Founded in 1994, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has invested billions of dollars in scholarships for underserved and minority students. In 2017, they unveiled a new grant: The Gates Scholarship. This scholarship will run over the next 10 years, awarding a final total of 3,000 students. Here’s what you need to know if you want to apply.

About the Award

The Gates Scholarship is a highly selective award that funds the full cost of attendance that is not already covered by federal aid such as Pell Grants, as determined by the FAFSA. The scholarship aims to enable highly promising low-income students to attend college and focus on their studies rather than concerning themselves with how to finance their education.

There is not a timeline cutoff for the award. It will fund awardees from their first year all the way through graduation, providing that they maintain excellent academic status.

In addition to funding their college fees, Gates Scholarship recipients will have access to a network of support, resources and mentorship opportunities that will provide support and guidance as they earn their degrees.


To apply for a Gates Scholarship, you must be a high school senior in good standing with a minimum cumulative weighted GPA of 3.3 on a 4.0 scale, have completed your FAFSA and be eligible to receive a Pell Grant. Additionally, you must also be a U.S. citizen, national, or permanent resident from one of the following ethnic groups:

  • African-American
  • American Indian/Alaska Native
  • Asian & Pacific Islander American
  • Hispanic American

The applicant must plan to enroll full-time, in a four-year degree program, at an accredited, not-for-profit, private or public college or university in the United States with the intention of earning a 4-year Bachelor’s degree in any field.

These encompass the basic eligibility requirements, but the most competitive applicants will fall in the top 10% of their graduating class and have a proven record of leadership abilities and have demonstrated emotional maturity, motivation, and perseverance.


It is important to understand that you must begin your application the spring or summer prior to entering your senior year. The timeline is as follows:

  • Applications become available in July and are due in September.
  • In December, 2,000 semi-finalists will be invited to complete a phase II application, which will be due in January.
  • From these, 600 finalists will be invited to have either in-person or video interviews in March.
  • The 300 final Gates Scholarship recipients will be notified in April.