to high school seniors but we could only cover a few. The process for acquire an award is not an easy one. You have to put in the time to work on your application, making sure it is the best representation of yourself you can come up with. Use all the resources available to you to make sure you receive the money you need. Don’t graduate from college with debt hanging around your neck.