It’s easy to get caught up with the big name scholarships such as Questbridge and Gates Millennium, many students feel its hopeless to even try to be part of the small percentage that receives them. However, one of the best ways to have a better chance of receiving a scholarship is to apply to more programs! One such program is the Horatio Alger Association Scholarship, which has been around for 30 years or so. For a need-based scholarship, that length of time means a whole lot of funding. Here is the breakdown of the steps to becoming a Horatio Alger scholar:

Eligibility and Applying

The Horatio Alger Association Scholarship is for American high school seniors who demonstrate “critical financial need”, in other words who live households with a yearly income below $55,000. Besides these baseline requirements, eligible students should be on track to enter an accredited college in the fall and demonstrate commitment within school and extracurriculars. What sets this scholarship apart from others is that the application process focuses on overcoming adversity. Students are asked to write about challenges in their lives and how they have been able to succeed despite these obstacles. That said, most of the application process should be familiar: letters of recommendations, transcripts, short essays. Additionally, to determine financial need the association asks for the FASFA Student Aid Report to verify the need.

Getting the Scholarship

One of the great things about the Horatio Alger Scholarship is that there are different ways to get funded. First of all there the National Scholars, students chosen from all over the country who receive the highest scholarship amount. Then, each state has its own group of winners who get a smaller prize. I was one of the Florida scholars in 2014, and even if it isn’t as much money as the National prize it’s still very helpful in funding my education. What’s more, a few states have multiple possibilities to win. For example, in California a student can apply with the hope of becoming either a National Scholar, California Scholar, or a Ronald C. Waranch Scholar. With so many avenues, eligible students can  feel more hopeful in receiving help from the Association in some shape or form. Thus, it’s unfortunate that many low-income students don’t know about this opportunity. This year applications are still open for students from Idaho, Louisiana, and Montana because nobody has won from these states, probably due to lack of  applications.

The Horatio Alger Association Scholarship was created for low-income students who need the funds and have a desire to pursue higher education. Moreover, the association recognizes a group of “Distinguished Americans” who have usually come from humble a background and have overcome many obstacles such as Maya Angelou and Buzz Aldrin. I find this to be really inspiring, sending a positive message to the applicants, students who struggle for an education and aspire to reach their goals.



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the author

Andrea Villa is a freshman at Stanford University, hoping to major in Comparative Literature or Art History, if her rogue interest in Astronomy doesn’t get in the way. Born in Bogota, Colombia but raised in Miami, Andrea’s upbringing has consisted of multicultural blend of Latin American influences. A strong believer in the power of hard work and merit, she maintains that financial difficulties do not have to be obstacles to success. As a Gates and Questbridge scholar, Andrea aims to spread awareness about these and other programs that lend a helping hand to low income students. Her life goals include publishing a novel and travelling everywhere. She is an avid reader of fiction, fantasy, historical nonfiction, and anything else that seems interesting. Andrea loves languages; she is fluent in English and Spanish and has studied French, German, and Japanese in the past. When not working or reading or studying, Andrea can be found restlessly looking for something to do.

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