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  • Jean O'Toole

4 Scholarship Awards for Younger Students

A common misconception about scholarships is that they are only for graduating high school seniors, who are about to enter their first year of post-secondary education at trade schools, colleges or universities. There are, of course, a great deal of opportunities for those students but there are also incredible opportunities for students as young as 5 years old from companies, organizations and foundations. Families, who start the scholarship search early, can benefit greatly.

Students who explore scholarships at an early age can develop leadership, critical thinking, teamwork, creativity, communication and technological skills. These skills developed in the K-11 years will aid a student in their senior year with their college application and continued scholarship search. They will also form the foundation for success for life post-college as that same student seeks internships and future employment. More than anything, scholarships acquired during the elementary and middle school years can be substantial. Family savings for future college expenses can be redirected to other life expenses for that student, such as purchasing their first home or starting a business. Most families do not realize that there are scholarship opportunities for younger students.

Private companies, organizations and foundations have many reasons to create and award scholarships for younger students. They may want to encourage innovation, creativity or community service. Their mission may be to inspire young people to have positive impact on their communities through service or a project. They may simply recognize that creating and awarding scholarships can increase the social responsibility efforts of their organization. The following featured scholarships are just a sample of opportunities that exist for younger students.

#1 – “We The Future” Contest

The “We The Future” Contest has various categories for students as young as 5 years old up to senior citizens over the age of 65. Application requirements, depending on the age of the applicant, can be a poem, holiday card, essay, STEM project, song, PSA, film or speech submission. Awards range from $100 - $2000. Visit for more information.

#2 – Ocean Awareness Contest

The Ocean Awareness Contest is open to students ages 11-18 worldwide. This opportunity requires creativity from the applicants. Students are asked to submit art or creative communications such as apps, game design, podcasts, visual art, film, music, poetry or interactive multimedia as part of their application. Awards of up to $1500 are available. Visit for more information.

#3 – Davidson Fellows Scholarship

Cited as one of the most prestigious scholarships by US News and World Report, the Davidson Fellows Scholarship is an opportunity for students under the age of 18 to receive awards up to $50,000. Student applications can be submitted for the categories of science, technology, engineering, mathematics, literature, music, philosophy or “out of the box”. For more information about the Davidson Fellows Scholarship, visit

#4 – Doodle for Google

The Doodle for Google Competition is open to student applicants in grades K-12. Award recipients can receive up to $30,000 and their school can receive tech packages valued at $50,000. This competition requires creative submissions in their application process. Visit for more information about the Doodle for Google Competition.

As a scholarship expert, I am often asked how monies for younger students are awarded. Information for how scholarship awards are distributed will always be included in the scholarship application details. Scholarships for younger students are generally awarded in 1 of 2 ways. Some scholarship award checks are sent directly to the family while other awards may be distributed in the form of a savings bond that will mature when the student turns 18 years old. I encourage all families to thoroughly read all applications and reach out to the scholarship committees with any questions.

Starting the scholarship search process early can transform college affordability for a family. Siblings can work together to search, apply, and help one another to stay motivated in the process. Imagine the freedom for the high school senior who could focus all their energies on their college application process without additional pressure of needing to find, apply and acquire scholarship awards in order to fulfill their college dreams. By starting early on the scholarship search, a student and their family can get ahead and potentially lay the foundation of not joining the thousands of families that are burdened by college costs.


Jean O’Toole is an educational consultant and author of the bestselling book, Scholarship Strategies Finding and Winning the Money You Need. Over the past 15 years, she has helped tens of thousands of students in the United States. Individuals collectively have been awarded millions of dollars by applying her scholarship strategies. In 2008 she co-founded Connections101, a company specializing in providing motivational tools for scholarship searching. It is her goal to empower students to design their paths to their future without college debt. For more information about Jean, visit

Scholarship Strategies Finding and Winning the Money You Need by Jean O’Toole is available everywhere books are sold.


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