Senior year is a balancing act: Between college applications and graduation requirements, you’ll probably be begging for summer halfway through the year. But before you can take a well-deserved breather, you still have to figure out how to pay for college. Start by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, to qualify for federal aid. Then apply for even more free money through private scholarships.
We’ve gathered seven scholarships for high school seniors to help you get started.
For student journalists covering LGBT issues:
Presented by the Association of LGBT Journalists, this scholarship is named for the association’s founder. It awards up to $5,000 to one student journalist who demonstrates a passion and commitment to the profession. Applicants must be planning to pursue a career in journalism, provide five work samples, and write and publish an LGBT-related news story on Tumblr. Stories can include multimedia as well as text elements. Winners will be held to a “Contract of Excellence,” which requires an average GPA of 3.2 and commitment to LGBT issues and coverage, among other things.
For students willing to take a brief test:
Offered by the American Fire Sprinkler Association, this scholarship offers high school seniors the chance at one of 10 $2,000 scholarships. Participants take a 10-question, multiple-choice test about automatic fire sprinklers. You can also read a brief essay on the topic if you need a quick refresher. For each question you answer correctly, your name will be entered into the drawing.
For low-income students:
These scholarships, funded by Horatio Alger Association members, are for students with critical financial need, defined as an adjusted gross annual income of $55,000 per year or less. Applicants must have a GPA of 2.0 or higher, be involved in co-curricular and community service activities, and display integrity and perseverance in overcoming adversity. Applications are universal across all of the association’s scholarships, so you’ll be considered for all scholarships for which you are eligible without having to submit multiple applications. However, the targeted and career-technical scholarships each have additional requirements to qualify. Awards range from $6,000 to $22,000.
For strong writers familiar with plumbing and mechanical industry-related issues:
This essay contest focuses on issues related to the plumbing and mechanical industries. Word count ranges between 800 and 1,600 words, and three winners are awarded scholarship money. Winning entries are also published in the organization’s magazine, Official, and on the IAPMO website. Awards range from $500 to $1,000.
For students with leadership skills:
This scholarship, which awards up to $28,000 over four years, is aimed at helping low-income students who display leadership potential and a dedication to community service. Applicants must also have a minimum SAT score of 1,000 for their combined math and critical reading sections, or a composite ACT score of 21 or higher. The application includes four essay questions and one letter of recommendation.
For students who’ve lost a parent:
These scholarships are reserved for students who have lost a parent, and are meant to raise awareness about the need for life insurance. Eligible students should submit a 500-word essay or three-minute video describing how the death of the parent or guardian affected their financial and emotional life. Awards range from $5,000 to $15,000.
For creative thinkers:
Each year, Resume Companion encourages students to think outside the box when it comes to writing a resume for their first job. To win this $1,000 scholarship, students must create a resume based on the life of a fictional or nonfictional character from TV, history, literature or myth. High school students are eligible to apply during the spring semester (or equivalent) of their senior year, as long as they will be enrolled in college during the upcoming fall semester.
For even more scholarship opportunities, head over to our friends at Course Hero to apply for their monthly scholarships.
Devon Delfino is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @devondelfino.
This article updated June 30, 2016. It originally published Jan. 14, 2015.