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12 California Scholarships for High School Students

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Scholarships are an excellent way to help fund your college tuition and attendance — and even better, unlike loans, you don’t have to pay them back.


Often, the more niche the scholarship, the better chance you have of winning it. That’s why we’ve rounded up 12 great scholarships for California students.


NB: These scholarships are open to California residents only. 


California Scholarships for High School Students


1. ACWA Scholarship


Amount: $3,500

Deadline: N/A

Eligibility: attend an accredited University of California or California State University at the start of the academic year covered by the scholarship, commit to full-time enrollment for the scholarship year, pursue a degree in a field listed below

Application Requirements: two letters of recommendation, official college transcripts, essay


The Association of California Water Agencies offers two scholarships to students pursuing an undergraduate degree in a water resources-related field related to engineering, agricultural and/or urban water supply, environmental studies, or public administration at the start of the academic year covered by the scholarship. Scholarships are awarded based on motivation, scholastic achievement, and application materials.


2. Bobette Bibo Gugliotta Memorial Scholarship for Creative Writing


Amount: up to $1,000

Deadline: N/A

Eligibility: high school senior or graduate of a public or private high school in San Mateo County or Santa Clara County planning to enroll in a four-year college or university full-time, must demonstrate creative writing ability or be majoring in creative writing

Application Requirements: two writing samples, personal statement, financial need documentation, two letters of recommendation, transcripts


Established in 1995, this scholarship honors the late author Bobette Bibo Gugliotta. Up to two on-time scholarships are awarded to creative writers who want to pursue writing as a major or career. Recipients must demonstrate financial need.


3. California Assn. of Collectors Educational Scholarship Foundation


Amount: $2,500/$2,000/$1,500

Deadline: June 30, 2022

Eligibility: current high school juniors and seniors enrolled in a CA high school and planning on attending any accredited public or private college, university, or trade school within 12 months of graduation

Application Requirements: essay


CACESF offers first, second, and third-place awards to students who are able to describe the importance of establishing and maintaining good financial credit during your college years. Semifinalists attend the CAC’s annual meeting and read their essays in front of a panel of judges, who will determine placement.


4. California Association of Winegrape Growers Foundation


Amount: varies

Deadline: March 6, 2022

Eligibility: must have a parent or legal guardian employed by a California wine grape grower during the current or past growing season, graduating high school seniors

Application Requirements: N/A


Annually, the CAWGF awards several scholarships:


  • two 4-year scholarships of $8,000 for four-year school attendees
  • four 2-year scholarships of $2,000 for two-year school attendees
  • one Robert Miller Memorial Scholarship of either $500 (Alan Hancock College) or $1,000 (Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo)


Scholarships are awarded based on financial need, demonstrated scholastic ability, community involvement, leadership and/or work history, and determination to succeed.


5. Central California Asian Pacific Women


Amount: varies

Deadline: N/A

Eligibility: must be from Asian or Pacific Islander, woman-identifying, from a county listed below, entering or continuing undergraduate or graduation or re-entry to college/university

Application Requirements: N/A


CCAPW provides scholarships for Asian and Pacific Islander (API) women Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, Merced, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, or Tulare to help fund their college education. Applicants are evaluated based on criteria like academic achievement, first-generation status, diversity, and contributions to the API community. You may receive a special award if you’re planning on studying business and/or health.


6. eQuality Scholarships


Amount: $6,000

Deadline: January 31, 2022

Eligibility: graduating high school seniors, community college transfer students, medical students, residents of northern or central California

Application Requirements: varies by level of education/program


For over 30 years, the eQuality Scholarship Collaborative has honored students for their service to the LGBTQ+ community, with a cumulative awards amount surpassing $1,700,000 in 2021. Applicants of all sexual orientations and gender identities are encouraged to apply. This year, eQuality awarded 11 scholarships.


7. Golden State Minority Foundation Scholarship


Amount: varies

Deadline: varies

Eligibility: must be an underrepresented ethnic minority, must be a full-time student at a four-year college or university, minimum 3.0 GPA

Application Requirements: varies


The Golden State Minority Foundation, though not the granting institution, provides programmatic services that support education for underrepresented students. These awards are given to students who qualify as underrepresented minorities who demonstrate community service.


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8. Good Tidings Community Service Scholarship


Amount: $10,000

Deadline: November 12, 2021

Eligibility: high school senior residing in a county listed below

Application Requirements: application, letter of recommendation


The Good Tidings Scholarship is awarded to high school seniors residing in Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Monterey, Napa, Sacramento, San Benito, San Francisco, San Joaquin, SanMateo, Santa Cruz, Santa Clara, Solano, Sonoma, Stanislaus, or Yolo. The scholarship is aimed at helping students committed to community service achieve their dreams, regardless of financial status, ethnic background, religion, or gender. 


9. Honmyo Nguyen Family Trust Scholarship


Amount: up to $1,500

Deadline: May 4, 2022

Eligibility: must reside in Santa Clara County planning to attend a four-year California public university, minimum 3.3 GPA

Application Requirements: application packet and financial documentation


This fund of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation awards up to two annual scholarships to students who plan to address the most challenging problems and improve the quality of life in Silicon Valley. Scholarships are awarded based on financial need, academic leadership, and academic excellence. Applicants should be committed to addressing the most challenging problems and improving the quality of life within Silicon Valley.


10. LA Clippers Stay in School Scholarship


Amount: $4,000

Deadline: February 15, 2022

Eligibility: residents of greater LA area, seniors planning on attending a four-year college

Application Requirements: N/A


The basketball team the Los Angeles Clippers (LA Clippers) assists college-bound students by offering six scholarships to Los Angeles area residents. Recipients must plan on attending a four-year institution in the fall after the scholarship is awarded.


11. Larry Acterman Public Education Award


Amount: varies

Deadline: N/A (opens in January 2022)

Eligibility: high school senior, intention of enrollment in full-time four-year degree program at a public college or university in California, graduating from Long Beach Unified School District

Application Requirements: transcript, essay, three letters of recommendation


This award honors late teacher and mentor Larry Acterman, who was an advocate for public education. The scholarship is meant to encourage and support students who intend to pursue a career as a public school teacher in California. Selection is based on a commitment to teaching and a demonstration of academic achievement.


12. Ralph Hale and Martha L. Ruppert Educational Scholarship


Amount: up to $10,000

Deadline: N/A

Eligibility: must have a maximum 3.3 GPA, demonstrate financial hardship, show academic promise and continuous GPA improvement, graduating senior or graduate of a public or private high school in San Mateo County, San Francisco County, or Santa Clara County

Application Requirements: personal statement, financial need documentation, two letters of recommendation, transcript


This scholarship was created to help young people who are “late bloomers,” meaning they have shown academic promise in late high school or early college but have low GPAs because of earlier academic difficulties. Up to 30 scholarships are awarded to students who are planning to enroll or are already enrolled in a two- or four-year university, college, or vocational school, and previous recipients may reapply.


13 (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.


Tips for Applying to Scholarships


Applying for scholarships takes time and effort, but when you receive your awards, it will be well worth it. To maximize your chances of success, follow these tips.


  • Research each scholarship to ensure you meet the requirements and understand the application. Then you can put your best foot forward!
  • Apply to many scholarships for which you qualify, including niche ones geared toward different demographics. If the pool of applicants is smaller you have a better chance of getting the scholarship. 
  • Have someone else proofread your application before you submit. A second pair of eyes is critical. 
  • Create a spreadsheet with deadlines, required materials, and other information.

Short Bio
Laura Berlinsky-Schine is a freelance writer and editor based in Brooklyn with her demigod/lab mix Hercules. She specializes in education, technology and career development. She also writes satire and humor, which has appeared in Slackjaw, Points in Case, Little Old Lady Comedy, Jane Austen’s Wastebasket, and Funny-ish. View her work and get in touch at: www.lauraberlinskyschine.com.