In an effort to attract the best and brightest students to continue their education, Bill Gates founded the Gates Millennium Scholars Program in 1999. An initial $1 billion grant from Bill Gates provided the initial fun dinging for these full-ride scholarships. One of the missions of the program is to foster the educational needs of future leaders across a variety of high-need fields.
The application opens in early August of each year. The award is only open to minority students of African American, Asian American, Hispanic American, or American Indian descent. Furthermore, students must be legal residents of the United States and hold at least a 3.3 grade point average in order to apply for the award. In addition to those criteria, applicants must also demonstrate leadership potential. Some students meet this requirement through community service actives, others through engagement in extracurricular sports or clubs, and others meet it through church or other activities outside of school. Applicants are required to demonstrate financial need, and the scholarship defines this as qualifying for the Federal Pell Grant based on the information that students complete on the FAFSA application. The award is only open to students who are attending a four-year college or university in the U.S. for the first time. Completed applications must be received by the January 13, 2016 deadline.
The Gates Millennium Scholarship is unique in that it provides more than just financial support to deserving students. In addition, awardees attend leadership develop seminars who allow for opportunities for professional growth. Furthermore, awardees who decide to continue their education in graduate school in certain areas (STEM, computer science, education, library science, etc.) may apply for continuing funding for their studies.
Applicants can see the profiles of former and current Gates Millennium Scholars Program website, which is located here: https://www.gmsp.org/publicweb/scholarprofile.aspx.
For students interested in applying, a comprehensive application website can be found here: https://scholarships.gmsp.org/Program/Details/7123dfc6-da55-44b7-a900-0c08ba1ac35c.
In order to complete an application, students must submit an application, a nominator form, and a recommender form. Collectively, these forms will provide demographic and other personal information about the student, an evaluation of the student’s academic potential by a nominator, and an evaluation of the student’s leadership skills by a recommender.
These scholarships are highly competitive and as such, students are encouraged to carefully choose their recommender and nominator. The best recommenders and nominators know the student well and can provide a complete picture about why the applicant is qualified and deserves the award. The exact amount of the award varies, based on the financial need of the student.
Many students ask whether there are any types of restrictions on the type of degree that they may pursue with these funds. Currently, any undergraduate major is acceptable. If a student decides to pursue a graduate education, there are restrictions on the type of major that will be funded.