If you worked hard through high school and earned the right to be valedictorian of your class, there are college scholarships reserved just for you. Most scholarships for high school valedictorians are offered by a particular college or university, so it pays to shop around for your school to get the best deal. A high grade-point average can also open doors for financial awards.
Colleges throughout the U.S. offer scholarships to high school valedictorians, though eligibility depends on the school. Some scholarships are only available to valedictorians who graduated from a high school within the county where the college is located. Keep in mind that being a valedictorian doesn't guarantee you a valedictorian scholarship because you may be competing against other applicants.
Some national scholarships offer prestigious awards for students who stand out from the crowd. For example, the Elks National Foundation features the Most Valuable Student competition, which awards 500 four-year scholarships to high school seniors each year. Two qualified students receive the maximum award of a $60,000 scholarship. The National Merit Scholarship Program rewards select students on the basis of academic performance, extracurricular activities and accomplishments. The National Merit Scholarship award is a one-time payment of $2,500. It also offers a school-sponsored merit scholarships worth as much as $2,000 per year.
School-specific valedictorian scholarship requirements may include completing a Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. SAT and ACT scores may also play a factor in a school's decision. Scholarship committees usually seek to reward students who succeed academically, perform community service and demonstrate leadership. You may have to write an essay and provide recommendation letters from your teachers.
Contact your high school guidance counselor to ask about scholarship opportunities. Whether you've already chosen a college or you're considering several schools, visit the financial aid office to explore additional opportunities. For example, some private and non-profit organizations work with colleges to offer scholarships.
Jeannine Mancini, a Florida native, has been writing business and personal finance articles since 2003. Her articles have been published in the Florida Today and Orlando Sentinel. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Central Florida.