Don’t wait until your child hits their senior year in high school to start searching for scholarships. There are many scholarships that children can win in younger grades, especially during their middle school years.
If a young child wins one of these scholarships, the scholarship provider will hold the money in escrow until the student sends proof of enrollment in a college or university. Some scholarship providers are contributing the scholarship funds to a 529 college savings plan in the student’s name instead of setting up an escrow account.
Why Look for Scholarships During Middle School
Planning and saving isn’t the only way that families can prepare for college costs early. Aside from getting good grades to qualify for future academic scholarships, children can apply for some scholarships in elementary and secondary school. This is often a good time to apply because there are a lot of opportunities without a lot of competition.
Remember, every dollar you save or win is a dollar less you’ll have to borrow. Scholarships can also expand college choice, enabling a student to enroll at a more expensive college than they could otherwise afford.
Types of Scholarships for Middle School Students
Middle school students can earn access to a lot of different types of scholarships before the majority of students start worrying about college. While high school scholarships are competitive and elementary scholarships are limited, earning a scholarship during middle school can be just right for you.
You can earn a scholarship for writing an essay, such as the I Have a Dream Scholarship. You can earn a scholarship for science and technology work or even one for a specific skill such as drawing. Middle school students tend to be more developed and have skills that allow a lot more variety in scholarship options than younger children.
Types of Scholarships for Younger Children
Many of the scholarships for elementary school students involve art. The most famous examples are Doodle 4 Google and the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. There are also many local art scholarships where children are asked to draw a poster for a worthwhile cause, such as public safety, national arbor day and education.
Many 529 college savings plans schedule scholarship competitions for May 29 (5/29 Day).
College scholarships for younger children are sometimes confused with school voucher programs, such as the Children’s Scholarship Fund, which provides grants to help families pay for private K-12 education.
List of Scholarships for Younger Children in Elementary or Middle School
This list provides links to three dozen scholarships for younger children.
- American Legion National High School Oratorical Scholarship (grades 9-12)
- AMVETS National Americanism Program (grades K-12)
- Angela Award from NSTA (grades 5-8)
- Ayn Rand Insitute Essay Contests (grades 8-12)
- Club Z Annual Achievement Award (grades 6-12)
- Courage in Student Journalism Award (grades 7-12)
- Davidson Fellows Scholarships (age 18 or younger)
- Do Something Scholarships (age 13-25)
- Doodle 4 Google (K-12)
- Eco Hero Awards from Action for Nature (Age 8-16)
- eCYBERMISSION (grades 6-9)
- Gedenk Award for Tolerance (grades 7-12)
- Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes (age 8-18)
- Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (grades 9-12)
- Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Young Scholars Program (grades 8-12)
- Jesse Brown Memorial Youth Scholarship from DAV (age 21 and younger)
- L. Ron Hubbard Writers & Illustrators of the Future (grades 9-12)
- Letters about Literature (grades 4-12)
- MATHCOUNTS (grades 6-8)
- National Geographic GeoBee (grades 4-8)
- National History Day Competition (grades 6-12)
- National Marbles Tournament (age 7-14)
- National Spelling Bee (grades 1-8)
- New York Times Student Contest Calendar
- Nicholas A. Virgilio Memorial Haiku and Senryu Competition (grades 7-12)
- Paradigm Challenge (age 4-18)
- Patriot’s Pen Writing Contest from VFW (grades 6-8)
- Prudential Spirit of Community Awards (grades 5-12)
- River of Words (age 5-19)
- Scholastic Art & Writing Awards (grades 7-12)
- Stephen J. Brady Stop Hunger Scholarships (age 5-25)
- Team America Rocketry Challenge (grades 7-12)
- Toshiba/NSTA ExploraVision (grades K-12)
- Utah Arbor Day Poster Contest (grades K-6)
- Voice of Democracy from VFW (grades 9-12)
Privacy Rules Can Block Scholarship Matching for Children under Age 13
You won’t find these scholarships in any of the free scholarship matching databases because of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which bans the online collection of personal information from children under age 13. Instead, elementary and middle school students must rely on scholarship web pages that list the scholarships without matching them against student profiles, like this one.
The Bottom Line
Scholarships are a great way to reduce the total amount of money that your child will have to pay to go to school. The more you can earn, the less your child may have to borrow. Once you’ve done everything you can to save through a 529 plan, earning scholarships is the next best thing you can do to help your child prepare financially for college.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for Scholarships
What is the youngest age at which you can get a scholarship?
Scholarships vary quite widely and the ages at which you can qualify do also. The youngest typical age for scholarship opportunities begin at age 4, but there are some opportunities for newly born babies as well. They are just a lot rarer to find.
What scholarship is the easiest to get?
There is no universal easy scholarship to earn for everyone. How easy a scholarship is to earn is going to depend on what your child’s skills are, the story they have to share, and how many other people also apply to earn it.
How do I find scholarships for me?
You can use our list above to find scholarships for you, but you can also use the Department of Labor’s free scholarship search tool.