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10 Writing Scholarships You Should Check Out as a High Schooler

There’s a lot to think about while applying to college, from choosing the right path to making sure you have enough experience. One of these considerations is the financial challenge that comes with higher education. This is why it’s important to keep an eye on available scholarships. Scholarships can alleviate such pressure and allow you to focus on your dreams instead.

In this article, we've curated a list of ten scholarships designed for high school students interested in writing. These scholarships not only provide financial support but also serve as platforms for budding wordsmiths to showcase their potential. Whether you're an essayist or a fiction writer, these scholarships can pave the way for your literary ambitions.

Without further ado, here are the ten writing scholarships:

Application deadline: February 14, 2024

Eligibility: Applicants must be younger than 18 years of age and a permanent resident or citizen of the US

Scholarship amount: Ranging from $10,000 to $50,000, which can only be used for qualified tuition and related expenses

Entry fee: Free

Organized by the Davidson Institute, this program offers scholarships to students who complete a significant piece of research work. This is one of the most prestigious opportunities in the country and winning the scholarship will definitely boost your college applications. Students interested in writing can opt for the Literature category, where you must submit a 60-75 page portfolio of creative work with at least three of the following genres — fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and drama/screenplay. You must also submit a literacy narrative that reflects on your process of developing the creative work.

Application deadline: Early February

Eligibility: Students below the age of 19 who have not yet completed secondary school as of October 1 of the year of the contest

Scholarship amount: Up to $500 at the club level and a $2,500 college scholarship at the district-level competition

Entry fee: Free

Each year, Optimist International announces a new essay topic and participants are invited to submit a 700-800-word essay for a chance to win prizes. The topic for 2023-2024 is ‘Optimism: How It Connects Us’ and your essay can be inspired by your experiences or otherwise. It will be judged on the basis of the interpretation of the topic, creativity, style and grammar. This program is a good way to hone your critical thinking and writing skills. Do keep in mind that you will have to contact your local Optimist Club in order to apply. Club-level winners will then move to the district-level competition.

Application Deadline: There are 4 cohorts (You can apply here!)

  • Fall 2023: August 27th, 2023

  • Winter 2023: November 26th, 2023

  • Spring 2024: January 14th, 2024

  • Summer 2024:

  • No previous knowledge of your field of interest is required!


  • You must be currently enrolled in high school or plan to enroll as a freshman in college in the fall of 2023.

  • Students must demonstrate a high level of academic achievement. (Note. Students have an unweighted GPA of 3.3 out of 4)

Scholarship Amount: N/A

Note. While there is no cut-off for income, past scholars have typically come from households earning less than $50,000 annually (for a typical household of 4) with minimum assets.

While not a university scholarship, the Lumiere Research Inclusion Foundation is a non-profit research program for talented, low-income students. Born out of the Lumiere Research Scholar Program (one of the largest 1-on-1 research initiatives for high school students), the foundation offers the same independent research opportunities in literature and writing at no cost.

The Lumiere Breakthrough Scholar Program is the equivalent of the Individual Research Scholar Program at Lumiere Education. In our flagship program, we pair talented high-school students with world-class Ph.D. mentors to work 1-on-1 on an independent research project. At the end of the 12-week program, you’ll learn about the cutting edge of your field and develop an independent research paper.

Application deadline: June 2024 (for the competition)

Eligibility: High school seniors who have won the National YoungArts Competition

Scholarship amount: $50,000 which can be used for tuition, room and board at an accredited school

Entry fee: Free

The National YoungArts Foundation is a non-profit that hosts a competition for budding artists in ten different categories, one of which is writing. Participants can submit novel excerpts, poetry, non-fiction, scripts or spoken word. Winners receive monetary awards and the opportunity to attend the National YoungArts Week. One finalist of the writing category, a high school senior, is then awarded the Lin Arison Excellence in Writing Award which offers a generous scholarship to help you pursue your higher education. While this may seem like a long shot, the National YoungArts Foundation is a respected organization and taking part in the competition can be worth the effort.

Application deadline: Between December and January, depending on the region

Eligibility: High school students over the age of 13

Scholarship amount: Varies with each scholarship

Entry fee: $10 per entry or $30 per portfolio

To participate in the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, you must submit a completed work of art or writing. The writing categories include journalism, humor, flash fiction, memoir, critical essay, poetry, and more, and will be judged on the basis of your skill, uniqueness, and personal voice. Your work will be judged at a regional level first, winners of which will move on to the national level. Award winners are then eligible for multiple scholarships like university scholarships, portfolio scholarships, and summer scholarships. This is a great option for those who have a written project in a niche sub-section of writing.

Application deadline: January 16, 2024 or when 1000 applications have been received

Eligibility: Current high school seniors who are under the age of 22 and plan to enroll in a university/school by Fall 2024

Scholarship amount: Five awards available, each of $10,000 which will be processed over a period of four years

Entry fee: Free

As one of the world’s largest publishing houses, a Penguin Random House award is prestigious and will boost your writing career. That said, this scholarship is best for students who have set college plans but are looking for financial aid. Winners also get to attend a virtual development week with one-on-one coaching with Penguin. Your written submission can belong to poetry, spoken word, fiction/drama, personal essay/memoir, or the book bans prompt (a written piece about a banned book that changed your life). You can go through the winning entries here. Seeing as the competition closes with the first 1000 applicants, it’s best to apply early to this one!

Application deadline: January 4, 2024

Eligibility: Students aged 13 – 18 (open to international applicants as well)

Scholarship amount: Top 10 winners get a 100% scholarship to study at an affiliated university and runners-up get partial scholarships to study with Immerse

Entry fee: Free

Immerse Education is an educational institute based in the UK that provides young students with academic programs. The essay competition directs participants to write a response to a pre-set question in a specific category (while a wide range of categories are available, English Literature and Creative Writing are generally included). Topics are split by age, with one section for 13-15 year olds and another for 16-18 year olds. The scholarship can be redeemed against summer schools in New York, Cambridge, London, Sydney and more, making it ideal for students specifically looking for summer experience.

Application deadline: February (tentatively, based on previous years)

Eligibility: High school seniors who have a minimum GPA of 3.0 (international students can apply as well)

Scholarship amount: $5,000

Entry fee: Free

This scholarship is organized by the National Press Club and is meant for students who are pursuing a career in journalism. Your application must include 3 writing samples which can be articles or multimedia stories. Three letters of recommendation are needed as well as documentation of your college application/acceptance. Coupled with the GPA requirement, this can be a fairly selective scholarship. Should you win, you will also receive one year of membership at the National Press Club.

Application deadline: August 1, 2024

Eligibility: Students in grades 10 – 12 who are interested in horror/dark fiction

Location: Online

Scholarship amount: $500

Entry fee: Free

Offered by the Horror Writers Association, this scholarship is solely for writers of horror or dark fiction. To apply, you will need to send writing samples (either one short story, 3 chapters of a novel, or 4 poems) and a letter of recommendation. If you win, the scholarship amount can be used for college tuition as well as other writing-enhancing activities like writing festivals, residencies, courses, textbooks, software, and more. The stipend must be spent within two years. As a bonus, the winner will also be mentored by a professional author for 6 months!

Application deadline: October (tentatively, based on previous years)

Eligibility: All high school students as well as recent graduates

Location: Online

Scholarship amount: $2,000

Entry fee: Free

This scholarship is primarily for writers of poetry and short fiction. You can either submit a poetry piece of any style or a short fiction piece of any genre, or both if you feel like. In the end, three applicants from each category win the prize after being judged on their work’s creativity, technique, expression, and originality. If you win, the funds will be sent directly to the university you’ve enrolled at and your entries will be published on the NSHSS website. The NSHSS is an educational organization and this is just one of the many scholarships it offers.


Application deadline: February (tentatively, based on previous years)

Eligibility: High school seniors, undergraduate and graduate students. Students must live in NY, NJ, CT, or PA, and have an overall GPA of 3.2 or higher

Scholarship amount: $2,500 which will be directly sent to the university you enroll in

Entry fee: Free

Any student pursuing communications-related fields like advertising, broadcasting, journalism, digital media, public relations, etc., should consider this scholarship. It is offered by a non-profit organization known as the New York Women in Communications (NYWICI). The application process does require an interview as well, marking it as a relatively competitive scholarship. As a winner, you will also get a one-year membership at the NYWICI and access to all its events!

If you’re looking for the opportunity to do in-depth research on various topics in literature or linguistics, you could also consider applying to one of the Lumiere Research Scholar Programs, selective online high school programs for students I founded with researchers at Harvard and Oxford. Last year, we had over 4000 students apply for 500 spots in the program! You can find the application form here.

Stephen is one of the founders of Lumiere and a Harvard College graduate. He founded Lumiere as a PhD student at Harvard Business School. Lumiere is a selective research program where students work 1-1 with a research mentor to develop an independent research paper.

Image Source: Davidson Fellows logo


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