The Best College Scholarships for High School Students

Written by: The College Finance Team
Updated: 11/18/21

College is a big financial investment, with many going into debt to afford college tuition and books. Fortunately, there are several forms of financial assistance available through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and private organizations and donors.

It’s important for high school students to start their college financial planning early to prevent unexpected financial surprises or missing out on possible financial assistance. In fact, high school juniors are encouraged to start researching scholarships to alleviate some of the pressure their senior year. 

Scholarships can help students achieve their academic goals and allow them to focus more on school and less on how to pay for their education. Scholarships also don’t have to be repaid, allowing students to borrow less in student loans. This article will discuss some of the best high school scholarship opportunities available to students and how to take advantage of them.

Why All High Schoolers Should Apply for Scholarships

Current high school students have many scholarship opportunities available to them depending on their interests, desired field of study, test scores, academic achievement, extracurricular activities, or disabilities. Certain scholarships are also only available to low-income families. 

From sports to academic scholarships, there are many scholarship opportunities available to those wanting to attend university, a trade school, or a community college. Scholarships can greatly alleviate the financial burden of the cost of attendance and help students focus on their studies.

Best College Scholarships for High School Students

Below are some opportunities to help you with your scholarship search and get you one step closer to achieving your higher education goals. Whether you’re interested in pursuing a career in culinary arts, journalism, or chemical sciences, there are many types of scholarship funds available for any degree program. 

Some are no-essay merit scholarships based on academic achievement, while others are essay scholarships that require a written response based on a given prompt, and some could be a combination of both. All scholarship application requirements look different and need to be followed closely to prevent disqualification. Here are a few examples.

AAC Culinary Scholarships

The American Culinary Federation (ACF) Education Foundation offers a limited amount of scholarships annually to students, with the support of the American Academy of Chefs (AAC). To be eligible for these scholarships, students must maintain a cumulative minimum GPA of 2.75 and provide proof of enrollment at the academic institution with a major related to food service. 

Scholarship applications will be evaluated by the scholarship committee based on a point system, which can be earned through culinary volunteer activities, participation in culinary activities, ACF involvement, and the student’s academic GPA. Students will be notified whether they’ve been awarded a scholarship or not within 30 days of applying and are encouraged to reapply in future years if they still need the scholarship. 

Students can apply for AAC Culinary Scholarships directly on the American Culinary Federation Education Foundation website

ACS Scholars Program

The American Chemical Society (ACS) Scholars Program has scholarships available to undergraduate students majoring in chemistry-related disciplines who want to pursue chemistry-related careers. The program seeks to help minority students from historically underrepresented groups and awards up to $5,000 per academic year for selected students and has helped 3,500 students to date. The scholarship awards are renewable. 

The eligibility requirements for the ACS Scholars Program include being a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident; African American, Hispanic/Latino, or American Indian; graduating as a high school senior or being a college freshman, sophomore, or junior (college seniors can apply for their fifth year); and having a 3.0 GPA or higher. For more information on the application process, students can visit the ACS website and apply from there.

AFSA High School Senior Scholarship Contest

The American Fire Sprinkler Association (AFSA) created a scholarship program to help students with their education and training pursuits while also educating them about the life-saving properties of automatic fire sprinklers. Scholarship recipients aren’t selected based on demographic criteria, GPA, or financial need; the scholarship is open to high school seniors who are U.S. citizens or aliens legally residing in the country. 

The scholarship contest application deadline is midnight on April 1, 2022. Ten scholarship recipients will be chosen at random through a computer-generated drawing, and each winner will receive a $2,000 scholarship. The scholarship money is directly paid to the educational institution, which must be a two- or four-year university/college/career/technical/online school based in the U.S. and must have completed and received accreditation from an agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. More information on the eligibility requirements and application process can be found on the AFSA scholarship website.

AFA Teens for Alzheimer’s Awareness College Scholarship

The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America has an annual essay contest for high school seniors wanting to go to college. To enter, students are asked to write a 1,200- to 1,500-word essay describing the impact of Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia-related illness on themselves, their family, or their community and what they’ve learned in light of coping with the brain disorder. 

The first-place winner receives $5,000 and finalists receive between $400 and $3,500. More information can be found on the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America website.

Actuarial Diversity Scholarship

The Actuarial Diversity Scholarship offers an annual scholarship program to promote diversity within the profession. The scholarship program is available to Latinx, Native North American, Pacific Islander, and Black/African American students. The award amount ranges from $1,000 to $4,000 for full-time undergraduate students pursuing a bachelor’s degree that may lead to a career in the actuarial profession. 

Students must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale, must be entering their freshman year of college, and must have an SAT math score of 620 or an ACT math score of 28. Students must have the intention of pursuing a career in the actuarial profession. More information on the application process and eligibility requirements can be found on the Actuarial Foundation website

Against the Grain Artistic Scholarship

The Against the Grain Artistic Scholarship helps Asian American students pursue a major in the performing arts, visual arts, journalism, or mass communications. To be eligible for this scholarship, students must be at least 25% Asian and/or Pacific Islander ethnicity, be a U.S citizen or legal permanent resident, have a minimum 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale, and must be a high school senior or a full-time, degree-seeking college student enrolled at an accredited U.S. education institution pursuing a major in the visual or performing arts. 

A scholarship winner will be selected based on five major categories, including academic performance, letters of recommendation, a committee interview in-person or over the phone, the quality of the student’s content submission, and leadership or community service contributions. The funds will be directly disbursed to the institution in the student’s name. More information on the eligibility requirements and selection criteria can be found on the Against the Grain Productions website

Air Force ROTC Scholarships

The U.S. Air Force ROTC offers merit-based scholarships to meet U.S. Air Force officer needs. Students pursuing a technical or foreign language major may receive priority in the selection process, but all majors are welcome to apply. 

High school students applying for an Air Force ROTC scholarship must be accepted into the program, as well as the academic major indicated on their student scholarship application. Students applying for pre-med, nursing, or other medical-related majors will compete for a nontechnical scholarship and aren’t guaranteed that specialty upon commissioning. 

High school applicants must either be U.S. citizens or must obtain citizenship by the last day of the first term of their freshman year (for four-year offers) or the first term of their sophomore year (for three-year offers). They must also pass a U.S. Department of Defense Medical Examination Review Board (DODMERB) medical exam and complete the Physical Fitness Assessment. 

Students must have a cumulative unweighted GPA of at least 3.0 and an SAT composite of 1240 or an ACT composite of 26. For more information on the scholarship types, requirements, or eligibility, students can visit the U.S. Air Force ROTC website

Alliance Pipeline Scholarship

The Alliance Pipeline Scholarship provides financial assistance to Indigenous youth to help prepare them for employment in the oil and gas industry. The Alliance Pipeline Indigenous Student Awards Program provides scholarships to help Canadian Indigenous students pursue postsecondary education. 

Applicable programs include but aren’t limited to instrumentation, engineering, geological sciences, environmental sciences, and business administration. Scholarship recipients can receive up to $2,000. More information on eligibility and the application process can be found on the Alliance Pipeline website

Learn More About Scholarships and Paying for College at provides up-to-date information to help high school graduates currently in the college selection process and college graduates trying to pay off their student debt. 

If you’re in the process of filling out college applications and are looking for in-depth resources to learn more about student loans, financial aid, financial planning, or other financing options to help you pay for college, be sure to visit to get started planning your successful future.