16 Scholarships for California Students for 2021

Looking for colleges to attend is the fun part. What’s not fun? The big price tag that comes along with picking a college–especially when you live in a relatively expensive state like California.

Whether you’re attending college in Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose, San Francisco, or elsewhere, it’s a good idea to check what state and local scholarship opportunities there are.

That’s because local scholarships are often less competitive, giving you higher chances of winning that scholarship money. Here’s a list of just a few options– or you can sign up for Going Merry to get a full list of all the scholarships you’re eligible for.

Students search for California scholarships

Here’s just a sample of the California scholarships available on Going Merry:

1. LA Clippers Stay in School Scholarship

Amount: $4000 (for 6 recipients)

The LA Clippers Stay in School Scholarship supports graduating seniors residing in the greater Los Angeles area.

2. National Rice Month Scholarship Contest

Amount: Up to $8500

The National Rice Month Scholarship aims to celebrate the importance of rice in California (and 5 other states). To apply, you just need to create an original 3-minute (or less) video about U.S. rice production, healthy eating, sustainability, etc.–as well as its contribution to your state.

3. Celebrate the West High School Art Competition

Amount: Up to $1200

The Celebrate the West High School Art Competition is a regional art competition hosted by the Western Governors’ Association that challenges high school students to create (two-dimensional) visual art inspired by their state. You can draw from a variety of sources, including state history, landmarks, natural resources, people, or cultures. Winners may also have their artwork displayed in their home states’ capitol building and meet with their governor. (This contest is not specific to California, but rather open to students from any states in the Western U.S.)

4. San Diego Chinese Women’s Association Scholarship

Amount: Up to $1500

The San Diego Chinese Women’s Association Scholarship supports graduating high school seniors in San Diego County who are of at least one-quarter Chinese descent. Male and female students are both eligible. The total number of scholarships to be awarded will depend on availability of funding and the number of deserving applicants.

5. Anthony Narigi Hospitality Scholarship Fund

Amount: Up to $5000 (for 5 winners)

The Anthony Narigi Hospitality Scholarship awards a student studying (or intending to work in) hospitality. It can support studies in hospitality trade schools, junior colleges, and four-year colleges or universities. Applicants must rise in Northern California in one of the following counties: Monterey, San Francisco, Sonoma, Napa, Contra Costa or Santa Clara.

6. Ralph Hale and Martha L. Ruppert Educational Scholarship

Amount: Up to $10,000 (for up to 30 recipients)

The Ralph Hale and Martha L. Ruppert Educational Scholarship supports “late bloomers”–students who show academic promise and improvement during the last years of high school or first years of college, but are unlikely to receive other scholarships due to their low GPAs. You must have a maximum GPA of 3.3 and demonstrate financial hardship. The scholarship is only open to students from San Mateo, San Francisco, or Santa Clara counties.

7. Dr. Bertha O Pendleton Scholarship

Amount: Varies

This scholarship celebrates the legacy of the former superintendent of San Diego Unified High School District. The Dr. Bertha O Pendleton Scholarship supports African-American graduating high school seniors from this school district who plan to pursue a career in teaching. Applicants must have a 3.0+ GPA.

8. Cynthia H. Kuo Scholarship for Christian Bay Area youth

Amount: $5000

The Cynthia H. Kuo Scholarship is for Chinese students (born overseas or first-generation American) who are actively involved in the Christian faith and planning to attend college in the Bay Area.

9. Christopher Meadows Memorial EMS Education (Paramedic) Scholarship

Amount: Up to $3,000

The Christoper Meadows Memorial EMS Scholarship fund was created to honor the memory of Christopher Meadows, an emergency medical technician from San Luis Obispo, CA. Chris was killed May 24, 2009, when the ATV he was riding overturned while he was responding to a medical call at Oceano Dunes. The fund awards annual scholarships to paramedic and EMT school for EMS workers in the Central California area.

Note: There is a separate, similar EMT scholarship here.

10. Drew King Legacy Scholarship

Amount: $1,000

The Drew King Legacy Scholarship supports students who plan to pursue careers in social activism or social change. Applicants must have been involved for at least one year in such work, and be either a resident of Northern California or attending college there.

11. Honmyo Nguyen Family Trust Scholarship

Amount: $1500

This scholarship is for any student graduating from a high school in Santa Clara county, and attending any four-year public college or university in California (UC or Cal State). Honmyo Nguyen Family Trust Scholarship winners must demonstrate academic excellence, financial need, and leadership qualities.

12. Tom Mellis Memorial Scholarship Award

Provider: The Sportsman of Stanislaus Club

Amount: $2,500

The Tom Mellis Memorial Scholarship awards $2,500 to one or more high school seniors who actively participate in varsity sports, show outstanding leadership in community service and school activities, and demonstrate scholastic achievement.

13. Bobette Bibo Gugliotta Memorial Scholarship for Creative Writing

Amount: $1000

This scholarship supports talented student writers who plan to study creative writing in college. Applicants must be graduating seniors (or graduates of) a high school in San Mateo or San Clara counties. The Bobette Bibo Gugliotta Memorial Scholarship application process requires you to write a personal statement and include two creative writing samples, as well as letters of recommendation, transcripts, and documentation of financial need.

14. Deven F. Osborne Athletic Scholarship

Amount: Up to $500

The Deven F. Osborne Athletic Scholarship is for Pasadena, CA current high school senior athletes from Pasadena Unified School District who have completed a minimum of 150 hours of volunteer service for the Pasadena, CA community. Two students will be awarded this scholarship

15. The Harold Johnson Law Enforcement Scholarship

Amount: Up to $5000 (for up to 5 students)

This scholarship supports any students from the Greater Bay Area who plan to pursue careers in police work, corrections, or other criminal justice fields. Law school students are not eligible for The Harold Johnson Law Enforcement Scholarship.

16. Central California Asian Pacific Women Scholarship

Amount: Varies

The Central California Asian Pacific Women Scholarship supports women of Asian or Pacific Islander descent, and who are from Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, Merced, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, or Tulare County. Applicants will be evaluated based on the following priorities but not limited to: First-generation student, academic achievement, leadership, contribution to the API community, and ethnic diversity. 

Searching for California Scholarships

Still looking for help with financial aid and college scholarships?

We get it. Figuring out how to finance college tuition can really tough. Here are three steps to make that process a bit simpler: 

1. Submit your FAFSA form as soon as possible (this year the form opens in December 2023). This will help determine what financial aid you might qualify for. The federal government, state government, AND universities all use FAFSA to determine their student aid packages.

2. Check out California scholarship application options, like these:

3. Find local and national scholarships on Going Merry, the one-stop shop for scholarships. How does it work? After you sign up, you’ll answer a few questions to fill out a basic profile. We then match you to scholarships you’re eligible for. From there, you can select your favorites, and apply for them. Sign up today.

Kelly Lamano

Ready to find scholarships that are a match for you?