Scholarships are available for students who attend a traditional university, junior college or vocational school. To receive a scholarship, students must be proactive in finding opportunities and submitting complete applications. High school students who graduate early should not limit themselves only to scholarships for early graduates; instead, they should apply to as many scholarships as available.
There are multiple scholarships sources, such as federal, state and local government; nonprofit organizations; and businesses. Early high school graduates should search for scholarships based on their current skills, achievements, intended college major, and career interests. Applications usually need to be submitted before graduation and might require an essay or recommendations. Need-based awards target students who demonstrate financial need, perhaps because their families qualify as low-income. Merit-based scholarships are available to all students, regardless of financial need.
The Utah Centennial Scholarship for Early Graduation (schools.utah.gov/curr/Early_College/Centennial.htm) provides college scholarships for students based on how early they graduate. For instance, a student who graduates by 11th grade is eligible for a full scholarship, though a student who graduates at the end of the second quarter of 12th grade can receive 50 percent of the Centennial Scholarship.
In Texas, the Early High School Graduation Scholarship Program reduces college tuition by $1,000. The credit can be used during one semester or spread over several years. Students must have resided in Texas while attending a public high school. Students should contact their high school guidance counselor for additional help, such as to send a certification letter to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (thecb.state.tx.us).
Arizona has established the Early Graduation Scholarship Grant Program (azgrants.gov) for high school students. Students must graduate early from a public high school or charter school and enroll in a junior college, college or vocational school. Plus, students must have resided in Arizona for at least one year. Students who graduate a semester early are eligible for $1,500, or $2,000 if they graduate at least one year early.
Alternative sources of scholarships include programs like the Washington State Achievers Program (collegesuccessfoundation.org/achievers), which provides low-income or minority students residing in Washington with college scholarships. Awards are given to seniors as well as juniors, so that recipients can receive college prep services. The Early College for ME (earlycollege.me.edu) program in Maine helps students transition from high school to college. Students receive $2,000 toward a two-year junior college program or $1,000 for a one year program but must be juniors in high school.