How can I learn more about scholarship opportunities for college?

I am a high school sophomore from a low income family and I'm looking for ways to fund a PhD.


Chelsea L. Dixon, M.S., M.A.T, Author. Speaker. CEO.

User avatar for Chelsea L. Dixon, M.S., M.A.T

If you are a high-achieving, self-motivated student, three great places I would recommend you start your scholarship search would be with QuestBridge, The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation and The Gates Millennium Scholars Program.


QuestBridge offers four different scholarship programs (the National College Match, the College Prep Scholarship, the Quest for Excellence Awards program, and the Quest Scholars Network) specifically for “high-achieving low-income students.”

• National College Match has a partnership with over 30 institutions that you can apply to and possibly receive a full four-year scholarship to attend. The application process begins in August and is due by the end of September.
• The College Prep Scholarship gives applicants the chance to receive scholarships for summer programs on and paid visits to various college campuses. The application process begins in February and is due in late March.
• According to QuestBridge, the Quest for Excellence Awards Program “enhances academic exploration and aids students in the college application process through enrichment programs, technology awards, test preparation awards, and expense-paid college visits.”
• The Quest Scholars Network is a free networking program for QuestBridge scholars that are attending one of the partner institutions. It provides its scholars with access to possible internships, leadership opportunities and more.
For more information about QuestBridge and these scholarship programs, visit

The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation

The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation has a College Scholarship Program that awards up to $40,000 per year to its scholars. In addition to the scholarship, scholars also receive “college planning support, ongoing advising, and the opportunity to network with the larger JKCF Scholar community.” The application process begins in early September and is due in early November. For more information, visit

Gates Millennium Scholars Program

The Gates Millennium Scholars Program is specifically designed for outstanding students with “significant financial need”. Applicants must be an “African American, American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian Pacific Islander American or Hispanic American student”. The scholarship provides financial support for unmet need and is “renewable if the scholar maintains satisfactory academic progress.”

In addition, the Gates Millennium Scholarship will provide financial support through a doctoral program if the scholar is pursuing studies in “computer science, education, engineering, library science, mathematics, public health and the sciences.” For more information, visit

I hope this helps. Best of luck to you!

Michael Schoch, Noodle Intern

User avatar for Michael Schoch

That's a great question.

A great way to alleviate anxiety is to break your goals down into manageable chunks. You don't need to worry about scholarship money for your Phd. just yet. First concentrate on getting funding for your undergraduate career.

Once you get your bachelor's you may have made connections or done well enough in school to receive a grant or scholarship to attend graduate school for reduced cost or even for free!

You should start by carefully reading through the Q&A's and articles on Noodle's College Scholarships topic page. An especially good article is Your External College Scholarships Guide: Where to Find One! which offers a guide for high school students searching for independent scholarships. Keep in mind that it's possible to win several of these scholarships, which is usually something not as common with school-sponsored funding.

It's also important to fill out the FAFSA. Many students from low-income families receive Pell Grants which don't need to be paid back. Additionally, any money that you don't receive from grants you may get in the form of lower interest federal loans. These can all make your debt burden much more manageable.

Beyond just funding and scholarships you'll also want to think of budgetary decisions you can make to save more money. Noodle's Paying for College page offers a lot of great information on how to save money while in college.

These are just a few ideas and resources. There are of course many more. Make sure that when searching for colleges you pay close attention, not just to its prestige and cost, but also to the financial aid it offers. Some schools look expensive, but will offer expansive financial aid packages to low income students with good grades.

It may sound difficult, but if you take your time and do your research, you may be able to get a great education without going into terrible debt.

Best of luck!

John Lidington, HireOwl Founder (

User avatar for John Lidington

There are lots of scholarship listing sites, including CollegeBoard, FastWeb, and

At HireOwl, we also have a unique scholarship program. It's only applicable once you're in college (or graduate school), but details can be found here:

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