Don’t wait until the senior year in high school to start searching for scholarships. There are many scholarships that children can win in younger grades, even in kindergarten.
Saving for college 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, when there is less 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.
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.
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 provide grants to help families pay for a private K-12 education.
Privacy Rules 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.
List of Scholarships for Younger Children
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)
Discontinued Scholarships for Younger Children
There are also several previous scholarships for young children that are now defunct. These include the following scholarships, which sometime show up on web sites, but which no longer exist.
- Christopher Columbus Awards
- DuPont Challenge Science Writing Competition
- Girls Going Places
- Jif Most Creative Sandwich Contest
- Kohl’s Cares Scholarship Program
- NewsCurrents Student Editorial Cartoon Contest
- Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology
- Young Naturalist Awards