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Scholarship Essay Contest High School Seniors

Applicant Eligibility Requirements

  • The High School Senior College Scholarship Contest is open tohigh school seniorswho are citizens or aliens legally residing in the USA.
  • Scholarship funds are payable to the winner’s college/university or certified trade school in the United States; winner must enroll for classes beginning no later thanFall 2018 session.
  • Winner selection isNOTbasedonfinancial needGPAordemographiccriteria.
  • Home-schooled students may applyas long as course of study is equivalent to that of a senior in high school.
  • Relatives of AFSA staff or NATIONAL board members may not enter.

Scholarship Contest Deadline

  • Scholarship contest entries will be accepted from September 1, 2017 until April 1, 2018.

Entry Details

  1. Scholarship entries are ONLYaccepted online through the AFSA scholarship web site (www.afsascholarship.org).
  2. Entrants must submit a completed entry form with all required information. Before college scholarship funds will be awarded, all information submitted on the entry form by the entrant will be verified. If ANY false or misleading information is submitted on the entry form, the student will be disqualified without notification to the entrant.
  3. Each entrant is allowed only ONE (1) ENTRY submittal.  Any attempt to enter again under a different name, address, etc., will automatically disqualify the entrant without notification to the entrant.
  4. Entrants selected as winners are required to submit the name and contact information of their chosen college/university/certified trade school* for verification of registration and payment of the scholarship to the school. All forms and processes must be completed within sixty (60) days of contest end date or your scholarship is forfeited.

A 2- or 4-year college/university/technical/career/online school based in the United States that has completed & received accreditation from an agency recognized by the US Department of Education & is on the list found athttp://ope.ed.gov/accreditation or http://www.chea.org


  • A total of $20,000 is awarded.  Ten (10) winners will receive a scholarship of $2,000 each.  Only one $2,000 scholarship will be awarded to any single individual from this contest.
  • The scholarship is paid directly to the educational institution in the student’s account to be used for tuition and/or books for the fall 2018 semester. The scholarship monies may be used over a period not to exceed four (4) years.

Winner Selection

  • Scholarship winners are randomly selected by computer-generated drawing from among valid entries received at the conclusion of the contest period.
  • Odds of winning are based on total number of entries received.

Winner Notification

  • Due to the number of entries received, AFSA can only notify winners.
  • AFSA will contact each winner by email and phone within fourteen (14) business days of contest end-date, using contact information given by the entrant during application process. Winners have ten (10) calendar days from date email is sent/phone message is left to respond and verify they meet the eligibility requirements as defined on the scholarship contest Web site. High school winners will use the form provided in the email from AFSA, to be completed by their high school counselor/advisor and fax, scan or mail to the AFSA national office.
  • Once you are confirmed as winner, AFSA will send you the appropriate college/university/trade school forms to complete for a check to be issued to your chosen school and deposited into your student account. No funds will be issued directly to individuals. All forms and processes must be completed within sixty (60) days of contest end date or your scholarship is forfeited.
  • A 2- or 4-year college/university/technical/career/online school based in the United States that has completed & received accreditation from an agency recognized by the US Department of Education & is on the list found athttp://ope.ed.gov/accreditation or http://www.chea.org
  • Winners will be notified for appropriate recognition to include award assemblies, graduation ceremonies and newspaper announcements.
  • Winners’ names will be posted on this web site in May 2018.

Application Process

Complete the Entry Form(This information is collected soley for the purpose of administering this contest, verifying information and notifying winners. We never share or sell your information with outside sources or vendors.)

  • Full Name
  • Home Street Address
  • City, State, Zip Code
  • Contact Phone (with area code)
  • 2nd Phone Contact (optional)
  • Email Address
  • Birthdate
  • Parent/Guardian Name
  • Parent/Guardian Contact Number (with area code)
  • Your High School Name
  • High School City/State
  • Anticipated date of Graduation (Month/Year)
Done with Step 1? ENTER the Contest



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There’s no getting around it: college is expensive, and it is a daunting task to figure out how you’re going to pay for it. One way to make that a little easier is to check this list of college scholarships for high school seniors.

One of the first steps towards paying for college for families of high school juniors and seniors should be to understand your financial aid situation. That includes federal and institutional aid, which may be comprised of both grants and loans based mostly on your family’s financial standing.

Your next step should be to research private scholarships.

There are thousands of different private scholarships for high school seniors available, and they are one of the best ways to help finance your child’s education. These private scholarships vary greatly in terms of eligibility, deadlines, application criteria, and award amounts, but if your child is in their senior year, it’s time to focus on the scholarships they’re going to apply for.

We’ve put together a list of scholarships that are not geographically restricted to students who live in a specific region, and can generally be used at any college your child plans to attend. We’ve divided the list into need-based scholarships, merit-based scholarships, essay competitions, and field-of-study scholarships. We have also provided a range of smaller and larger, less competitive and more competitive scholarships in this list. Consider it a starting point to give you ideas of other similar scholarships to which your senior might also be well-suited to apply!

Financial Need-Based Scholarships for High School Seniors

The following scholarships all take into consideration the financial need of the applicants when choosing who will receive them. There are generally other criteria considered as well – academic strength, academic or extracurricular interests, leadership qualities, and community service. However, you’ll need to demonstrate financial need for each of these scholarships.

Arlene and Dennis Schlosser Memorial Endowment Scholarship

This $3,000 scholarship, sponsored by the Epsilon Sigma Alpha service organization, is awarded to six students annually. Students are judged based on their leadership / service experience, financial need, and scholastic ability (academics).

Horatio Alger Association Scholarships

The Horatio Alger Scholarship is a program designed to assist students who have overcome obstacles and adversity in their lives. This is one of the larger need-based scholarship programs, and application is likely quite competitive. Applicants must demonstrate financial need ($55,000 or lower adjusted gross family income), as well as integrity, perseverance, and dedication to community service.

Dell Scholars Program

The Dell Scholars Program is a program designed to provide low-income students with scholarships to get into college and services to help them successfully complete college. Applicants must demonstrate grit, potential, and ambition. This is a large, competitive scholarship program with the potential for significant financial awards.

Elks National Foundation Most Valuable Student Competition

The Elks National Foundation MVS Competition awards 500 four-year scholarships to qualified students each year. The awards are significant – they range from $4,000 to $50,000 (most are $4,000) spread over four years. Your child submits their application at a nearby Elks lodge. Applicants are considered based on leadership, academic achievement, community involvement, and financial need.

Merit-Based College Scholarships for High School Seniors

Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation

The Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation is another one of the largest scholarship programs for rising college freshmen. This program awards 150 scholarships of $20,000 each, and as such is applied to by many high school seniors. The application takes into account academic achievement, leadership, and extracurricular involvement. The process is highly selective, and involves interviews and essays, as well. Applying to this scholarship is right for your child if they have exceptional academic achievement, they are applying to selective colleges, and they have been involved as a leader in extracurricular activities. If your child is going to apply to this scholarship, they should give themself plenty of time at the beginning of your senior year to apply.

Burger King Scholars Program

The Burger King Scholars program gives out a range of awards to students based on their GPA, work experience, extracurricular involvement, and community service. The program grants scholarships that range from $1,000 to $50,000, and there are not a set number of scholarships – in 2016, they granted about 2,800 scholarships.

Rotary Club Scholarships

Rotary Clubs, present in many communities across the United States, offer varying scholarships to local graduating high school students. These scholarships are localized, which make them a great opportunity to set yourself apart in a smaller pool of applicants. You have to do the legwork, though – check with your local Rotary Club to see what scholarship opportunities exist.

Essay-Based College Scholarships for High School Seniors

The following scholarships are all primarily based on the applicant’s performance on an essay task, usually related to the mission of the organization sponsoring the scholarship. These scholarship opportunities require you to devote a significant amount of time to planning, writing, and revising your essay, but the rewards can be fruitful if you are chosen! Your child shouldn’t apply to these scholarships blindly; they should research the organization sponsoring the scholarship, and only choose to apply if they can put their heart into the essay and believe they are a qualified candidate.

AFSA High School Essay Contest

The American Foreign Service Association holds an annual essay contest encouraging students to think about important international issues. Students must write an essay analyzing a critical current issue in international affairs and propose solutions to the given issue. The winner and runner-up receive $2,500 and $1,250 awards, respectively, as well as tuition to extracurricular educational programs.

Atlas Shrugged / Fountainhead Essay Contests

The Atlas Shrugged and Fountainhead essay contests are some of the most prominent yearly essay contests for high school seniors. These contests ask seniors to write essays on one of three topics related to Ayn Rand’s novels, Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead. Awards are given to winners and runners-up, totaling up to over $75,000 annually.

Voice of Democracy Essay Contest

The Voice of Democracy essay contest, sponsored by the VFW, is a unique contest in that students write their essays on a patriotic theme, then read them and submit them as audio recordings. The VFW gives out up to 54 awards ranging from $1,000 to $30,000 to the winners of this contest.

“I Matter” Scholarship

The Villa “I Matter” Scholarship offers 50 awards annually to students who demonstrate academic achievement, community service involvement, and more. Applicants must write an essay on a topic pertaining to the theme of “I Matter;” for example, the prompt for 2017 is related to exploring the efficacy of activism on social media. Awards range up to $1,000.

John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Essay Contest

The John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Essay Contest is sponsored by the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, and it awards cash prizes to the top 25 entries, including a top prize of $10,000 to $20,000. Each year there is a special contest topic; application involves researching and writing an essay related to John F. Kennedy’s Profiles in Courage.

Field of Study-Based Scholarships

Your child may not know what they’d like to study in college, but if they have a good idea of a career or field to pursue, there are scholarships available for them. The following scholarships all take into account your child’s plans for their major, area of interest, or career.

Asia SiVon Cottom Scholarship

The Asia SiVon Cottom Scholarship is awarded to students who have excelled academically and are pursuing a degree in a science, math, engineering, or technology (STEM) field. The scholarship requires a short essay and the submission of other materials, and is awarded to a varying number of students.

William Randolph Hearst Foundation US Senate Youth Program

The William Randolph Hearst Foundation US Senate Youth Program might be for your child if they are interested in government, and they are passionate about studying politics. One can apply if they are active in student government and interested in studying government in college. Applicants need to show leadership, academic achievement, extracurricular involvement, and additional qualities. Each year, 104 winners are awarded $5,000 and a trip to Washington, D.C.

Buick Achievers Scholarship Program

The Buick Achievers Scholarship Program is a scholarship program awarding large scholarships to students who plan to major in engineering, technology, design, or business-related fields, and who are interested in applying their academic passion and expertise to working in the automotive industry. This scholarship takes into account academic achievement, financial need, and other factors, and it is quite competitive given the size of the awards.

Organize Your Scholarship List

We suggest making a calendar to keep track of everything you need to do in the college application process, and you’ll want to include scholarship applications on this calendar. From need-based, to merit-based, to essay-based, there are a wide range of scholarships for high school seniors, and the eligibility rules vary. Some scholarships may only be available to students who live in a certain region, or who are going to study in a particular field, or whose parents work for a specific company, for example. Others may only require submitting transcripts as part of an application, and still others may be distributed by choosing the winner of an essay contest.

Footing the bill for college is a big task, but you don’t have to go it alone – you have to put in quite a bit of work, but if you plan carefully and choose opportunities that are right for your child, there’s money available to make it a little bit easier. The scholarships for high school seniors we showed here are but a small sample of the opportunities out there, including many regional and local awards, so do your research and get started!

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