College is expensive. Don’t miss these great student competitions with big scholarships!

Posted November 22, 2020 by Aisha Abdullah, PhD

The college experience is changing in ways we couldn’t have predicted even one year ago. Many schools have gone partially, or totally, virtual. Students, on and off-campus, must contend with quarantine and heightened safety measures. As parents and students navigate this dynamic landscape, many are discovering that even with pandemic-related tuition freezes, decreases, and discounts, college is still very expensive. 

With average annual tuition at nearly $10,000 for public universities and $35,087 for private, according to USNews, financial aid is of top priority. Fortunately, academic competitions offer tens of millions of dollars in scholarships and grants each year. Below is a list of competitions that have big cash prizes that can help you pay for college.

Bow Seat Ocean Awareness Student Contest – prizes of up to $1,500
Brower Youth Awards – 6 awardees receive $3,000
Career Safe Youth Safety Video Contest – CTE students 13 and older, scholarships of $3,500-7,500
Center for Unsung Heroes Discovery Award – prizes totaling $14,000
Courageous Persuaders – high school contest with scholarships of up to $3,000 
C-SPAN StudentCam Documentary Competition – cash prizes totaling $100,000
CyberPatriot – more than $50,000 in scholarships to winning teams
Davidson Fellows – scholarships of 10,000 – 50,000
Diamond Challenge – awards $100,000 in prizes
Exploravision – up to $10,000 prize
Fleet Reserve Association’s Americanism Essay Contest – up to $5,000 award
George S. & Stella M. Knight Essay Contest – prize of up to $5,000
Intel International Science and Engineering Fair – prizes and awards totaling nearly $5 million
John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Essay Contest  – prize of up to $10,000
Junior Science and Humanities Symposium – regional awards of up to $2,000, national awards of up to $12,000
Mathworks Math Modeling Challenge – team scholarships of $5,000 – 20,000
Modeling the Future Challenge – awards $60,000 in prizes
National Peace Essay Contest $2,500 prize
NCF Envirothon – Top 3 teams received awards totaling $30,000
NFPA Fluid Power Robotics Challenge – $40,000 scholarship (10,000 per year)
Patriot’s Pen Essay Contest – up to $30,000 scholarship for high school, $5,000 for middle school
Poetry Out Loud – up to $20,000 in scholarships
Regeneron Science Talent Search (STS) – individual prizes of $2,000 – 250,000 in prizes
Scholastic Art and Writing Awards – scholarships of up to $10,000
Teendrive 365 Video Challenge – up to $15,000 award
The American Rocketry Challenge – $100,000 in prizes for winning teams
We the Students Essay Competition scholarships of up to $7,500
You Be The Chemist Challenge – up to $12,000 prize
Youngarts’ National Arts Competition – up to $10,000 award

Find other big prize competitions in the Institute of Competition Sciences (ICS) database