Little boy in baseball hat and green plaid shirt with open book smiling on a ben

4 Great Scholarship Opportunities for Younger Students

Students can find scholarships as early as elementary school for their college journey. Here are four early scholarships to start with and advice to find more!

A common misconception about scholarships is that they’re only for graduating high school seniors about to enter their first year of higher education at trade schools, colleges, or universities; most families don’t realize there are scholarship opportunities for younger students. There are, of course, a great deal of opportunities for high school underclassmen, but there are also incredible opportunities for students as young as five years old from companies, organizations, and foundations. These young students can save any scholarship awards until they reach college age, and families who start the scholarship search early can benefit greatly.

How early scholarships benefit students

Students who explore scholarships at an early age can develop leadership, critical-thinking, teamwork, creativity, communication, and technological skills. Developing these skills during a student’s grade school years will aid them later during the college application and continued scholarship search. They’ll also form the foundation for success for post-college life as that same student seeks internships and employment. More than anything, scholarships acquired during these crucial developmental 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.

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 a positive impact on their communities through service or encourage them to pursue higher education when they get older. Or they may simply recognize that creating and awarding scholarships can increase the social responsibility efforts of their organization.

Related: 5 Reasons to Start Your Scholarship Search Early

Featured scholarships

The following featured scholarships are just a sample of opportunities that exist for younger students. Let these jump-start your motivation in searching for rewarding opportunities that will lead to a great future, no matter how old you are.

1. “We The Future” Contest

The “We The Future” Contest has various categories for students as young as five years old all the way up to senior citizens over the age of 65. Application submissions (depending on the age of the applicant) can be a poem, holiday card, essay, STEM project, song, PSA, film, or speech. Submissions are due no later than September 17, and awards range from $100–$2,000.

2. Ocean Awareness Contest

The Ocean Awareness Contest is available internationally to students ages 11–18. This opportunity requires creativity from the applicants, as 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. The contest has deadlines in spring and fall, and awards of up to $1,500 are available.

3. Davidson Fellows Scholarship 

Cited as one of the most prestigious scholarships by U.S. News & 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 in the categories of science, technology, engineering, mathematics, literature, music, philosophy, or “out of the box.” The deadline for next year is February 10.

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 even receive tech packages valued at $50,000. This competition requires creative submissions in their application process. The  winner’s artwork will also be featured on Google’s main search page in addition to the money prize. The deadline falls in March each year. 

Related: How to Start Your Scholarship Search

Do your research and ask questions

As a scholarship expert, I’m often asked how scholarships for younger students are awarded since they can’t be sent directly to a college. Scholarship winners usually receive the money in one of two 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. All families should thoroughly read all applications and requirements and reach out to 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 a high school senior who could focus all their energy on the college application process without additional pressure of needing to find, apply, and acquire scholarship awards to fulfill their college dreams. By starting early on the scholarship search, students and their families can get ahead and start building a great financial foundation instead of joining thousands of families burdened by college costs. 

Start looking for awards for students of all ages using the Scholarship Search tool right here on CollegeXpress!

Like what you’re reading?

Join the CollegeXpress community! Create a free account and we’ll notify you about new articles, scholarship deadlines, and more.

Join Now

college costs financial aid paying for college scholarship search scholarships

About Jean O'Toole

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 Jean’s scholarship strategies. In 2008, Jean 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. Visit for more information, and follow Jean on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


Join our community of
over 5 million students!

CollegeXpress has everything you need to simplify your college search, get connected to schools, and find your perfect fit.

Join CollegeXpress
CollegeXpress Logo


Are you our next winner?

Register now for our scholarship giveaway

Rana Slosberg

Rana Slosberg

Slosberg College Solutions LLC

My favorite part of CollegeXpress is the 800+ lists which have all kinds of hard-to-find information. These lists are helpful when I’m creating college lists, and I also use them to give students a feel for a particular college or university.

Cameron Lee

Cameron Lee

High School Class of 2022

I used CollegeXpress to search for colleges. It helped me narrow down the schools on the West Coast and which schools had Construction Engineering programs. I made my decision to go to OSU and I am so excited about it.

Hannah Nelsen

Hannah Nelsen

High School Class of 2022

CollegeXpress has helped me look at colleges that fit my interests by taking my profile and matching it to colleges that have the programs I'm looking for. It has the ability to connect me to colleges so I can be contacted by them and look at them more in-depth to find what's right for me. Additionally, the scholarship database is super beneficial for getting scholarships for college. Not only does it help lift the financial burden of college but it shows all the opportunities available. Overall, CollegeXpress has been very helpful to me.

Alexandra Adriano

Alexandra Adriano

$2,000 Community Service Scholarship Winner, 2016

I've used CollegeXpress quite a bit as a senior, particularly for colleges and scholarships, so it's been a very big asset in that respect! I would recommend it to anyone looking to pursue a college education, especially seniors! This scholarship will help me achieve my goals in ways I couldn't have before, and I know that there are opportunities like that for everyone on the website and in the magazines!

Ruth Aguilar

Ruth Aguilar

High School Class of 2021

CollegeXpress helped me by providing me with many scholarship opportunities and information about universities I want to attend. What I love about CollgeXpress is how it provides a variety of information, and as the first child attending a university next year, it has been very essential and helpful. I’m so grateful for this because the information provided by CollegeXpress has also helped me see that there are so many college opportunities, and it always informs me by email. In other words, CollegeXpress has been like a guide for me as a future college student.

College Matches