Male student with a hoodie and glasses on is researching scholarships on a laptop
Outlier Articles Home

College Success

10 Best Scholarships for Online Students [2023]

01.26.2023 • 8 min read

Jennifer Rivera

Subject Matter Expert

Lots of scholarships for online students are available. Here’s a list of the top 10 ones around. Also, learn the steps to apply for scholarships.

In This Article

  1. 10 Top Scholarships for Online College Students

  2. How To Apply for Online Scholarships?

  3. Don’t Forget the FAFSA

  4. What Are Some Challenges Online Students Face?

In a recent survey by Cengage, 68% of college students said it’s a struggle for them or their family members to pay for their education. The biggest pain point? Tuition.

You can tackle this obstacle with financial aid. When going to school online, you have access to aid if your school is accredited and you meet the requirements.

Another solution? Scholarships. You might know the basics about scholarships, but there are more available than you think.

Most scholarships don’t care if students are on campus or getting an online degree. Many of them are available to online learners. That’s great news. One thing to remember is that most of these scholarships have requirements for those who apply. But many have only a few conditions, like writing an essay. Some are merit scholarships that require a particular GPA. Others are judged on the submission alone.

We’ve put together a list of great scholarships for online students. Most of them are for bachelor’s degree students in the U.S. If you are an international student or seeking a graduate degree—such as a master’s degree or Ph.D.—you may not be eligible for many of these.

10 Top Scholarships for Online College Students

Here are 10 scholarships for online students that award $1,000 or more.

Get Educated Online Scholarship Program

This scholarship is worth $1,000. It’s available to U.S. citizens in an online accredited education program in the U.S. You also have to have a 3.0 GPA and write a 500-word essay. Currently, there are 2 deadlines for this student scholarship: October 15 and March 15.

College JumpStart Scholarship

You can earn this $1,000 scholarship based on merit. This means they don’t take financial need into consideration. It’s open to students in 10th-12th grade, as well as current college students and nontraditional students. The money must be used at a school in the United States.

Burger King James W. McLamore Whopper Scholarship Award

This award is for $1,000—and up to $50,000. It’s open to high school seniors who plan on pursuing higher education. The deadline for this student scholarship is January 31.

PSR Rise Above Scholarship

This scholarship is worth $1,000. It’s available to anyone currently enrolled in an accredited undergraduate degree or graduate degree program in the United States. Applicants must be in good academic standing with a GPA of at least 2.75. You will have to write a 500-word essay about some way you have overcome adversity in your life. See the scholarship application for more specific details. The deadline for this student scholarship is January 15.

Create-A-Greeting-Card $10,000 scholarship

This $10,000 scholarship is open to currently enrolled high school students, high school graduates, college students, and university students. You need to be pursuing a bachelor’s degree and be a legal resident of the U.S. or an international student with an education visa. Applicants will design a greeting card. The organization will narrow it down to the best entries. Then the public votes on the top 10. The application deadline is May 2.

Superpower Scholarship

This is a $2,500 scholarship open to any U.S. citizen age 14 and older to use towards their education. For this scholarship, you need to write an essay about how you would use any superpower of your choice, even if it was only for a day. The deadline for this scholarship is May 31.

Frame My Future Scholarship

This multi-level scholarship—with a top prize of $6,000—asks you to create an original piece expressing what you hope to achieve after college. Creations are voted on by the general public. Prizes go to the top 4 ranking entries, with award amounts ranging from $500 to $6,000. The deadline is April 1.

Elk Mountain Tents Outdoor Enthusiast Scholarship

This $500 merit scholarship is for those who have a love for the outdoors. This scholarship is open to students registered at an accredited community college or university in the term immediately after the award is made. You also need to have a GPA of at least 2.5 and answer a questionnaire. Though permanent residents of Idaho are given an extra point, the scholarship is open to anyone in the United States. The deadline is July 31.

Spirit of Giving Scholarship

This scholarship has three $1,000 prizes. All high school seniors and current university students, including graduate students, are eligible if they can prove enrollment in some form of post-secondary education program for the full academic year following the award. This scholarship asks applicants to write an essay on how they have advanced the spirit of giving in their community. The deadline for this scholarship is July 31.

Fighting Bullying with Technology

This scholarship has two $1,000 awards. It is open to anyone who has either been a victim of bullying or fought against bullying. This scholarship requires an essay about how one has dealt with bullying or what community service initiatives one has enacted to help prevent bullying. The two deadlines for this scholarship are December 15 and August 15.

How To Apply for Online Scholarships?

Here are some tips for applying for financial aid, grants, or any scholarship awards.

Start Early

Many applications have similar due dates, and creating essays or projects for these applications can take a long time. The farther you plan ahead to start looking for applications and writing essays, the better off you are.

If you are getting a 4-year degree, don’t stop looking for education scholarships once you get in. Keep looking through all 4 years.

Be Organized

If you aren’t well organized, you can confuse deadlines, send items off to the wrong scholarship, or miss important scholarship details. Find a way to organize each scholarship, either electronically or on paper.

Make sure you know the deadline and eligibility criteria for all your scholarships, as well as a generous estimate for how long each application process will take. Also, be aware how many credit hours are needed to be considered full time. Many scholarships will require you to be a full-time student.

Do Your Research

As you are looking for different sources of aid and scholarship opportunities, make sure you do your research! Read all of the qualifications carefully so you don't waste time applying for scholarships you don’t qualify for.

Also, make sure you go to the original website for the scholarship. Look carefully to see if the website asks you to create an account. Some require you to create accounts, but many do not. Finally, make sure you know if the scholarship is a one-time scholarship or if it is a renewable source of funding.

Read the Directions Carefully

Every scholarship, every grant, and every aid package is different. Know the difference between scholarships and grants. Make sure you read every bit of the directions and eligibility requirements. Again, you don’t want to spend any time on incorrectly submitted applications.

Get Help

Always have someone read your essays for you. Having someone else’s eyes can help you create a strong essay. Understand the difference between having someone help you with your argument, grammar, and sentence structure, and having someone help you write (or rewrite) your essay. These should be your words and your ideas. But having someone help you structure your argument and your wording can make for a stronger essay.

Be Ethical

Make sure when you are writing essays and creating projects that these are your own creations. If you are writing essays about your experiences, make sure they are your true experiences. Never lie in an essay. Your integrity and your chances of being awarded the prize are in the balance.

Don’t Forget the FAFSA

Pell Grants worth around $3.75 billion went unclaimed by students in 2021, according to a new study by the National College Attainment Network. These grants were left on the table by students who did not fill out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid).

Don’t let this be you.

FAFSA is a government form that is required for most financial aid packages. If your school is accredited, the school has access to financial aid from the U.S. Department of Education. You will want to make sure to fill out your FAFSA to see if you qualify for any government grants or aid.

What Are Some Challenges Online Students Face?

Getting a college degree as an online student can be challenging, but it’s absolutely do-able. Here are some challenges for online students, as well as some ways to work through the challenges.

Hidden Costs

Some online courses have online fees. These can range a great deal, so make sure you look for them. This is one of many ways you can save money in college.

If you are looking for an affordable program with no hidden costs, Golden Gate University’s Degrees+ is a great option for accredited online courses at a fabulous price.

Competing Priorities

Online students are often nontraditional students who are balancing careers, families, and school. Whether you are a full-time or part-time student in an online program, these can be real challenges to your success. But don’t worry. Going back to school at any age is possible.

Balancing Time

When you are on campus, there are set times for you to learn, eat, and play. But when you are an online student, there are often no set times. If you are a first-time student, this can be especially challenging. Online courses are often asynchronous (meaning you don’t have to be online at a certain time), so it can be hard to manage your time as an online student.

You can manage your limited time when going back to school as an adult. It’s possible. Find what works best for you.

Remember, each year, over $7.4 million in scholarships are awarded by private organizations. And there are so many more out there. Be sure to apply to as many as you can. Follow the tips outlined and keep yourself organized.

Going to college can be expensive, but scholarships are often a perseverance game. Keep applying for any scholarships you are eligible for. And make sure to fill out that FAFSA to see what grants you can earn. In 2021, nearly $4 billion in Pell Grants went unclaimed. Make sure you cover all your bases. You’ll have a better chance at success in getting the money you need for college.

Degrees+: Discover Online College Unlike Anything You’ve Experienced

Outlier (winner of TIME Best Inventions 2020) and Golden Gate University (#1 school for working professionals) have redesigned the experience of earning a college degree to minimize cost and maximize outcomes. Explore a revolutionary way to earn your college degree: