Talented writers can receive free college financial aid by applying for the best essay scholarships. Essay scholarships require writing 250 to 2,000 or more words on an assigned topic. Since creating well-written essays takes awhile, these scholarships often provide bigger prizes. Some essay scholarship winners receive $20,000 or higher amounts to afford their university tuition. The following article lists 30 great essay scholarships where writing skills pay off.
Related resource: 50 Most Affordable Bachelor’s Degrees in Journalism Online
1. Lou Manzione Scholarships
- Continue education beyond 12th grade
- Reside in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, or Delaware
- Participate in varsity high school hockey
The Atlantic Amateur Hockey Association (AAHA) honors the late Hudson Catholic High School coach by awarding two $1,000 Lou Manzione Scholarships each Spring. Interested applicants must submit an application, transcript, SAT score, coach recommendation, and college acceptance letter by February 1st. Registered USA Hockey members must also write a 500-word original essay about hockey’s positive effects on their personal development.
2. ABA Foundation Diversity Scholarship
- Be a traditionally underrepresented ethnicity, race, or age
- Enroll full-time at accredited U.S. undergrad or graduate schools
- Declare a hospitality or tourism-related major with GPAs over 3.0
Founded in 1926, the American Bus Association (ABA) Foundation offers the $5,000 Diversity Scholarship to empower minority and non-traditional students entering the travel industry. Preference is given to individuals working full- or part-time for ABA-member bus companies. Scholarship entries require a 500-word, well-written essay on how applicants’ career goals will advance tourism transportation. Essays are accepted from December 5th to April 2nd.
3. AEL Collegiate Essay Competition Scholarships
- Have native or naturalized United States citizenship
- Attend a regionally accredited, four-year U.S. university
- Be a college freshman, sophomore, junior, or senior
Located in Malibu, the Pepperdine University Libraries uses funding from the Americanism Educational Leaders (AEL) to run the Collegiate Essay Competition each Summer. Three essay scholarships worth $1,000, $1,500, and $2,500 are available. Entrants must craft a patriotic essay of 1,500 to 2,000 words about the meaningful ways diversity betters American life. Essays with a proper MLA- or Chicago-style citation bibliography are due on June 30th.
4. America’s 911 Foundation College Scholarships
- Be the child of an active paid or volunteer first responder
- Enroll at least part-time at U.S. postsecondary institutions
- Have a good understanding of English grammar and spelling
Since 2001, America’s 911 Foundation Inc. has conferred 15 College Scholarships for $2,000 apiece to aid the dependent children of first responders. Biological or adopted children of police officers, firefighters, paramedics, dispatchers, park rangers, and correctional officers qualify. Applicants must submit a 500-word, proofread essay on the importance of America’s 911 Foundation by March 9th. Writing in 12-point New Roman Times or Arial font is required.
5. Ashley Soulé Conroy Scholarships
- Be U.S. citizens enrolled in four-year bachelor’s programs
- Finish 30+ undergrad credits with minimum 3.0 GPAs
- Pursue a study abroad experience longer than 13 weeks
The Ashley Soulé Conroy Foundation has 1,761 donors worldwide who’ve funded 37 scholarships since 2006 to help college students study abroad across 27 countries. Each term, up to three $4,000 essay scholarship winners are announced on December 30th and August 1st. Applicants must submit a digital transcript, current resume, and signed FAFSA form. These accompany the 800-word autobiographical essay about a defining moment in one’s life.
6. BBB of Delaware Student Ethics Essay Scholarship
- Be graduating high school seniors in the “First State”
- Plan to continue education at an accredited U.S. college
- Exhibit academic and extracurricular excellence with GPAs over 3.0
Sponsored by M&T Bank, the Better Business Bureau Foundation of Delaware hosts the Student Ethics Essay Scholarship contest to provide two $2,500 prizes yearly. College-bound seniors must write a 500-word, single-spaced essay about how the BBB can compete in today’s digital age. Typed essays are objectively judged “blind” based on creativity and business acumen. Students must also submit a transcript and personal statement by January 9th.
7. CBC Spouses Visual Arts Scholarship
- Be African-American U.S. citizens or permanent residents
- Declare visual art majors full-time at accredited art schools
- Show leadership and academic aptitude with minimum 2.5 GPAs
The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation has an April 30th deadline to pursue the $3,000 CBC Spouses Visual Arts Scholarship. Black students who live in CBC members’ districts and pursue careers in fine arts, design, architecture, and video production should apply. Two brief, 250-word essays are required to discuss issues in the African-American community that art can solve. Entrants must upload five original artwork samples on Google Drive or DropBox too.
See also: 35 Great Scholarships for Design Majors
8. Clarkson Scholars Program
- Be sophomores at accredited, senior colleges in Pennsylvania
- Pursue bachelor’s majors in biology, chemistry, and other life sciences
- Maintain an overall, unweighted GPA of 3.0 or better
Clarkston Consulting funds the Clarkson Scholars Program to provide the best essay scholarships for STEM majors that are worth $5,000 annually for $10,000 total. Future scientists must apply during their second undergraduate year by January 15th. Applications must include a current university transcript, faculty or advisor recommendation letter, and two 500-word essays about the biotech industry. Finalists must attend an in-person Philadelphia interview.
9. Daughters of the Cincinnati Scholarships
- Be the daughter of a commissioned U.S. military officer
- Intend to attend college after high school graduation
- Exhibit both academic merit and unmet financial need
Incorporated in 1894, the Daughters of the Cincinnati is a group of female Revolutionary War descendants that offers a four-year, renewable essay scholarship for up to $20,000 total. By March 15th, interested essayists must write 500+ words about their experience being the child of a career Armed Forces officer. The society also requests a high school transcript, Student Aid Report (SAR), college acceptance letter, and recommendation form.
10. Don’t Mess With Texas Scholarships
- Be graduating high school seniors in the “Lone Star State”
- Plan to enroll at two- or four-year Texas colleges this Fall
- Lead school or community initiatives to reduce littering
Keep Texas Beautiful partners with iHeart Media and the Astros Foundation to present three Don’t Mess With Texas Scholarships each year for $3,000 to $5,000 apiece. These eco-friendly essay scholarships reward U.S. citizens in Texas for cleaning up littered waste. Since 1986, the program has selected winners based on 350-word essays about litter prevention solutions. Entrants must also submit photo documentation and a video interview about their project.
11. FRA Americanism Essay Contest Scholarships
- Get sponsored by an FRA member or local branch
- Be attending a U.S. junior or senior high in grades 7-12
- Promote the spirit of Americanism and patriotism
The Fleet Reserve Association (FRA) upholds its motto of “Loyalty, Protection, and Service” by holding the Americanism Essay Contest. Essay scholarships worth $1,000, $1,500, $2,500, and $5,000 plus achievement plaques are awarded to top contenders. Before December 1st, entrants must upload a 350-word essay about what voting will mean to them. Entry forms signed with parental consent must be submitted through a sponsoring FRA branch or unit.
12. Helen Gee Chin Scholarships
- Be full-time undergrads at accredited, four-year U.S. colleges
- Have practiced Chinese martial arts for five or more years
- Maintain an academically strong schedule with 3.0 or better GPAs
Since 2011, the Helen Gee Chin Scholarship Foundation has bestowed $100,000 to 49 recipients across 17 states to reward martial arts achievement. Current or incoming undergrads proficient in Kung Fu, Wu Shu, and Tai Chi can receive up to $3,000. Applications are due June 15th with an official transcript and instructor recommendation letter. Candidates also write 500-word essays about how martial arts has positively impacted their lives.
13. John Fischetti Scholarship
- Have at least one parent with 100 percent Italian ancestry
- Be accepted to or enrolled in a communications program
- Reside in the Chicago-Naperville-Elgin metropolitan area
Named for a Pulitzer Prize-winning Chicago Sun Times editorial cartoonist, the John Fischetti Scholarship is granted by the Joint Civic Committee on Italian Americans. Each $2,000 award goes toward tuition for four-year bachelor’s in journalism, media, writing, broadcasting, and similar fields. Interested students must type up a 500-word essay about the portrayal of Italian Americans in media. Applications with a photo and transcript must arrive by April 30th.
14. Ora Lee Sanders Scholarship
- Be U.S. citizens enrolled in four-year bachelor’s programs
- Have good academic standing with a minimum 2.5 GPA
- Demonstrate an ability to overcome barriers and obstacles
Founded by Reverend Jesse Jackson in 1975, the Rainbow PUSH Coalition delivers the $2,500 Ora Lee Sanders Scholarship to student members who excel despite adversity. Funding is renewable each August for up to five undergraduate years. Applicants submit two references, proof of enrollment, service-learning documentation, and a transcript by August 31st. Students are judged primarily on 500-word essays about their challenging pursuit of excellence.
15. Life Lessons Scholarship Program
- Be legal U.S. residents between 17 and 24 years old
- Register for college-level courses at universities or trade schools
- Have suffered the loss of a parent or legal guardian
From February 1st to March 1st each year, Life Happens runs the Life Lessons Scholarship Program to award $200,000 total to young adults who’ve faced adversity. Entrants write 500-word essays or record three-minute video essays about the impact of their parent’s death. Students must address the role of life insurance on their grieving family’s finances. Essays must be 100 percent original and submitted digitally to the Arlington-based nonprofit.
16. Mainely Character Scholarships
- Be graduating seniors at Maine high schools
- Commit to attending an accredited U.S. college
- Demonstrate concern, responsibility, integrity, and courage
Conceived by Arnold Bushner in 2001, the Mainely Character Scholarship Foundation grants great essay scholarships to “Pine Tree State” residents based on their moral character. The Foundation has awarded $161,000 overall to 49 recipients of scholarships worth $1,250 to $5,000 each. Interested Mainers can submit 500-word essays about their exemplary attributes until March 1st. Semi-finalists are contacted for an in-person or virtual interview.
17. Millie Brother Scholarships
- Be the hearing child of one or two deaf parents/guardians
- Attend an accredited U.S. undergraduate or graduate school
Children of Deaf Adults (CODA) International Inc. offers two $3,000 Millie Brother Scholarships each year to financially bolster the children of hearing impaired or deaf parents. Eligible entrants complete the online application process from May 1st to June 30th. The application checklist includes two recommendation letters and a high school or college transcript. Students also submit two-page, double-spaced essays in PDF format about their life experiences and goals.
18. Harvey Nudelman Scholarship
- Enroll full-time in an accredited bachelor’s or graduate program
- Pursue an interior design career in the hospitality industry
- Demonstrate financial need and merit with academic GPAs over 3.0
The Network of Executive Women in Hospitality (NEWH) partners with Fabricut Contract and FR-One to provide the $5,000 Harvey Nudelman Scholarship each Fall. It’s intended for aspiring hospitality interior designers who’ve completed at least 60 credits in postsecondary education. Applications received by October 3rd must have a two-page, double-spaced essay about students’ hospitality dreams. Winners also receive free trips to the HD EXPO in Las Vegas.
19. Regions Riding Forward Scholarships
- Be legal U.S. residents of 15 specified states over age 16
- Have at least one year remaining in full-time undergrad education
- Enroll in 12th grade or higher with a minimum 2.0 GPA
Regions Financial Corporation celebrates Black History Month by hosting the Riding Forward Scholarship Essay Contest with prizes worth $3,500 to $5,000. Entrants must live near Regions Bank branches in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, or Texas. Entrants of all ethnicities write 500-word essays about an African-American who inspires them by February 28th.
20. Bob Miller Memorial Scholarship
- Attend a California high school or college on the Central Coast
- Prepare for a wine industry career with viticulture or enology majors
- Demonstrate active Ag involvement and community service
For $500 to $1,000, the California Association of WInegrape Growers (CAWG) Foundation presents the Bob Miller Memorial Scholarship to future viticulturists. Preference is given to students at Alan Hancock Community College and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Qualifying entrants have until March 6th to write 500-word essays about their determination to succeed in winemaking. Online applications need a transcript, SAT/ACT score, and recommendation too.
21. Rosa Parks Scholarships
- Be graduating from a public or private Michigan high school
- Gain acceptance at a U.S. college for full-time studies this August
- Present a GPA above 2.50 and satisfactory SAT/ACT results
Opened by Detroit Public Schools in 1980, the Rosa L. Parks Scholarship Foundation has provided more than $2 million to nearly 1,200 essay scholarship winners. College-bound seniors across the “Wolverine State” can apply until March 1st. Entrants must write 200-300 words about a current social injustice they’re working to resolve as Rosa Parks would. Completed applications will also have an official transcript and two recommendations.
22. Samuel Robinson Awards
- Be active members of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
- Start the junior or senior year at a Presbyterian college
- Memorize and recite the Westminster Shorter Catechism
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) bestows several Samuel Robinson Awards for $2,000 to $7,500 apiece to faithful congregants who excel in Biblical study. Only upperclassmen at Presbyterian institutions, such as Agnes Scott College, Rhodes College, and Whitworth University, can apply. Three deadlines of June 1st, September 1st, and December 1st are listed. Entries must include a 2,000-word theological essay to be reviewed by committee chaplains.
23. Selby Foundation Scholarships
- Be residents of Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte, or DeSoto County
- Pursue an accredited bachelor’s full-time with a minimum 3.0 GPA
- Have an expected family contribution amount under $12,000
Endowed for $73.1 million, the William G. & Marie Selby Foundation in Sarasota awards great essay scholarships to nearby Florida residents based on merit and need. Recipients who maintain “B” averages or better with 12+ credits per semester qualify for up to $7,000 annually. First-time Selby Scholars must apply between January 1st and April 25th to score the semi-finalist interview. Thoughtful, well-written essays about students’ personal values and goals are also read.
24. Native American Community Scholar Awards
- Be Native American members of federally-recognized tribes
- Pursue a research project pertaining to tribal communities
- Attend an accredited U.S. undergrad or graduate school
The Smithsonian Institution’s Office of Fellowships & Internships offers the Native American Community Scholars Awards to indigenous students undertaking field research projects. Recipients earn $175 daily for a maximum of 21 days and up to $3,675 in total. Unlike most essay scholarships, this program requires a two-page research proposal. Students must also submit a resume or curriculum vitae with two references by February 1st and October 1st deadlines.
25. Maxwell Foundation Scholarships
- Be graduating high school seniors in Western Washington
- Enroll as full-time freshman at private, four-year U.S. colleges
- Achieve a minimum SAT score of 1200 or ACT score of 26
Named for the late Blyth & Co. manager in 1968, the Edmund F. Maxwell Foundation provides renewable $5,000 scholarships to high-achieving high school seniors for $20,000 total. It’s reserved for “Evergreen State” residents in the Greater Seattle and Puget Sound areas. Entrants must file before May 15th with a 500-word autobiographical essay. Don’t forget to attach academic transcripts, test results, recommendations, and the financial aid worksheet.
26. Florence Madden Grady-Fasick Scholarships
- Attend an accredited, two- or four-year Pennsylvania college
- Have completed at least one semester of a nursing degree
- Show academic and vocational promise with a 3.0 or better GPA
The Nursing Foundation of Pennsylvania (NFP) bestows five $2,000 Florence Madden Grady-Fasick Scholarships annually to support the Keystone State’s future nurses. Currently enrolled students in diploma, associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral nursing programs can apply. Before March 30th, entrants must send signed applications with a transcript and two references. Answering two of four questions with typed, one-page essay responses is also mandatory.
27. Mike Molino College Scholarships
- Be a sophomore, junior, or senior at a four-year U.S. college
- Achieve a minimum 2.8 GPA, 1050 SAT, and 22 ACT mark
- Have current connections or future aspirations in the RV industry
Headquartered in Fairfax, the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) awards the Mike Molino College Scholarships for $2,500 each Summer to empower the next generation. Students who aspire for full-time employment in the RV industry should file before July 7th. Applications are incomplete without a recent transcript, resume, FAFSA form, and digital photo. These essay scholarships require up to 500 words about candidates’ career objectives too.
28. Pinnacol Foundation Scholarships
- Be the dependent child of a worker injured or killed on the job
- Finish a high school diploma or GED for college preparation
- Maintain a cumulative GPA over 2.0 and have financial need
From November 1st to February 15th, the Pinnacol Foundation accepts applicants for college scholarships that average $4,700 apiece. Funding goes to the biological and adopted children of Colorado-based employees who were injured or killed while working. Entrants between 16 and 25 years old must write personal essays about the impact of their parent’s injury or death. Unofficial transcripts, FAFSA aid reports, and workers’ compensation documents are requested.
29. Vegetarian Resource Group Scholarships
- Abide by a vegetarian or vegan diet/lifestyle
- Be graduating from a U.S. high school or home school
- Promote vegetarianism in the community
The Vegetarian Resource Group is a Seattle-based nonprofit that provides one $10,000 and two $5,000 scholarships each Spring to healthy eating advocates. College-bound seniors who abstain from meat, fish, poultry, and other animal products are welcome to apply. Entry forms are due February 20th with a recent report card and 3+ recommendation letters. The VRG also lists 16 guiding questions for applicants to create a personal essay about vegetarianism.
30. Voice of Democracy Audio-Essay Scholarship
- Attend a public, private, or parochial U.S. high school
- Pursue a university or technical degree after 12th grade
- Get sponsored by the local VFW post
The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) allocates $1.9 million to run the Voice of Democracy Audio-Essay Scholarship contest for students in grades 9-12. High schoolers compete with nearly 52,000 other applicants for essay scholarships of $1,000 to $30,000. Students must apply by October 31st by writing an original essay about the country our Founding Fathers envisioned. Entrants record themselves reading the up to five-minute essay on a CD.
Applying for essay scholarships isn’t a quick endeavor that anyone can finish in 20 minutes. Take time to write, proofread, and edit scholarship essays. Winning scholarship essays are completely free of typos and syntax mistakes. Use software like Grammarly to double-check essay submissions. Ensure the essay focuses on the required topic with honesty and clarity. Dare to be different and share unique perspectives. Impress judges with real-life examples and cited sources. These tips will help earn the best essay scholarships and free tuition money.
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