Image from Stocksnap.

Image from Stocksnap.

Going to college is as expensive as ever, and the cost is only going up. As such, it is imperative that a prospective college student examines all scholarship and financial aid opportunities available to mitigate the exorbitant rate of her education. Unfortunately, applying for scholarships and other forms of financial aid is a long and arduous process – one that requires a huge time commitment and can seem impossible without proper guidance. In this article, I have compiled a list (by no means comprehensive nor exhaustive) that will hopefully bring some clarity to your search for scholarships. However, keep in mind that these awards are extremely competitive; you must be willing to put in a substantial amount of effort to even be considered.

For more help in your quest, I suggest checking out scholarship gurus (and my fellow Coca-Cola Scholars) Courtney Thurston and Christopher Gray’s search tools. You can find Courtney’s scholarship services at her website. Chris’ scholarship app, Scholly, has risen to critical acclaim following his appearance on Shark Tank. You can download Scholly on the App Store and Google Play, or check out his website.

1. Coca–Cola Scholarship

The Coca-Cola Scholarship is perhaps one of the most prestigious scholarships a high school student can receive. Each year, 150 high school seniors are selected to receive a $20,000 college scholarship based on academic merit, extracurricular involvement, and community involvement. As a 2015 Coca-Cola Scholar I can, without reservation, say that receiving this scholarship has changed my life. The individuals you meet at Scholar’s Weekend in Atlanta (on Coke’s dime!) will inspire and invigorate you; the alumni network of over 5,000 like-minded individuals will provide you with the resources to achieve the loftiest of goals. Every high school senior should apply! Deadline is October 31st.

2. QuestBridge National College Match

There are few, if any, college scholarship programs as impactful as the QuestBridge National College Match program. This program is designed to help exceptional low-income high school seniors gain access full four-year scholarships at the nation’s most prestigious schools. The three measures used in determining winners of this scholarship are (1) academic achievement, (2) financial qualifications, and (3) personal circumstances. There are no academic or financial “cut-offs”; rather, a holistic approach is used to determine winners. Some of the schools that participate in this program include Columbia University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Yale University. Definitely a top notch program!

3. Buick Achievers Scholarship Program

Are you a high achieving, low-income high school senior interested in pursuing a career in STEM as it is related to the automotive industry? Then the Buick Achievers Scholarship Program, funded by the GM foundation, may be for you! Buick rewards 50 deserving students with $100,000 scholarships over 4 years. The criteria for this scholarship are (1) academic achievement, (2) financial need, (3) leadership in one’s school and community, and (4) personal circumstance.

4. AXA Achievement Scholarship

The AXA Achievement Scholarship awards 52 seniors each year – one from each US state, Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico – a scholarship award of $10,000. From the pool of 52, AXA selects 10 national winners to receive an additional $15,000. Thus, national winners win a grand total of $25,000 on the basis of exceptional academic achievement and community involvement. This scholarship is worth the effort!

(Shout-out to scholarship guru Courtney Thurston for her advice in writing this work – find more awesome knowledge at her website.)

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