Walmart offers several scholarship opportunities for dependents of their employees. The Walmart Dependent Scholarship is meant to cover college or vocational school expenses for those with financial need.
In this guide, I'll start by talking about eligibility requirements and the application process. If you're already familiar with this information, skip to the second half of this post—this is where I'll give tips and strategies for increasing your chances of winning a Walmart scholarship.
UPDATE: Walmart Scholarships Discontinued in 2021
As of February 2021, Walmart will no longer be offering the Walmart Associate Scholarship or Walmart Dependent Scholarship. Here's Walmart's rationale for discontinuing the scholarship program, straight from the Walmart Scholarship website:
As more and more scholarship programs are made available to the public, and as Walmart has transformed its educational offerings with Live Better U, the Walmart Foundation has made the decision to discontinue the associate and dependent scholarship program effective February 1, 2021. Since inception, only about 10 percent of applicants to the program received scholarships due to IRS requirements. The Walmart Foundation will continue to focus on strategic grantmaking to organizations.
The good news is that Walmart is honoring all current scholarships up until students have completed their degrees or for six years, whichever comes first. So if you won a Walmart Scholarship in the past, don't worry--you'll still receive your funds.
Walmart has replaced their scholarship program with Live Better U, a program that allows current Walmart employees to earn a degree online for about a dollar a day from a four-year accredited university. For more in-depth information about the Live Better U program, check out this article.
What Is the Walmart Scholarship?
Walmart has one scholarship that's available to children and dependents of current Walmart associates: the Dependent Walmart Scholarship. This scholarship is designed to assist Walmart employees and their families who might not otherwise be able to afford a college education.
The Dependent Scholarship is available to dependents of Walmart employees who are U.S. citizens or permanent legal residents, are about to graduate with a high school diploma or GED equivalent, and have worked full- or part-time at the company for at least six consecutive months before the application deadline. In other words, if you're a child or dependent of a Walmart employee, you're eligible for this scholarship even if you haven't worked there yourself.
The award is renewable and can be used for up to four years of continuous, full-time enrollment, with a maximum funding limit of $13,000 per degree program. Awards are disbursed, or given out, $1,625 at a time.
What Happened to the Associate Walmart Scholarship?
The Associate Walmart Scholarship, which was open to current Walmart employees, was phased out in February of 2021.
The program has been replaced by LiveBetterU, which is a program that helps current full-time and part-time employees reduce the cost of going back to school. For more information about LiveBetterU, check out the program's website.
If you want to earn a Walmart Dependent Scholarship, the first step is making sure you meet the qualifications!
Are You Eligible for a Walmart Scholarship?
Unfortunately, the Dependent Scholarship isn't open to the public. In order to be eligible, you must be the dependent of a current Walmart employee.
The Associate and Dependent scholarships have slightly different eligibility requirements, which I've outlined below.
Dependent Scholarship Eligibility Requirements
In order to be considered for the Dependent Scholarship, you must meet all the following criteria:
- Be either a US citizen or permanent legal resident of the US
- Be the dependent of a Walmart employee who's actively worked with the company for at least six consecutive months before the application deadline (note that dependents of Board of Directors or officers are not eligible to apply)
- Be a high school or homeschooled graduating senior, or be earning a GED
- Be able to demonstrate financial need (I'll discuss how to do this in the section on applying for the scholarship)
- Have a high school GPA of at least 2.0
- Enroll for the fall semester as a full-time freshman/first-year student at an accredited two- or four-year college or university (does not include military academies)
- To renew your funds, you must be enrolled full-time, with a minimum 2.0 GPA, and attending a four-year college by your third year
You don't need a perfect report card to apply for this scholarship (not that it would hurt!).
What Do I Need to Apply for a Walmart Scholarship?
In order to apply for a Walmart scholarship, you'll need to gather some materials and information, especially those concerning your family's financial situation. Below, I list everything you need to have before you can apply for each type of Walmart scholarship.
Associate Scholarship Materials
To apply for the Associate Scholarship, you'll need to have the following information:
- If a family member has claimed you as a dependent, you'll need an electronic copy of your most recent family income tax return. If you have claimed yourself, you'll need a copy of your most recent tax return.
- Your family's adjusted gross income
- Your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). You can estimate your EFC using FAFSA4caster. Get instructions on how to use FAFSA4CASTER here. To get an official EFC, you must submit a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). Use this guide for step-by-step instructions on how to submit a FAFSA.
- A comprehensive list of volunteer or service activities you've participated in within the last four years
- Name and contact information for your high school
- Name of the college or vocational school you're planning to attend
- Your Walmart facility number (ask your manager if you don't have this information)
Dependent Scholarship Materials
To apply for the Dependent Scholarship, you'll need to gather the following information:
- Current US federal income tax return from the individual who's claimed you as a dependent
- Current federal Student Aid Report (SAR). A SAR is generated when you submit a FAFSA. If you submit your FAFSA online, it'll take about three days to receive your SAR. Get step-by-step instructions on submitting a FAFSA here.
- Your high school transcript showing your grades and GPA through your first semester of senior year. This does not need to be an official transcript.
How Do You Submit a Walmart Scholarship Application?
You can submit an application for both the Associate and Dependent Scholarships online through the Walmart website. Register for an account and take the appropriate Scholarship Eligibility Quiz to gain access to the application.
If you fail to meet eligibility requirements, you won't be able to submit an application. When your application is submitted, you'll receive an email verification.
The Associate Scholarship application window for 2020, its final year, is February 1, 2020 to February 28, 2020.
Meanwhile, the Dependent Scholarship application window for this year is February 1, 2020, to April 2, 2020.
When Do You Find Out Whether You've Been Selected for a Walmart Scholarship?
Typically, applicants are notified six weeks after the deadline. This means Associate Scholarship applicants will be notified in mid-April 2020, and Dependent Scholarship applicants for this year's cycle will be notified mid-May 2020.
How Can You Use Walmart Scholarship Money?
If you're offered a Walmart scholarship, you'll need to submit a Scholarship Acceptance Agreement online before any funds are disbursed. Scholarship checks will then be mailed directly to your school. The scholarship money can be applied to charges for tuition, fees, books, and on-campus room and board.
Associate and Dependent Scholarship funds must be used at an accredited school. Unfortunately, you can't use Walmart scholarship funds at military academies.
Use these strategies to submit your very best scholarship application!
How to Raise Your Odds of Winning a Walmart Scholarship
There's a lot of overlap between the Associate and Dependent Scholarships, so first I'll give general advice that applies to both programs. Then, where there are differences between the scholarships, I'll give specialized advice.
All scholarship applications are evaluated by an independent, impartial selection committee. This means that everyone with a complete application and who meets all eligibility requirements will be considered for the award.
Financial need is considered a primary criterion for both scholarships. There's not much you can do to change your family's financial situation, but you'll have a chance to explain any financial hardships or difficulties in your application.
General Tips for Any Walmart Scholarship Application
- Make sure you meet all eligibility requirements before beginning the application process. If you don't meet the requirements and answer the Eligibility Quiz honestly, you won't even get access to the application.
- The applications ask about your employment history with Walmart. If you or the person who's claimed you as a dependent is in good standing, you'll likely have a better chance of winning the scholarship.
- The applications ask about your parents' levels of education. First-generation college students might be more likely to win the scholarship.
- The applications give you the opportunity to talk about "special circumstances." This is a chance to set yourself apart from other eligible applicants. Here's what to do:
Touch briefly on any financial hardships without sounding too self-defeating. Be matter-of-fact and explain how a Walmart scholarship could help you achieve your academic and professional goals in light of your financial limitations.
One Walmart scholarship winner said he was grateful for the assistance in funding his education because it would improve his family's future. Will winning this scholarship affect anyone besides you in a positive way? If so, discuss that in your application.
Mention any extraordinary hardships or events that have challenged you. An evaluation committee will be impressed with an individual who has overcome significant obstacles to further pursue his or her educational and career goals.
Tips for the Associate Scholarship Application
This scholarship is competitive—only about 10% of eligible applicants receive the award. As such, it's important to dedicate significant time and energy to your application.
In addition to financial need, an important criterion considered by the evaluation committee is the applicant's level of community involvement.
Here are some tips for your Associate Scholarship application:
- The application gives you the option to discuss up to three volunteer experiences you've had within the last four years. Examples include hospital volunteering; drug, teen, or homework helplines; and outreach programs. Based on these examples, it seems that this program is looking primarily for applicants who have worked with disadvantaged or marginalized populations.
- Talk about your passion for helping others. Do not repeat information about your volunteer activities; rather, discuss your future educational plans and how they will let you help others.
- Emphasize any similar volunteer activities you've participated in. If you're currently looking for volunteer opportunities and might apply for this scholarship in the future, seek out a position through which you can demonstrate community involvement. For example, you could volunteer at a nursing home, a refugee center, or a low-income school.
As you can tell, Walmart likely wants to maximize its impact on the community, which means if it funds students who have also contributed to the community, its impact will be magnified. Your goal is to prove that you'll be able to use the aid to improve your community as an ideal Walmart representative.
Tips for the Dependent Scholarship Application
This scholarship is fairly competitive, with only about 25% of eligible applicants receiving the award. In addition to financial need, an important criterion considered by the evaluation committee is your past academic performance.
Here are our best tips and strategies for the Dependent Scholarship application:
- If you're a younger high school student, one of the best things you can do to increase your changes of winning the scholarship is to keep up your grades. A 2.0 GPA is the minimum to apply, but the selection committee will undoubtedly be more impressed with a high-achieving student.
- Talk about your academic passions and interests. Explain how this scholarship will assist you in achieving concrete career or educational goals based on your academic interests.
- If you meet the minimum GPA requirement but have rough patches in your academic record, use your application to explain why. Be matter-of-fact, but don't make excuses. Discuss any hardships that might have affected your academic performance (e.g., you got a job to help support your family, you missed school due to an ongoing illness or injury, etc.).
Walmart has millions of employees, and to maximize the impact of its scholarship funds, it wants to find employees' dependents who are most likely to make the most of their educations. A good predictor of this is the student's academic performance, so emphasize to Walmart that you'll utilize its scholarship funds to ultimately empower your future.
There are lots of scholarship opportunities out there, even if you're not a Walmart associate or dependent. The National Merit Scholarship is one great option; you can also get guaranteed scholarships if your standardized test scores are high enough!
If you want to explore all your financial aid options and not just scholarships, learn about the Pell Grant and Federal Direct Loans.
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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.