High School is the Best Time to Apply for Grants
High school students should start planning for college by their sophomore year. Those who do their research and know what to apply for are way ahead of the game because the majority of grants and scholarships are aimed at students at the very beginning of their college careers. Some even allow students to apply before their senior year of high school. More important, many of the most lucrative grant and scholarship programs from states, colleges and universities and private organizations simply are not open to students once they are past their freshman year of college. Depending on what kind of college or university a student decides to attend, it is entirely possible for young people to graduate with $30,000 to $100,000 of debt just for their undergraduate education. The ability to find grants and scholarships can have an impact on a student’s quality of life for years.
Check With Your College First For Grants and Scholarships
The first place to start research is through the colleges to which the student is considering applying. For academically gifted students, all colleges have programs that offer full or almost-full rides. Even for less stellar students, most institutions have a wealth of funding opportunities. If a student thinks they know what they will major in, it is important that they research that department. Most departments have their own grants and scholarships. While these usually are available to students in their last three years of college, that is not always the case. Particularly at small private colleges there can be surprising sources of grant and scholarship funding. These colleges want a well-rounded student body and one of the primary ways to achieve this is to make the school affordable to a diverse range of students.
States Have Funding for High School Students
State higher education commissions are also valuable sources of funding. This agency goes by different names in different states, but every state has one. The list of state higher education authorities, the web sites, and contact information can be found at http://wdcrobcolp01.ed.gov/Programs/EROD/org_list.cfm?category_ID=SHE.
Grants and Scholarships from Private Organizations
A large number of grant and scholarship opportunities for high school students come from private corporate foundations, businesses, and organizations. The following list is intended to be a useful starting point for research and to stimulate creative thinking about organizations that could offer funding to college-bound students.
- If a student is a member of the high school’s Key Club, he/she is eligible for several Key Club International Scholarship programs. Through the Kiwanis International Foundation, the Key Club also has a number of grants available for high education. These programs are open to student in grades 9-12. More information is available at www.keyclub.org.
- The American Foreign Service Association National High School Essay Contest is open to all high school students in grades 9-12 whose parents are not in the U. S. Foreign Service. The winner receives $2,500 and a trip to Washington, D.C. with her/his parents, and the winner’s school receives $500. For this years essay topic, and other details, student should visit the website at www.afsa.org/essay_contest.
- Funded and administered through the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, the Dell Scholars Program is open to those high school students participating in an approved AVID program. The funding for each Dell Scholar is quite substantial; each Dell Scholar receives $20,000. The program’s website is www.dellscholars.org.
- Sponsored by The Writer magazine and the Gotham Writers’ Workshop, The Sylvia K. Burack Writing Award is open to high school juniors and seniors in the U.S. and Canada. Students must submit a previously unpublished 600- to 800-word personal essay in English on the following topic: “Select a work of fiction, poem or play that has influenced you. Discuss the work and explain how it affected you.” One winner will receive $500, publication in The Writer magazine and on WriterMag.com, a one-year subscription to The Writer and a copy of the Gotham Writers’ Workshop anthology Fiction Gallery. More information can be found at www.writermag.com/burack2011.
- Veterans of Foreign Wars sponsors the annual Voice of Democracy audio essay competition. This contest is open to students in grades 9-12 and carries a $30,000 award. Students can find more information at www.vfw.org/community/voiceofdemocracy.
- Open to students in grades 9-12, the Best Buy @15 Scholarship (www.at15.com) awards 1000
$1,000 scholarships to current high school students who plan to enroll in a full-time undergraduate course of study at an accredited two or four-year college or university or vocational-technical school in the United States.
- Sponsored by the Moody’s Foundation, the Moody’s Mega Math Challenge (M3 Challenge) focuses on applied mathematics. Each high school may enter up to two, three- to five-student teams to work together for 14 hours to solve an open-ended, realistic, applied math-modeling problem focused on real-world issues. The winning team is awarded $80,000 to put towards their college education.
Details can be found at www.m3challenge.siam.org.
- The Coca-Cola Scholars program is one of the best known corporate foundation-sponsored scholarships programs. More than 200 of these valuable scholarships are awarded to high school seniors each year. Interested student should visit www.coca-colascholars.org.
- The AXA Foundation awards one of these $10,000 scholarships to one student from each state, and then selects 10 of those students for additional $15,000 awards. The website is www.axa-equitable.com/axa-foundation/about.html.
- Offered by the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, the Profile in Courage Award is an essay contest open to students in grades 9-12. The winner is awarded $10,000 to put towards their education. The website is www.jfklibrary.org/education.aspx.
- The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences awards the Jim McKay $10,000 Memorial Scholarship to a student who intends to pursue a bachelor’s degree in communication with emphasis on any aspect of the television industry. ACT or SAT scores are necessary to apply. Details are on the website at www.emmyonline.com/scholarship.
- The Carson Scholars Fund, Inc. recognizes and rewards students in grade 4-11 who have earned the highest level of academic achievement and who have demonstrated humanitarian qualities that have a positive impact on society. Applicants must be nominated for this $1,000 scholarship by an educator. More information is at www.carsonscholars.org.