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How To Apply

The 2018 application is now closed.

Final notifications have been sent via email on April 3, 2018.

If you have not received a notification email, please check your spam filters. If you still have not received notification, please email us or call 800-941-3300.



All College Scholarship Program applicants are required to have eligible SAT and/or ACT test scores in order to apply.


Who can apply?  Eligibility and selection criteria

What information and materials do I need in order to apply?  Parts of application and the people involved

When do I apply?  Timeline

How do I apply?  Access to the online application materials

Why should I apply?  Our approach




To be eligible for the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation College Scholarship Program, applicants must meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • Senior standing – Plan to graduate from a U.S. high school in spring 2018.
  • Fall College Enrollment – Intend to enroll in an accredited four-year college beginning in fall 2018.
  • GPA – Earn a cumulative unweighted GPA of 3.5 or above.
  • Test Scores – Receive standardized test scores in the top 15%: SAT combined critical reading and math score of 1200 or above and/or ACT composite score of 26 or above.
  • Income – Demonstrate significant unmet financial need. We will consider applicants with family income up to $95,000. However, we anticipate that a majority of scholarship recipients will be eligible to receive a Pell grant.


Selection Criteria

The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation reviews each College Scholarship Program application individually with the assistance of a panel of national education experts. Among the criteria used in the selection process are:

  • Exceptional academic ability and achievement: Strong academic record, academic awards and honors, and substantive assessments by educators providing confidential recommendations. In addition to GPA and college entrance exam scores, we consider participation in available advanced courses, commitment to learning, and intellectual curiosity.
  • Unmet financial need: Limited family income and assets in light of educational expenses. Substantial unmet educational costs after taking into account other scholarships and grants students may receive.
  • Persistence: Determination and perseverance in the face of challenges, ability to set and remain focused on goals and to put in the effort needed to meet those goals in the face of obstacles.
  • Leadership: Ability to organize and positively influence others in and out of school (family, religious community, sports, arts, etc.).
  • Service to Others: Purposeful and meaningful commitment to others which may be evidenced by participation in volunteer/community service activities.



The College Scholarship Program application requires information from several different people in order to be complete. Each person must have a unique email address in order to receive his/her required forms via email from the online application system. These include:

The Applicant – The student who, if selected, will become a College Scholar.

The Parents/Guardians – Both of the biological or adoptive parents of the applicant. If the parents are not married to each other, there is a separate form for each parent. If there is only one parent (the second parent is deceased, unknown, missing or not in contact with the applicant), then the sole parent can complete the form independently. 

The Academic Recommenders – Two academic recommendations are required, one from an 11th grade teacher and one from a teacher in 9th grade through present. Both must teach a core academic subject (English/language arts, mathematics, social studies/history, science, or foreign language). 

The Principal or Guidance Counselor – A school official who can provide information such as school statistics and test data. 

Read more about the forms and requirements for each of these roles in the following sections. 


The student application is an online form to be completed by the applicant. It requires information about the applicant’s background, academics and interests. Sections include:

  • Basic Information – Address, phone, email, gender, date of birth, and primary language spoken at home.
  • Academics – Grades for core classes in 9th through 11th grade, state standardized test scores, and SAT and/or ACT scores.
  • Honors – Up to five honors or awards from 9th grade to present, including a short answer about why the listed award is important to you.
  • Activities – Up to seven activities in which you spend a significant time outside of class. These can include clubs, extracurricular activities, hobbies, academic groups, volunteer activities, or family responsibilities. 
  • Short Answers and Long Essay – Questions about your academic and personal experiences, intended to help the scholarship selection committee get to know you better. These responses should reveal more about your character, abilities, interests, creativity, goals, and other traits that make you a unique person. 
  • Uploaded materials – Documents that need to be scanned and uploaded to the online application include:
    • Transcripts or Report Cards – All grades and marks from the beginning of 9th grade through the most recent grading period (semester, trimester, mid-term, six weeks, etc.).
    • Test Score Reports – The official score reports for the most recent state standardized test as well as SAT and/or ACT score reports.



The parent/guardian form is an online form to be completed by the biological or adoptive parents of the applicant. If the parent(s)/guardian(s) live in the same household, they will complete one Parent/Guardian Form together. If the applicant has only one parent/guardian (the second parent/guardian is deceased, missing or unknown), your parent/guardian will complete one Parent/Guardian Form. If the parents/guardians live in two separate households, they will each complete a separate Parent/Guardian Form.

  • Employment and Education – Current employment status, current or most recent employment information, highest level of education attained, and information on colleges or universities if attended and field of study. 
  • Household Members – People living in the household, as listed on federal tax returns, and their relationship to the applicant.
  • Applicant Information – Academic services provided to the applicant, homeschooling, repeating or skipping a grade, school conduct, and short answers to provide additional information about the applicant’s strengths and potential.
  • Financial Form – Income and benefits, assets, self-employment information, and financial circumstances(e.g., business losses, extraordinary family medical expenses, expenses for disabled children) as related to the most recent tax year.
  • Uploaded Materials – Documents that need to be scanned and uploaded to the online application include:
    • 2016 Federal Tax Return – Complete forms, including W-2 form(s), schedules, and attachments.
    • 2015 and 2014 Federal Tax Returns – 1040 forms only, not including schedules or attachments.


 Academic Recommenders

Two academic recommendations are required, one from an 11th grade teacher in a core academic subject (English/language arts, mathematics, social studies/history, science, or foreign language), and one from another teacher or professor who has worked with you in two of the last four years. Both must be well-acquainted with your academic performance and character. The recommendation forms must be completed online; a standard “letter” of recommendation cannot be accepted as a substitute. Questions include:

  • Ratings – Seven-point scale to rate the applicant on a variety of academic and personal skills and characteristics.
  • Short Answers – Summaries of the teacher’s experience with the applicant in the classroom, both as a student and as a person.

 Principal or Guidance Counselor

The School Profile is an online form that should be completed by a school official who can provide information such as school statistics and test data. In most cases this is the principal or head of school, or the applicant’s guidance counselor. Questions include:

  • School Information – School type (public, private, etc.), class rank and honor roll policies, and school resources. If the school has a published School Profile document, it should be uploaded to this form.
  • Applicant Information – Class rank and honor roll (if applicable), course enrollment, state test scores, attendance, and conduct.



The College Scholarship Program application is available to students only during their senior year. The application opens in mid-September and closes in mid-November. The applications are reviewed December through March, and final notifications are made in April. 



Access to online application opens in mid-September. When the application period is open, instructions and links to the online portal will be available. 



This scholarship rewards excellence by supporting high-achieving high school seniors with financial need who seek to attend the nation's best four-year colleges and universities. Read more about the benefits of the College Scholarship Program on the College Scholarship Program page. 

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Watch our recent webinar!

Learn best practices and strategies for submitting a competive application. Cooke Foundation staff cover details on eligibility requirements, deadlines, and answer attendees' questions about this opportunity. View a recording.