Attending a post-secondary institution is super expensive. And for underrepresented students, even more so.

According to a survey published by, the median student debt (when analyzed in terms of an Associate’s degree) is notably higher across most minority races than it is for white students.

Our team at Minorities to Majorities is dedicated to helping underprivileged students secure the support they need to attend college. We believe that pursuing higher education shouldn’t be a stressful endeavor. It also shouldn’t result in a mountain of debt that takes a lifetime to pay back.

To help you achieve your goals, we have created this guide on how to apply for the Presidential Scholarship.

Below, you’ll learn more about what this award is, how to apply for it, and the eligibility requirements you must meet.

What is the U.S. Presidential Scholarship?

This program is run by the U.S. Department of Education. It’s a very selective and highly prestigious program for high school seniors in the U.S.

It was originally organized by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964. Every year since then, it has celebrated high school students’ achievements in many areas including community service, leadership, and academic education. Since its inception, the program has recognized more than 7,500 students for their outstanding accomplishments.

When this recognition program was first founded, it mainly recognized students in career and technical fields. Today, it takes its recognition one step further by also highlighting students with talents in the creative, visual, and performing arts. For example, scholar Julian Cook won several years ago for his powerful baritone singing voice.

Most of the winning students are selected based on their broad academic achievement. Around twenty high school students will secure a spot based on their accomplishments in the technical education fields. Another twenty students will be recognized for their accomplishments in the performing arts.

What Does the U.S. Presidential Scholarship Provide?

This scholarship is not like a traditional college grant. It doesn’t provide students with funds to support their higher education.

Rather, it is a distinguished academic recognition program that accepts 161 high school students every year.

Has networking ever been tough for you? Have you found it difficult to connect with others in a professional setting? High school students who win the Presidential Scholars program are awarded endless networking opportunities.

A student’s spot in this program begins with an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C. Here, all students will receive a medallion at a distinguished ceremony put on by the White House.

This trip doesn’t end here. In fact, this is just a small highlight of the program. During their time in D.C., students will get the chance to:

  • Attend receptions, ceremonies, and recitals held in their honor
  • Visit historical monuments and museums in the area
  • Bond and share ideas with like-minded students
  • Discuss issues that concern both America and the rest of the world with other students
  • Interact with accomplished national and international figures including authors, scientists, educators, musicians, and government officials

The goal of this program is to give students a support system they can use throughout college and even beyond their college education. This program’s unique factor makes it much more valuable than other awards available to high school students.

Other scholarships present students with awards and let them go their own ways. While these funds can be beneficial, the Presidential Scholar program is interested in helping students sustain long-term success.

Even though the program doesn’t award money directly, it can certainly provide students with great grant opportunities for their education down the line.

How to Know If You’re Eligible

The eligibility requirements for this scholarship differ depending on the component that applies to you:

The General Component

Students must meet these requirements:

  • Are or will be a legal permanent U.S. resident or U.S. citizen by the time of the application deadline
  • Will be graduating and receiving a diploma between January and August of the current program year
  • Score notably well on the ACT or SAT

If you were not a legal resident or U.S. citizen on the day you took the ACT or SAT, you can contact the US. Presidential Scholars Program to make sure your scores are properly accounted for.

The Arts Component

Students must meet these requirements:

  • Are or will be a legal permanent U.S. resident or U.S. citizen by the time of the application deadline
  • Will be graduating and receiving a diploma between January and August of the current program year
  • Participate in the Young Arts program run by the National Young Arts Foundation

The CTE (Career Technical Education) Component

Students must meet these requirements:

  • Are or will be a legal permanent U.S. resident or U.S. citizen by the time of the application deadline
  • Will be graduating and receiving a diploma between January and August of the current program year
  • Demonstrate impressive academic achievement in career or technical programs

No matter if you are aiming to win the general, performing arts, or CTE component, you cannot apply on your own. Your school must also nominate you. You must be invited by the committee or nominated by your state’s Chief State School Officer.

In some cases, high school seniors can enter the running by being nominated by a partner organization.

Application Steps

Once you’re invited by the committee or nominated by an appropriate figure, you may begin applying for a spot in the Presidential Scholars program.

You will receive a unique nomination ID number that grants you access to an online portal. You can submit all your materials here or mail them in if you prefer.

You will need to submit various documents, one of which is the Secondary School Report. This document, which is filled out by your school counselor, will inform the committee of your academic record. You will also be required to submit education transcripts, self-assessments, and several essays.

The entire application process will give you a chance to highlight your academic aspirations, leadership initiatives, and community service involvement.

The U.S. Presidential Scholarship Annual Timeline

The invitations are typically sent out to students around mid-to-late-January. For 2021, the invitations were sent out during the week of January 18. The committee will send these invitations via mail or email depending on the information they have on file for each student.

Students are expected to submit all application materials by the end of February. The deadline for 2021 was February 24th by 6 p.m. EST.

The committee will announce the semifinalists in the middle of April. There are normally around 500 students announced as semifinalists.

By the first week of May, the committee will announce the final 161 students.

In June, all the winning high school students will meet in Washington, D.C. for the National Recognition Program.

Tips and Strategies to Help You Win the U.S. Presidential Scholarship

Are you feeling apprehensive about sending in your application materials?

Here are some tips and strategies to follow to increase your chances of securing a spot in the program:

Give Yourself Plenty of Time to Assemble Your Materials

As soon as you receive your invitation for this scholarship, start assembling all relevant materials and documents.

Give yourself plenty of time to collect everything you need. Do not wait until the last moment to send everything out.

If you are mailing your materials, we recommend that you use a courier mail service like UPS or FedEx rather than a postal service. A courier service will ensure the timely delivery of all your materials.

Any materials received after the program deadline will not be considered for review. The same goes for incomplete materials.

So, to prevent any complications with your scholarship submission, make sure you send in everything the committee is asking for in a timely manner.

Take the SAT/ACT Again

Not happy with your SAT or ACT results the first time around? Feel free to take these exams as often as you like.

The committee sends out invitations for the General component of the program based on test scores. The higher a student’s scores, the better chances they will have at receiving an invitation to apply for this scholarship.

Before you retake a test, make sure you study which sub-components you hope to do better on. This way, you won’t be thoughtlessly throwing money at exam retakes.

Have Someone Proof-Read Your Essays

The essays you write for this program will give you a chance to showcase your strengths. Don’t allow one or two grammatical mistakes to take away from your chances at winning this scholarship.

Have a trusted teacher, parent, or high school peer read over your essays for grammatical and formatting issues.


At this point, you should feel much more prepared to apply for the U.S. Presidential Scholarship.

For more help with the application process or to explore other award opportunities, don’t hesitate to contact our team at GrantEd! We help students from all types of backgrounds maximize the awards they earn to fund their college careers and enlarge their support systems.

Our financial aid calculator, created by our founder, Jasmine Chigbu, creates a tailored vision of your necessities. Jasmine is an expert on scholarships — that’s how she paid for all four years of medical school. Trust the people that know scholarships and reach out to GrantEd today.

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