Is it possible to get a scholarship in high school? The answer is a very big yes!

It is certainly possible for a high school student to win a college scholarship. In fact, many high school students do win scholarships each year. Scholarships are usually awarded based on academic achievement, but other factors such as financial need may also be considered when you apply for scholarships. Many other kinds of scholarships exist, too (there are scholarships for minority students, scholarships for women, scholarships by major, and school-specific scholarships, just to name a few). Put simply, there are many different types of scholarships, so it is important to do your research to find the ones that you may be eligible for.

It may also help to know that winning scholarships is a bit of a numbers game – the more scholarships you apply for, the better your chances of winning one. So, if you currently attend high school and you want to get scholarships, know that nothing stops you from applying for many prizes and it usually makes sense to submit applications as often as possible.

Here are some more insights that can help position you for success as you search for scholarships for high school students.

Before Applying for College Scholarships for High School Students

Before applying for college scholarships open to current high school students, it is important to understand the process and what is required. College scholarships are a great way to help pay for college, but they can be very competitive. To increase your chances of being awarded a scholarship, start by researching which ones you are eligible for and then follow the application instructions carefully.

Scholarship opportunities should always clearly state who scholarships are for. For example, when searching for scholarships, take note of prizes that say something like, “applicants must be graduating high school seniors”, or, “this is a scholarship for high school seniors.” On the other hand, you may find scholarships that say something like, “applicants must be enrolled in a post-secondary program at the time of applying,” which means high school students are ineligible.

There are college scholarships available to high school students who are not yet in their senior year. However, in comparison to the number of scholarships that exist for high school seniors, there are certainly fewer. For this reason, it’s important to pay close attention to eligibility requirements for any scholarship application you’re considering.

Applying for Scholarships for High School Seniors … The Fine Print

This may sound repetitive, but it’s important to note. Typically, scholarship providers or organizations will have two stipulations related to eligibility that are crucial to look out for when you’re a high school student.

First, the eligibility criteria might say that the scholarship prize is specifically for high school graduates who will be attending college for the first time in the upcoming academic year. The wording may change slightly, but note that this kind of prize is only available to you as a high school senior (you may have to show proof of acceptance or registration at your college in order to receive the scholarship money).

Second, a scholarship provider may stipulate that a prize is open to all students who are attending college in the upcoming academic year (let’s say September 2023, for example). This means that the prize is open to high school seniors who plan to attend college in the fall, as well as undergraduates, and maybe graduate students, too. As a high school student, you are eligible for this prize, but you’ll face more competition because the scholarship fund will receive more applicants.

Should I Wait Until I’m a High School Senior Before Applying for Scholarships?

While fewer scholarships are available for high school juniors, this shouldn’t deter you from at least researching prizes. Knowing what scholarship committees are looking for well in advance of deadlines can be a big help. For example, if you notice that many scholarships for students are awarded to high school seniors with leadership experience, you may want to build this part of your profile. Similarly, if you find some great scholarships are awarded to students who volunteer in their community, you may want to pick up some hours. In other words, knowing what to expect when you find and apply for scholarships in the future can help position you for more success.

So, if you’re a high school freshmen, sophomore, or junior and you’re looking for scholarships you may apply for in the future, great! Ask yourself: What are they looking for? What does a strong applicant look like? Then, most importantly, ask what you can do now in order to increase your chances of winning that prize when you’re eligible to apply.

OK, So When Should High School Students Apply for College Scholarships?

While there are high school scholarships available prior to the 12th grade, your senior year is really when you’ll qualify for a ton of prizes. This is when all kinds of scholarship providers start to advertise their prizes for students like you (tip: you may want to check in with your school counselor to start a conversation about applying for scholarships for high school students). Your final year of high school is really a great time to get a scholarship. Start applying now!

Are There Different Types of Scholarships for High School Students?

Knowing the many ways that you can qualify for a scholarship can help you focus your time where you’re most likely to be rewarded. Knowing what your strengths are and how these align with various types of scholarships can be a game changer. So, what qualifies you for a scholarship? Here’s a list that can help sort out this answer:

Grades and Scholarship Applications

Your grades are an asset, especially in competitions for top scholarships. Merit-based scholarships reward students for excellent GPAs and/or high test scores. Academic achievement is the name of the game here, so if your grades are stellar, you might qualify for a merit scholarship.

Extracurriculars Can Help You Get a Scholarship

Your extracurricular activities can qualify you for many diverse scholarship prizes. Whether you’ve started your school’s first environmental sustainability club, play on the chess team, or bird watch, there may be a college scholarship out there for you. No extracurricular is too obscure.

Student-Specific Characteristics – So Many Scholarships are Available

Aspects of your identity can also qualify your for a scholarship. There are countless prizes out there that reward students who come from different backgrounds or a part of various communities. For example, there are scholarships for Hispanic students, African-American students, scholarships for women, minority scholarships, scholarships for veterans, local scholarships from towns and counties, scholarships for immigrants, scholarships based on ethnicity, and even scholarships for various medical conditions. This list is endless, so ask what makes you unique and do some research for potential prizes.

Find and Apply for Scholarships Based on Need

Financial need makes you eligible for various scholarships. If your household income falls under a certain level and you have qualified for student aid (you may have to fill out the FAFSA), you’re likely eligible for a variety of needs-based scholarships. Many of these prizes are available to graduating high school students in order to help bring down the cost of college. These prizes help students with tuition, books, and other education expenses associated with higher education.

Where to Find College Scholarships for High School Students

When looking for high school scholarships, your guidance counselor is a great place to start. They can help you find scholarships that are specific to your school, state, or region. They can also help you find scholarships that are based on your academic achievements, extracurricular activities, or financial need.

The BridgesEDU Scholarship Finder is also great resource for finding scholarships. It is a database with thousands of prizes, which makes it easy to find the right scholarship for you. All you need to do is answer a few questions about your profile and then you’ll get to examine many prizes that you qualify for. The best part? It’s free to use!

Final Note on High School Scholarships

There are many scholarship competitions that exist for high school students. It is never too early to get acquainted with these competitions. By doing so, you will be able to learn about the different opportunities that are available to you. Additionally, you will be able to better prepare yourself for the application process. It’s time to start finding and applying for prizes!

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