Am I eligible for applying to this scholarship?

I’m a senior and I was wondering if I’m eligible for this scholarship. First, I read it’s for minorities, but I’m an overrepresented minority (Asian), so does that exclude me? Also, I read about applicants requiring the Federal Pell Grant, which I’ve never heard of. I did not apply to colleges with FAFSA/request financial aid, but I heard that if I did apply, I could TECHNICALLY be eligible for a tiny amount in aid.

  1. Am I even allowed to apply to this scholarship/am I eligible?

  2. If I do apply, will my “over represented” minority status and my lack of needing aid be considered against me in evaluation?

  3. The scholarship website said for “outstanding minority students with significant financial need” – what does significant financial need mean here? Does the scholarship evaluation consider your amount of need as part of their selection process? For me, personally, would my small amount of need qualify me for applying?

  4. I heard that this, like Coca Cola, is one of the few MERIT aid scholarships out there. Is this true/does this PURELY consider MERIT or does it also consider your financial status/family income as well.

  5. Finally, if one has entered and been selected by Coca Cola for semis, does this bar him or her from entering this scholarship as well?

  6. If I am barely TECHNICALLY eligible, is it worth applying to this scholarship given my circumstances (income, race, etc)?

Thank you!


I’ve seen you three post frequently on this forum regarding the Gates Scholarship…could you please comment on this topic? Thanks.

Before we begin addressing each part of your question, let’s address the Federal Pell Grant.
The Federal Pell grant is a grant which goes hand in hand with your FAFSA that does not have to be repaid, which is only awarded to undergraduate students who have not yet earned a bachelor’s degree. This is applicable to a large majority of people but varies on your financial need, cost of attendance, status as a full-time/part-time student, etc.
More information is here:

Yes, you must have some level of financial need in order to get the FAFSA/Federal Pell Grant. This is required for the Gates Millennium Scholarship because it’s for low-income students.

Now regarding the Gates Millennium Scholarship itself.

1) Eligibility:
You are technically eligible, yes - under the circumstance that you are also low-income.

Eligibility Requirements:


Of one of the following ethnic groups:
- African American
- American Indian/Alaska Native
- Asian / Pacific Islander (You)
- Hispanic

Have at least a 3.3 cumulative GPA on unweighted 4.0 scale or earned a GED.
Will enroll at a United States college institution for the Fall 2016 year as a first-year student.
Meet the Federal Pell Grant Eligibility Criteria (How they check you're low income)


2) "Over-Representation" isn't really a thing. Race is not as much of a factor as who YOU really are in this scholarship. This is why they have you write 8 essays, a nominator write 3 essays, and a recommender write 5 essays in order to really get to know who YOU are as an individual and if you deserve this scholarship. 

Put into terms, last year had 57,000 candidates and only 1,000 were awarded. Just because you're Asian won't destroy your chances. They're only going to pick who the cream of the crop are. 

If you are not in financial need - you're not going to be applicable for this scholarship.


3) I would check the FAFSA/Federal Pell Grant eligibility criteria, if you are not applicable for it, chances are you aren't going to receive the scholarship or be eligible for it either. This isn't a scholarship where they're going to give you a bit of money - they only award 1,000 last dollar (which means they'll pay the remainder of unmet need - practically full ride) scholarships for up to 10 years of higher education.

However, you may be able to be eligible for APIASF - the partner organization that works specifically with the Asian Pacific Islander population of the Gates Millennium Scholarship - scholarships.


4) It considers both merit and financial need.


5) No. It does not bar you - I know GMS Scholars who have also won QuestBridge, Coca-Cola, Ronald Reagan, Carson Scholars Fund, etc. You can do other scholarships too. Last year there were two GMS scholars from Birmingham, AL who received 700k and 1.5 million dollars in scholarship money. (Cream of the Crop).


6) Check if you're eligible first, if you have any questions - I would call the GMS office at (877)690-4677 or email them. If you are - HECK YES APPLY FOR THE SCHOLARSHIP. IT'S UP TO 10 YEARS OF UNDERGRADUATE AND GRADUATE EDUCATION FULL RIDE! Also, even if you don't get the scholarship, many finalists who don't receive it may get a $2,500 scholarship from one of the Gates Millennium Partner Organizations such as APIASF or HSF. 

Trust me, once you finish those 8 essays you are practically set for any prompt for any other scholarship.

@MarkinovRules Of the 1,000 Scholars selected last year, 150 were allocated to candidates in the Asian American/Pacific Islander category. So you are not competing against candidates from other ethnic/racial groups. Pell Grant eligibility is a must, as is a minimum 3.3 GPA, but many people who win are not academic superstars. The focus for the Gates is leadership and community service. As @mranguyen has suggested, the eight Gates essays may be a lot of work, but they can be tweaked for many other scholarship applications.