The Cooke College Scholarship Program is an undergraduate scholarship program available to high-achieving high school seniors with financial need who seek to attend and graduate from the nation's best four-year colleges and universities.


If I take a gap year, am I eligible to apply?

Students who are taking a gap year after high school graduation are not eligible to apply for the Cooke College Scholarship Program. All applicants must apply during their senior year of high school. In some cases, after receiving the scholarship students may be allowed to defer funding for a year, pending approval from their college or university.

Do I have to attend college in the U.S.?

No, you do not have to attend college in the U.S., but you must attend a fully accredited four-year institution to pursue a baccalaureate degree.

Am I eligible to apply to the Cooke College Scholarship Program?

To be eligible to apply to the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation College Scholarship Program you must:

•Graduate from a U.S. high school in spring 2024
•Intend to enroll full time in an accredited four-year college beginning in fall 2024
•Earn a cumulative unweighted GPA of 3.5 or above
•Demonstrate unmet financial need. We will consider applicants with family annual gross income up to $95,000. During the selection process, the Foundation will conduct a full financial review which will take into account all income and assets of the student and the student’s parents.

If I am homeschooled, am I eligible to apply?

Yes, homeschooled students are eligible to apply.

We strongly encourage you to request your two recommendations from educators other than your parents, for example, a professor from any dual-enrollment college courses, someone who has mentored you in a tutorial, the local librarian with whom you’ve discussed books over the years, or someone in whose lab you have done research.

If I have a diagnosed learning difference, am I eligible to apply?

Yes, if you meet or exceed the other selection criteria, you are eligible to apply.

If I received a GED diploma, am I eligible to apply?

No. If you received a GED diploma, you are not eligible to apply to the Cooke College Scholarship Program.

Must I be a U.S. citizen to apply?

No. You must, however, reside in the United States or a U.S. territory and attend high school in the United States. At this time, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation is not providing services to students who attend high school outside of the United States.

If I am already enrolled in a bachelor's degree program, am I eligible to apply?

No. You must not be enrolled in a bachelor’s program at the time of application. You must be a current senior in high school planning to enroll full time in an accredited four-year institution in the fall after graduation.

Financial Eligibility

What financial information is required on the application?

You must provide information on your family’s Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) as reported on your federal tax return from the past three years. If your family did not file taxes for any reason, you must provide estimated income for each year as well as an explanation.

Why did I receive an invitation from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation to apply for the College Scholarship Program when I am not eligible to apply based on my family’s income?

We receive names and addresses of students who scored highly on the PSAT or SAT from the College Board. Thus, many students receive our mailing because they did exceptionally well on their standardized tests and checked a box on their test form indicating that they would like to receive information about scholarship opportunities. The College Board does not release information regarding students’ family income. As a result, some of the students who receive our mailing do not qualify financially for the Cooke College Scholarship Program.

What if my parent(s)/guardian(s) or I do not file federal taxes?

If you or your parents do not file federal taxes, we require you to provide estimated financial information. You must also include an explanation regarding your family’s financial circumstances.

Application Process

How should I submit my recommendations?

All recommendations should be submitted online through the Common App. To add a recommender, including both teachers and counselors, go to the Recommenders and FERPA section, click the Invite Recommenders button, select the type of recommender, and type in their email address and name in the appropriate fields.  A guide to the Common App for recommenders can be found here: https://www.commonapp.org/counselors-and-recommenders/recommender-guide.

How do I know if my application is complete?

The Common App system will not allow you to submit an incomplete application.

Common App will email you with confirmation that your application has been submitted. If you do not receive this email, you can log in to your application account and click the “Submit Application” tab. You should see a green check mark indicating that your application was submitted. If you are experiencing issues, contact the Common App support desk at https://www.commonapp.org/help-center or use the Chat feature while you are logged into your application.

What does the application process involve?

The College Scholarship Program application is submitted using the Common App. You will complete the Common App general requirements, which include things like your contact information, the school you attend and your grades, and your activities and honors. You will also invite your school counselor and two teachers to submit recommendations through the Common App. Once you have created a Common App, add the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation as one of your “schools” to access the application questions that are specific to the College Scholarship Program. These will include:

  • Eligibility
  • Several short essays
  • Extracurricular activities and honors
  • Intended major
  • Financial information, including the last three years’ Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) for your household

You can learn more about applying through the Common App on their website: https://www.commonapp.org/how-apply

How many recommendations will be required?

We require two academic recommendations which will be submitted through Common App. One recommendation must be 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 the last four years. Both of the recommenders should be well-acquainted with your performance and character, and should be able to discuss your academic progress through the class curriculum, challenges you faced, how you overcame them, and your overall academic engagement.

Must I provide an official transcript?

Yes, and your official high school transcript will be submitted by your school counselor through the Common App.

Are test scores required for the scholarship application?

For the 2023-2024 academic year, the Cooke Foundation is test-free and does not require applicants to submit test scores for the College Scholarship Program application. The Foundation will not review any test scores whatsoever in its selection process.

What are the selection criteria?

The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation reviews each application individually with assistance from a committee of expert professionals in the field of education. The criteria used in the selection process are:

•Academic ability and achievement: Strong academic record, academic awards and honors, and substantive assessments by educators providing confidential recommendations. We also look at:
○ GPA (minimum of 3.5, unweighted)
○ participation in available advanced courses
○ commitment to learning
○ intellectual curiosity
•Unmet financial need: We will consider applicants with family income up to $95,000. Last year’s cohort of new College Scholars had a median family income of approximately $35,000.
•Persistence: Demonstrates perseverance when facing obstacles, is goal-oriented, and exhibits the ability to adapt to change.
•Leadership: Considered a positive role model, takes initiative, and contributes meaningful service efforts to a community or social issue.

How many Cooke College Scholarship recipients will the Foundation select?

In April 2023, 60 new College Scholars were selected for the Cooke College Scholarship Program, in addition to the 45 Young Scholar seniors who received the College Scholarship as well. The number of Scholars selected each year varies.

What the Scholarship Covers

As a Cooke Scholar, what benefits would I receive besides the scholarship funding?

In addition to your award, as a Cooke Scholar you will have access to college planning support and personal advising throughout your college tenure, as well as the opportunity to connect with a network of highly-talented scholars and alumni through events, a mentoring program, and social media. You will also be eligible to apply for the Internship Stipend program, Conference and Travel Stipend, and Graduate Scholarship.

Will I be liable for taxes on the scholarship?

A portion of each scholarship award may be considered taxable by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. Scholarship recipients are responsible for ascertaining tax liability for the scholarship, and for reporting the taxable portions of their scholarship as income. See publications 520 and 970 on the IRS website for details: http://www.irs.gov/

As a Cooke Scholar, would I be allowed to receive other grants or scholarships and still qualify for the scholarship program?

With few restrictions, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation will permit you to receive other awards. In fact, all scholars must apply for financial aid from their four-year institutions each year. Most receive other forms of aid in addition to the scholarship funds.

Does the scholarship support study in non-degree programs?

No. Only students who will pursue baccalaureate degree programs at accredited colleges or universities are eligible for the scholarship.

How will I receive my scholarship?

Scholarship amounts are sent directly to your school. If a stipend is included as a portion of your scholarship, the school will release the funds to you.

Will the scholarship pay for a bachelor's/master's program?

The scholarship will cover the undergraduate portion of dual degree programs. The graduate portion – generally the 5th year – is not funded through the Cooke College Scholarship Program.

Will the Cooke College Scholarship Program pay for me to attend an online accredited four-year college or university?

No, accredited online four-year programs are not covered by Cooke College Scholarship Program funds.

How much support does the Cooke College Scholarship Program provide?

The amount of the award varies by student, based on the cost of attendance as well as the amount of other scholarships or grants a recipient will receive. The award, which is last dollar funding after all institutional aid, can be as much as $55,000 a year. Each award may fund all or a portion of educational costs, including tuition, room and board, books, and other required fees for the period required to complete your bachelor’s degree program (lasting no more than four years).

If I am awarded the Cooke College Scholarship, will I automatically receive funding to complete my undergraduate degree?

No. The scholarship is renewable each year. At the end of each academic year, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation will review your grades, financial eligibility, conduct, progress toward degree, and cooperation with the Foundation and determine, at the Foundation’s sole discretion, whether to renew the scholarship for the next academic year. The Foundation may also, at its sole discretion, revoke a scholarship during the academic year based on a similar review.

Will the scholarship pay for more than four years of college to earn my bachelor's degree?

The Cooke College Scholarship is intended to provide four years of funding for recipients. Exceptions to this would only be considered on a case-by-case basis.

If I am selected as a Cooke Scholar, what would be expected of me?

During the summer before your freshman year in college, Cooke Scholars are required to participate in a Foundation-sponsored Scholars Weekend in the Washington, DC area. In addition, the Foundation expects Cooke Scholars to communicate and work closely with their designated Foundation educational adviser. Lastly, the Foundation also expects Cooke Scholars to:

  • Maintain a strong academic record (cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better) while taking an appropriately challenging course load.
  • Act with honesty and personal integrity.
  • Demonstrate character and leadership.
  • Be concerned about and engaged in their community.
  • Maintain a good disciplinary record.
  • Work cooperatively with Foundation staff.
  • These responsibilities are outlined in a Scholar Agreement, which each selected scholar is required to sign.

When will the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation notify me of my award amount?

Over the summer you will receive an award letter, usually within four weeks of the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation receiving your Cost of Attendance from your four-year institution.


When is the application deadline?

The 2024 College Scholarship Program application will be open August 24 2023 – November 16, 2023.

Who was Jack Kent Cooke?

Mr. Cooke was a philanthropist, businessman, and devotee of learning and the arts who left the bulk of his estate to establish the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation to help students of exceptional promise reach their full potential through education.

Are there restrictions on fields of study for Cooke College Scholarship recipients?

You can pursue a baccalaureate degree in the field of study of your choice. However, non-degree programs are not eligible.

Are there any costs or fees associated with applying for Cooke Scholarships?

There is no cost or fee associated with completing and submitting a Cooke Scholarship application.

Who do I contact with questions regarding the scholarship application process?



Contact Us

The Cooke College Scholarship Program application is currently closed.

Around the deadline, we receive hundreds of emails a day and will respond in the order that they are received. Please do not send multiple emails.

If you have questions about your application or the program, please do not call the Foundation. Please direct them to scholarships@jkcf.org.