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-time 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 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.

The “best” scholarships to apply for will depend on your unique strengths. Try to focus your efforts on awards that appeal to your talents and interests, where you can submit a strong application. The stronger your qualifications for a certain award, the better a chance you will have of winning.

10 best scholarships for high school seniors

Thousands of scholarships for high school seniors are available, many of which are focused on specific majors, hobbies or interests. The 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: January 30, 2024
Apply for the Technology Addiction Awareness Scholarship

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: December 31, 2023
Apply for the Unigo $10k scholarship

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 35 one- to two-minute personal finance modules on U.S. Bank’s online learning platform. The more lessons you complete, the more money you could win.

Amount: Up to $20,000
Application deadline: October 30, 2023
Apply for the U.S. Bank Student Scholarship

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: 2023 admissions closed; 2024 deadline not yet announced
Apply for the Young Filmmakers Contest

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 based on 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: Submissions accepted August 1 – October 2, 2023
Apply for the Coca-Cola Scholars Scholarship

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 – throughout September & October 2023
Apply for the United States Senate Youth Program

7. $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: Rolling, throughout 2023
Apply to the All Star Verified Scholarship

8. Jackie Robinson Foundation Scholarship

In addition to financial support, this scholarship provides academic support, programming, travel abroad, internship and career opportunities for award winners. With an award of up to $35,000 over four years of schooling, winners are well-supported throughout their college educations. The Foundation looks for candidates who represent the core values of discipline, integrity, humility, compassion, and courage.

Amount: Up to $35,000 over four years, plus financial sponsorship to attend leadership and development opportunities
Application deadline: January 10, 2024
Apply to the Jackie Robinson Foundation Scholarship

9. College Board BigFuture Scholarships

If you’re a college-bound high school senior, chances are you’re already working toward the steps required for entry to the College Board’s BigFuture scholarship drawings. From starting your scholarship list to applying for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), the steps you are taking anyway will make you eligible for scholarship drawings ranging from $500 to $40,000 each– no essay required.

Amount: Between $500 and $40,000 per drawing
Application deadline: Throughout the year, beginning the summer after your junior year of high school
Apply to the College Board BigFuture Scholarships

10. $2,000 No Essay Scholarship

If you’re tired of writing essays or illuminating the same strengths for other scholarship applications, the No Essay Scholarship is awarded by a random drawing, with one winner selected every month. Simply create a free account on this data-driven website for access to the application.

Amount: $2,000
Application deadline: Monthly deadline with monthly awards announced
Apply to the $2,000 No Essay Scholarship

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 looking for scholarships from various sources is so important. 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 scholarships available, which you can inquire about when you apply.

How scholarships affect your financial aid package

A scholarship may affect how much federal aid you’re eligible to receive. Scholarships reduce the cost of attendance, and you can’t be offered more financial aid than the total cost. 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 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. In contrast, student loans do, so it’s almost always in your best interest to go after as many scholarships as possible before applying for federal aid like student loans.

Next steps

To find the best scholarships for you as you graduate high school, research and find scholarships 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 you have to borrow in student loans.