10 Best Scholarships for High School Seniors 

Best Scholarships for High School Seniors - featured image

Reviewed by: Melissa Anderson, MS.Ed. | Reading level: Grade 10 | First covered: December 2023

Key Takeaways:

  • To find scholarships, students can check with their school’s guidance office, search online scholarship databases like Fastweb or Scholarships.com, and explore opportunities through community organizations, religious institutions, and local businesses.
  • Scholarship types include merit-based, needs-based, community service, essay, ethnicity-based, major-specific, state-specific, company-sponsored, and college-specific.
  • Applying for scholarships typically involves meeting deadlines, submitting applications, essays, and sometimes letters of recommendation or transcripts.

Going into college is an important milestone for anyone, so congratulations if you’re now in your final year in high school. You’re one step closer to achieving the career of your dreams. However, if the tuition fees and costs are an obvious hindrance, fret not. There are scholarships available for you to qualify for. Unlike other financial aid options, scholarships are one of the best ways to pay for college because they do not require repayment.

Featured Programs

Best Scholarships for High School Seniors - fact

It is well worth your time to conduct some research because there are hundreds of scholarships available for seniors in high school, each with various qualifying conditions, deadlines, and award amounts. To get you to a good head start, here are some of the best scholarships for high school seniors. 

Best Scholarships for High School Seniors

1. Atlas Shrugged Essay Contest


The novel Atlas Shrugged is enormous in scale and astounding in its suspense. For this award, students write essays related to one of three subjects in Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. The first-place winner will receive $10,000. Every year, $40,000 in scholarships is awarded to the winners. This scholarship is perfect for:

  • high school seniors
  • undergraduate students
  • graduate students

2. Burger King Scholars Program


Burger King has a scholars program that considers:

  • applicants’ experiences
  • GPA
  • extra-curricular activities
  • community service

The dollar values of awards vary from $1,000 to $50,000 in total. Applicants must be Burger King workers or the spouse or child of an employee to be eligible for this prize. 

This scholarship helps high school seniors in:

  • the US
  • PR
  • Canada

It also helps workers’ wives or domestic partners, children, and other family members to pursue higher education. More than 49,000 students have received scholarships totaling more than $56 million from the program so far. Scholarships totaling $3.4 million were given to almost 3,200 worthy students only last year.

3. Smart Owl Scholarship


Every month, any US resident 16 years of age or older who is enrolled in high school or college is eligible to apply for the Smart Owl Scholarship. It does not require an essay. To be eligible for the Scholarship Sweepstakes, you must be enrolled currently or within three months after registering in:

  • a US high school
  • college
  • university

4. Jackie Robinson Foundation Scholarship


For this need-based award, candidates are assessed on their commitment to community service and leadership skills. To be eligible, you have to be a citizen of the United States and identify as a student of color. Up to 60 new scholarships are awarded each year. Over the course of four years, recipients of the four-year scholarships may receive up to $30,000. Seniors in high school are eligible for this award. You must provide proof of need. 

5. Sallie Mae Scholarship


Every month, current college students, as well as juniors and seniors in high school, may apply for a $2,000 scholarship from Sallie Mae. To be eligible just complete the online application form. Aside from students themselves, parents who have kids enrolled in an accredited institution can apply for this scholarship. 

6. The Gates Scholarship


If you’re up for some competitive scholarships, you can apply for the Gates Scholarship. A very competitive last-dollar prize, the Gates prize is awarded to exceptional minority high school graduates from low-income families. Each year, the Gates Scholarship is awarded to outstanding student leaders to help them reach their full potential. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid or the process employed by a scholar’s institution or university will be used to assess the expected family contribution. It also assesses the complete cost of attendance that is not already covered by other financial help. 

7. Adobe Design Circle Scholarship


For the high school seniors who are gifted artists, The Adobe Design Circle Scholarship is a perfect fit. Students enrolled in accredited programs planning to major in design are eligible. Ten scholarships of up to $25,000 per academic year are available for tuition and fees under this award. Scholarship amounts are awarded based on projected costs of attendance and the applicant’s expected financial need, among other factors. It is possible to renew a scholarship for up to four years or until graduation if satisfactory progress has been made in completing the degree. Scholarship winners also have the opportunity to participate in:

  • shadowing
  • internships
  • workshops
  • networking events sponsored by the Design Circle

8. Be Bold Scholarship


The goal of Bold.org is to help students like you succeed. As soon as you sign up for an account on Bold.org, you have the chance to use your student profile to provide scholarship panels with your:

  • aspirations
  • successes
  • motivation

The winner of the $25,000 “Be Bold” Scholarship—which requires no essay—will be the candidate with the most daring profile. Bold applicants are assessed depending on how determined, moving, or earnest they are. Students whose profiles exhibit these characteristics will be awarded the scholarship. Some of the factors that are considered during the selection of awardees are their field of study and GPA. 

9. Horatio Alger Scholarship Award


The Horatio Alger Association provides financial assistance to worthy youth who are determined to pursue higher education despite facing major obstacles. This kind of need-based award is intended for students who have overcome significant challenges. It is necessary to have a gross adjusted family income of at least $55,000 to qualify. Each of the 105 national awards is worth $25,000. Each of the 50 state scholarships is worth $10,000. To qualify, you need to be a junior in a US high school with at least a 2.0 GPA and plans to get a bachelor’s degree.

10. Too Cool to Pay for School Scholarship


The Too Cool to Pay for School scholarship program helps students save money for their further education. Students can use the scholarship to pay for:

  • books
  • tuition
  • room
  • technology
  • other education-related expenses

The scholarship winner will be:

  • chosen at random
  • contacted personally
  • announced on the website

See the official regulations for further details. This award is open to:

  • high school seniors
  • undergraduate students
  • graduate students

You must be a full-time student to qualify for this scholarship.

The Importance of Scholarships

For college students, scholarships are a fantastic source of funding. Primarily, their best perk is that they don’t have to be repaid. This guarantees that you won’t have to pay them back over time. This might significantly lessen your financial burden and free up more time for study.

Scholarships support fairness and equality.

The number of scholarship opportunities available these days is increasing, particularly for those from underserved communities. Target students represent low-income families or people of color. Fortunately, a lot of scholarships are geared towards them as recipients. Others seek to support underrepresented communities in specific fields of study. Many kinds of scholarships support fairness and equality, providing equitable educational opportunities to any kind of learner. 

Scholarships help expand a student’s network.

In many areas, networking is essential to job success. When it comes to landing a job, a solid network can help you a lot. Numerous scholarships allow you to expand that network. A variety of scholarship programs offer:

  • mentorships
  • professional development programs
  • conferences for scholarship recipients

Scholarships support social issues.

Some scholarships promote community service. Others are need-based or choose recipients based on academic accomplishment. Many charitable scholarship givers are interested in learning about:

  • your community engagement
  • your involvement in public service
  • the social concerns you are passionate about resolving. 

Scholarships reduce student debt.

According to US News & World Report, the typical college graduate owes around $30,000 in student debt. Many of these student debts have hefty interest rates. This puts young professionals in serious financial straits. Conversely, scholarship programs can help students pay for education without any strings attached. Scholarships recipients can then use their extra cash to start investing for the future and accelerate their debt repayment.

Scholarships sustain public funding limitations.

Budget constraints typically force public schools to increase student tuition. As a result, tuition rates have risen, and education expenses have increased for many students. The public sector has a number of scholarship options that can assist in closing the budget deficit. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How do high school seniors select the right scholarship?

What constitutes a strong candidate for a scholarship is frequently arbitrary. First and foremost, you need to have matched it with your future aspirations. Some of the steps you need to take in selecting the right scholarship are to:

  • organize your timeline
  • investigate and research early
  • know your options
  • inquire from the admissions staff of the school you’re applying to 

How do scholarships impact student success?

Scholarships are a valuable tool that help students not only with money, but also with:

  • academic performance
  • honorifics in the community
  • drive to maintain a high GPA
  • ease of obtaining a quality education
  • job security

What are the academic requirements generally required in scholarships?

Most scholarships have educational prerequisites. Often, the primary requirements for winning the scholarship are your GPA and test results. Some scholarships reward students for less-than-exceptional academic performance. However, the bulk of academic scholarships require applicants to have a high GPA. 

When applying for an academic award, students frequently need to provide documentation of their academic success. Test results or a transcript may be needed. In some instances, applicants for scholarships may be required to submit an essay. Because of the more tough standards and the more labor involved in the application process, fewer people apply for scholarships with rigorous academic requirements.


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