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20 College Scholarships for High School Sophomores in 2023

What’s Covered:


High schoolers spend a large part of their time concerned about college, specifically focused on getting into college. However, another factor to consider is paying for college—higher education costs have increased by more than 25% in the past decade. One way to offset the growing expense is with scholarships.


Getting a head start on applying for scholarships is a good way to increase your odds of winning an award and relieving some pressure later in your high school career. If you’re looking to try to win a scholarship earlier on, here are some great opportunities for high school sophomores to take advantage of.


20 Scholarships for High School Sophomores


1. Ayn Rand “Anthem” Essay Contest


Amount: Up to $2,000

Deadline: April 27, 2023

Eligibility: Grades 8-12

Application Requirements: Essay


Funded by the Ayn Rand Institute, this essay contest challenges young readers to compose an essay about Anthem, Ayn Rand’s dystopian novella about individualism versus collectivism. The ability of applicants to think and write effectively is tested as they are tasked with responding to one of three essay prompts about the novella.


Winning essays are selected based on their clarity, their organization, their author’s understanding of the topic, and how well they stay on topic. Prizes range from $25 for semifinalists to $2,500 for the winning essay—with several increments in between.


2. Profile in Courage Essay Contest


Amount: Up to $10,000

Deadline: January 13, 2023

Eligibility: Grades 9-12

Application Requirements: Essay with five listed sources


The Profile in Courage essay contest is held to honor John F. Kennedy’s book, Profiles in Courage, in which he detailed eight U.S. senators risked their careers to place the nation’s interests above their own.


Contest participants are tasked with researching and writing an essay about a U.S. elected official who served during or after 1917 (Kennedy’s birth year), and who followed the example of those senators to perform a politically courageous act. John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, and Edward M. Kennedy are not eligible as subjects for essays.


Prizes range from $100 for semifinalists to $10,000 for the first-place winner—with several increments in between.


3. Technology Addiction Awareness Scholarship


Amount: N/A

Deadline: January 30, 2024

Eligibility: High schoolers, undergraduates, and graduate students

Application Requirements: Character statement


If you find yourself glued to your phone, tablet, or television, you’re not alone—the average teenager spends more than seven hours a day in front of a screen, and that doesn’t include time spent on schoolwork. To win this award, applicants are asked to submit a 140-character statement completing the sentence: Instead of spending time with technology, I’d rather…


4. The American Red Cross Leaders Save Lives Scholarship Program


Amount: Up to $2,500

Deadline: August 31, 2023

Eligibility: High schoolers and undergraduates

Application Requirements: Host a blood drive


Students qualify for this scholarship by coordinating a blood drive, which has the bonuses of helping to save lives and adding a great extracurricular activity to students’ college profiles. Scholarships are tied to the success of your event, and scholarship amounts depend on how much blood is collected:


  • 25-59 pints: $1,000 (six winners in the summer program, four in winter)
  • 60-99 pints: $1,500 (two winners in the summer program, one in winter)
  • 100+ pints: $2,500 (two winners in the summer program, one in winter)


Organizers who collect more than 25 pints of blood at their events also receive a gift card, whose amount is based on how much blood was collected at their event:


  • 25-59 pints: $50
  • 60-99 pints: $100
  • 100+ pints: $200


5. Cancer Unwrapped Teen Writing Contest


Amount: $1,000

Deadline: March 3, 2023

Eligibility: Grades 9-12

Application Requirements: Essay


Unfortunately, cancer is something that touches the lives of many high school students, either directly or through the experiences of a loved one. To win this scholarship award, applicants are tasked with sharing their experience with cancer.


In the past, all types of tales have won—from triumph to turbulence to loss—but one thing all past winners have in common is that the essays are personal, honest, and heartfelt. Past winning essays are posted on the scholarship’s website.


6. Ocean Awareness Contest (Senior Division)


Amount: Up to $1,500

Deadline: June 13, 2023

Eligibility: Ages 15-18

Application Requirements: A piece of art in response to one of five prompts


The Ocean Awareness Contest allows young people to learn, explore, and communicate about environmental issues with art while providing a forum to become advocates of positive change.


Applicants create original work in response to a theme that changes annually. Submissions can include visual art, creative writing, film, performance art, poetry, and spoken word. The theme for 2023 is Climate Heroes in Action. Prizes range from $250 up to $1,500.


7. Create Real Impact Contest


Amount: $1,000


  • Registration closes April 10, 2023
  • Contest closes April 27, 2023

Eligibility: Ages 14-22

Application Requirements: Video or graphic design showcasing solutions or strategies to stop reckless and distracted driving


Young creatives will love this contest as it allows them to choose from among multiple forms of media to help put an end to the number one killer of young people—reckless and distracted driving. Students are allowed to submit one original entry to the contest, either a graphic design or a 30-second video.


Scholarship awards range from $250 to $1,000. Participants can also compete for additional personal awards ranging from $500 to $1,500 by partnering with local community champions (like elected officials or first responders) to use their platforms to amplify the message of making safe driving choices. There are also educational grant prizes for winners’ schools ranging from $2,500 to $10,000!


8. Project Yellow Light Radio Contest


Amount: $2,000

Deadline: April 1, 2023

Eligibility: Grades 9-12

Application Requirements: 20-second-long radio spot


Project Yellow Light intends to call attention to the dangers of distracted driving and to discourage people from using their phones when operating a vehicle. The Project Yellow Light Radio contest challenges high schoolers to create an impactful 20-second radio spot encouraging their peers to embrace safe driving practices.


Winners are selected by their ability to grab attention, their persuasiveness, the clarity of their message, and their creativity.


9. Sphinx Competition (Junior Division)


Amount: Up to $10,000

Deadline: October 23, 2023


  • Ages 17 and under
  • Identify as Black or Latinx

Application Requirements:

  • Biography
  • Video audition
  • High-resolution headshot


More than merely an award, the Sphinx Competition provides an opportunity for young Black and Latinx string players in four categories—violin, viola, cello, and double bass—to play with a major orchestra, perform at concerts, and appear on a nationally broadcast radio show. Repertoire requirements are dependent on category.


The first-place winner takes home a $10,000 award, the opportunity for solo appearances with major orchestras, and a chance to play on the nationally broadcast radio show From the Top.


10. Davidson Institute Fellows Scholarship


Amount: Up to $50,000

Deadline: February 15, 2023


  • 18 years old or younger
  • U.S. citizen or permanent resident

Application Requirements:

  • Created a significant piece of work
  • Nominations from two individuals who are not family members
  • Available to attend an in-person or virtual awards ceremony


This prestigious scholarship program offers awards ranging from $10,000 to $50,000 to young people who’ve completed a significant piece of work. Prizes are available in eight categories:


  • Science
  • Technology
  • Engineering
  • Mathematics
  • Literature
  • Music
  • Philosophy
  • Outside the Box


Students can apply for the awards as teams of two—if they win a scholarship, the funds are split evenly between the two team members.


11. College Board Big Future Scholarships


Amount: Up to $40,000

Deadline: March 3, 2023

Eligibility: Grades 10, 11, and 12

Application Requirements: Complete qualifying steps


This scholarship program incentivizes high schoolers to plan for their futures by rewarding them every time they take a step toward preparing for college—the more steps they complete, the more chances they have of winning an award. The steps students are asked to take are:


  • Start a Career List
  • Build a College List
  • Start a Scholarship List
  • Strengthen the College List
  • Complete the FAFSA
  • Apply to Colleges


Scholarships are open to students regardless of income. However, students from families that earn less than $60,000 per year get an extra entry every time they complete a step—doubling their chances of winning an award.


12. Simon Scholars


Amount: $16,000

Deadline: February 10, 2024


  • Attending partner high school
  • Will be a first-generation college student
  • From a low-income family
  • Aspire to attend a four-year college

Application Requirements: Minimum 3.5 GPA


This program in Orange County, California, focuses specifically on high school sophomores and works with them through their college careers. In addition to providing financial support, the Simon Scholars Program offers its Scholars a laptop, etiquette training, academic support, leadership training, and community service opportunities.


Scholars also participate in an intensive college preparatory program, are assisted during the college application process, and are given a stipend for additional academic programs and college tours.


Ultimately, Simon Scholars build the academic and social skills required to successfully complete a four-year college degree and pursue a career.


13. Create-A-Greeting Card Contest


Amount: $10,000 (plus a $1,000 donation to the winner’s school)

Deadline: March 2, 2023


  • 14 years of age or older
  • High school, college, or university student enrolled in an academic program designed to conclude with a diploma or degree
  • U.S. resident (international students with a student visa to attend school in the U.S. are considered legal residents and are eligible)

Application Requirements: Submit a design for the front of a greeting card


Artistic sophomores (and other high schoolers) get to flex their creative muscles in this scholarship contest that challenges them to design a greeting card. Submissions can include any card themes that are consistent with the Gallery Collection’s card line, including Christmas cards, holiday cards, and birthday cards. Finalists are selected by an online voting system, then move on to a panel of judges who select a winner.


14. National Society of High School Scholars (NSHSS) James W. Lewis Global Leader Scholarship


Amount: $5,000

Deadline: August 5, 2023

Eligibility: Grades 10-12

Application Requirements:

  • Minimum 3.5 GPA
  • Transcript
  • Academic resume
  • Essay
  • Letter of recommendation
  • Color headshot


The NSHSS awards five of these $5,000 scholarships annually to students with a commitment to diversity, inclusion, community engagement, and leadership. Scholarship recipients will have also helped create educational opportunities for all students, including those from underrepresented groups.


15. National High School Poetry Contest


Amount: Up to $500


  • March 13, 2023
  • June 30, 2023
  • September 30, 2023
  • December 31, 2023

Eligibility: Grades 9-12

Application Requirements: Poem


A poem that I wrote with care

Entered a contest, took the dare.

And then the news I did receive

A winner I was, I couldn’t believe!


High school wordsmiths will love this chance to earn scholarship money and have their work published. A number of awards are available quarterly, ranging from $100 to $500, and winning entries are published in JUST POETRY!!! the National Poetry Quarterly.


Poems must be 20 lines or fewer, in English, unpublished, and not entered in any concurrent contests.


16. Germans from Russia Heritage Society (GRHS) Essay Contest


Amount: Up to $1,000

Deadline: March 31, 2023

Eligibility: Grades 9-12

Application Requirements: Essay


This essay contest encourages students to learn about the history and culture of the German-Russians—people who emigrated from Germany into Russia during the 18th and 19th centuries.


Entries can be made in a variety of formats, including research papers, creative writing, and digital media, and can focus on any aspect of German-Russian heritage. Entries should be no longer than five pages, not including cover sheets and works cited pages.


17. Fleet Reserve Association (FRA) Americanism Essay Contest


Amount: Up to $1,500

Deadline: December 1, 2023

Eligibility: 7th-12th grade students

Application Requirements:

  • Essay
  • Entrants must be sponsored by a branch of the Fleet Reserve Association or a unit of the Ladies Auxiliary, or by an FRA Member-at-Large


This contest, provided by the Fleet Reserve Association—a group representing the interests of enlisted Navy, Coast Guard, and Marine veterans and active duty personnel in the United States—challenges students in grades 7 through 12 to compose an essay on Americanism. Winners are chosen at the local, regional, and national levels.


18. Stossel in the Classroom Essay Contest


Amount: Up to $2,500

Deadline: March 31, 2023

Eligibility: Grades 9-12

Application Requirements: Essay


To enter this contest, students are tasked with composing an essay between 500 and 1,000 words in response to one of three prompts. The 2023 prompts are:


  • The American Constitution in Our Lives
  • Inflation: Root Causes and Community Impact
  • Economics in the Wild


Applicants are challenged to be original in their writing and to check their facts. Entries are judged on their ability to answer the topic question in an articulate, clear, and organized manner.


19. Gen and Kelly Tanabe Scholarship


Amount: $1,000

Deadline: July 31, 2023


  • High schoolers, undergraduates, and graduate students
  • Legal U.S. residents

Application Requirements: Personal statement


The Gen and Kelly Tanabe Scholarship is a merit-based award that assists students in fulfilling their higher education dreams. Applicants must compose a short statement (250 words or fewer), which is the primary factor used to determine a winner.


20. SBO Magazine Scholarship Essay Contest


Amount: $1,000

Deadline: N/A


  • Grades 9-12
  • Participation in an instrumental or vocal program

Application Requirements: Essay (250 words or fewer)


This award is open to high schoolers involved in any public or private instrumental or vocal program, no matter if it’s marching band or musical theatre. Applicants are asked to write about a music teacher who changed their life, what it was about that teacher that had an impact on them, and how they differed from other good teachers the applicant has had.


21 (Bonus). CollegeVine Scholarships


Amount: $2,000

Deadline: Quarterly

Eligibility: high school student and US resident

Application Requirements: create a free CollegeVine account or fill out chancing profile if you already have an account.


CollegeVine provides a quarterly, no-essay scholarship of $2,000. All you have to do is sign up for a free account, which allows you to see your chances of acceptance at 1,600+ schools, get your essays reviewed by a peer, ask questions in our community forum, and more. If you already have an account, just make sure your chancing profile is filled out.


Awards will be paid out directly to students to help them cover any educational costs. Learn more about the CollegeVine scholarships.


5 Tips for Applying for Scholarships


Winning scholarships is extremely beneficial when the time comes to pay for college—make the most of your time and increase your odds by following these tips for successfully securing scholarships.


1. Prioritize Awards


When building a list of scholarships, rank them in order of importance using factors like due date, fit, and prize amount. This will allow you to direct your attention to the most pressing awards and focus your energy on the awards you have the best chance of winning.


2. Balance Quantity & Quality


The more scholarships you apply to, the better your odds are of winning one. However, don’t sacrifice the quality of your applications in the name of speed. Take your time, follow the directions, answer every question, and proofread.


3. Work Smarter, Not Harder


Applying for numerous scholarships is a lot of work, especially if each one involves writing an essay. In many cases, with some slight tweaks, you can use the same essay to apply for multiple awards. Just make sure the essay fits the question and stays within the word count.


4. Create a Scholarship Schedule


Block off time in your calendar to apply for scholarships. Even just a few hours a week devoted to finding and applying for scholarships add up, especially if you start as a sophomore! Think of this time as a part-time job that will pay off when it’s time to head to campus.


5. Apply Early


Just because a scholarship’s application period ends at 11:59:59 PM ET on a given date doesn’t mean you have to wait until that day to apply. Applying early lowers the chances of getting sabotaged by technology, like a website crash or an internet outage. It also means you won’t be scrambling to finish the application at the last minute.

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.