Top 20 Scholarships for College Students in 2024

Discover 20 incredible scholarship opportunities for students of all backgrounds. Unlock your potential and achieve your dreams with these life-changing awards.

Derek Pankaew

Top 20 Scholarships for College Students in 2024

Looking for scholarships to help make college more affordable?

Here's our streamlined guide to the top 20 scholarship programs offering exceptional financial aid for a multitude of strengths and circumstances in 2024.

Cut through the confusion and target the top scholarships, that match your academic and extracurricular achievements, paving the way to a more affordable education.

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20 Scholarship Opportunities for Exceptional Students

These scholarships recognize exceptional achievement and provide substantial financial aid to support the next phase of your educational journey.

1. National Merit Scholarship Program

The National Merit Scholarship Program is open to high-achieving students for scholarships based only on their PSAT/NMSQT scores. This program is for high school students who have excelled in the classroom and on this standardized test, providing merit-based scholarships on the path to college education.

High school juniors aspiring to be among the nation’s scholastic champions can find a prestigious opportunity for recognition and financial aid for their dream college during the academic year through this program.

2. Coca-Cola Scholars Program

The Coca-Cola Scholars Program Scholarship is an achievement-based award for graduating high school seniors. Coca-Cola Scholars excel academically and demonstrate leadership in extracurricular activities and community service.

150 Coca-Cola Scholars are selected annually to receive a $20,000 scholarship paid over four years of undergraduate study at an accredited U.S. college or university. The application opens in August with an October deadline.

Eligibility requirements include:

  • Current high school senior
  • U.S. citizen, U.S. national, U.S. permanent resident, refugee, asylee, Cuban-Haitian entrant, or humanitarian parolee
  • Planning to pursue a degree at an accredited U.S. post-secondary institution
  • Demonstrates academic excellence
  • Exhibits leadership skills in school and community activities
  • Actively involved in community service

3. AXA Achievement Scholarship

The AXA Achievement Scholarship awards $25,000 to 52 students nationwide - one from each state, Washington DC, and Puerto Rico. Applicants must be high school seniors who plan to enroll full-time at a two- or four-year college or university in the U.S. for the entire academic year following high school graduation.

They must demonstrate ambition and self-drive as evidenced by outstanding achievement in an activity in school, the community, or the workplace. The scholarship is sponsored by the AXA Equitable Foundation.

Eligibility requirements include:

  • Current high school senior
  • Plans to enroll full-time in an accredited two- or four-year college or university in the U.S.
  • Must enroll for the entire academic year following high school graduation
  • Demonstrates ambition and self-drive through outstanding achievement in an activity in school, the community, or the workplace
  • Only the first 10,000 applications will be accepted

4. Gates Scholarship

The Gates Scholarship is a highly selective, last-dollar scholarship for exceptional, Pell-eligible, minority, high school seniors. It provides funding for the full cost of attendance that is not already covered by other financial aid and the expected family contribution, as determined by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), or the methodology used by a scholar's college or university.

The scholarship is available to African American, American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian & Pacific Islander American, and Hispanic American students with outstanding academic records. The program aims to help these students reach their educational goals and maximum potential.

Eligibility requirements include:

  • A high school senior
  • From at least one of the following ethnicities: African American, American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian & Pacific Islander American, or Hispanic American
  • Pell-eligible
  • A US citizen, national, or permanent resident
  • A minimum cumulative weighted GPA of 3.3 on a 4.0 scale
  • Enrolling full-time, in a four-year degree program, at a US-accredited, not-for-profit, private or public college or university

5. Horatio Alger Scholarship

The Horatio Alger National Scholarship Program provides $25,000 scholarships to high school seniors who have overcome significant obstacles. Eligible students must demonstrate critical financial need, have a minimum 2.0 GPA, and be involved in co-curricular and community service activities.

Scholars gain access to resources such as counseling, career exploration, and alumni connections. Since 1984, the program has awarded over $235 million to more than 35,000 students. It is named after author Horatio Alger Jr., known for writing about honesty, courage, and perseverance in the face of adversity.

Eligibility requirements include:

  • High school senior
  • Demonstrate critical financial need ($55,000 or lower adjusted gross family income)
  • Minimum GPA of 2.0
  • Involvement in co-curricular and community service activities
  • Display integrity and perseverance in overcoming adversity
  • United States citizenship
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6. Jackie Robinson Foundation Scholarship Program

The Jackie Robinson Foundation Scholarship provides $30,000 four-year scholarships to minority high school seniors demonstrating leadership potential and financial need. The Foundation offers support services including career guidance, internship placement, mentoring, and leadership development.

Eligible applicants must be graduating seniors planning to attend an accredited four-year U.S. college. They must show leadership potential, dedication to community service, financial need, U.S. citizenship, and a minimum 1,000 SAT score (math and critical reading) or 21 ACT composite score.

Eligibility requirements include:

  • Minority high school senior
  • U.S. citizenship
  • Plan to attend an accredited four-year college within the United States
  • Demonstrate leadership potential
  • Show dedication to community service
  • Present evidence of financial need
  • Minimum SAT score of 1,000 (math and critical reading combined) or ACT composite score of 21

7. Fulbright Scholarships

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program provides research, study, and teaching opportunities in over 140 countries to recent graduates and graduate students. It is the largest U.S. exchange program, offering more than 2,200 grants annually across all fields of study.

The program promotes cultural exchange through direct interaction in various settings. Fulbright alumni have achieved distinction in many fields, including Nobel Prize and Pulitzer Prize winners, as well as heads of state and government. Senator J. William Fulbright founded the program in 1946, and it is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State.

Eligibility requirements include:

  • U.S. citizenship at the time of application (permanent residents ineligible)
  • Bachelor's degree or equivalent before grant starts
  • Language proficiency for the host country
  • Good health
  • J.D. holders are eligible, but not Ph.D. holders
  • Disclosure of prior felony or misdemeanor convictions
  • Capacity for independent study/research and knowledge of host country

8. Global Scholars Program at Clark University

The Clark Global Scholars Program offers a four-year, full-ride scholarship to 10 exceptional first-year applicants to Clark University. The scholarship covers tuition, room and board, and mandatory fees. Students from any country can apply.

Clark Global Scholars receive individualized mentorship, professional development, a capstone experience, and funding for living expenses, books, and personal items. To be considered, students must apply to Clark University by the November 15 Early Action scholarship deadline only.

The program is for students with strong academics, leadership abilities, and potential to drive transformational change.

Eligibility requirements include:

  • Apply to Clark University by November 15 Early Action deadline
  • Strong academic credentials
  • Leadership abilities
  • Potential to be an agent of transformational change
  • First-year applicant to Clark University
  • Open to students from any country
  • No separate scholarship application needed

9. Vegetarian Resource Group Scholarship

The Vegetarian Resource Group (VRG) offers two $5,000 scholarships annually to graduating U.S. high school students who have promoted vegetarianism in their schools and/or communities.

Vegetarians do not eat meat, fish, or fowl. Vegans also do not use other animal products like dairy or eggs. Applicants are judged on compassion, courage, and commitment to promoting a peaceful world through a vegetarian lifestyle.

The application requires an essay on how the applicant has promoted vegetarianism, including challenges, successes, and future plans. Applicants must also submit two or three recommendations. The deadline is typically around February 20 each year.

Requirements:

  • Graduating U.S. high school student
  • Promoted vegetarianism in school and/or community
  • Vegetarian (no meat, fish, or fowl) or vegan (no animal products)
  • Shows compassion, courage, and commitment to a vegetarian lifestyle
  • Submit an essay on promoting vegetarianism, including challenges, successes, and plans
  • Provides two or three recommendations
  • Applies by deadline, typically February 20

10. Adobe Design Circle Scholarship

Adobe Research Women-in-Technology Scholarship

Adobe Research Women-in-Technology Scholarship recognizes outstanding undergraduate female students studying computer science. The scholarship supports future leaders in the field of computer science and creates a more diverse technology industry.

Recipients receive a $10,000 award, a Creative Cloud subscription membership, and a potential internship opportunity at Adobe. The application typically opens in September and closes in November each year.

Adobe CyberScholar Scholarship

The Adobe CyberScholar Scholarship, in partnership with Purdue University, supports undergraduate students studying cybersecurity with a focus on women and underrepresented minorities.

The scholarship aims to address the skills gap in cybersecurity and increase diversity in the industry. Recipients receive a $15,000 award, a Creative Cloud subscription membership, and potential internship opportunities at Adobe. The application period is typically from January to March each year.

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11. Burger King Scholars Program

The Burger King Scholars program, offered by the Burger King McLamore Foundation, awards scholarships to high school seniors, Burger King employees, and their dependents.

The program is designed to help students offset the cost of attending college or post-secondary vocational/technical school. Scholarships are awarded in the amount of $1,000 to $50,000, and the application window typically runs from October to December each year.

Recipients are chosen based on their grade point average (GPA), work experience, extracurricular activities, and community service. The program has awarded more than $50 million in scholarships to over 33,000 students since 2000.

Requirements:

  • High school senior, Burger King employee, or dependent of a Burger King employee
  • Plan to enroll full-time in an accredited two- or four-year college, university, or vocational-technical school
  • Maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.5 on a 4.0 scale
  • Be passionate about serving the community, and demonstrate financial need

12. Elks National Foundation Most Valuable Student Competition

The Elks National Foundation's Most Valuable Student (MVS) scholarship is a highly competitive award for high school seniors who demonstrate outstanding leadership, academic achievements, community involvement, and financial need.

The MVS scholarship is awarded in three levels: 500 four-year scholarships ranging from $4,000 to $50,000, 20 top finalists invited to an in-person leadership weekend to interview for six awards of $30,000 to $50,000 and two top winners who receive private scholarships of $50,000 each.

The application period typically runs from August to November each year. Applicants must be current high school seniors who are citizens of the United States, do not need to be related to a member of the Elks, and must apply through their local Elks Lodge.

Requirements:

  • Current high school senior
  • U.S. citizen
  • Demonstrate outstanding leadership, academic achievements, community involvement, and financial need
  • Do not need to be related to an Elks member
  • Apply through the local Elks Lodge
  • Applications typically open from August to November

13. Jack Kent Cooke Foundation College Scholarship Program

The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation's College Scholarship Program is a highly selective scholarship for high-achieving high school seniors with financial need who seek to attend the nation's best four-year colleges and universities.

Each award is intended to cover a significant share of the student's educational experience, including tuition, living expenses, books, and required fees. Awards vary by individual, based on the cost of tuition as well as other grants or scholarships the student receives.

The application process is rigorous, and the scholarship is awarded annually based on academic ability, persistence, and leadership experience, and service to others. In addition to financial support, Cooke scholars receive ongoing advising and access to the thriving community of fellow scholars. The application period typically runs from September to November each year.

Requirements:

  • Graduating high school senior
  • Cumulative unweighted GPA of 3.5 or above
  • SAT combined critical reading and math score of 1200 or above or ACT composite score of 26 or above
  • Demonstrate significant unmet financial need (typically Pell-eligible)
  • Intend to enroll full-time in an accredited four-year college or university
  • Applications typically open from September to November

14. STEM Scholarships

STEM scholarships are designed to support students who plan to pursue degrees in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics fields. These scholarships are offered by a wide range of organizations, including corporations, professional associations, universities, and other private organizations and foundations. The eligibility requirements, award amounts, and application deadlines vary depending on the specific scholarship.

  • AAAS Mass Media Science & Engineering Fellows Program
  • APS/IBM Research Internship for Undergraduate Women
  • National GEM Consortium - GEM Fellowships
  • National Space Club Keynote Scholarships

To apply for these scholarships, students typically need to meet specific academic requirements, demonstrate financial need, and in essay scholarship to showcase their passion for and commitment to their chosen STEM field. It's essential to research each scholarship individually to understand its unique requirements and deadlines.

15. Future Educators Scholarships

The National Society of High School Scholars (NSHSS) offers the Future Educators Scholarship to support high school seniors and current college students who aspire to become K-12 teachers. The scholarship awards $1,000 to four recipients annually.

The application is open to NSHSS members worldwide who demonstrate a strong commitment to teaching and a record of academic success. Applicants must submit an essay discussing their motivation for pursuing a career in education, their personal experiences that have influenced their decision, and how they plan to make a positive impact as a future educator. The application period typically opens in early November and closes in mid-December each year.

Requirements:

  • NSHSS member (high school senior or current college student)
  • Plans to pursue a career as a K-12 teacher
  • Demonstrates a strong commitment to teaching
  • Has a record of academic success
  • Submit an essay discussing motivation, experiences, and plans related to teaching
  • Application typically open from early November to mid-December
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16. The Hertz Foundation Graduate Fellowship Award

The Hertz Fellowship, offered by the Fannie and John Hertz Foundation, supports outstanding PhD students in applied sciences, mathematics, and engineering. The fellowship provides five years of funding, including a $34,000 annual stipend and full tuition support. Hertz Fellows join a community of leaders and innovators with access to networking and professional development opportunities.

Applicants must be college seniors or first-year graduate students committed to making their skills available to the U.S. during national emergencies. Selection is based on exceptional academic achievement, creativity, innovation, and potential for future impact. The application is typically open from August to late October.

Requirements:

  • College senior or first-year graduate student
  • Pursuing a PhD in applied sciences, mathematics, or engineering
  • Exceptional academic achievement
  • Creativity and innovation
  • Potential for significant future impact
  • Willing to assist U.S. during national emergencies
  • U.S. citizen or permanent resident
  • Application open August to late October

17. The Boren Scholarships

The Boren Awards, an initiative of the National Security Education Program, fund U.S. undergraduate and graduate students to study less commonly taught languages in world regions critical to U.S. interests.

These regions include Africa, Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, Eurasia, Latin America, and the Middle East. The program aims to build a pool of U.S. citizens with foreign language and international skills.

Boren Scholars and Fellows are highly motivated individuals who wish to work in the federal national security arena. In exchange for funding above scholarships, recipients commit to working in the federal government for at least one year after graduation.

Boren Scholarships provide up to $25,000 for undergraduates, while Boren Fellowships provide up to $30,000 for graduate students. The application deadline is typically in late January or early February.

Requirements:

  • U.S. citizen
  • Undergraduate or graduate student
  • Studying a less commonly taught language in a critical world region
  • Committed to federal government work for at least one year after graduation
  • Application deadline typically in late January or early February

18. The AICPA Scholarship

The AICPA Scholarship for Minority Accounting Students provides financial assistance to minority students pursuing undergraduate or graduate degrees in accounting or related fields. The scholarship aims to encourage diversity in the accounting profession.

Eligible students can receive the scholarship funding up to $5,000 per year for up to three years, totaling $15,000. The scholarship is open to U.S. citizens or permanent residents who are ethnic minorities, including Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino, Native American, or Asian American. Applicants must be either enrolled full time full-time students at an accredited U.S. college or university.

Requirements:

  • U.S. citizen or permanent resident
  • Ethnic minority (see above)
  • Full-time undergraduate or graduate student in accounting or related field
  • Enrolled at an accredited U.S. college or university
  • Strong academic performance
  • Leadership skills
  • Committed to an accounting career

19. The DoD SMART Scholarship

The Science, Mathematics, and Research for Transformation (SMART) Scholarship-for-Service Program, funded by the Department of Defense (DoD), supports undergraduate and graduate students pursuing STEM degrees. The scholarship covers full, tuition fees, annual stipends, internships, health insurance, personal expenses, and book allowances.

The program aims to increase the number of civilian scientists and engineers at DoD laboratories and facilities. In return for full scholarships, recipients commit to working for the DoD for a period equal to up to four years or the length of the scholarship, usually one to five years.

Requirements:

  • U.S. citizen
  • Pursuing undergraduate or graduate degree in approved STEM field
  • Minimum 3.0 GPA
  • Available for DoD summer internships
  • Willing to work for DoD after graduation for period equal to scholarship length
  • Application typically August to December

20. The UNCF/Koch Scholars Program

The UNCF Koch Scholars Program provides scholarships, mentorship, academic support, and networking opportunities to African American undergraduate students at state university. The program prepares students for successful careers by developing their skills, knowledge, and principles.

Scholars receive up to $5,000 per year for four years, totaling $20,000. The program includes mentorship, online learning, and an annual networking summit.

Eligible applicants must be African American high school seniors with a minimum 2.7 GPA, planning to pursue a full-time undergraduate degree at an accredited U.S. college or university. They must demonstrate financial need and strong academic and leadership potential. The application period is typically January to March.

Requirements:

  • African American high school senior
  • Minimum 2.7 GPA
  • Pursuing a full-time undergraduate degree
  • Attending an accredited U.S. college or university
  • Financial need
  • Academic and leadership potential
  • Application usually January to March

Frequently Asked Questions

What are my chances of winning a scholarship?

Your chances of winning a scholarship depend on the number of scholarships you apply for, how well your application matches the eligibility criteria, and the effort you put into your submissions. Applying to multiple scholarships and tailoring your applications can enhance your chances of success.

How important are essays in scholarship applications?

Essays are crucial in scholarship applications because they provide a platform for the selection committee to see beyond your academic achievements and understand your personality, experiences, and aspirations. A well-written essay can greatly impact your application.

Can international students apply for scholarships to study in the U.S.?

Absolutely! International students can apply for many scholarships here to study in the U.S., including opportunities for local scholarships like the Fulbright Scholarships and the Global Scholars Program at Clark University. Good luck with your applications!

Should I apply for scholarships that require financial information?

Yes, applying for scholarships that require financial information can increase your chances of receiving need-based assistance for college.

Is it worth applying for no-essay scholarships?

Yes, it's worth applying for no-essay scholarships as part of your scholarship strategy, but it's important to balance them with more traditional scholarships to maximize your potential earnings. Applying for both types more scholarships can increase your chances of securing funding for your education.

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