Pursuing a college education can be expensive. But there are many ways to help pay for college. Students can look into grants, financial aid, student loans, and more. But scholarships are some of the best ways to fund your college education.
There are thousands of scholarships up for grabs each year. Each has its own eligibility requirements. One of the easiest kinds of scholarships to win are essay scholarships. These scholarships are perfect for those who enjoy writing.
But what if you don’t particularly like to write? You can still win some cash for school if you consider yourself a decent writer. Spending an hour or two writing a scholarship essay can pay off big! We’ve even included an easy guide to writing scholarship essays at the end of this article to help you out.
There are many scholarship essay contests available each year. The scholarship winners can take home prizes anywhere between $100 to $10,000 or more. So if college seems unaffordable right now, below is a list of 30 scholarship essay opportunities worth trying.
Related: 30 Writing Scholarships
1. Better Business Bureau Ethical Torch Essay Scholarship
The Better Business Bureau offers high school students the annual Ethical Torch Essay Scholarships. The main goal of the essay scholarships is to award young individuals for making ethical decisions. High school students can apply for this scholarship by writing an essay about themselves. In it, they must describe different ways they have used ethics and integrity in their own lives.
The essay scholarships contest is open only to high school students in three regions. These include San Diego and Imperial County, Orange County, California, and Greater Arizona.
Five individuals will be awarded scholarships for their essays. Prizes range from $1,500 (first place) to $500 (fifth place).
2. Bird Dog Foundation Annual College Scholarship Essay Contest
The Bird Dog Foundation offers annual essay scholarships to high school seniors pursuing higher education. They are awarded to several deserving high school seniors. This scholarship essay aims to create admiration among young people for field and outdoor sports like hunting and fishing. It is only open to high school students in the 12th grade who are getting ready to go to college.
Students must be residents of Arkansas, Tennessee, or Mississippi. And they must be affiliated with a bird dog club or field trial association in any U.S. state. The first-place winner will receive $2,000. The second-place winner will receive $1,500. And the third-place winner will receive $1,000. Each scholarship award will be paid to the college or university where the student is registered to attend.
3. Center for Alcohol Policy Essay Contest
The Center for Alcohol Policy offers three essay scholarships. They are for individuals who need assistance paying for their college tuition. The essay topic is typically based on American court cases regarding alcohol policy. The writer must compile an essay on what they think is necessary to resolve the case. The three winners will receive $5,000, $2,500, and $1,000 toward their tuition. In addition, all three winners will be invited to the Center for Alcohol Policy’s Alcohol Law and Policy Conference. At the conference, they will be presented as speakers, where they will read their essays aloud to the attendees.
4. Fleet Reserve Association Americanism Essay Contest
Each year, the Fleet Reserve Association features an essay contest. This one is for junior high and high-school participants. Students are required to write 350 words on Americanism and patriotism. The essay scholarships aims to stimulate young people’s pride and support of America. Students will compete locally, regionally, and nationally.
Each grade has three national winners, with one grand national winner among all grades. The top national winner will receive $5,000. In addition, the first-place winner in each grade will be awarded $2,500. The second-place winner in each grade will be awarded $1,500, and the third-place winner in each grade will be awarded $1,000.
5. Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives Essay Contest, George Watt Prize
Since 1998, the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives has offered a yearly essay contest celebrating George Watt. Mr. Watt was a great writer and activist who helped create the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives. Students around the globe are eligible to participate in this contest. The topics to write about can change periodically. However, the most popular essay topics include various aspects of the Spanish Civil War. The contest is open to both undergraduate and graduate students.
There will be three pre-college winners, one undergraduate winner, and one graduate winner. All winners’ essays of the essay contest scholarships will be published. The pre-college winners will receive $250. The college students will receive $500, and the graduate winner will receive $1,000.
6. American Backflow Prevention Association ABPA Harrington-Arthur Memorial Scholarship Essay
The American Backflow Prevention Association has an annual essay scholarship contest. The organization founded this opportunity more than two decades ago. The name of the competition is the ABPA Harrington-Arthur Memorial Essay. The award is aimed at students interested in managing cross-contamination and preventing backflow. This helps to minimize the risks of dangerous bacteria and chemicals moving into the water. The essay topic changes yearly, but the goal is to educate individuals and bring attention to maintaining safe and pure drinking water. The contest is open to high school students only. The winner will be presented with $1,500 toward their college tuition.
7. Herrman & Herrmann Innovation Scholarship Essay
Herrman and Herrmann provides an Innovation Scholarship Contest annually. Students are encouraged to be creative and to send their entries in as poems, essays, art pieces, videos, or songs. The topic is on a community service project that brought positive changes to your community. It must have inspired your growth or altered your future plans and goals in some way. After finishing the creative piece, individuals must also write a 300-word essay. The topic will be about a teacher who inspired their creativity.
High school students in 11th and 12th grades may apply for these essay scholarships. Undergraduate college students in the United States may also apply for this scholarship. Graduate students are not eligible. There will be three winners in Texas and three winners across the country. First place essays will be awarded $2,500. Second place essays will be awarded $1,500, and third place essays will be awarded $1,000. In addition, the teachers featured in the first-place winners’ essays will also receive $1,000.
8. Invensis Young Thinker Scholarship
Invensis offers the Invensis Young Thinker Scholarship. Invensis is a global outsourcing services company. Students in the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia may compete for this scholarship. Topics may change each year. However, the most recent topic was “How robotic automation is shaping the future of business process outsourcing.” Each applicant will be required to write at least 600 words or more. The contest is open to undergraduate students from ages 18 to 26. Graduate students are not eligible for this contest. The winner will receive $500. And their essay will be featured on the company’s website, social media, and blog.
9. John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum Profile in Courage Essay Contest
The Profile in Courage Contest is conducted by the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. These essay scholarships are meant for high school students in the United States. Students will write about the political bravery of an American elected official during or after 1917. Incidentally, this was John F. Kennedy’s birth year. The winner will be awarded $10,000, and the second-place runner-up will be awarded $3,000. In addition, five finalists will receive $1,000, and the eight semifinalists will each receive $100.
10. Margaret Mary Missar/John Carroll Society Scholarship
The John Carroll Society has provided essay scholarships since 1997. Students can be freshmen, sophomores, or high school juniors. Applicants for these essay scholarship contests must be enrolled in Catholic high schools of the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. proper. Applicants must write an essay about a topic chosen by the John Carroll Society. Typically, the focus is on a subject that requires the student to give deeper consideration to their faith.
The first-place winner will be granted a scholarship of $2,000. The second-place winner will be awarded a scholarship of $1,000. Finally, there will be two or three third-place winners chosen. They will receive scholarships of $500 each. In addition, ten applicants will receive mentions for their essays and scholarships of $100 each. The first-place winner’s essay will be published in the Catholic Standard.
11. Asbestos.com Essay Scholarship
Asbestos.com is an organization of The Mesothelioma Center. They provide $5,000 in scholarship money for essays. Students must be willing to write and bring awareness to the issue of cancers caused by asbestos. Applicants will be required to write an essay with 750-1,500 words on the topic of mesothelioma. The winner’s essay will be presented on the asbestos.com scholarship page and social media accounts.
The first-place winner will be awarded $3,000 toward their tuition, and the second-place winner will be awarded $2,000 toward their education. In addition, each winner must be able to show an official college transcript from their school. These scholarships essay contests are for college students 18 years of age or older who are enrolled in a full-time U.S. institution. This also applies to high school students getting ready to attend college.
12. Negative Population Growth Essay Scholarship
Negative Population Growth awards essay scholarships every year. Only high school students and undergraduate college students can earn these essay scholarships. Essay topics are generally about a population-related challenge. The applicant must provide a recommendation on how they would solve the specific challenge. The grand prize winner will receive $5,000 toward tuition, and the second-place winner will receive $2,500 toward tuition. In addition, several other applicants will receive $1,000 and $1500 scholarships.
13. Optimist International Essay Contest
Optimist International offers an annual essay scholarship contest. It is open to individuals under the age of 19 who are not yet college students. The scholarship’s objective is to spark young people’s interest in writing about the world they live in. Each applicant can write about their own experiences, the experience of the country they reside in, or a piece of history that relates to the topic.
Topics are different each year. The most recent topic was “How Does an Optimistic Mindset Change My Tomorrow?” Each essay submission will compete at the club level first. They will then move onto the district level if their essay is considered one of the top. The district-level winner will be awarded a scholarship of $2,500.
14. Regions Riding Forward Scholarship Essay
Regions.com features an annual scholarship essay competition. These essay scholarships aim to help provide financial assistance to individuals planning to pursue a college education. However, it is also open to those who are already college students. The essay topic recognizes black history month. It can be about any African American who was inspirational to your life, experiences, and goals. The word count is 500 words or less.
High school seniors who live in a state with a Regions branch may be awarded a $5,000 scholarship if they win. And college students who live in a state with a Regions branch may be awarded a scholarship of $3,500 if they win. There will be 15 high school seniors and 15 college students who will receive scholarships.
15. Ayn Rand Institute Essay Contest
The Ayn Rand Institute is dedicated to the remembrance of Ayn Rand, a best-selling Russian American writer. For over three decades, the institute has provided a contest for students to win scholarship money for college. The essays are typically based on Ayn Rand’s novels, and the main goal is to encourage students to learn about her wisdom, knowledge, and writing.
There are different essay topics for high school students and college students. Both undergraduate and graduate students are eligible. With these ssay scholarships, you may be able to win between $25 and $25,000.
16. Vegetarian Resource Group Essay Scholarship
The Vegetarian Resource Group offers essay scholarships for high school seniors in the United States. The contest is for students who have encouraged their schools or communities to engage in vegetarianism. There will be two $5,000 scholarships and one $10,000 scholarship awarded. If your essay wins, it will become the Vegetarian Resource Group’s property. And your name will be given to the media to acknowledge your outstanding work.
17. Veterans of Foreign Wars Patriot’s Pen Youth Essay Contest
The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) offers a Patriot’s Pen Youth Essay Contest. These essay scholarships aim to inspire young people to look at the history of America. Plus, it helps them reflect on their personal experiences in the modern-day society of America. VFW will choose a specific topic related to patriotism, and applicants will be required to write between 300 to 400 words. The current topic is “My Pledge to Our Veterans.”
These essay scholarships are only available for high school students and middle school students. Each submission will compete at the state level and may go on to the national level. Middle school students can win $5,000, and high school students can win $30,000.
18. Bill of Rights Institute We the Students Essay Contest
Once a year, the Bill of Rights Institute offers a We the Students Essay Contest. Applicants for these essay scholarships are required to write about what civil discourse means to them. The goal is to encourage individuals to write essays about their own experiences and ideas. The Bill of Rights Institute seeks essays containing creativity, engagement, and examples.
First-place winners will be awarded $7,500 and a scholarship to the Constitutional Academy. In addition, five runners-up will be chosen and awarded $1,500 each. Plus, eight individuals will also be acknowledged for their essays and receive $500 each.
19. Unigo College Review Scholarship
Unigo offers a unique College Review Scholarship every year. This contest is open to current college students or those that have previously attended a college. Applicants are required to write a short, 250-character essay about a college listed on Unigo’s website.
The winner of this essay scholarship will be awarded $1,000. The funds will go toward tuition for the school they attend or plan to attend. The essays will be evaluated based on writing ability, originality, creativity, and overall quality.
20. The Christopher W. Keyser Scholarship
Keyser Law, P.A. offers the annual Christopher W. Keyser Scholarship. It is designed to provide financial assistance to students pursuing an education related to the law field. Acceptable majors include criminal justice, pre-law, English, history, political science, and journalism. Communications, sociology, and a Bachelor of Individualized Studies are also acceptable.
Applicants can choose between three topics and must write between 2,000 and 3,000 words. Only current college students and students entering college are permitted to apply for these essay scholarships. The writer of the winning essay will receive a scholarship worth $1,500.
See also: 25 Full Tuition Scholarships
21. Learncurious Phyllis F. McCarthy Scholarship for Excellence in Writing
Learncurious features three annual essay scholarships. It is called the Phyllis F. McCarthy Scholarship for Excellence in Writing. There are three topics for applicants to write about, and essay submissions must be 3,000 words or less. The first-place winner will receive a scholarship of $1,000, and the two runners-up will receive $50 each. All winners and their essays will be showcased on the Learncurious website and blog. Only high school seniors and high school juniors are permitted to write an essay for this scholarship. Those who are already undergraduate and graduate students are not eligible.
22. The Lincoln Forum Platt Family Scholarship Prize Essay Contest
The Lincoln Forum offers essay scholarships through the Platt Family Essay Contest. Each year, students are given a topic about Abraham Lincoln to write about. This essay contest is only open to undergraduate students pursuing college courses at a school in the United States. Graduate school students do not qualify. There are several creative writing scholarships. The grand first-place winner will receive a scholarship of $1,500, and the second-place winner will receive a scholarship of $750. The third-place winner will receive a scholarship of $500. The winners will also be featured on the Lincoln Forum Platt’s website. Entries must be between 1,500 and 5,000 words.
23. Writer’s Digest Annual Writing Competition
Writer’s Digest has been hosting a writing competition for almost 90 years. This essay scholarship contest is for helping new and budding writers win money for college. It is also designed to feature students’ work for others to read.
Each year, around 500 winners are chosen for several different essay scholarships. The grand prize winner will receive $5,000, an interview with Writer’s Digest, and a free trip to the annual conference. The first through tenth place winners are awarded between $25 to $1,000. Winners will also receive a subscription to Writer’s Digest magazine. Submissions will be published on the website. Plus, they will receive discounts on all purchases through the website.
24. Maryland Criminal Defense Group Outstanding Citizen Scholarship
Every year, the Maryland Criminal Defense Group sponsors an essay scholarship. It’s named the Oleg Fastovsky Outstanding Citizen Scholarship. This essay contests scholarship was created to help students pay for their college expenses. Applicants must write about being a good citizen and participating in community service projects. Individuals must also show they possess the qualities of an outstanding citizen in this 500-word essay. The award for these creative writing scholarships is $1,000. High school seniors, undergraduate, and graduate students are eligible. The winner must show proof of enrollment or a current transcript.
25. The Branson Shows Inspired Scholarship
BransonShowTickets.com offers an essay scholarship called the Branson Show Inspired Scholarship. This essay scholarship aims to inspire and encourage individuals to chase their dreams and pursue their goals. Students entering the competition must write about their own personal and professional ambitions. The winner will secure a scholarship for $1,000. Students between 16 and 19 who live in the United States can enter this competition. If you are already affiliated with BransonShowTickets.com, you may not apply.
26. American Bullion Scholarship
American Bullion, Inc. provides annual scholarship opportunities to assist students in paying for their college tuition. This essay scholarship aims to help students gain knowledge about valuable assets, such as gold. Students will write an essay between 500 to 1,000 words on a given subject. Applicants must be American citizens and currently enrolled in a full-time program at a college or university. The winner will receive $1,000 toward their tuition. Graduate school students also qualify for this contest.
27. Galvanize the Future Richard L. Brooks Memorial Scholarship
The American Galvanizers Association offers an annual essay scholarship. It is called the Galvanize the Future Richard L. Brooks Memorial Scholarship essay contest. This contest was developed to offset tuition costs for students in civil engineering and related programs of study. The scholarship is available to part-time and full-time students. Undergraduate and graduate students are welcome to apply for these creative writing scholarships. Students must be enrolled in or planning to enroll in an accredited college in North America. The essay must be between 1,000 to 2,000 words. A topic will be provided.
28. International Bipolar Foundation High School Essay Contest
The International Bipolar Foundation provides an essay competition each year. It is designed for young people who desire to raise awareness of mental health issues. These essay scholarships are open to high school students, and three winners are announced annually. The grand prize winner will receive $1,000. The second-place winner will receive $500, and the third-place winner will receive $250. In addition, all three winners will be featured on the International Bipolar Foundation’s website. Undergraduate and Graduate school students do not qualify.
29. IvyPanda Annual Essay Writing Contest Scholarship
Each year, IvyPanda.com awards $1500 in essay scholarships to talented students who demonstrate the art and skill of essay writing. Scholarships are given to two winners. The first-place winner will receive $1,000, and the runner-up will get $500. Essays must be between 500 to 700 words. A list of potential topics is provided. This scholarship essay is open to high school or college students from any country.
30. Alzheimer’s Foundation of America Teens for Alzheimer’s Awareness
Annually, the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America features an essay competition. It is titled the Teens for Alzheimer’s Awareness College Scholarship Essay Contest. These essay scholarships are meant for high school seniors who are getting ready to go to an accredited college directly after graduation. All essays must be between 1,200 to 1,500 words and express how Alzheimer’s affects your personal life, family, and community. In addition, you should write about what you have learned about managing the disease. The top essay will receive $5,000. There will also be several runners-ups chosen and awarded for their excellent work.
How To Write the Perfect Scholarship Essay
Applying to college can be trying. There are exams to pass, forms to fill out, and plenty of other challenging tasks. It’s a time-consuming process. Because tuition is so costly, most students try to do everything possible to save money on their education.
There are numerous ways to offset the cost of college, including financial aid, student loans, and grants. But, of course, applying for financial assistance also requires a lot of effort and—you guessed it—more paperwork!
Additionally, students may be eligible for scholarships. Some of these are a breeze to apply for. Others require students to work a little bit for their free cash. Such is the case with essay scholarships.
You may also like: How do I Write a Good College Application Essay?
Essay scholarships are special essays that students write as a supplement to a scholarship application. All scholarships require students to fill out an application form of some type. But a vast majority of those applications require an essay. It might be a short, three or four hundred-word answer to a question. Or it could be a longer paper requiring several thousand words. Either way, when an essay is required, it’s usually the most crucial part of a scholarship application.
Essay scholarships can make or break your chances of winning a scholarship, so you’ll want to be sure to get them right. Essays give the scholarship committee a chance to know you better. And a good essay will make your application shine. Organizations want to know they are awarding scholarships to the most worthy applicants. So your scholarship essays will give them a sense of who you are and your educational goals. Essay-required scholarships are your chance to prove you are deserving of a particular scholarship.
There are many variables with essay scholarships. For example, some organizations request a lengthy piece of content with a specific writing prompt. Others only require a short paragraph or two on a general topic. But no matter what the requirements, there are some common tips for doing them right. Here’s a rundown of the most essential considerations for essay scholarships:
1. Get Started!
Getting started on your scholarship essay is often the most challenging part of the process. And if you’re a born procrastinator, the struggle is real. However, the sooner you dig in, the better off you’ll be.
Be sure to verify all deadlines and give yourself plenty of time to finish your essay. Don’t wait until the last minute to get started. No matter what level of writing skills you have, creating a winning essay takes time. So don’t expect you can complete a masterpiece overnight!
2. Write an Introduction and an Outline
Staring at a blank screen will keep you stuck, so just dig in. Read through your prompt and start writing whatever comes to mind. You can perfect your thoughts later on. But for now, you need to get something “on paper” to get your creativity flowing.
Once you’ve written a rough introduction, create an outline. An outline can help you structure your essay in a way that makes it easy to read.
Here’s a great tip: Most annual scholarship program web pages publish the essays of previous winners. Read them. Looking over the winning essays can give you some much-needed inspiration. Plus, it will give you a better idea of what the organization is looking for.
3. Write the Body of Your Essay
This will take up the bulk of your time when completing your scholarship essay, so be sure to schedule it well in advance. It’s a good idea to plan on working on the main part of your essay over several days. This way, you can write for an hour or so each day and not get too burned out.
Remember that your goal at this stage is to persuade the organization to award you the scholarship. So you will need to convince them they should give you their money. Think about why you feel you deserve the scholarship. List your accomplishments and the traits that distinguish you from other students. Think about obstacles you have overcome and your goals for the future. Then, work these into your essay topic in a natural way.
4. Follow Instructions Carefully
You would be surprised how many students miss out on perfect scholarship program opportunities because they did not follow directions. Dont be like these unfortunate applicants. Instead, read through the instructions before, during, and after you write your essay.
Follow every step precisely. You can be creative in your essay, but when it comes to the instructions, dont showcase your personality by trying to “do things your own way.” For example, if the instructions say to use Times New Roman, don’t deviate and use Arial instead. Be respectful and follow the guidelines exactly.
5. Conclude With Something Memorable
Final impressions are important. To stand out from the crowd, craft a conclusion the committee will remember. Focus on some final thoughts demonstrating your personal growth in overcoming obstacles. And conclude by honing in on the future. For example, tell the committee how you plan to use those lessons at college over the coming years.
6. Proofread Like Your Life Depends on It
Do you know what happens to students who don’t thoroughly proofread their scholarship essays? Nothing. That’s because they don’t win. Are you serious about winning the scholarship? Then be doubly serious about checking your essay for spelling and grammar mistakes. Use a proofreading app like Grammarly to review your paper multiple times. Then, go over it again for good measure.
Before you submit the essay, sleep on it. Chances are, you’ll find a few more typos after you take a break for a bit. It wouldn’t hurt to have a teacher or another student also go over it.
Qualifying for 30 Scholarship Essay Contests
What are the qualifications for essay scholarships? Several factors can qualify you for a college scholarship program. Here are the most common ones.
One of the most common qualifications organizations look for in scholarship applicants is academic achievements. Therefore, many scholarship providers want to know about your classes, GPA, and standardized test scores. These numbers indicate your ability to meet the academic requirements of college.
You may also like: ONLINE COURSES SCHOLARSHIPS
Like academic achievements, merit is another common requirement for scholarships. Merit is subjective and depends on the organization giving out the award. For example, the committee may be looking for students with strong leadership skills or volunteer experience. Or they may want to see your involvement in student government or athletics. Merit means that you have exceptional abilities in a particular area.
Some scholarships are need-based. They are awarded primarily on your financial circumstances. Unless they are independently wealthy, the majority of students qualify for some type of need-based financial aid. You can check out the EFC formula guide to find out more about what constitutes financial need.
Age and Grade Level
Scholarships are typically awarded to college students, but this is a broad cross-section of people. For example, one essay scholarship program may only be open to those under 18. But for another, only graduate students are eligible. In addition, some common age and grade level requirements may include:
- Middle school students
- Current high school students
- Junior high students
- Students in grades 7-12
- Students ages 13 to 25 (Or other age ranges)
- Graduating high school seniors
- Graduate students
- Undergraduate students
- Undergraduate and graduate students
- High school students already accepted to college
- Current college students
- Previous college students
- First-year students, sophomores, juniors, and high school seniors (or any combination thereof)
As you can see, the age and grade requirements can vary widely. So it’s essential to read the fine print before you even begin your scholarship essay. After all, you dont want to do all that work and find out you’re not even eligible!
With some scholarship programs, you only need a stroke of luck to win. These scholarships are like the lottery. If your name or number is randomly drawn, you win! If you don’t possess other scholarship qualifications, luck-based scholarships might help. That’s because each student who enters has the same chance to win. So be sure to apply to every luck-based scholarship opportunity you can. You never know when a windfall is coming your way!
Related: 25 Scholarships for Average Students
The truth is that most scholarships have a combination of requirements. For example, you might be eligible for a scholarship based on financial need plus a winning essay. Or you may be eligible to win an essay contest only if you are a low-income senior in high school. Some scholarships with essays only have one specific requirement. But with most scholarship contests, you will need to meet more than one of the criteria to be eligible.
When Should You Start Applying for Scholarships?
Each scholarship is different, with deadlines falling throughout the year. There are no standard dates like with college applications, so it depends on the cutoffs for an individual scholarship. However, in some cases, you must apply as early as one year before starting college. Remember, you’ll want plenty of time to work on the scholarships that require essays.
High school juniors and high school seniors who plan to attend college should start looking for scholarships as early as possible. Missing a scholarship deadline means losing out on free money for your education.
Some students like having a notebook and calendar handy to keep their scholarship and deadline information organized. That way, they can refer back to it regularly to ensure they don’t miss any crucial scholarship opportunities. Remember, you can apply for as many scholarships as you want. Millions of dollars in scholarships are up for grabs every year, so keep filling out those applications!
Scholarships are one of the first types of financial assistance to consider, as they are a gift that does not need to be repaid. Additionally, students can earn more than one scholarship. Earning multiple essay scholarships can help current or prospective college students pay for college. Provided by various generous organizations, essay scholarships are ideal for those with a knack for writing.
The outstanding scholarship opportunities mentioned on this list can help fund your college education. And if you are willing to put in the effort, you may be able to win one of these scholarship contests.