High School Scholarship Criteria

by Lindsey Thompson ; Updated July 27, 2017
Students can start applying for scholarships as early as sophomore year.

With the cost of college tuition rising each year, high school students who plan on earning a college degree need to find ways to help fund their college educations. High school students can find thousands of scholarships from a variety of sources that provide tuition money to earn a postsecondary degree. While each scholarship has its own specific eligibility requirements, students will find that many of the scholarships have similar criteria.

Grade Point Average

A large number of scholarships for high school students require a student to have maintained a minimum grade point average throughout high school. The minimum grade point average needed varies depending on the award but generally ranges anywhere from 2.0 to 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. National and highly competitive awards tend to have higher grade point minimums, like the Coca-Cola Scholarships, which require applicants to have a minimum 3.0 grade point average at the end of their junior year. Scholarships with higher award amounts also generally require higher grade point averages. The University of Evansville in Indiana awards full-tuition scholarships to students with a 4.0 high school grade point average.

Class Rank

Another common requirement for high school scholarships, a student’s class rank can help him earn tuition money. As with the grade point average, the class rank requirement will vary depending on the scholarship but can range from top 25 percent to top 10 percent. Higher rankings can mean more scholarship money, such as at Minnesota State University Mankato where first-year students are given scholarship money depending on their high school class ranking. Students who rank first in their high school class can also find scholarships just for valedictorians, such as the Valedictorian Scholarship at the University of Houston.

Financial Need

Scholarships can be awarded based on merit, financial need or a combination of both. Because financial need can be subjective, scholarships may post specific financial aid requirements. The George Foundation, which offers scholarships to Texas high school students, states that an applicant’s parents cannot have a gross income of over $50,000. Scholarships may also require a student to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid to show financial need. The FAFSA helps the federal government evaluate a student’s financial needs to hand out grants and loans.

Essays

Part of nearly every scholarship, the essay questions help judges and committees choose award winners. Because scholarship providers can receive hundreds and even thousands of applications, the essay questions can help set a student apart. Scholarship essay topics can include open-ended questions or ask a student to comment on a certain topic. A popular choice for essay questions, many scholarships ask a student to write an essay describing his college and career goals, like the Dell Scholars Scholarship, which requires a student to write about his career goals and how he intends to achieve them, as shown on the Dell Scholars scholarship application.

About the Author

Lindsey Thompson began her writing career in 2001. Her work has been published in the Cincinnati Art Museum's "Member Magazine" and "The Ohio Journalist." Thompson holds a Bachelor of Science in journalism from the Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University.

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