Bill Gates Scholarship: Benefits, Eligibility Criteria and Tips on How to Apply

The Bill Gates Scholarship is a US-based academic funding program for high school graduates from low-income families. The Gates Scholarship is offered by Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, and his wife, Melinda Gates.

Princewill Princewill
Princewill Princewill October 18, 2022
Updated 2022/10/18 at 4:24 PM
Bill Gates Scholarship
Bill Gates Scholarship

The Bill Gates Scholarship is a highly selective scholarship program for creative and outstanding high school seniors who have little or no income to further their education. 

This esteemed scholarship program was created to prove that by eliminating financial barriers, low-income students can excel in their field of study and graduate.

The Gates Scholarship was launched in 2017, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The Gates scholarship is referred to as the most prestigious and competitive award in the world. 

Each year, top young men and women are selected for this fully-funded scholarship in the USA. The record reveals that approximately 1.3% of the applicants have received this award in recent years.

Apart from funding, the Gates Scholarship supports scholars by interacting with them and their institutions of choice to ensure they have the right resources and also helps them transition to their chosen career upon graduation.

Every year, the Bill Gates Scholarship awards outstanding student leaders with the goal of assisting them in reaching their full potential.

Scholars will receive funding for the remaining tuition costs not covered by other financial aid, as well as the presumed household contribution, determined by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Students are evaluated not only on their academic performance, but also on their leadership abilities and individual day-to-day activities.

The scholarship analyzes their leadership qualities and ensures that the recipients, through their intellect and creativity, can make a difference not only in America but around the world. 

With all of this, in this article I will try to cover basically everything you need to know about the Gates Scholarship and how to make yourself the strongest candidate possible to win it.

Scholarship Benefits

Meritorious students who are given this financial aid receive a variety of benefits to help them pursue their objectives.

The Bill Gates Scholarship provides complete support for the winner’s education (that is not already covered by other scholarships or grants).

This scholarship is entirely renewable for up to five years, which means that your entire undergraduate degree will be paid for if you complete it within that time frame.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation scholarship includes:

  • Tuition costs 
  • Accommodation 
  • Educational expenses which include all books and materials necessary
  • Transportation expenses
  • Personal expenses may also be included.

Furthermore, the Gates Scholarship provides a variety of online support services such as mentorship, career counseling, a network of other scholars, and so on.

In other words, because the Gates Scholarship is such a huge prize, it is highly competitive.

Eligibility Criteria

Now the next question will be, “Am I eligible for the Bill Gates Scholarship?” Well I have the answer to your question.

What makes this scholarship prestigious and competitive is the strict criteria used for selecting the students

Over 20,000 candidates apply each year, and only 300 students are selected eventually.

These are the basic eligibility criteria before your application;

  • Applicants must plan to enroll as a first year student in any two-four year accredited universities in the US.
  • Must be a high school senior or must have graduated from high school before the time of application.
  • A minority student belonging to any of the following ethnicities: African American, American Indian/Native Alaskan, Asian/Pacific Islander American, and/or Hispanic American
  • Eligibility for a Pell grant. These grants are awarded to undergraduate students who qualify for financial aid
  • A US citizen, national, or permanent resident
  • Has a good academic performance with at least a cumulative GPA of 3.3 on a weighted 4.0 scale.
  • Applicants must demonstrate personal success and growth and outstanding leadership abilities.

Who is the Perfect Candidate?

The perfect candidate for this scholarship should have:

  • An outstanding academic record in high school (ranking in the top 10% of the graduating class).
  • Must show leadership potential (such as demonstrated through his or her participation in community service, extracurricular, or any other activities).
  • Must possess such things as motivation, emotional maturity, perseverance, and so forth.

Please note:

  • You are not eligible to apply if you have a GED rather than a high school diploma.
  • You cannot apply if you are pursuing an Associate’s Degree from a 2-year institution before transferring to a 4-year university.

If you successfully meet the criteria as mentioned above, then you are one step closer to winning the scholarship. The next step will be….

Documents Required

If you’re eligible for the Bill Gates scholarship, hooray! Now let’s take a look at what you’ll actually need to apply and the necessary steps to take.

These documents will be required at various points when you are applying for the scholarship.

Gather the following information:

  • Your current academic information

These will include your high school name and address, your transcripts, GPA, class rank, and SAT and/or ACT scores.

  • Your college information

This includes your acceptance letter and your financial aid award letter.

  • Family’s financial information 

Dependent or independent status and your parents’ or guardians’ personal gross income for the previous year.

  • Extra curricular information 

This includes employment, sports or clubs, community service, leadership roles, etc. 

  • Letter of admission to a four-year bachelor’s degree program at a not-for-profit, private or public university.

How to Apply

Keeping in mind the eligibility requirements and the documents needed, listed below are the few steps you need to take to apply for the scholarship.

The scholarship opens every year from the 15th of July and applications close on the 15th September every academic year.

Create your profile 

In order to log in and apply, you’ll need to create an account on the Bill Gates Scholarship portal and start a personal online profile. 

Everything you submit for the Gates Scholarship will be through this portal.

On the first page, select “student” from the drop-down menu and then select and confirm a password of your choice. 

It’s a super simple process, but necessary for proceeding with your application. 

You are not required to apply through any other sites or by mail.

Get Familiar with the application phases

  • Phase 1 

You’ll automatically be directed there upon signing up. All you’ll need to do is fill out a basic questionnaire about yourself. 

Over 2000 applicants are shortlisted and will be asked to move into phase 2. The selection process takes place from December to January of the following year.

  • Phase 2: Semi-finalist. Congrats! 

To complete your application, you’ll be notified to provide additional personal information. 

This phase will require you to fill out a more in-depth questionnaire, submit your updated transcripts, provide letters of recommendation, and write several short essays. 

Unfortunately, these essay topics are annually changed and will not be released until you make it to this step.

Over 600 applicants will be shortlisted and moved into Phase 3. This selection process happens in April of the following year.

  • Phase 3: Finalists

If you’re one of the lucky 600 students who made it to round 3, BIG congrats! This means you’re a finalist and will be given an interview with the selection committee.

Out of 600 candidates, only 300 of them are selected and contacted for the final application and documentation process to get into the scholarship program.

The awards are finally granted to the qualified scholars from July to September of the following year.

Tips on How to Get the Scholarship

Apply Early

The Bill Gates Scholarship is extremely competitive.

However, because the competition is fierce, it is usually preferable to begin early.

It is best to begin your preparations during your freshman year.

Active Participation

Participate actively in community service and extracurricular activities to boost your résumé.

Interviewers are constantly looking for applicants who are truly concerned about the well-being of others.

Participate in activities like fundraising, festival planning, and attending meetings and tournaments to acquire a lot of exposure.

Maintain Consistency

Although it is great to attempt new things, you must remember to maintain a connection between all of these activities.

Highlight Your Skills

Only 300 eligible students get this financial aid award each year. As you may guess, the procedure is quite competitive.

As a result, it is critical to stand out from the throng. And the only way to do so is to promote your abilities. Because these are unique to you, they have an impact on your application.

Get Letters of Recommendation 

If you make it through the semi-finals, you must submit letters of reference to the committee. You can get them from your professors and counselors as soon as you complete your initial application.

When seeking these letters, be sure to ask those mentors who are the most familiar with you and can accurately describe you.

The Best Essay

Your essays are the most crucial element. You need to write an essay that reflects your inner self and what your vision is. 

To bring out the perfect essay, conduct thorough research on the topic, give it a structure, add your unique elements, and revise before submission.

Plan for the Interview

Even if it appears that you have little chance, you must prepare for the interviews. Practicing for the final part will help you identify areas for improvement.


The Bill Gates Scholarship is a US-based academic funding program for high school graduates from low-income families.

The scholarship opens every year to give outstanding students an opportunity to reach their full potential and have an impact in the world.

The Gates Scholarship is offered by Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, and his wife, Melinda Gates.

Aspiring candidates can refer to this article as it contains all the necessary information concerning the scholarship and are encouraged to apply provided they meet the requirements.

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