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Duke University
Duke University
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Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)

Horatio Alger Scholarship: Everything You Need to Know

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The Horatio Alger Scholarship is awarded to promising young people from low-income families, allowing them to pursue their dreams through higher education. One of the largest need-based college scholarship programs in the U.S., the Horatio Alger Scholarship Program was founded in 1984 and has awarded $180 million in scholarships since then. In 2019 alone, the Horatio Alger Scholarship Program granted $21 million to 2,500 students exhibiting determination, integrity, and perseverance while overcoming obstacles and facing financial need.   


Making a huge difference in the life of low-income students, the Horatio Alger Scholarship supports over 5,000 students attending more than 900 different universities. Even more impressive, the graduation rate of National Scholars (the program’s highest honor) is 76%a monumental achievement when you consider that the national graduation rate for low-income students is 20%.


Who is Horatio Alger, Jr.?


The scholarship’s namesake, Horatio Alger, Jr., was a renowned 19th-century author who is best known for his young adult books. Throughout his work, a common motif is a young boy who overcomes poverty through hard work and a can-do spirit—a subject modeled after the adversity he faced in his own life. Today, the Horatio Alger Scholarship honors students who exemplify the characteristics of Alger’s protagonists, and assists them in achieving their dreams regardless of their circumstances. 


Who is Eligible for the Horatio Alger Scholarship?


The Horatio Alger National Scholarship awards $25,000 to 106 qualifying students in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Winners of the scholarship are also given an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C. in the spring of their senior year to participate in the National Scholars Conference (attendance is required to receive the award).


To qualify for the Horatio Alger National Scholarship, you must meet these requirements: 


  • Enrolled as a full-time high school senior in the US and progressing normally toward graduation with plans to enter college in the US no later than the fall following graduation 
  • Demonstrate a commitment to pursuing and completing a bachelor’s degree at an accredited non-profit public or private institution in the US (recipients may begin their college careers at a two-year institution and transfer to a four-year school to complete their studies)
  • Exhibit a critical financial need—$55,000 or lower adjusted gross family income is required
  • Involved in co-curricular and community service activities
  • Maintain a minimum grade point average (GPA) of 2.0
  • Possess United States citizenship  

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How to Apply for the Horatio Alger Scholarship


There is no fee to apply for the Horatio Alger Scholarship. The application period for the scholarship runs from August 1st to October 25th, with all necessary materials needing to be uploaded to your online application by 5 pm Eastern Time on the last day. 


Students who complete a Horatio Alger Scholarship application are considered for the range of scholarships offered by the association—which, in addition to National Scholarships, include State Scholarships and Targeted Scholarships for students pursuing specific degrees or attending certain institutions. 


Horatio Alger Scholarship Application Requirements


To verify that a student meets the requirements of the Horatio Alger Scholarship, the program asks applicants to submit some documentation. Here’s a look at the information you’ll need to provide when filling out your application:


Academic Information Section: Your high school counselor is responsible for filling out this section, which is used to verify your academic information such as GPA, class rank, and coursework.


Adversity Section: The Adversity Section is where applicants can give a detailed account of the adversity they’ve overcome. Because the Horatio Alger Scholarship is awarded to students who have risen above enormous challenges, it’s critical that students demonstrate why they’re deserving of the award in this section. 


Support Form: The Support Form is essentially a confirmation that the information you wrote in the Adversity Section is correct. A Support Form provider must be over 21 years old, and be familiar with you and the challenges you’ve faced—and able to offer additional information and insight into your merit. Support Form providers are commonly applicants’ neighbors, family friends, counselors, pastors, teachers, or coaches. 


Proof of Citizenship: If you’re an applicant born outside of the US—and are a US citizen—you’re required to verify your citizenship. You can do so by submitting a copy of the photo ID page of your US passport which includes your full name, or a copy of your citizenship certificate. If you don’t have either, you’ll need to submit a copy of a parent’s citizenship certificate or your Consular Report of Birth Abroad. 


Financial Information: Since the Horatio Alger Scholarship requires applicants to come from families with an adjusted gross family income of $55,000 or less, you’re asked to provide information to confirm that’s the case. The documentation necessary will vary depending upon the applicant’s circumstances. 


Tips for Applying to The Horatio Alger Scholarship


Because different scholarships are looking for different types of applicants, it’s in your best interest to learn about the organization/foundation granting the award, and the type of people they commonly grant them to. 


Check out the organization’s social media: The Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans has a robust social media presence, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. Following them lets you see what alumni are doing, give you a better sense of the association’s mission, and gain a greater understanding of their values.  


Research past winners: Being able to see the people who have been awarded the Horatio Alger Scholarship in the past—their backgrounds, achievements, and what they’ve gone on to do—is a great way to get an idea of the type of person they’re looking for. You’ll find a handful of stories about recent winners through Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans’ social media channels, like this one about Amanda Carson, and this one about Philip Jimenez, both 2020 Horatio Alger National Scholars. 


Be your own best advocate: Horatio Alger’s protagonists didn’t come from advantaged backgrounds; rather, they rose above their hard upbringings through hard work, bravery, and honesty. In your application, be candid, truthful, and tell the story of the challenges you’ve overcome, the hard work you’ve put in, and your plans for the future. 


Although CollegeVine can’t predict your odds of achieving this incredible award, we can help take the mystery out of the college application process. Our free chancing calculator takes into account factors like GPA, standardized test scores, and extracurricular activities—along with other background information—to estimate your chances of being accepted to your dream schools. Sign up for your free CollegeVine account to see your chances today!

Short Bio
A graduate of Northeastern University with a degree in English, Tim Peck currently lives in Concord, New Hampshire, where he balances a freelance writing career with the needs of his two Australian Shepherds to play outside.