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How To Apply

Each year, the Foundation chooses up to 60 Young Scholars from more than 2,000 7th-grade applicants based on high academic ability and achievement, financial need, persistence, and the desire to help others.

Young Scholars come from all racial and ethnic backgrounds and from rural, suburban, and urban communities throughout the United States. Many Young Scholars are the first in their family to pursue a college education. For Young Scholars entering the program, the average family income is approximately $25,000, and more than 90 percent have incomes under $60,000.



Phase One of the Young Scholars Program application is closed.

Phase One notifications have been sent to all applicants. If you have not received notification via email, please contact our Help Desk at Be sure to specify the Young Scholars Program in your email subject.



To be eligible for the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Young Scholars Program:

  • You must be entering 8th grade in the fall of 2014.
  • Since the beginning of 6th grade, you have earned grades of all or mostly As in school with no Cs or below in your core academic subjects (English/language arts, math, science, social studies/history).
  • Your family income does not exceed $95,000. The average family income of entering Young Scholars is approximately $25,000.  In recent years nearly all Young Scholars have come from families with incomes below $60,000.
  • You must reside in the U.S. or a U.S. territory and plan to attend high school in the U.S. 

*Exception: students with documented learning differences.



The Foundation reviews each application individually with the assistance of a panel of national experts. Young Scholars are chosen based upon the criteria below, and while all of these criteria are important, the Foundation pays particular attention to the first two.

  • High academic ability and achievement: Strong academic record, academic awards and honors, and substantive assessments by educators providing confidential letters of recommendation. We consider grades (typically mostly 'As'), achievement test scores, participation in available honors or advanced courses, commitment to learning, and work ethic.
  • Financial need: Limited family income and insufficient funds to cover significant out-of-pocket education-related expenses. The average family income of our previous class of Young Scholars was approximately $25,000.
  • 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.
  • Desire to help others: Purposeful and meaningful commitment to others which may be evidenced by participation in volunteer/community service activities.

The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation does not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, creed, color, sex, age, physical or mental disabilities, sexual orientation, or national origin.

Foundation staff, board members, and their families are not eligible to apply. 


Phase Two

If you have received an invitation to complete the Phase Two online application, you will need to click the Phase Two Application button below and log in using the same User ID and password. The Phase Two online application must be submitted, along with all supporting documentation, no later than May 20, 2014 (by 12:00 p.m., noon, Central Time).

Phase Two application requirements include:
  • Continuation of Student Application, including short answers and essays, and uploads of transcripts, test score reports, and a graded written assignment.
  • Parent Financial Form, including a copy of 2013 Federal Tax Return and attachments (due May 22, 2014).
  • Personal Recommendation from a coach, mentor, etc. (due May 22, 2014).

Please be aware that many institutions have very strict regulations on their email systems and the email from our application to your recommender or parent(s) may be screened as spam.  PLEASE ensure that your recommender and parent(s) have received the email and, if not, contact the Help Desk as soon as possible. 

Do not wait until the last minute to submit your application as you may experience delays due to heavy server traffic.  Deadline extensions will not be granted.


Phase Two Application Process

You may complete Phase Two of the application in any order you prefer.  You may return to the application to update and edit as frequently as desired until you submit your application or the application deadline (May 20, 2014) has passed.

To avoid losing data that you enter:

  • Do not use your browser’s Forward or Back button
  • Frequently click the Save button
  • Always use the Logout link on the navigation bar (located on the left side) to exit.

You must submit the student application by no later than 12:00 p.m., noon, Central Time, on May 20, 2014.  The Custodial and (ifa pplicable) Noncustodial Parent Form and Personal Recommendation must be submitted by 12:00 p.m., noon, Central Time, on May 22, 2014

Do not wait until the last minute to submit your application, as you may experience delays due to heavy server traffic.  Deadline extensions will not be granted.

As you are working on your Phase One application, we strongly encourage you to begin preparing for Phase Two by gathering the required documentation so that you will be able to submit your Phase Two application quickly should you be invited to do so.


Check Your Status

If you wish to check the status of your Phase Two application, including recommendations, click the Review My Status button.

If you need assistance, contact us online, Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., Central Time, excluding weekends and holidays.




For more information about the Young Scholars Program, eligibility, selection criteria, and the application procedure, please review our FAQs or contact the Regional Talent Center that conducts outreach in your state.

Translations of the application guidelines are available in Spanish, Chinese, and Korean

A sample of the Phase One Student Application and Parent Form are available for you to review.