Bright Scholars of Iowa

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Are you a top student attending an Iowa high school who lacks the financial means to attend college?

You may qual­i­fy for a schol­ar­ship that could allow you to grad­u­ate debt-free from Iowa’s pub­lic universities.

Helping Students Across Iowa

Fund­ed by the Bright Foun­da­tion, The Bright Schol­ars of Iowa Award is a need- and mer­it-based grant designed to help ensure that a select­ed num­ber of out­stand­ing Iowa high school seniors have the finan­cial means to com­plete a two-year or four-year col­lege edu­ca­tion with­out debt. Ini­ti­at­ed in 2012, the award was made to three stu­dents, one each attend­ing Iowa State Uni­ver­si­ty, Uni­ver­si­ty of Iowa, and Uni­ver­si­ty of North­ern Iowa.

In 2013, five awards were made by each of the three state uni­ver­si­ties. In addi­tion, five awards went to Des Moines Area Com­mu­ni­ty Col­lege and Indi­an Hills Com­mu­ni­ty Col­lege stu­dents.  Forty-eight schol­ar­ships were added across these schools in 2014, and schol­ar­ships at South­west­ern Com­mu­ni­ty Col­lege were added in 2015

By 2016, over 150 Bright Schol­ars of Iowa had been award­ed.  As of 2023, the Bright Schol­ars of Iowa schol­ar­ship con­tin­ues at the state’s three pub­lic uni­ver­si­ties and now has over 120 active schol­ars plus anoth­er 200 alum­ni.  It is expect­ed to have 15 — 20 new recip­i­ents award­ed each year.  Between all of the dif­fer­ent schol­ar­ship pro­grams, there will be approx­i­mate­ly 120 — 150 schol­ar­ship recip­i­ents active­ly attend­ing one of the three state uni­ver­si­ties each year.

By 2016, over 150 Bright Schol­ars of Iowa had been award­ed, since the first 3 in 2012.

Award Details

The amount of the schol­ar­ship is equal to the cost of atten­dance, less oth­er gift aid (includ­ing Pell Grants, insti­tu­tion­al grants and schol­ar­ships, and pri­vate schol­ar­ships). This award is renew­able for up to three addi­tion­al years, pro­vid­ing the stu­dent main­tains a 2.50 cumu­la­tive GPA and full-time enroll­ment. Amount of the award each sub­se­quent year is based on the same for­mu­la as the ini­tial reward. Renewals are not guaranteed.

The Bright Foun­da­tion also pro­vides addi­tion­al com­mu­ni­ca­tion and expe­ri­ences for recip­i­ents, such as peer con­nec­tions and net­work­ing, to enhance the col­lege expe­ri­ence and help schol­ars reach their goals.  Recip­i­ents are expect­ed to pro­vide the Bright Foun­da­tion reg­u­lar updates on their col­lege expe­ri­ence through sur­veys sent at the con­clu­sion of each semester.

Who Can Apply

Eligibility Criteria

To be eli­gi­ble for a Bright Schol­ars of Iowa Award, a stu­dent must be accept­ed by one of the three state uni­ver­si­ties (Iowa State, Iowa, UNI) as well as meet the fol­low­ing criteria:

  1. Cur­rent senior attend­ing an Iowa high school.
  2. Out­stand­ing aca­d­e­m­ic achieve­ment (top 10% or equiv­a­lent of high school grad­u­at­ing class, or ACT of 28 and above, or for regent uni­ver­si­ty appli­cants 299 and high­er RAI — Regents Admis­sion Index).
  3. Demon­strate a com­mit­ment to learn­ing and com­mu­ni­ty ser­vice, as well as suc­cess in the face of adversity.
  4. Qual­i­fy for a Pell Grant as deter­mined by fil­ing the Free Appli­ca­tion for Fed­er­al Stu­dent Aid (FAF­SA) or have an SAI (Stu­dent Aid Index) under 10,000.
  5. Main­tain full-time enrollment.

Pref­er­ence is giv­en to stu­dents whose par­ents have not grad­u­at­ed from an accred­it­ed four-year col­lege or university.

As a part of the appli­ca­tion process, the stu­dent must sub­mit an essay describ­ing his or her suc­cess in the face of adver­si­ty. A sum­ma­ry of high school and com­mu­ni­ty ser­vice activ­i­ties, includ­ing lead­er­ship roles, is also required.

Stu­dents who have a famil­ial or oth­er­wise close per­son­al rela­tion­ship with any mem­ber of the Bright Foun­da­tion Board of Direc­tors or its employ­ees are not eli­gi­ble for the award.

How to Apply

Bright Schol­ars of Iowa Awards are made by the schools list­ed below. Select More Info” for the uni­ver­si­ty you wish to attend for more infor­ma­tion about appli­ca­tion dead­lines and eligibility.

Click each school below for appli­ca­tion information.

Iowa State University

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University of Iowa

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University of Northern Iowa

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