The Department of Education sponsors the United States Presidential Scholars Program every year. This program supports the top students across the country in their quest to obtain a higher education. The award was established in 1964 and is open to high school seniors who have demonstrated academic excellence, leadership, and commit service. Each winner is given a Presidential Medallion at the White House.
The applications for the award are open from January to February of applicant’s senior years. Approximately 120 Presidential Scholars are chosen each year and announcements regarding finalists are made in May. The eligibility criteria are broken into three components: general, arts, and CTE.
In order to be eligible for the general component of the Presidential Scholars program, students are required to be citizens or permanent residents of the United States. Furthermore, they must score extremely high on their standardized tests. They must also graduate from high school prior to August of the award year.
In order to be eligible for the arts component, similar residency and graduation requirements apply. However, this component differs from the general one in that students must show a talent in a creative, visual, or preordains art program as well as have a high grade point average. Students must also take part in the National YoungArts Foundation YoungArts program.
In order to be eligible for the CTE component of the program, students must be citizens or residents of the United States and receive a diploma before August of the award year. Additionally, they must show a high level of academic achievement in a career or technical program and be nominated by the Chief State School Officer of the State in which they reside.
This program is an invitation only award, meaning that students must be selected to apply. They may not apply individually for the award unless they receive an invitation. The decision of who to invite is case on SAT or Act scores or a nomination from a partner organization or Chief State School Officer.
This award is not a scholarship program; rather it is a program that provides recognition to exceptional students. Finalists are provided with a trip to Washington, D.C. in the summer and given a medallion. Furthermore, students have the opportunity to meet with key government officials, authors, scientists, and other notable figures. Scholars receive the opportunity to exchange ideas with fellow peers and develop lifelong friendships through this trip. Other activities, such as museum visits are also arranged during the visit.
Invitation letters are typically mailed to select students in mid- to late-January of the application year. If the student decides to apply, applications must be received prior to the deadline. A completed application includes all forms, a secondary school report, and a copy of the student’s high school transcripts. The secondary school report is completed by a high school teacher or other school official. Students may mail their application or complete the application online. Students will be disqualified if the application is not received in its entirety prior to the deadline.