The Presidential Scholarship (The U.S. Presidential Scholars Program) is a respected national appreciation program for students. Since it was established in 1964 by President Lyndon B. Johnson, it has honored exceptional and gifted high school seniors around the nation.

Every year, high-achieving kids who exhibit talent and leadership skills are honored through the program. One of the highest distinctions a high school graduate may receive in the United States of America is a Presidential Scholarship. Receiving a presidential scholarship application invitation, let alone getting selected as a finalist, is quite prestigious.

The Worth You Can Get from a Presidential Scholarship Program

A Presidential Scholarship offered by the Presidential Scholars Program is not a grant with any monetary value, unlike other scholarship schemes. Instead, it offers students access to priceless chances and experiences that they wouldn’t otherwise have.

Each selected scholar is given a Presidential Scholars medallion to recognize their academic success after a rigorous application process that culminates with an exclusive, expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C., in June. During their stay, scholars will also see historical sites and go to recitals, celebrations, and ceremonies.

Scholars have the opportunity to interact with prominent national leaders, including renowned authors, scientists, educators, musicians, and government officials, during the  Washington, D.C. trip. Numerous chances exist to network with successful peers and establish enduring relationships that will benefit one’s long-term career.

Although students don’t receive scholarship funds from the Presidential Scholars Program, they benefit from obtaining other types of financial aid.

How Many Applicants Submit Applications to be Presidential Scholars?

The U.S. Presidential Scholars Program is not open to the general public. Students must be invited to apply because nominations are the only method of application.

Each Chief State School Officer (CSSO) may propose ten male and ten female candidates who satisfy the U.S. Presidential Scholars’ candidacy requirements. This brings the total number of applicants to almost 4,000. Candidates are chosen based on their exceptional academic performance and residency within the CSSO’s jurisdiction.

Each CSSO may submit a maximum of five candidates for consideration in the career and technical education fields. This number is reduced by the committee to 60 semifinalists for the last round of reviews.

The White House Commission on Presidential Scholars selects the scholars each year. 121 Presidential Scholars are chosen from the general component through a rigorous selection procedure, while 20 students chosen from the art component and 20 students chosen from the CTE component each advance to the final selection. There are usually 161 annual scholars in all.

Eligibility and Requirements for Presidential Scholarship

Candidates are judged on a variety of factors that would allow a student to be recognized as the country’s best representative. The most important prerequisites are:

  • Academic success in secondary school reports
  • Personal Characteristics
  • Leadership abilities
  • Self-assessments
  • Community service & extracurriculars
  • Nearly perfect SAT/ACT scores
  • Artistic achievement
  • Achievement in career and technical fields
  • Scholarship essays

How to Become a Presidential Scholarship Awardee

Every year, the schedule for the Presidential Scholars Program remains the same. It is customary for invitations to apply to be sent out in January, with the end of February serving as the deadline for submitting the necessary paperwork.

In the months before this program cycle ends, the review committee will examine the applications and confirm the 161 finalists, with recognition ceremonies performed in June.

If you want to pursue a presidential scholarship, there are several options available to you. High scores on the SAT or ACT are the first step. To get this, one must score in the top percentile nationally rather than just receiving excellent marks.

You are permitted to retake the SAT/ACT as often as necessary until you are happy with your results, unlike with other systems of evaluation. A number of recognition groups that have the authority to nominate pupils are also available for you to join or participate in.

Any gifted senior in high school who excels in the performing or visual arts have the opportunity to be nominated for the Presidential Scholarship through the YoungArts Program since the program’s expansion in 1979. Members who are in their senior year of high school and fulfill all conditions for the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program are eligible to receive the scholarship.

There is another option to become a scholar if you intend to pursue a career in technical education. High school students who exhibit aptitude and proficiency in career and technical education were included in the program in 2015, marking another expansion of the initiative.

Instead of vying for a nomination, possible candidates will be evaluated according to standards of excellence in each of the components stated.

How to Apply for a Presidential Scholarship

Interestingly, there are no open applications for the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program. Students must be invited to apply; they cannot apply on their own. Applications are only accepted through nomination. So, just getting nominated to apply is an outstanding accomplishment.

Candidates must meet the following requirements in order to be considered: they must be U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents of the United States, current high school seniors, and participants in one of the eligible components.

There are three ways to be invited to submit an application for students:

  • General Component – Score within the top percentiles for the SAT or ACT, nationally.
  • CTE (Career and Technical Education) Component – Obtain the Chief State School Officer’s nomination (CSSO).
  • Arts Component – have been recommended by the review committee or a partner group, such as the YoungArts Program.

Invitations are issued to the chosen students once they have been nominated. The invitation contains a special nomination ID number that gives access to an online portal where candidates’ papers can be submitted. Essays, self-evaluations, secondary school reports, and official transcripts are some examples of these items.