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 selected Iowa 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. In 2023, the Bright Scholars of Iowa scholarship continues at the state’s public universities and now has over 120 active scholars plus another 200 alumni.
By 2016, over 150 Bright Scholars of Iowa had been awarded, since the first 3 in 2012.
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 the Bright Scholar GradSnapp Connect Portal.
Who Can Apply
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:
- Current senior attending an Iowa high school.
- 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).
- Demonstrate a commitment to learning and community service, as well as success in the face of adversity.
- Qualify for a Pell Grant as determined by filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
- 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 or community college you wish to attend for more information about application deadlines and eligibility.
Click each school below for application information.