Scholarships for high school students make an investment in people at the very beginning of their academic careers. Students just starting out may have few financial resources, and a scholarship or grant could be the only way they can attend college. Any individual or group can start a high school scholarship to make a difference, honor a loved one or benefit a specific population of students.
Calculate how much money you can put in the scholarship fund. Any amount less than $25,000 may not be sustainable. Monies for scholarship funds come from large corporate donations, bequests, or group or individual fund-raising efforts.
Investigate third-party administrators. New scholarships often use an intermediary to ensure compliance with state and federal laws, assist in setting up the scholarship and administer funds. Community foundations exist in most metropolitan areas to help individuals and organizations acquire grants and establish charitable funds. Larger intermediaries include the National Merit Scholarship Corporation and the Citizens’ Scholarship Foundation of America. Consider foundations for specific causes if the scholarship helps students with certain illnesses or career paths. Universities or colleges can help establish scholarship endowments for recipients attending that university or college.
Write up a list of eligibility requirements and document them. The IRS requires that scholarship programs benefit a broad charitable class as well as exhibiting a nondiscriminatory selection process. Charitable class is defined as a group sufficiently large and indefinite enough to better the community as a whole with the award. You can’t specify a family or restrict eligibility criteria so that only your child’s babysitter qualifies. You also don’t want your requirements to be so broad that the number of applicants overwhelms you. Experts at FinAid recommend identifying two or three characteristics you most desire in a scholarship recipient.
Create an application form. Keep this document concise to make assessment of applicants easier. Include questions about your top two or three qualities in a recipient. Try to keep your questions concrete and avoid essays. You may want to include academic scores (which are easy to assess), and financial need.
Create a website for your scholarship and promote it online. Students are web savvy and can search for scholarships online. Putting your application online makes access easier for your potential recipients and reduces your paperwork.
Determine how many scholarships you want to award each year and how much money you want to award to each student. Some scholarships are one-time awards and cannot go to the same student twice. Others are renewable and can hinge on academic achievements for future rewards.
- Scholarships: High School Scholarships
- Fin Aid: Scholarship Design and Management
- Foundation Center: Frequently Asked Questions
- Foundation News: Setting Up Scholarship Funds
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Alice Drinkworth has been a writer and journalist since 1995. She has written for community newspapers, college magazines and Salon.com. Drinkworth earned a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of Wisconsin and won a media award for her in-depth coverage of local politics. She is also a certified master gardener.