30 Scholarships for Online Students

Getting an online degree doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg. You’re already saving money by not relocating to live on campus and paying outrageous sums for mediocre cafeteria food. Depending on the school, you may even get a special tuition price for being an online student.

Plus, there are plenty of scholarships and financial aid opportunities you can take advantage of. Some of them are explicitly for online students, but you don’t have to limit yourself to those. You’re still eligible for a lot of general scholarships.

That being said, it’s really frustrating to get mentally and emotionally invested in a scholarship that sounds like it’s describing you, only to find out you aren’t eligible for it. So we want to help you find the scholarships that are worth applying for, and eliminate the ones that aren’t.

We’ve put together a massive list of scholarships online students are eligible for, with all of the key information right up front. Unless stated otherwise, you should assume that all of these scholarships require you to attend an accredited online school. We’ll show you each scholarship’s:

  • Amount awarded
  • Eligibility
  • Application requirements
  • Application link
  • Deadlines
  • And any other details you should know

We’ve already sorted through the lists of top scholarships for online students and pulled out all the duds and outdated scholarships—so you don’t have to. We used sites like NonProfitCollegesOnline.com, TheBestSchools.org, USNews.com, and BestColleges.com to make sure we included all the best opportunities. (If we missed one though, let us know!)

Before we get started, let’s talk about the scholarship you probably have the best odds of winning.

The best scholarship opportunity for online students

Some of these scholarships are random drawings, which means they’re easy to apply to, but there are thousands of entries. Your odds of winning those are pretty low, but it’s worth applying. As a general guideline, the harder the application is, the less competition there’s going to be.

We found a $1,000 merit-based national scholarship that currently only has about 20 applicants. It’s an annual scholarship, and the deadline is December 31. This scholarship will take a little work, but it’s definitely worth the effort. Here’s what you should know about it:

HeadsetsPlus.com Scholarship

Amount awarded: $1,000

Deadline: December 31

Eligibility requirements:

  • Must be accepted into a college
  • Must be at least 16 years old
  • Must be a legal U.S. resident
  • Must have at least a 3.0 GPA

Application requirements:

  • Publish a YouTube video about yourself
  • Provide your most recent college transcript or an acceptance letter
  • Provide proof of your GPA

Apply here.

For a publicly posted $1,000 scholarship, the competition is very low. Most people applying for scholarships aren’t willing to take the time to create, edit, and publish a video. Since everyone has to post their video publicly, you can scope out the competition.

HeadsetsPlus.com is looking for creativity and personality on this. Make sure you address the entire prompt, but make your video interesting. Don’t just read an essay response to the prompt—unless it’s really good.

Now, onto the rest of the list!

General scholarships for online students

These scholarships are open to online students from any school. We’ll let you know if you have to be in a particular type of program or if there are other restrictions.

Get Educated Online College Scholarship Program

Amount awarded: $1,000

Deadline: October 15 or March 15

Eligibility requirements:

  • Must be a U.S. citizen
  • Must be currently enrolled in an accredited online college
  • Must have a 3.0 GPA

Application requirements:

  • 500 word essay on “What a college degree means to me”
  • Most recent transcript (college or high school)
  • Most recent FAFSA (or a copy of your most recent 1040 tax return)

Apply here.

These $1,000 distance learning scholarships are awarded twice per year based on financial need and merit. It’s not clear how many scholarship winners there are each time, but the URL for the page says “20-distance-learning-scholarships,” and the language sounds like there is more than one.

Here’s why this scholarship exists:

“This online degree financial aid program is funded and maintained by the distance learning experts at GetEducated.com as a part of our mission to help cut the cost of online college.”

SR Education Group Scholarship for Women

Amount awarded: $5,000

Deadline: September 30

Eligibility requirements:

  • Must be a U.S. citizen
  • Must not be a resident of Rhode Island, Guam, Puerto Rico, and Virgin Islands
  • Must be female
  • Must be at least 16 years old

Application requirements:

  • 300–500 word responses to two questions about your future plans and need for financial assistance

Apply here.

The SR Education Group awards two $5,000 need-based scholarships to female college students.

Here’s what good answers to their questions will look like:

“To provide our judges with a true understanding of each applicant, she must answer two open-ended, personal, and thought-provoking questions. The students whose responses are the most persuasive, compelling, and well-written, as judged by our panel, will be considered finalists.”

SR Education Group Community College Scholarship

Amount awarded: $2,500

Deadline: October 7

Eligibility requirements:

  • Must be a U.S. citizen
  • Must not be a resident of Rhode Island, Guam, Puerto Rico, and Virgin Islands
  • Must be enrolled at an accredited community college or junior college
  • Must be at least 16 years old

Application requirements:

  • 300–500 word responses to two questions about your future plans and need for financial assistance


Apply here.

The SR Education Group awards two $2,500 need-based scholarships to community college and junior college students.

You’ll need to write compelling short essays about how you’ll apply your degree and what you imagine your first five years out of college will look like, as well as any personal or family circumstances that affect your need for financial aid.

SHRM Undergraduate Scholarship

Amount awarded: $2,500

Deadline: October 10

Eligibility requirements:

Application requirements:

  • Must provide current resume
  • Must provide two letters of reference
  • Must provide short answers to questions about volunteer/work experience and career aspirations

Apply here.

Anybody who wants a job in human resources should get familiar with the Society for Human Resource Management. They play an integral role in providing and assessing the standards for HRM programs around the country, and their stamp of approval is widely recognized and sought after by employers and universities.

Oh, and they give out a lot of scholarships to HRM students:

“In 2017, the SHRM Foundation will award almost $500,000 in support to students seeking undergraduate, graduate, certification and professional development opportunities. We encourage all eligible SHRM members, student members, Chapters and State Councils and organizations to apply for one or more of the scholarships and awards listed below.”

Undergraduate Distance Learning Degrees Academic Scholarship

Amount awarded: $500

Deadline: April 1

Eligibility requirements:

  • Must be pursuing a distance learning associate or bachelor degree
  • Must be at least a high school senior
  • Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent U.S. resident
  • Must have at least 30 semester or 45 quarter credits remaining in their program

Application requirements:

  • Must provide basic information and a short explanation of how this scholarship will help you achieve your dreams

Apply here.

Despite the deadline, this scholarship is no joke. It’s very simple to apply, and it’s open to pretty much any distance education student—even future ones. The only question they require is a short response about how this scholarship would help you achieve your dreams, but they also have an optional space for you to add “anything else you want to tell us about yourself”. The required question lets you provide a maximum of 100 words, but this optional blank space has no maximum word count. Now’s your chance to reuse your best scholarship essays from previous applications. (Just don’t tell them I said that.)

Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society scholarships

Amount awarded:

  • Associate’s: up to $1,000 each
  • Bachelor’s: $1,500 to $30,000 each
  • Master’s: up to $2,500 each

Deadlines: fall and spring

Eligibility requirements: varies

Application requirements:

  • Varies. Some require PTK membership, others do not

Apply here.

PTK is a national honor society. Here’s what they’re all about:

“The mission of Phi Theta Kappa is to recognize academic achievement of college students and to provide opportunities for them to grow as scholars and leaders.”

They provide more than $90 million in scholarships to members.

Education Matters Scholarship

Amount awarded: $5,000

Deadline: November 30

Eligibility requirements:

  • Must be at least 13 years old
  • Must be a legal U.S. resident
  • Must enroll in an accredited postsecondary institution by 2023

Application requirements: explain why education matters in 250 words or less

Apply here.

This scholarship is a response to those who say education (higher education in particular) isn’t important. Applicants are expected to provide their personal reasons for pursuing higher education as well as “convince” cynics who believe it doesn’t matter.

Zombie Apocalypse Scholarship

Amount awarded: $2,000

Deadline: October 31

Eligibility requirements:

  • Must be at least 13 years old
  • Must be a legal U.S. resident
  • Must enroll in a postsecondary institution by 2023

Application requirements: in 250 words or less, explain how you would survive the zombie apocalypse if it came to your school

Apply here.

Maybe your underground bunker and stockpile of MREs will never be put to good use, but at least your survivalist skills can earn you some cash for school. Here’s the prompt:

“Imagine that your high school or college has been overrun with zombies. Your math professor, the cafeteria ladies, and even your best friend have all joined the walking dead. Flesh out a plan to avoid the zombies, including where you’d hide and the top-five things you’d bring to stay alive.”

Hungry to Lead Scholarship

Amount awarded: $500-$2,500

Deadline: July 1

Eligibility requirements:

  • Must be a full-time high school senior or college student registered or pre-registered at an accredited postsecondary school
  • Must be pursuing a degree in foodservice management, hospitality, or directly related field
  • Must have a high school or college GPA of 2.5 or higher
  • Must have a SAT score of at least 1300 or ACT score of at least 18

Application requirements: N/A

Apply here.

Hungry to Lead awards four annual merit-based scholarships for students pursuing higher education in foodservice management or a related field. The scholarships share one application, and the amount awarded depends on an applicant’s “place” (i.e. fourth place is awarded $500, and first place is awarded $2,500).

USAttorneys.com National Scholarship Essay Contest

Amount awarded: $500

Deadline: June 1

Eligibility requirements:

  • Must be a U.S. citizen
  • Must be currently enrolled or planning to attend an accredited American university or college

Application requirements: submit an 800–1,000 word legal essay on a divorce-related topic (topics listed on the website)

Apply here.

This scholarship doesn’t specify that it’s only for law students, but having a background in law will obviously help you write a several page paper on yes or no questions like “Can you get a divorce at the courthouse?” With a little research, anyone can nail this essay.

Unigo $10,000 Scholarship

Amount awarded: $10,000

Deadline: December 31

Eligibility requirements:

  • Must be at least 13 years old
  • Must be a legal resident of the U.S.
  • Must enroll in a postsecondary institution by 2023

Application requirements: a 140-character response to the question, “You just became president—what’s your first tweet?”

Apply here.

This has to be the shortest essay in the history of college scholarships. There’s nothing in the prompt or application that specifies what kind of tweet is most likely to win, but let’s be honest. They’re asking for a tweet—so may the wittiest one win.

ZipRecruiter Scholarship

Amount awarded: $3,000

Deadline: September 30 (new scholarship every quarter)

Eligibility requirements:

  • Must be a legal resident of the U.S.
  • Must be enrolled at an accredited high school, college, or university in the U.S.

Application requirements: a 250–500 word essay about your city, your local job market, or how ZipRecruiter can help you find a job (must be one page)

Apply here.

ZipRecruiter is offering one $3,000 scholarship every quarter, at least until the end of 2018. It’s not clear if they will continue the scholarship program after that. For your one page submission, you can use text, images, infographics, or anything else that fits on one page.

“You Deserve it” Scholarship

Amount awarded: $1,000

Deadline: September 29 (new drawings occur frequently)

Eligibility requirements:

  • Must be a resident of the United States (except for Rhode Island)
  • Must be at least 16 years old
  • Must be enrolled in a qualified high school, college, or university within three months of winning

Application requirements:

  • Provide basic information

Apply here.

Scholarship Owl hosts a random scholarship drawing and lets you enter once every seven days during the drawing period. Your odds of winning the drawing with a single entry are one in 66,000. This is one of the simplest applications you’ll fill out, so if you give yourself a calendar reminder, it should be pretty easy to apply the maximum number of times in each drawing.

Annual USA University Student Scholarship

Amount awarded: $2,000

Deadline: December 15

Eligibility requirements:

  • Must attend one of the participating universities

Application requirements:

  • Must answer three essay questions (up to 1,000 characters each)

Apply here.

Chameleon John hosts this essay contest. The questions are basic: what are your goals, how will this help, and what’s a famous quote that describes you. 1,000 characters isn’t much to work with—it’s basically about 200 words. They have a pretty extensive list of participating schools, and if yours isn’t on there, you can put them in contact with your school to change that.

Return2College Scholarship

Amount awarded: $1,000

Deadline: September 30

Eligibility requirements:

  • Must be a legal U.S. resident
  • Must be 17 years old
  • Must be enrolled at least part-time within the next 12 months

Application requirements: explain why you’re getting a degree in three sentences or less

Apply here.

Interestingly, you can enter multiple times if you want to submit a longer response to the prompt. All your submissions count as one entry. I would recommend honing in on your best answer and leaving it at that, but if you need to say more, you can.

Courage to Grow Scholarship

Amount awarded: $500

Deadline: New every month

Eligibility requirements:

  • Must be at least a junior in high school
  • Must have at least a 2.5 GPA

Application requirements:

  • Explain why you deserve the award in 250 words or less

Apply here.

This is a pretty straightforward application, and it looks like you could in theory save your essay and re-submit it every month. Just a thought. This is one of those prompts that can be tough the first time as you learn how to talk yourself up, but don’t pull any punches. This is the place to run through your greatest hits and show them your biggest accomplishments.

Foreclosure.com Scholarship

Amount awarded: $1,000–$5,000

Deadline: December 15

Eligibility requirements:

  • Must be currently enrolled as an undergraduate at a college in the U.S.

Application requirements:

  • Write an 800–2,000 word essay on the American Dream

Apply here.

This is a longer essay that will take some research and thought to write well. But if you’re a strong writer or have a good grasp of the world of finance or real estate, this is a great opportunity. Use your resources (like people you know who own homes), and keep in mind that this website is a place people go to purchase foreclosed homes. Poke around a bit and read the prompt carefully to find the right angle. Five winners are selected. First place wins $5,000, and the rest win $1,000.

Top Ten List Scholarship

Amount awarded: $1,500

Eligibility requirements:

  • Must be at least 13 years old
  • Must be a legal resident of the U.S.
  • Must enroll in an institute of higher education by 2023

Application requirements:

  • List the top 10 reasons you should get this scholarship in 250 words or less.

Apply here.

You only get about 25 words per “reason,” so this isn’t a time to launch into a story. But thanks to the format of this application, you can probably get into some of the more interesting personal details about yourself that you don’t have an opportunity to share in other applications. Study David Letterman’s top ten lists to get a feel for how it’s done.

School-specific scholarships for online students

A lot of schools have their own scholarship programs. These can significantly reduce—or even eliminate—your tuition costs or provide financial assistance in other ways. If you’re already enrolled in a school or looking at a particular degree program, you should see if your school has its own scholarship programs. Otherwise, take a look at some of these:

Tuition-free online education from University of the People

Amount awarded: 100% of tuition costs

Deadline: There are five admission periods every year

Eligibility requirements:

  • Must be a student at University of the People

Application requirements:

  • Education information
  • English proficiency score (if applicable)
  • All students are automatically awarded the “scholarship”

Apply here.

This tuition-free online education is open to international students.

“University of the People (UoPeople) is the first non-profit, tuition-free, accredited online university. Dedicated to opening access to higher education globally, UoPeople is designed to help qualified high school graduates overcome financial, cultural, geographic, political, and personal constraints keeping them from collegiate studies.”

Penn State World Campus Scholarships

Amount awarded: $500–-$3,000

Deadline: TBD

Eligibility requirements:

  • Must be at least a part-time student at Penn State World Campus
  • Must have at least a 2.5 GPA
  • Other requirements vary

Application requirements:

  • Depends on the specific scholarship

Apply here.

Penn State World Campus frequently tops the charts as one of the best online schools. They offer a variety of scholarships for online undergraduate students.

Gemology Institute of America scholarships

Amount awarded: up to $5,000 or full tuition

Deadlines: September 30 and March 31

Eligibility requirements:

  • Must be a student in GIA’s gemology, jewelry, or design programs
  • Other requirements vary

Application requirements:

  • Photo ID in English
  • Letter of recommendation (one is required, two is the maximum)

Apply here.

The Gemology Institute of America provides a number of scholarship opportunities twice per year, including a distance education scholarship. These opportunities are open to international students. The application asks for quite a bit of basic information, but appears to be universal—you apply once for all of the scholarships you’re eligible for.

UNICAF scholarships

Amount awarded: varies

Eligibility requirements:

  • Must currently earn less than $20,000 per year
  • Academic requirements vary

Application requirements: varies

Apply here.

UNICAF has awarded more than $70,000,000 in scholarships to thousands of students. Here’s their mission:

“The UNICAF Scholarship Programme was founded to offer gifted, underprivileged students the opportunity to further their education, by earning internationally recognised qualifications, at low cost, through online study, or through blended learning (only available for Unicaf University programmes).”

Bama By Distance scholarships

Amount awarded: varies

Eligibility requirements:

  • Must be currently enrolled or admitted to The University of Alabama
  • Other requirements vary

Application requirements: varies

Apply here.

The University of Alabama has one of the top distance education programs in the U.S. Their online accounting and online master of education programs are especially strong. Through Bama By Distance, online students are eligible for a number of scholarships from various foundations.

Bemidji State University distance learners scholarships

Amount awarded: $1,000

Deadline: March 20

Eligibility requirements:

  • Must be a student at BSU
  • Other requirements vary

Application requirements: varies

Apply here.

Bemidji State University has one of the top online bachelor of social work programs in the country. They offer several scholarship opportunities for distance education students. The most widely applicable opportunity is the Edward Gersich Distance Learning Scholarship, which is for distance education students with a 3.0 GPA or higher and junior or senior status. Other scholarship opportunities are for people from northern Minnesota.

Arizona State University scholarships

Amount awarded: varies

Eligibility requirements: varies

Application requirements:

  • Must be at least a half-time student at Arizona State University

Apply here.

Arizona State University has a strong online education program and they offer more than 200 scholarship opportunities, many of which are not need-based. Several departments have scholarships for students in particular degree programs. Their scholarship search is a handy tool to narrow your results based on what you’re actually eligible for.

Other scholarship resources online students should know about

Obviously, we didn’t list every scholarship there is. There are hundreds of them. If you want to find even more opportunities, there are some specialized scholarship sites you should know about.

Scholarship America

Scholarship America connects students to billions of dollars in scholarship opportunities throughout the country through Dollars for Scholars, DreamkeepersSM, and Scholarship Management Services. They keep a current list of open scholarships with broad applications.

Christian scholarships

This Christian Connector Inc. is a hub for scholarship opportunities from Christian colleges. After a brief survey about your background and the types of schools you’re interested in, Christian Connector lets you set very specific criteria for the kind of scholarships you’re looking for. Then it runs through a database of scholarships and helps you find exactly what you need.

International distance learning scholarships

It’s not easy to find scholarships to U.S. schools that are open to non-U.S. citizens. Scholarships for Development regularly updates their international distance learning scholarships page to provide you with opportunities exclusively for online international students.

Scholarships for members of the military

The Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association provides a wide range of scholarship opportunities for military personnel, including STEM scholarships, veterans scholarships, diversity scholarships, and more.

Tips for applying for scholarships

Most scholarships are pretty competitive. Especially the ones that anyone can find online. The broader the eligibility requirements and the simpler the application requirements, the harder it’s going to be to win.

Unfortunately, having a good GPA and lots of extracurricular activities doesn’t guarantee you’ll win a scholarship. I had a 3.8 GPA with about five total AP classes, was a state finalist athlete and had tons of volunteer hours. After applying to dozens of scholarships, I only got a couple of them.

I don’t say that to discourage you—but applying for scholarships can feel like a full time job. If you don’t want to get frustrated, there are some things you should do to save time and effort.

You’re going to have the best chances in “niche” scholarships for specific types of degree programs, specific schools, or specific people. In most cases, local scholarships are going to have the least competition, so it’s worth talking to whoever handles “career services” (or the closest thing to it) at your school.

Here are the three biggest tips I have for when you start applying for scholarships:

1. Use a spreadsheet to stay organized

If you stumble through online lists like this every time you’re ready to spend a couple hours applying for scholarships, it’s going to get overwhelming fast. Start by spending some time combing through lists like this to pull out any scholarships you’re eligible for, and put them all in a spreadsheet with links to the applications.

As you complete applications, you can mark them off on your spreadsheet so you can easily see how many scholarships you’ve applied to. Even if crossing things off lists isn’t inherently satisfying to you, it’ll give you something to point at when your parents, teachers, or whoever ask you about your progress on applications.

Plus, some scholarship applications are going to have lots of separate pieces (like several questions that require several hundred words each), so on your spreadsheet you can break each scholarship into bite-sized pieces.

And on top of that, you’re going to be entering a lot of information repeatedly. Some of it is information you probably have memorized (like your contact information and address), some of it is information you hopefully have memorized (like your social security number), and some of it is information nobody should ever bother to memorize, like an application number. A spreadsheet makes it easy for you to keep all of this information in one place so it never gets lost.

2. Take the time to write a really good essay

Scholarship foundations are constantly sorting through applications. Real people look at them. Imagine being that person for a second. There are some things that are easy to see that can bump you to the top if it’s a need-based or merit-based scholarship. You don’t have a lot of control over these by the time you get around to applying for scholarships.

But a well-crafted essay can easily put you above equally qualified candidates, and depending on the scholarship, may even put you ahead of people who are far better qualified. Plus, if you take your time to write a thorough, thoughtful response to some of the more generic questions like, “What does this scholarship mean to you?” or “What are your goals in life?” then you can use them again for other applications. Seriously, don’t feel guilty about doing that.

Not sure how to get started? Talking about yourself isn’t easy for a lot of people, but practice does make it easier. As you think about what you’ve accomplished in high school or taken away from your experience so far, make a short list of things that you don’t think will ever come up on an application. Maybe it’s something that has nothing to do with school.

Your list may have some great ways to answer broad questions about “who you are” that can make your application stand out. Don’t force them to fit the prompts, but if you can find ways to work them in, great.

You don’t have to be funny. Being funny might help, but it completely depends on who happens to read your essay. If you’re good at funny though, do funny. But be careful, if you think you’re more hilarious than you actually are, it can backfire.

Most people are going to try way to hard to sound intelligent. This usually takes the form of unnecessarily stilted language which negatively affects the reader’s ability to care. At all. Write like a real person. Ideally, write how you talk. Maybe a little bit more formal than that, but only a little bit. Showing personality and being pleasantly readable will have a much greater impact than being the smartest-sounding boring person.

3. Don’t put all your eggs in one scholarship

It’s really easy to get mentally and emotionally invested in a single scholarship. As you search, you’re bound to find scholarships that sound like they’re describing you perfectly. I know, because I’ve done it.

When I was in high school, there was a merit-based scholarship that was specific to my high school and specific to the university I was going to attend. It was almost a full-ride, and the pool of potential applicants was like, 12. There was a separate one for boys and for girls, so now we’re down to like four. It was for students who had achieved the highest levels of academic success and athletic achievement. That left me and maybe one other guy. Maybe. And then my senior year was the only year in over a decade that the scholarship didn’t have the funds it needed. They offered it my junior year. They offered it the year after I graduated. I was crushed, because I was sure this was the scholarship for me.

And then I did it again.

There was another local merit-based scholarship for student athletes, and I was a finalist. The scholarship was for someone who had overcome adversity and achieved incredible success. I chipped a vertebra in my neck in football, was told I wouldn’t be able to wrestle, and then went on to lose by one point in the state finals. I was pretty confident there weren’t any other local student athletes who’d faced anything like that. And you know what, I’m just going to say it: there weren’t. And my math teacher was on the board for the foundation, and he liked me.

Then one day in class he says, “Hey, want to know who won the scholarship?” Heck yes I do. “It wasn’t you, but let me look . . .” Oh. What? Crushed again. They gave it to a running back who broke his foot and kept playing. Which is cool, I guess.

The point is: don’t be like me.

Don’t get mentally or emotionally invested in a scholarship. Do everything you can to find the ones that you’re most likely to get, and do everything you can to get them, but do yourself a huge favor and become a scholarship application robot. One that writes really good essays.

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