In today's rapidly changing educational landscape, pursuing higher education often comes with a hefty price tag. Thankfully, the world of scholarships offers a ray of hope for those seeking financial assistance, providing a lifeline to help them pursue their dreams without drowning in debt. In this post, I will list seven of the best scholarships you can win to make your college dream a reality.
Scholarships come in various forms, with two primary categories that make education accessible to deserving students: merit-based and need-based scholarships. Both types present unique opportunities to reduce the financial burden associated with college.
What is a Merit Based Scholarship?
A merit-based scholarship is a type of financial award given to students based on their outstanding academic achievements, talents, or exceptional abilities in a particular field.
To compete for these scholarships, you might need to have an above average GPA, test score, or demonstrate significant leadership skills and community involvement. Students that have exceptional athletic or creative talent can also compete for these scholarships.
What is a Need Based Scholarship?
A need-based scholarship is awarded to students based on their demonstrated financial need. Unlike merit-based scholarships, which focus on academic achievements and talents, need-based scholarships prioritize assisting students from low-income backgrounds or facing significant financial barriers that could hinder their access to higher education.
However, financial need isn't always the only factor considered. Students are often required to demonstrate strong academics, extracurricular involvement, and leadership skills.
If you are applying for a need-based scholarship, you may also be required to complete the Free Application for Financial Aid – FAFSA.
7 of the Best Scholarships You Can Win
Below, I've compiled a list of seven of the best private scholarships you can win. Some of these scholarships are merit based and others are based on financial need.
In most cases, you will need to have good grades, show you are a leader and making a difference in your community. The Dell Scholars program, is one of the few top dollar scholarship programs that does not require a high GPA. You could qualify with a minimum GPA of 2.4.
1. The Coca Cola Scholars Foundation
Application deadline: Application opens up in August; the deadline is usually in October.
One of the biggest scholarships, the Coca Cola Scholars Foundation program, is an achievement-based scholarship. The three areas evaluated are leadership, academics and service.
Each year, the scholarship committee selects 150 graduating high school seniors who have demonstrated outstanding leadership and made a significant impact in their communities to receive a $20,000 scholarship.
Applicants must have a minimum overall GPA of 3.0 in high school.
2. The Gates Scholarship
Application deadline: Application is usually available around July with a mid-September deadline.
The Gates Scholarship, was established by Bill and Melinda Gates and is available to high school minority students preparing to enter college. Students must have a strong academic record and demonstrate leadership skills.
To be eligible, students must show that their family has financial need. Awards are renewable and can be used to cover tuition, fees, books, and housing.
3. Dell Scholars Program
Application Deadline: December 1; application opens on October 1
Amount: includes $20,000, a laptop, textbook credits and coaching
Not to be outdone, the Dell Scholars Program is an initiative of Michael Dell (founder of Dell computers). The scholarship is for high school seniors from an underserved population. You must participate in AVID, or attend Uplift Education or an ASPIRE Public School to apply.
Additionally, applicants must have a minimum GPA of 2.4 and be eligible to receive Pell Grant as a freshman in college.
4. Jack Kent Cooke Foundation College Scholarship Program
Application deadline: usually November
Amount: Up to $55,00 per year; awards are renewable
The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation College Scholarship Program, has to be one of the most generous private scholarships in the country. It is open to high-achieving high school seniors with financial need.
To be eligible, you must plan to pursue an undergraduate degree and your family's gross income cannot exceed $95,000 per year. You must also have a minimum unweighted GPA of 3.5.
College advising is provided to all scholars during while they are in college. And they might also receive additional funding through the internship stipend program and graduate school funding.
5. Cameron Impact Scholarship
Application Deadline: Early Application - in May; Regular Application - September
Amount: Between $20,000 to $50,000 per year
The Cameron Impact Scholarship is a merit-based scholarship open to high school seniors with a solid academic record (minimum unweighted GPA of 3.7). Applicants must also demonstrate a track record of leadership and engagement in their community.
The scholarship covers the full tuition and other qualified educational expenses. It does not cover room and board. About a quarter of the scholars receiving awards are pursuing a career in education, nonprofits, government, and/or the military.
6. Davidson Fellows Scholarship
Application Deadline: February 15, 2023
Amount: $10,000, $25,000 or $50,000
This Davidson Fellows Scholarship is looking for student prodigy, inventors, creators, pioneers and the best of the best. The scholarship program is for gifted students, 18 years or younger, who are US citizens and permanent residents. You could apply as an individual or as a team of no more two people.
Each applicant (or team) has to submit an exceptional original project or performance in one of the following areas:
The students selected as fellows are honored at MIT.
7. Ron Brown Scholar Program
Application Deadline: Early Application - November; Final deadline - January 9, 2023
Application opens in September.
Amount: $40,000 ($10,000 per year)
Finally, Ron Brown Scholar Program, named after the late Secretary of Commerce, Ron Brown, is open to African American students with financial need.
Applicants must be high school seniors with a record of strong academics, community engagement, and possess leadership potential. Scholars receive mentorship throughout college.
Finalists usually participate in a full-expense paid weekend selection process in Washington, D.C.
In summary, these high-dollar scholarships are worth adding to your list. They can be very competitive. However, count yourself out if you meet the eligibility criteria. Remember all scholarships are not based on merit or achievement. Some are based on financial need.
If you apply and win, your college funding worries could be over. Just ensure you submit a top-notch application packet and essay.