In today’s evolving world, getting a good college education is essential. Unfortunately, many valuable undergraduate and graduate college degree programs are prohibitively expensive. Financing education and securing scholarships can be challenging, even for the most exceptional high school students. But GrantEd makes it easier.

Our dream is to connect one million underrepresented students with scholarship opportunities they need, and the Coca-Cola Scholarship is one of the most promising opportunities on the current scholarship landscape for graduating high schoolers. The Coca-Cola Scholarship is one of the most prestigious and competitive scholarship competitions in the country, but don’t be intimidated!

Follow our step-by-step guide to researching and completing the Coca-Cola Scholarship application, complete with insider tips and tricks.

What is the Coca-Cola Scholarship?

The Coca-Cola Company is one of the oldest and most recognizable companies in the country (and the world!). Originally developed as a temperance drink (as in, an alternative to alcohol) in 1885, the sweet and syrupy soft drink has gone from over the counter curio to a best-selling beverage all over the globe.

The Coca-Cola Foundation is the Coca-Cola Bottling Companies’ international philanthropic arm, and since its inception in 1984, the Foundation has handed out over $1 billion in awards, grants, and funding to support vulnerable communities and in-need organizations. The Coca-Cola Scholarship is the flagship award of the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation which has been handing out $20,000 merit-based scholarships to students headed to college every year for over two decades. Yes, $20,000!

The Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation offers several annual awards, from the First Generation Scholarship for those who are the first in their families to attend college to several programs that honor leadership in academics and within communities among students in two-year college programs.

The Coca-Cola Scholarship is a merit-based scholarship award, meaning it’s not about who you are, but how you’ve demonstrated leadership in your academic, scholastic, and/or community-volunteering pursuits.

What Does the Coca-Cola Scholarship Provide?

For the 150 graduating high schoolers who can demonstrate a track record of leadership within their communities and within their studies, a relatively no-strings-attached $20,000 award awaits.

Presented in collaboration with the Coca-Cola Bottling Companies and the Coca-Cola Scholars Program, this scholarship confers awards through three major programs, each with different eligibility requirements and award amounts:

  1. The Coca-Cola Scholars Scholarship — This is the main event, a $20,000 college scholarship award to 150 high school seniors who have achieved at least an unweighted 3.0.
  2. The Coca-Cola Community College Academic Team — At this tier, 150 awards totaling $187,500 are available to current students at two-year community colleges, and are distributed thus: 50 Gold $1,500 scholarships, 50 Silver $12,50 scholarships, and 50 Bronze $1,000 scholarships. This scholarship program is administered by the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.
  3. The Coca-Cola Leaders of Promise ScholarshipThis leadership-focused scholarship of $1,000 is also administered by Phi Theta Kappa to 180 college students in Associate’s programs who are engaged students and proven scholars whose aims are to use their skills and abilities to make a real difference.

Each Coca-Cola Scholarship comes with a generous 4-10 years leeway to cover college expenses as the student sees fit. No two people’s paths to graduation are the same, so if life comes up, your scholarship money doesn’t have to drop out.

How Do I Know if I’m Eligible for The Coca-Cola Scholarship?

Whenever you’re considering scholarship applications, the first thing you’ll want to look at is the application eligibility requirements.

The application eligibility criteria laid out by the Coca-Cola Scholars Program are quite broad, which can be a double-edged sword. On one hand, you don’t need to jump through impossible hoops just to be considered. On the other hand, you’ll be in competition with that many more highly qualified graduating seniors.

Let’s get to the application eligibility:

  • Application must be completed by a student currently enrolled in a high school (home school is okay) in the United States (or select DoD schools).
  • Application must be completed by US Citizens, US Nationals, Permanent US Residents, or Asylees, Refugees, Cuban-Haitian Entrants, or any other Humanitarian Parolees based on US Department of Education’s Federal Financial Aid guidelines.
  • Application must be completed during the year the student is expected to receive their high school diploma.
  • Application must be completed by a student planning to attend an accredited college or university (what else would you be using the money for?).

There are several disqualifying criteria you should familiarize yourself with, including being a relative of a Coca-Cola employee and having already graduated from high school and enrolled in a 4-year college program. For the most part, as you can see, this aid is up for the taking.

Application Steps for the Coca-Cola Scholarship

Now that you know what the Coca-Cola scholarship is and who is eligible to get one, what steps do you have to take to apply?

This scholarship mercifully doesn’t require an essay, statement of purpose, or academic portfolio. But assembling the application will require time and diligence.

Buckle up, because we’re heading for another bulleted list:

  • Contact Information: the simplest task on the list. The scholarship portal will provide you with a legend to record all of your, your parents’/guardians’, and your high school’s, principal’s, and guidance counselor’s contact information.
  • Academic Record: First you’ll need a record from your High School’s registrar of all your classes and grades since freshman year. These are easy to get but can take several days to process, so don’t leave the application up to the last minute!
  • Honors and Awards: If you’ve received any academic, athletic, or campus life distinctions, list them. There is more you can count for this section than you might think. Visit your school counselor and ask them about what could be considered an “honor” at your school!
  • Organizations and Clubs: This is another section where you can get creative with your community participation and leadership experience. But, you don’t have to play on a sports team, lead the knitting club, or go to Washington with the National Student Council to list participation. Any music or art classes you take, or yearbook or photography class you take could be considered campus organization affiliation.
  • Volunteer and Paid Work: Simple — whether you dish out soup at a soup kitchen or sell it at Souplantation, tally up your hours and provide your supervisor’s contact information. This looks very good on a scholarship application!

The Coca-Cola Scholarship Annual Timeline

The early months of senior year are charged with emotion for graduating high school seniors. They’re also very busy. Between taking your SATs, AP/IB test prep, navigating your College Board application, and keeping up with school and extracurriculars, it’s easy to lock into tunnel vision and forget all else.

But remember, there are many scholarships like the Coca-Cola Scholarship whose applications open as early as October.

Pro-tip: Before you even start the school year, round up the scholarship applications you plan on completing and keep their due dates handy. Here is the timeline for Coca-Cola’s annual Scholarship:

  • 1st of August: Applications are open.
  • End of October: Due date for the scholarship application (check the definitive date for the year you’re applying).
  • Mid-November: Semi-finalists are announced.
  • January: After semi-finalists submit supporting materials (this may or may not be the case for all selected students), the pool is narrowed down to 250 finalists.
  • February: Regional finalists are asked to take place in Zoom/phone interviews.
  • March: The winners of the Coca-Cola Scholarship are announced.

Tips and Strategies To Help You Win the Coca-Cola Scholarship

There are a few tricks for high school seniors to stand out in their Coke scholarship application. You guessed it, another list!

Play to Coca-Cola’s Values

The Coca-Cola Scholars Program prides the students it selects as scholarship recipients for “their capacity to lead and serve, as well as their commitment to making a significant impact on their schools and communities.”

You heard it, leadership, service, and community involvement. It says so right on Coca-Cola’s website! When writing your application, highlight moments where you exhibited leadership and service.

You have a lot of freedom in how you characterize your academic and extracurricular involvements: this is where you can emphasize the leadership, service, and community involvement aspects of everything you do.

Get a Second Opinion

Graduating high schoolers only have a year to get good at this whole college and scholarship application thing. Your teachers, counselors, and even the folks that work in administration do it every year. Take advantage of their experience, and know that they want to help.

Take your application to a trusted advisor, whether that be a homeroom teacher or college counselor, and have them look it over. Better yet: go to that advisor before you even start applying, and ask for their advice on what to include, how to frame your experience, and how to prepare for interviews down the line should you be selected.

Be Yourself

This is about you. Don’t twist and stretch your experience into something you can’t speak to in an interview, and never underplay all that you’ve done because you want to seem modest.

The Coca-Cola Scholars Program selects a diverse array of students for their college scholarships every year. There is no “ideal candidate,” so don’t try to change yourself into the type of student you think they’re looking for. Show them that the student they’re looking for is you.


The panoply of scholarships disbursed to college hopefuls every year through the Coca-Cola company amounts to an immense investment in the future of our youth. While college isn’t the be all and end all of every student on track to receive their high school diploma, an individual’s earning potential and quality of life increase dramatically after they’ve completed a two-year college program, and then four-year college program, and then a post-graduate college program, and so on.

GrantEd was created to connect students from underrepresented communities with the scholarship opportunities, financial assistance, and workshops they need to fulfill their academic and career goals. With our 130-page Scholarship Guidebook, offering a comprehensive guide to all things scholarships, grants, and loans, to our Scholarship Financial Calculator, which estimates to a point of precision the exact amount of need one can expect as a college student, GrantEd is dedicated to the advancement of underserved populations across the country.

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