Top 10 Life-Changing Scholarships for Needy Students

Scholarships are critical for kids from low-income homes. Their benefits extend well beyond monetary aid. In fact, these scholarships for needy students are a great way to encourage deserving individuals to enroll in and complete college.

Scholarships for Needy Students
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The criteria for eligibility vary from one scholarship to another. However, in most cases, you will need to be classified as having a low or very low income to be eligible for these opportunities. Without further ado, let’s take a look at the following scholarships for low-income college students.

The Best Scholarships for Needy Students

1. The Gates Scholarship

Closing Date: September 15th

Amount of Award: Varies

Outstanding minority high school graduates from low-income families may apply for the Gates Prize (TGS), a highly competitive, last-dollar scholarship.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation awards it as part of their dedication to ensuring that bright, hardworking students from low-income families have the opportunity to reach their full potential. In order to apply, you must:

  • Be a senior in high school
  • Identify with one or more of the following groups: African Americans, American Indians/Alaskan Natives, Asian Americans, and/or Hispanic Americans
  • Be Pell-eligible
  • Plan to enroll full-time in a bachelor’s degree program at a public or private U.S. institution that is not for profit
  • Be a citizen, national, or permanent resident of the United States
  • Have a cumulative weighted grade point average (GPA) of 3.3 or above

2. HSF Scholarship

Closing Date: March 15th

Amount of Award: $500 – $5,000

Approximately 65,000 students have benefited from the Hispanic Scholarship Fund’s (HSF) over $500 million in scholarship awards since the fund’s inception in 1975. HSF equips both students and their parents with the tools they need to obtain a college degree.

The HSF Scholarship offers more than just free money. As an HSF Scholar, you will be eligible for a wide variety of helpful Scholar Support Services, such as mentoring and training for positions of leadership. To apply for this need-based scholarship, you must:

  • Be of Hispanic heritage
  • Have a minimum of 3.0 GPA (for high school students) or 2.5 GPA (for college and graduate students)
  • Be a U.S. citizen, a permanent legal resident, or a DACA recipient
  • Submit either the Free Application for Federal Student Assistance (FAFSA) or a state-specific financial aid application
  • Have committed to enrolling full-time in an approved four-year university or graduate school in the U.S., either public or not-for-profit
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3. The College Success Program

Closing Date: December every year

Amount of Awards: Varies

TELACU and its generous partners provide funding for the College Success Program.

Four interconnected elements—financial support, academic and professional development, career counselling, and volunteer opportunities—make up the program and work together to ensure students have a smooth transition from high school to college and, eventually, to the job.

Any incoming freshman may apply for this scholarship, and it can be renewed for a total of four years of schooling. To apply, you must:

  • Be a low-income, first-generation college student
  • Have a 2.5 GPA or above
  • Be studying anything related to business or the STEM professions
  • Possess a full-time status throughout the whole academic year

4. Jeannette Rankin National Scholar Grant

Closing Date: February 18th

Amount of Award: Varies

The Jeannette Rankin National Scholar Grant is one of two scholarships for needy students who identify as female or non-binary and demonstrate financial need. These grants are given out to students instead of schools. You may extend your award for a total of five years if you choose to do so.

The value of a Scholar Grant goes much beyond its monetary value. Recipients of grants become members of the Sisterhood of JRF Scholars, a network of women committed to empowering one another and making a difference in the world. To be considered for this grant, you must:

  • Be 35 years or older
  • Demonstrate financial need
  • Be pursuing a technical or vocational education, an associate’s degree, or a first bachelor’s degree at an accredited U.S. institution

5. Fund II UNCF STEM Scholar Program

Closing Date: March every year

Amount of Award: Up to $25,000 in funding

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Together with The Fund II Foundation, UNCF established a scholarship program to aid African American students who are interested in pursuing professions in the STEM disciplines.

UNCF STEM Scholars will be provided with resources such as financial aid, internship opportunities, and expert guidance from the organization’s staff. For its STEM Scholars Program, the Fund II Foundation is allocating $48 million. To apply, you must:

  • Be an African American
  • Have a 3.0 GPA or higher
  • Be a STEM major in college
  • Attend an accredited college within the U.S. as a full-time, degree-seeking, first-year student

6. ThanksUSA Scholarship Program

Closing Date: May 17th

Amount of Award: $3,000

ThanksUSA has provided over $16 million in scholarships to students from all 50 states and all branches of the armed forces since 2006. If you are chosen as a recipient, you will be given a monetary prize of $3,000. This money may be used for any kind of educational costs you may have.

Scholarship winners are chosen based on a combination of factors, including financial need, academic performance, and exceptional personal or family circumstances. Families of military members who were lost or seriously wounded while on duty will be given priority.

To be considered for this opportunity, you must:

  • Be 24 years or under and a child or spouse of U.S. military service personnel
  • Have at least a 2.00 cumulative GPA
  • Be current high school senior or graduate who plans to enroll at an accredited two- or four-year college or university or vocational-technical school

7. Jackie Robinson Foundation Scholarship

Closing Date: January 12th

Amount of Awards: Up to $35,000

The Jackie Robinson Foundation (JRF) is a comprehensive program that helps students prepare for and succeed in higher education in addition to meeting their financial aid requirements.

Aside from receiving substantial financial aid, JRF Scholars take part in a four-year program that provides them with career counseling, internship and job placement assistance, international experience, and instruction in leadership and other useful skills. To be eligible for these generous scholarships for needy students, you must:

  • Be a graduating, minority high school senior
  • Demonstrate financial need
  • Be a U.S. citizen
  • Present leadership potential and a dedication to community service
  • Submit an official SAT and/or ACT test exam score from junior or senior year
  • Plan to attend an accredited and approved 4-year college within the U.S. or affiliated with a U.S.-based college or university
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8. Horatio Alger National Scholarship Program

Closing Date: March 15th

Amount of Award: $25,000

The Horatio Alger National Scholarship Program is one of the biggest college financial assistance programs in the country, and it was created to help high school students who have overcome extraordinary adversity.

Students in all fifty states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico may apply for and receive the National Scholarship if they meet the requirements. In the spring of their senior year, National Scholars are flown to Washington, D.C. on the government’s dime to take part in the National Scholars Conference.

To be eligible to apply for the scholarship, you must:

  • Be enrolled full-time as a high school junior in the U.S.
  • Exhibit a strong commitment to pursue and complete a bachelor’s degree at an accredited non-profit public or private institution in the U.S.
  • Demonstrate critical financial need
  • Be involved in co-curricular and community service activities
  • Display integrity and perseverance in overcoming adversity
  • Maintain a minimum GPA of 2.0
  • Be a U.S. citizen

9. Ron Brown Scholarship

Closing Date: January 9th

Amount of Award: Up to $10,000

An exclusive scholarship program, the Ron Brown Scholarship helps academically brilliant and socially conscious African Americans pursue higher education in memory of Ronald H. Brown.

These renewable scholarships for needy students may be used at any four-year U.S. institution that meets the program’s admissions requirements. Ron Brown Scholarships are open to students of any major who are pursuing any professional path.

To be eligible for the award, you must:

  • Be an African American
  • Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
  • Be a current high school senior at the time of your application
  • Plan to attend a four-year accredited college or university within the U.S.

10. DC Leadership 1000 Scholarship

Closing Date: April 30th

Amount of Award: $5,000

Four-year scholarships totaling $1 million are awarded annually via the College Success Foundation-DC Leadership 1000 Scholarship, which is financed by private donors, including philanthropists, corporations, and charities.

For low-income high school seniors in DC who are committed to continuing their education after high school, this four-year scholarship may help bridge the funding gap. To apply, you must:

  • Plan to enroll as a college freshman
  • Submit a FAFSA if eligible
  • Present evidence of financial need
  • Maintain a minimum 2.75 cumulative high school GPA
  • Plan to enroll full-time as a college student, 12 credits per quarter or equivalent for semester

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