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15 Generous Scholarships for Low-Income Students in 2023

What’s Covered:


College provides students from low-income families with an excellent opportunity to move up the socioeconomic ladder. Because of this, schools have seen a rise in the number of students from financially disadvantaged families on their campuses. Unfortunately for these students, the amount of federal financial aid has not kept pace with the rising cost of college.


One of the ways students can make up the difference between the financial aid available and the cost of college is with scholarships—in particular, scholarships for low-income students.


Where Can Low-Income Students Get the Most Scholarship Money?


Merit aid rewards students for academic or extracurricular achievements, rather than financial need. This presents an awesome opportunity to earn money for college! External organizations are often where students focus their scholarship-seeking energy, but colleges have substantially more funds available, and students should target them too.


Tips for winning merit aid from colleges include:


  • Apply to schools where your profile is especially strong or if you possess a quality or skill the school is seeking.
  • Don’t make college decisions based on sticker price—expensive private schools are often the schools that most generously award merit aid. CollegeVine found that the top 50 colleges awarding merit aid in 2019 were all private.
  • Apply early! Whether it’s for a school scholarship or for one from an outside organization, the earlier a student starts, the less likely they are to miss a deadline and the more scholarships they can apply for.


Another great strategy for students looking to reduce the cost of college is to apply to schools that offer free tuition for low-income students. Numerous colleges meet 100% of a student’s demonstrated financial need, and some even do so without the use of student loans. There are also some colleges that do not charge tuition to students from families below certain income levels—these colleges include prestigious institutions like Harvard, Yale, and Stanford.


15 Scholarships for Low-Income Students


1. Horatio Alger National Scholarship


Amount: $25,000

Deadline: March 15, 2023 (next year’s application will open on December 1, 2023)


  • High school junior
  • Commitment to pursuing a bachelor’s degree
  • Demonstrate a critical financial need ($55,00 or lower adjusted gross family income)
  • Be involved in co-curricular and community service activities
  • Demonstrate integrity and perseverance in overcoming adversity
  • Minimum 2.0 GPA
  • U.S. citizen

Application Requirements:

  • Support from from someone over 21 years old who is familiar with the challenges the applicant has faced
  • Proof of citizenship
  • Financial information


The renowned author Horatio Alger, Jr., made a name for himself by writing books about young boys who overcame poverty through hard work and determination; a motif modeled after his own life experience. Today, the Horatio Alger Scholarship Program is one of the largest need-based college scholarship programs in the country—it awards 105 $25,000 national scholarships annually, honoring the spirit of Alger’s life.


2. Gates Scholarship


Amount: 100% of costs not covered by financial aid and family contribution

Deadline: N/A


  • High school senior
  • African American, Asian & Pacific Islander American, Hispanic American, and/or American Indian/Alaska Native (proof of tribal enrollment required)
  • U.S. citizen or permanent resident
  • Pell Grant eligible
  • Minimum 3.3 GPA
  • Planning to enroll full-time in a four-year degree program

Application Requirements:

  • In the top 10% of their graduating class
  • Demonstrated leadership through extracurricular activities like community service and volunteering
  • Possesses characteristics such as emotional maturity, motivation, and perseverance


The Gates Scholarship is a highly selective award aimed at outstanding minority high school students from low-income households. This generous scholarship program funds all college expenses not covered by financial aid and the expected family contribution.


3. Hagan Scholarship


Amount: $60,000

Deadline: January 15, 2023


Application Requirements:

  • Minimum 3.75 GPA
  • FAFSA SAR showing EFC


The Hagan Scholarship is both a merit- and need-based award. Its intention is to allow recipients to obtain a four-year college education and graduate debt-free. In addition to scholarship money, this program includes workshops, investment account management services, and free study abroad—enabling recipients to gain valuable life skills that are generally not covered in a college curriculum.


4. Ron Brown Scholarship


Amount: $40,000

Deadline: January 9, 2023


  • High school senior
  • Black/African American
  • Exceptional academics
  • Excellent leadership
  • Participate in community service
  • Demonstrate financial need
  • U.S. citizen or permanent resident

 Application Requirements:

  • Transcript
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • Two 500-word essays


The Ron Brown Scholarship honors its namesake by providing financial support for community-minded, academically gifted, and financially challenged African American students. This highly selective scholarship is awarded to high school seniors with an interest in the four pillars of Ronald Brown’s mission to uplift people of all races, cultures, and ethnicities—public service, community engagement, business entrepreneurship, and global citizenship.


5. QuestBridge College Match Scholarship


Amount: Over $200,000

Deadline: March 22, 2023


  • High school senior
  • Planning to enroll in college
  • Ranked in the top 5-10% of the graduating class
  • Primarily A’s in challenging classes such as AP, IB, or honors
  • SAT scores better than 1260
  • ACT composite scores above 27
  • Demonstration of strong writing ability, intellectual spark, and determination
  • Finalists typically are from households earning less than $65,000/year for a family of four

Application Requirements:

  • Two essays and short answers
  • Two teacher recommendations
  • School Report from current high school counselor
  • High school transcript
  • School Profile (optional, but recommended)


One of the most generous scholarships for low-income students is the QuestBridge National College Match Scholarship. QuestBridge partners with some of the most prestigious colleges in the country for this award, which covers the full cost of college—including tuition, room and board, books, supplies, and travel. The scholarship does not require parental contribution or student loans, but it may entail student contributions via work-study, a summer job, or student savings.


6. Davis-Putter Scholarship


Amount: Up to $15,000

Deadline: April 1, 2023


  • Enrolled at a college or university or in a trade or technical program
  • Active and emerging organizers in progressive movements for liberation, self-determination, and social and economic justice in their communities
  • Demonstrated financial need
  • Strong preference is given to those who plan to stay in the U.S. to work on such issues after completing their degrees

Application Requirements:

  • 1,000-word personal statement or maximum four-minute video or audio statement
  • Transcript
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • Student Aid Report (SAR) and/or Free Application For Student Aid (FAFSA)


Davis-Putter Scholarships are need-based awards given to students who are actively involved in the movements for social and economic justice. The maximum award is $15,000, but scholarship value is determined by the financial need of the applicant and the amount of funding available.


7. Dell Scholars


Amount: $20,000

Deadline: December 1, 2022


Application Requirements: Minimum 2.4 GPA


The Dell Scholars Program provides a support system for the challenges students face while pursuing a college degree. In addition to monetary support, Dell Scholars also receive:


  • A laptop with a four-year warranty
  • $500 worth of Chegg credits annually for textbook purchases or rentals
  • Access to the Scholars Resource Network, which connects students and their families with resources for managing stress, debt, child care, and life circumstances
  • Teletherapy sessions connecting students to professional counselors


Dell Scholars are highly motivated and driven-to-succeed students from low-income families. Ideal candidates possess a special “GPA”—one representing their Grit, Potential, and Ambition.


8. Jack Kent Cooke College Scholarship Program


Deadline: November 17, 2022

Amount: Up to $55,000 annually


  • High school senior
  • Enrolling in a four-year college
  • Demonstrated financial need (applicants with a family annual gross income up to $95,000 are considered)

Application Requirements: Minimum 3.5 GPA


This scholarship program aims to help high-achieving students with financial need attend and succeed at some of the nation’s most prestigious schools. These generous awards cover a substantial amount of a student’s college expenses, including tuition, room and board, meals, books, and fees.


In addition to a financial award, recipients are also provided with personalized college advising and programming focused on transitioning from high school to college.


9. Tzu Chi USA Scholarship


Deadline: March 31, 2023

Amount: $1,500


  • High school senior
  • Enrolling in a four-year college
  • Demonstrated financial need

Application Requirements:

  • Minimum 3.0 GPA
  • Transcript
  • Documentation demonstrating financial need
  • Autobiography
  • Essay
  • Two teacher recommendations


This need- and merit-based scholarship program is funded by the Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation. The award provides financial support to outstanding college-bound high school seniors.


10. Bezos Scholars Program


Deadline: January 12, 2023

Amount: $1,000 in funding to launch a community change project


  • High school junior
  • U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or have DACA status
  • Attend a high school with a 30% or greater overall free and reduced lunch rate
  • Taken at least one advanced course (for example, Honors, AP, or IB)

Application Requirements:

  • Short video responding to application prompts
  • Written short answers


The Bezos Scholars Program isn’t a scholarship per se; however, it presents an excellent opportunity to improve its recipients’ local communities and bolster their college profiles. Just 17 scholars are chosen annually from across the U.S. and Africa to participate in skill-building workshops, receive college advising, and earn $1,000 in funding to implement a project that makes a difference in their community. Recipients also get an all-expenses-paid trip to Aspen, Colorado to participate in the Aspen Ideas Festival.


11. Patsy Takemoto Mink Education Support Awards


Deadline: N/A

Amount: Up to $5,000


  • Must be a woman
  • Must be at least 17 years old
  • Pursuing a first degree at a postsecondary level of education

Application Requirements:

  • Must be low-income with an annual family income less than:
    • $20,000 for a family of two
    • $24,000 for a family of three
    • $28,000 for a family of four


This award named after Patsy Takemoto Mink—the first woman of color elected to the U.S. House of Representatives—provides financial support and helps ensure educational access to low-income women, particularly mothers. Five awards are offered annually. Recipients are chosen based on financial need, educational path, vocational/occupational goals, and service/activist/civic aspirations.


12. Jackie Robinson Foundation (JRF) Scholars


Deadline: January 11, 2023

Amount: Up to $35,000


  • High school senior
  • Enrolling in a four-year college
  • Minority
  • U.S. citizen
  • Demonstrated financial need
  • Academically excellent
  • Proven leadership potential
  • Dedication to community service

Application Requirements:

  • Transcript
  • Recommendation
  • Four essays
  • Test scores (AP, IB, PSAT, ACT, or SAT)


JRF Scholars receive more than a generous scholarship to help offset college costs; they are also provided with guidance to help them navigate the process of higher education—including internship/job placement, career counseling, study abroad, and skill development. JRF Scholars have proven highly successful in college, with a whopping 98% graduation rate.


13. Engebretson Foundation Scholarship


Deadline: March 1, 2023

Amount: $10,000


  • High school senior
  • Enrolling in a four-year college
  • In need of financial assistance to attend college

Application Requirements:

  • Scored 1240 or higher on the SAT or a 28 composite score or higher on the ACT
  • Minimum 3.75 GPA and/or in the top 5% of graduating class
  • Transcript
  • Resume
  • Teacher recommendation
  • Two essays
  • Student Aid Report (SAR)


The Engebretson Foundation awards one graduating high school senior with a $5,000-per-semester scholarship. Recipients have proven exceptional academic talent and have demonstrated financial need.


14. Elks National Foundation’s Most Valuable Student Competition


Deadline: November 14, 2022

Amount: $1,000 to $12,500


  • High school senior
  • U.S. citizen
  • Enrolling in a four-year college
  • In need of financial assistance to attend college


More than 500 scholarships are awarded annually through the Elks National Foundation’s Most Valuable Student Competition. Male and female students compete separately and awards are based on leadership, academic achievement, community involvement, and financial need.


The top 20 national finalists are selected to attend MVS Leadership Weekend in Chicago, Illinois, where they’ll interview with the award’s judges and where final scholarships will be determined.


15. Dream.US National Scholarship for High School Students


Deadline: February 28, 2023

Amount: Up to $33,000


  • Be or about to be a high school graduate, have or about to earn a GED, or be or about to be enrolled at a community college or university
  • Undocumented and came to the United States before November 1, 2017, and have continuously lived in the United States since then or have DACA or TPS status
  • Came to the U.S. before age 16 (not eligible if you were born in the U.S.)
  • Have significant unmet financial need

Application Requirements: Minimum 2.5 GPA


The Dream.US National Scholarship for High School Students is kind of like a Pell Grant for highly motivated undocumented students with significant unmet financial need. The program is open to students who qualify for in-state tuition at a partner college—awards range from up to $16,500 for students working toward an associate’s degree to a maximum of $33,000 for students working toward a bachelor’s degree.


Awards are based on several factors, including GPA, extracurriculars, a commitment to community service, and the ability to overcome the barriers facing undocumented students.


16 (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.

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.