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The 9 best scholarships for high school seniors

High school student raises hand in class
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Scholarships are a form of financial aid that can be need-based, merit-based or academic-based. Scholarships are gifts; they do not have to be repaid. Some scholarships are renewed automatically every year you’re in school, while others are given on a one-off basis.

Many scholarships are available for high school seniors about to start their first year of college. While the best way to find relevant scholarships for you is to use a scholarship search engine, below you can find a list of the most popular, simple and unique scholarships for high school seniors available.

Where to find scholarships for high school seniors

The more scholarships you apply to, the greater the chances of earning money for school. That’s why it’s so important to look for scholarships from a variety of sources. The easiest way to do that is through scholarship search engines, which compile thousands of scholarships and let you filter by specific criteria. The following sites are the best for finding scholarships if you’re a high school senior attending college next year.

You can also search for scholarships through local organizations, such as rotary clubs or local businesses. Colleges may also have their own scholarships available, which you can inquire about when you apply.

9 best scholarships for high school seniors

There are thousands of scholarships for high school seniors available, many of which are focused on specific majors, hobbies or interests. The nine scholarships below are a good place to start your search.

1. Technology Addiction Awareness Scholarship

Both high school and college students are eligible for the Technology Addiction Awareness Scholarship, which requires a 140-character answer to the question, “Instead of spending time with technology, I’d rather…” Finalists for this award will be asked to submit a 500- to 1,000-word essay about technology addiction.

Amount: $1,000
Application deadline:
Jan. 30, 2023
Apply here:

2. Unigo $10K Scholarship

Students at least 14 years old can apply for the Unigo $10K Scholarship, which requires a 250-word essay on the question, “Would you rather be smart, funny or rich? Why?”

Amount: $10,000
Application deadline: Dec. 31, 2022
Apply here:

3. U.S. Bank Student Scholarship

The U.S. Bank Student Scholarship is open to senior high school students who’ve already been accepted to a two-year or four-year college or university and are at least 17 years old. To enter, you must fill out a form with your personal information and complete at least six personal finance lessons on U.S. Bank’s online learning platform. The more lessons you complete, the more money you could win.

Amount: Up to $14,000
Application deadline: Oct. 30, 2022
Apply here:

4. Young Filmmakers Contest

Creative students can submit a film for the chance to win the Young Filmmakers Contest, which offers a $1,000 scholarship for high school seniors and college students, plus a $1,000 matching grant. The subject should be the environment. Live-action films must be between three and eight minutes long, while animated or stop-motion films must be at least 45 seconds long.

Amount: $1,000, plus a matching grant
Application deadline:
June 25, 2023
Apply here:

5. Coca-Cola Scholars Scholarship

The Coca-Cola Scholars Scholarship program offers 150 scholarships, each worth $20,000. Students must have a 3.0 unweighted GPA. Students are chosen on the basis of their leadership skills and academic achievement; candidates are evaluated based on their “capacity to lead and serve, as well as their commitment to making a significant impact on their schools and communities.”

Amount: $20,000
Application deadline: Application opens in August 2022
Apply here:

6. United States Senate Youth Program

High school students passionate about government and public policy can apply for the United States Senate Youth Program, which provides a $10,000 award and a special week-long educational program in Washington, D.C. Winners will be chosen from each state and the District of Columbia. Students must be interested in public service and have held an elected position in either their student body or their community.

Amount: $10,000
Application deadline:
Depends on the state
Apply here:

7. Zombie Apocalypse Scholarship

Students who’ve binged “The Walking Dead” or classic zombie movies will love the Zombie Apocalypse Scholarship essay prompt, which asks you to describe how you’d survive a zombie attack in your high school in 250 words or less. Students must be at least 14 years old and be U.S. residents.

Amount: $2,000
Application deadline:
Oct. 31, 2022
Apply here:

8. $1,000 All Star Verified Scholarship

If you’ve been browsing and applying for scholarships as if your life depended on it, now it’s your chance to win $1,000 just for sharing your experience. The $1,000 All Star Verified Scholarship is open to both high school students and parents of college-bound students. The only thing you need to do is answer the question “What is the best or worst part about finding or applying to scholarships?” in 450 characters or less.

Amount: $1,000
Application deadline: Aug 31, 2022
Apply here:

9. Make Me Laugh Scholarship

Calling all comedians: Unigo’s Make Me Laugh Scholarship is offering $1,500 for sharing your funniest or most embarrassing story. The story can be fact or fiction — completely up to you! To apply, you must be at least 14 years old and be able to demonstrate your creativity, ability to write a compelling story and originality in 250 words or less.

Amount: $1,500
Application deadline:
Aug. 31, 2022
Apply here:

How scholarships affect your financial aid package

Receiving a scholarship may affect how much federal aid you’re eligible to receive. Scholarships reduce the total cost of attendance, and you can’t be offered more financial aid than the total cost of attendance. The exception is the Pell Grant, which will not be reduced if you receive a private scholarship. If your total scholarships and the Pell Grant exceed the cost of attendance, the college will pay out the difference directly to you.

However, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t apply for scholarships. Scholarships don’t have to be paid back, whereas student loans do, so it’s almost always in your best interest to go after as many scholarships as you can before applying for federal aid like student loans.

Next steps

To find the best scholarships for you as you prepare to graduate high school, do your own research and find scholarships that are specific to you — whether it’s because of your state, your future major or your interests and activities. Apply to as many scholarships as possible. Every dollar you earn in aid is one less dollar that you have to borrow in student loans.

Written by
Heidi Rivera
Heidi Rivera is a student loans writer for Bankrate. She began her journey in the personal finance space in 2018 and is passionate about collecting data and creating content around higher education and student loans.
Edited by
Student loans editor