Writing skills you’ve mastered in your English classes could pay off with big tuition prizes for college from scholarship essay contests.
A little online digging will unearth countless competitions created to reward students who craft an innovative, thought-provoking response to their essay prompt. Some essay contests will have certain requirements like GPA or major, but many judge entrants solely based on the merit of their writing. Completing these applications takes longer than 30 minutes to cohesively form your opinion, research supporting details, and proofread your text. Yet it’s the perfect opportunity to learn more about topics you’re passionate about and reach published success.
The following are 25 essay scholarships for articulate wordsmiths to vie for profitable cash awards.
1. AAA South Jersey Scholarship Contest
Deadline: March 31st
For the 11th year, AAA South Jersey is sponsoring a contest to award $2,500 and free, one-year basic membership to graduating high school seniors from Camden, Cumberland, Gloucester, and Salem counties who will attend two- or four-year accredited colleges. To enter, students must submit an essay between 500 and 1,000 words that discusses the distracting features that hinder drivers’ mental focus behind the wheel and how to address them.
AAA South Jersey Scholarship Contest
700 Laurel Oak Road
Voorhees, NJ 08043
2. American Society of Human Genetics Essay Contest
Deadline: March 10th
In celebration of DNA Day on April 25th, the American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG) announces the winner of its essay contest, which awards $2,000 for first place, $1,200 for second place, and $800 for third place. High school students in grades 9-12 worldwide can enter by writing an original, sourced essay up to 750 words about a modern gene therapy and its effectiveness treating a disease or medical condition.
American Society of Human Genetics Essay Contest
9650 Rockville Pike
Bethesda, MD 20814
3. BBB Student of Integrity Scholarship
Deadline: September 22nd
Sponsored by Northland Group, the BBB Institute for Marketplace Ethics offers the Student of Integrity for $1,000 to $2,500 to high school seniors in Minnesota or North Dakota who will enter higher education this upcoming Fall. Applicants either write a 1,000-word essay or record a three-minute video highlighting a personal example of how they’ve overcome a challenge with 20 various principles, such as courage, respect, unity, accountability, and trustworthiness.
BBB Student of Integrity Scholarship
220 South River Ridge Circle
Burnsville, MN 55337
4. Bird Dog Foundation College Essay Contest
Deadline: April 15th
The Bird Dog Foundation, Inc. offers its College Essay Contest each Spring to provide one $1,500 and one $1,000 scholarship to U.S. citizens from Tennessee, Mississippi, or Arkansas who are finishing 12th grade and preparing for their freshman year. Students must submit a typed, double-spaced essay up to 1,000 words with at least five sources that promotes any topic about wildlife conservation, such as forest stewardship, biodiversity, or animal ethics.
Bird Dog Foundation College Essay Contest
505 W. Highway 57
P.O. Box 774
Grand Junction, TN 38039
5. Center for Alcohol Policy Essay Contest
Deadline: December 2nd
The Center for Alcohol Policy (CAP) hosts a competitive contest nationally to provide three scholarships of $500, $1,250, and $2,500 apiece to legal U.S. residents over 18 years old. Essays are received from college students, academics, lawyers, politicians, and others annually to discuss the regulation of alcohol under the 21st Amendment. Entrants must mail a hard copy of their typed, double-spaced essay less than 25 pages in length.
Center for Alcohol Policy Essay Contest
1101 King Street, Suite 600-A
Alexandria, VA 22314
6. David Shafer Essay Scholarship Competition
Deadline: December 1st
With the Community Foundation for Northeast Georgia (CFNEG), Senator David Shafer picks the top three essay submissions from graduating high school seniors in the “Peach State” to give scholarships from $250 to $1,500 each. Competitive applicants will present a well-written, original 800-word essay about a person in U.S. history who personified patriotism, honesty, compassion, virtue, and determination. Winners are honored at the Capitol by a Resolution of the State Senate.
David Shafer Essay Scholarship Competition
321 State Capitol
Atlanta, GA 30334
7. Fleet Reserve Association Essay Contest
Deadline: December 1st
Chartered in 1924 to represent the Sea Service community, the Fleet Reserve Association holds an annual essay contest to provide 18 national and regional scholarships ranging from $1,000 to $5,000. United States citizens in grades 7-12, including those who are homeschooled, can apply by sending a 350-word essay to their local FRA branch. Essays address different topics of Americanism each year, such as the meaning of Memorial Day or significance of the flag.
Fleet Reserve Association Essay Contest
125 N. West Street
Alexandria, VA 22314
8. From Failure to Promise Essay Contest
Deadline: July 31st
The From Failure to Promise Essay Contest was created by Dr. Cleamon Moorer, an engineer who persevered after flunking out of college to become an academic dean and TED speaker. Offering $10,000 with three $500 honorable mentions, the contest is open to students in the U.S. and Canada with a 2.5 GPA or higher. Essays of at least 1,500 words must cite three vital life lessons presented in Moorer’s book.
From Failure to Promise Essay Contest
145 S. Livernois Road, Suite 336
Rochester Hills, MI 48307
9. George S. and Stella M. Knight Essay Contest
Deadline: December 31st
Ranging from $1,000 to $5,500, the George S. and Stella M. Knight Essay Contest grants three scholarships from the National Society of the Sons of the American Resolution (NSSAR) to public and private high school students in grades 9-12. Entrants must compose an original essay between 800 and 1,200 words about an event, ideology, or person associated with the framing of the Declaration of Independence.
George S. and Stella M. Knight Essay Contest
809 W. Main Street
Louisville, KY 40202
10. George Watt Prize Essay Contest
Deadline: July 1st
Launched in 1998, the George Watt Prize Essay Contest celebrates the lifelong activist who formed the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives by presenting a Pre-Collegiate Award, Undergraduate Award, and Graduate Award. Students must submit an action, non-fiction, or fiction essay less than 25 pages in length that covers any aspect of the Spanish Civil War or political struggles against fascism before World War II in English or Spanish.
George Watt Prize Essay Contest
799 Broadway, Suite 341
New York, NY 10003
11. Harrington-Arthur Memorial Scholarship
Deadline: January 1st
Valued at $1,000, the Harrington-Arthur Memorial Scholarship is given to winners of the annual essay competition hosted by the American Backflow Prevention Association (ABPA). High school students between 13 and 19 years old who legally reside in the United States or Canada could apply by drafting a maximum 1,200-word essay and bibliography in MLA format. Essay prompts change but always will center on ways to protect our drinking water systems.
Harrington-Arthur Memorial Scholarship
342 N. Main Street, Suite 301
West Hartford, CT 06117
12. Herrman & Herrman Innovation Essay Contest
Deadline: December 1st
Herrman & Herrman, P.L.L.C., a Texas-based car accident law firm, started the Innovation Essay Contest in 2014 to provide three creative winners scholarships for $1,000, $1,500, and $2,500 apiece. High school juniors, seniors, and undergrads at accredited two- or four-year colleges nationwide can enter their own 600-word essay. Submissions must thoughtfully dissect the positive and negative effects of having more self-driving cars roaming the interstates.
Herrman & Herrman Innovation Essay Contest
801 E. Fern Avenue, Suite 155
13. Invensis Young Thinker Scholarship Essay Award
Deadline: November 30th
Invensis Technologies, a leading IT-BPO service provider with 200+ clients globally, sponsors the Young Thinker Scholarship Essay Award for $500 to recognize outstanding students from the United States, United Kingdom, or Australia. Entrants must be between 18 and 26 years old, enroll at accredited four-year colleges, and possess a minimum “B” average. Essays of 600 words or more will hypothesize how robotic process automation will shape tomorrow’s business climate.
Invensis Young Thinker Scholarship Essay Award
1000 N West Street, Suite 1200
Wilmington, DE 19801
14. JFK Profile in Courage Essay Contest
Deadline: January 4th
Named after the Pulitzer Prize-winning 35th President of the United States, the JFK Profile in Courage Essay Contest presents a first-place prize of $20,000, second-place prize of $1,000, and five finalist awards of $500. Eligible entrants will be U.S. citizens under age 20 who are graduating high school and pursuing post-secondary education. Each essay between 700 and 1,000 words should highlight political leaders who’ve exhibited courage standing for the public good.
JFK Profile in Courage Essay Contest
Boston, MA 02125
15. Margaret Mary Missar Essay Competition
Deadline: February 15th
The John Carroll Society (JCS) initiated the Margaret Mary Missar Essay Competition in 1997 to provide scholarships from $500 to $2,000 to freshmen, sophomores, and juniors who are matriculated at Roman Catholic high schools in the Archdiocese of Washington, DC. Five judges review over 350 essays yearly that center on the theme of “Service, the Pathway to Holiness.” Winning works are published in that year’s Catholic Standard.
Margaret Mary Missar Essay Competition
P.O. Box 454
Glen Echo, MD 20812
16. Mesothelioma Center Scholarship Essay Contest
Deadline: August 18th
Asbestos.com brings students aged 18 and older the Mesothelioma Center Scholarship Essay Contest, which provides a first-place award of $3,000 and second-place award of $2,000. High school graduates or GED recipients who are enrolled full-time at accredited U.S. colleges could participate. Essays should be between 750 and 1,500 words to shed light on the dangers of asbestos, development of this often terminal cancer, or promising clinical research.
Mesothelioma Center Scholarship Essay Contest
189 S. Orange Avenue, Suite 1620
Orlando, FL 32801
17. NPG Scholarship Essay Contest
Deadline: April 21st
Worth $1,000 to $2,000, the Negative Population Growth (NPG) Scholarship Essay Contest bestows multiple awards around Earth Day to support U.S. citizens or legal residents over age 14 who show interest in population issues. In Microsoft Word, applicants must compose an original essay between 500 and 750 words that gives policy suggestions to President Trump to reverse America’s growth for preserving the environment and economy.
NPG Scholarship Essay Contest
2861 Duke Street, Suite 36
Alexandria, VA 22314
18. Optimist International Essay Contest
Deadline: February 28th
The Optimist International Essay Contest offers District-level scholarships for $2,500 to fund college tuition for youth under age 18 from the U.S., Canada, and the Caribbean Islands. Entrants submit typed, double-spaced essays between 700 and 800 words with a bibliography in MLA format to address the theme of “Chasing Optimism in the Face of Challenges” from a personal, national, or global perspective. Judges score writing based on organization, vocabulary, grammar, and creativity.
Optimist International Essay Contest
4494 Lindell Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63108
19. Peck Law Firm Scholarship Essay Contest
Deadline: May 31st
Located in Charleston, the Peck Law Firm gifts a $2,000 scholarship after an annual essay contest to American citizens who’ve graduated from high school and are attending a college or ABA-accredited law school this Fall with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or greater. Qualified entrants will submit a resume, transcript, and maximum 1,000-word essay discussing the effects that the election of President Trump will have on families nationwide.
Peck Law Firm Scholarship Essay Contest
49 Archdale Street, Suite 1-C
Charleston, SC 29401
20. Queer Foundation Annual Essay Contest
Deadline: February 14th
Since 2005, the Queer Foundation has hosted its Annual Essay Contest to award three $1,000 scholarships to U.S. students aged 18 and under who are finishing 12th grade and intending to enroll full-time in post-secondary institutions. Creative applicants must enter a typed, proofread essay between three and 10 pages long that’s centered on critical issues affecting queer teenagers. Chosen LGBTQ or straight allies also receive mentoring and academic advising.
Queer Foundation Annual Essay Contest
P.O. Box 1206
Ravensdale, WA 98051
21. Regions Riding Forward Scholarship Contest
Deadline: February 28th
For Black History Month, Regions Bank administers the Riding Forward Scholarship Contest to provide $3,500 to $5,000 for 15 high school students and 15 college undergrads who upload a deserving 500-word essay about an African American who has inspired them. Entrance criteria requires being a U.S. citizens or legal resident, living in states affiliated with Regions Bank from Florida to Iowa, be at least 13 years old, and excel academically with a minimum 2.0 GPA.
Regions Riding Forward Scholarship Contest
1900 Fifth Avenue N.
Birmingham, AL 35203
22. The Fountainhead Scholarship Essay Contest
Deadline: April 26th
Established by the best-selling author’s heir Leonard Peikoff in 1985, the Ayn Rand Institute funds three annual scholarship essay contests, including one named for The Fountainhead. High school juniors and seniors worldwide can enter to win 16 prizes ranging from $1,000 to $10,000. Extra funding is available in Illinois, Indiana, Colorado, and Wisconsin. Essays between 800 and 1,600 words must provide a character analysis of the novel’s protagonist, Howard Roark.
The Fountainhead Scholarship Essay Contest
2121 Alton Parkway, Suite 250
Irvine, CA 92606
23. Vegetarian Resource Group Scholarships
Deadline: February 20th
The Vegetarian Resource Group (VRG) grants one $10,000 and two $5,000 scholarships each year to graduating high school seniors who submit a two- to three-page essay describing why being a vegetarian is important to them and foods they’d recommend to non-vegetarians. Eligible participants must be entering U.S.-based colleges, abstain from eating meat or animal products, and promote vegetarianism in their communities. Essays must be accompanied by a transcript, photograph, and three recommendations.
Vegetarian Resource Group Scholarships
P.O. Box 1463
Baltimore, MD 21203
24. Voice of Democracy Audio Essay Contest
Deadline: October 31st
The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) attracts nearly 40,000 entrants to its Voice of Democracy Audio Essay Contest each year to compete for scholarships from $1,000 to $16,000. Patriotic high school students in grades 9-12 who intend to pursue U.S. higher education could apply at the Post-level. Entrants draft an original 300- to 400-word essay centered on “America’s Gift to My Generation” and present their writing orally.
Voice of Democracy Audio Essay Contest
200 Maryland Avenue NE
Washington, D.C. 20002
25. We the Students Scholarship Essay Contest
Deadline: February 5th
Offering cash prizes from $500 to $5,000, the Bill of Rights Institute holds the We the Students Scholarship Essay Contest annually to encourage the patriotic writing of U.S. citizens or legal residents between 14 and 19 years old. Judges seek essays under 800 words in length that focus on the ideals of the Declaration of Independence or Constitution and their relevance today. Selection is based upon originality, organization, vocabulary/style, and depth of analysis.
We the Students Scholarship Essay Contest
200 North Glebe Road, Suite 200
Arlington, VA 22203
Getting creative is necessary for many students to shell out enough money for college. Although the NCES reports that 86 percent of full-time U.S. freshmen earn financial aid, the average undergrad takes out $8,057 in student loans each year. Therefore, the Class of 2016 graduated with a mean student loan debt of $37,172, which will accrue interest at 4 to 8 percent. Competing for free funding opportunities is crucial to avoid dishing out thousands toward loan bills later. Put your thoughts to paper and enter your chance to win these 25 great scholarship essay contests.