Scholarships are awesome resources if you're checking out different ways to pay for college. It's free money after all—what's not to love?
As it turns out, most scholarship programs have application processes that aren't exactly lovable. Students generally have to submit a lot of information about themselves: transcripts, GPAs, test scores, resumes, community service activities, and so on. There might even be a few essays and grade requirements thrown in as well. You don't want to complain—because, again, free money—but these applications sure are tedious when you're working on college apps, high school courses, and financial aid applications all at the same time.
The following easy scholarships have application processes that are a bit more manageable. Some ask you to write short essays, while others don't require any essays at all! The awards might not be as large as some other scholarships out there, but when the application process is so easy, you really don't have much to lose. I'll start off with some words of warning before getting into the good stuff: essay and no-essay scholarships that are so easy to apply for, you might end up applying to all of them!
Caveat: If a Scholarship Seems Too Good to Be True ...
Unfortunately, there aren't too many legitimate "easy" scholarships out there. If a scholarship application sounds too good to be true, be cautious—you don't want to fall victim to a scholarship scam!
Here are some things to look out for:
- A scholarship application that asks for personal information that isn't relevant to the award: Many top scholarship programs ask for personal information (transcripts, SAT/ACT scores, and even financial information for need-based scholarships); however, this info is all relevant to candidate evaluation. If you're ever uncomfortable providing personal info for a scholarship program, dig deeper. Can you verify that the program is legitimate? Does it have its own website, or can you only find info about it through a third party? Try Googling "[award name] scam" to see whether anything suspicious pops up.
- A scholarship that asks you to make payments to enter or win: Scholarship programs are in the business of giving money to students, not taking it. A scholarship program is likely just a scam if the application asks you to make a payment—especially if it asks you to enter credit card information.
Now that we've got that out of the way, it's time to get to the good stuff: all the best easy essay and non-essay scholarships and how to win them!
These essays won't take you long at all, but they're a good excuse to set up at your favorite cafe.
The scholarships in this section ask students to submit short essays with their applications. Even though you'll have to write an essay, the rest of the application (and the essay itself) should be easy and manageable for all these awards. In fact, most of these applications shouldn't take longer than one to two hours to complete.
This scholarship program is a bit different from most of the other awards included in this post—it's funded by a private law firm in Colorado. Students compete for a $2,000 award by writing a short essay (800 words) about the 7th amendment and how it affects their lives.
- Eligibility: High school seniors who have been accepted to a four-year university and university students with a minimum 3.0 GPA
- Deadline: July 30, 2020 (to win a scholarship for the fall semester), and November 30, 2020 (to win a scholarship for the spring semester).
This $500 award is given out to one lucky student every month. To compete for the award, applicants must explain in 250 words why they think they deserve the scholarship.
- Eligibility:US high school juniors and seniors and college students with a minimum 2.5 GPA
- Deadline: Last day of every month!
To compete for this $500 award, applicants must like the Odenza Facebook page and write two short essays of about 500 words each. One essay must be related to travel and your career, and the other must explain why you should receive the scholarship.
- Eligibility: Current high school students aged 16-25 or students who have at least one year of college remaining. Applicants must also have a minimum 2.5 GPA.
- Deadline March 30, 2020
The website MoneySolver.org gives out several $1,000 scholarships throughout the year to US students enrolled in (or planning on enrolling by next fall in) college, university, or trade school. Each of these scholarships involves writing a short (250 words, maximum) essay about the topic at hand. Students are eligible to win up to two scholarships.
- New Year's Resolution Scholarship: Write about your 2020 New Year's Resolutions and how you plan to keep them. Deadline is January 31, 2020.
- Valentine's Day Scholarship: Write a poem to summarize your true feelings about Valentine's Day. Deadline is February 29, 2020.
- St. Patrick's Day Scholarship: Write a St. Patrick's Day fairy tale. Deadline is March 31, 2020.
- Easter Scholarship: Write about what you like (or dislike) about Easter. Deadline is April 30, 2020.
- Mother's Day Scholarship: If you could create a Mother's Day Card, what would it say? Deadline is May 31, 2020.
- Father's Day Scholarship: How does your dad make a difference in your life? Deadline is June 30, 2020.
- Summer Scholarship: If money wasn't an issue, where would you go and why? Deadline is July 31, 2020.
Some of these applications won't take you longer than a few minutes.
When it comes to easy applications, you can't get much easier than the following scholarship programs. You'll still have to submit some information about yourself (and, in some instances, complete some brief activities or tasks), but you won't have to write any essays to qualify.
Here's one of those scholarships for which you have to complete a few unique activities to qualify. For example, for the 2017 scholarship, students applied by reading about automatic fire sprinkler systems and then taking an eight-question quiz based on the information they read. Ten $2,000 awards are given out each year.
- Eligibility: Current high school seniors (US citizens or legal residents)
- Deadline: April 1, 2020
Students can qualify to win $2,500, $20,000, or even $100,000 in tuition money by writing a short description of how they plan to change the world and recording a video explaining their academic and professional goals.
- Eligibility: All students aged 18-24
- Deadline: Likely mid-October 2020.
This scholarship program gives out relatively small awards of $50, but the application process is fun and easy. Students qualify by simply writing and submitting up to three original haikus.
- Eligibility: All students in grades 7-12
- Deadline: Likely late March 2020
This $2,000 award is given out monthly. To apply for this scholarship, submit an application that includes basic identifying information, your GPA, and your SAT/ACT scores. Winners are randomly selected, and you can submit a new application every month.
- Eligibility: High school students, adults heading back to school, current college students, and anyone else looking to attend college or graduate school within the next year
- Deadline: Last day of every month!
Do you have a creative side and an eye for fashion? Students can compete for the grand prize of $10,000 (one each for the dress and tux categories) by designing and wearing prom outfits made out of duct tape. Check out the website for fun pictures of past winners!
Eight $500 prizes are given to runners-up. Applicants can enter as individuals or as part of a couple. Submissions that get the most votes win prizes, so be sure to recruit your friends to vote for you!
- Eligibility: High school students in the US and Canada (excluding certain states and territories—refer to the official rules for details)
- Deadline: April 1-June 8 2020 for submissions; June 29-July 10 2020 for voting
Three $5,000 awards, one $10,000 award, and one $20,000 award are available through this scholarship program. To qualify, students submit a simple application; you may also earn extra entries by completing up to eight online learning modules on financial literacy.
- Eligibility: Current US undergraduate students
- Deadline: Likely October 23, 2020 11:59PM Central Time
This $500 scholarship is awarded to one student four times a year (March, June, September, and December). All you need to do to enter to win the scholarship is to fill out the form on the Cedar Lending website.
- Eligibility: High school juniors and seniors; current college students; anyone else looking to attend college or grad school
- Deadline: March 31st, June 30th, September 30th, and December 31st, 11:59 PM EST
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3 Tips for Winning Easy Scholarships
Easy scholarships to apply for aren't necessarily the same as easy scholarships to win. Since these scholarship applications are so simple to complete, you'll probably have a lot of competition. Here are some strategies to help you submit your best applications possible:
#1: If you have to write an essay, you're likely to be more successful if your views align with those of the entity that's awarding the scholarship. To prepare, do some research about the company or charity's mission statement.
#2: Make sure your application is polished. You won't have the opportunity to make more than a first impression (remember, these apps are short and sweet!), so double-check for any grammar, spelling, or punctuation errors.
#3: Last but not least, be sure that your application is complete and on time!
These scholarships are excellent options if you want to churn out as many applications as possible. As you might've noticed, though, the award amounts are a bit underwhelming (though keep in mind that several smaller awards can be just as helpful as one big award!). Larger scholarships and grants are often available through colleges directly and applying for financial aid using the FAFSA.
You'll have to spend more time on your applications if you're gunning for a top scholarship, but the payoff can be more than worth it. To learn more about some of the best scholarships out there, check out our guides to the top scholarships for high school juniors and seniors.
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Francesca graduated magna cum laude from Harvard and scored in the 99th percentile on the SATs. She's worked with many students on SAT prep and college counseling, and loves helping students capitalize on their strengths.