20 Great Scholarships in California

Being among the 39.1 million people residing within the United States’ most populous state makes you eligible for countless scholarships in California. From the Redwoods to the San Francisco Bay and Death Valley, California is a diverse landscape occupying nearly 165,000 square miles of the Pacific Coast.

California’s extensive post-secondary system presently offers 153 public and 153 private colleges to choose from. Students may be attracted by the sunshine, beaches, and diverse culture, but they’ll also benefit from top-notch academics. In fact, Stanford University is distinguished as America’s fifth best university by the U.S. News.

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Affordable College Towns in California

Whether you’ve chosen a well-known giant like the University of Southern California or lesser-known gem like Occidental College, these 20 scholarships for Californians can cut tuition costs.

Ranking the Top College Scholarships California Offers

1. Alan D. Stephenson Scholarship

Deadline: February 12th

The Community Foundation of San Luis Obispo County has established over 50 California scholarships, including the Alan D. Stephenson Scholarship. This renewable $2,500 award offers up to $10,000 to local graduating high school seniors who self-identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer (LGBTQ). Selection criteria requires being a U.S. citizen, pursuing a four-year degree full-time, having financial need, achieving a minimum 2.75 GPA, and actively advocating for sexual orientation equality.


Alan D. Stephenson Scholarship

550 Dana Street

San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

(805) 543-2323


Scholarship Link

2. Beryl V. Smith Scholarship

Deadline: April 29th

Package of Prevention’s founder and CEO, Courtney H. Smith, created the Beryl V. Smith Scholarship to honor her mother by providing $1,000 to college-bound Californians who’ve witnessed a parent or legal guardian battle against cancer. Eligible high school seniors must be accepted as full-time freshmen at accredited two-year or four-year institutions. Application packets are incomplete without physician verification and a personal essay on how candidates’ lives were changed by a cancer crisis.


Beryl V. Smith Scholarship

3941 Lorado Way

Los Angeles, CA 90043


Scholarship Link

3. California Middle Class Scholarship

Deadline: March 2nd

The California Student Aid Commission (CSAC) administers the California Middle Class Scholarship to help in-state residents from families earning between $104,001 and $156,000 annually reduce their tuition by up to 40 percent. Maximum award amounts allow $2,189 for California State University campuses and $4,877 for University of California campuses per year. Qualified candidates must be U.S. citizens or legal residents, pursue their first bachelor’s degree, sustain a minimum 2.0 GPA, and avoid loan default.


California Middle Class Scholarship

11040 White Rock Road

Rancho Cordova, CA 95670

(800) 735-2922


Scholarship Link

4. Chicana/Latina Foundation Scholarship

Deadline: March 31st

Since 1977, the Chicana/Latina Foundation Scholarship has bestowed $1,500 annually upon Hispanic women who are currently enrolled full-time at a community college or university within Northern California. The 13 acceptable counties include Alameda, Monterey, Napa, Sacramento, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, and Sonoma. Other eligibility criteria requires having completed 12+ college credits, achieving a cumulative GPA above 2.5, attending the CLF Leadership Institute, and devoting 10 hours to volunteer work.


Chicana/Latina Foundation Scholarship

1419 Burlingame Avenue Suite W2

Burlingame, CA 94010

(650) 548-1040


Scholarship Link

5. Daniel A. Terry Scholarships

Deadline: June 1st

Named for the California Fire Foundation’s founding president, the Daniel A. Terry Scholarships grant $2,000 annually to support the natural or legally adopted children of firefighters who’ve lost their lives on-duty. These scholarships in California require completing a high school diploma or GED, being accepted at an accredited degree-granting college, being under 27 years old, exhibiting financial hardship, and writing a 500-word essay about their experience being the child of a fallen firefighter.


Daniel A. Terry Scholarships

1780 Creekside Oaks Drive

Sacramento, CA 95833

(800) 890-3213


Scholarship Link

6. Edna Yelland Scholarship Fund

Deadline: March 31st

Every spring, the Edna Yelland Scholarship Fund gifts one-time $2,500 scholarships to three minority students of African American, Native American, Asian, or Latino descent who are pursuing ALA-accredited master’s programs in library and information science. The California Library Association (CLA) seeks applicants who have U.S. citizenship or legal residency, have completed one or more courses, exhibit financial need, possess library experience, and intend to work in California post-graduation.


Edna Yelland Scholarship Fund

1055 East Colorado Blvd.

Pasadena, CA 91106

(626) 204-4071


Scholarship Link

7. Frederick and Demi Seguritan Scholarship

Deadline: February 19th

Valued at $20,000, the Frederick and Demi Seguritan Scholarship is presented annually by the Asian Pacific Fund as one of the largest scholarships in California. It’s designed for first-generation Asian Americans residing within California’s Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, or Solano counties who are becoming full-time freshmen at accredited four-year institutions. Demonstrating passion for business, a minimum “B” average, community service involvement, and financial need is imperative.


Frederick and Demi Seguritan Scholarship

465 California Street Suite 809

San Francisco, CA 94104

(415) 395-9985


Scholarship Link

8. George Ramos Memorial Scholarship

Deadline: May 2nd

To honor the Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and editor for the Los Angeles Times who passed away in 2011, the George Ramos Memorial Scholarship is funded by the California Chicano News Media Association (CCNMA) for $1,000 yearly. Full-time journalism majors of Latino/a heritage who reside in California or attend an accredited media school in-state may apply. The committee judges applicants based on scholastic achievement, financial need, community awareness, and journalistic ability.


George Ramos Memorial Scholarship

725 Arizona Avenue Suite 404

Santa Monica, CA 90401

(424) 229-9482


Scholarship Link

9. Guy Fieri Cooking with Kids Scholarship

Deadline: May 31st

The California Restaurant Association added the Guy Fieri Cooking with Kids Scholarship in 2015 to award $20,000 to six high school seniors and current undergraduates who are pursuing accredited food service programs. Qualified applicants must be California residents, take at least nine credits per term, hold a cumulative GPA over 2.5, and satisfy 250+ hours of restaurant work experience. The application process features recording a 30-second video explaining culinary passions.


Guy Fieri Cooking with Kids Scholarship

621 Capitol Mall Suite 2000

Sacramento, CA 95814

(916) 447-5793


Scholarship Link

10. Jeff Krosnoff Scholarship Fund

Deadline: January 13th

Created to memorialize the 31-year-old La Cañada native and distinguished Indy Car racer who was tragically killed at the 1996 Molson Indy Toronto, the Jeff Krosnoff Scholarship Fund distributes $10,000 annually to college-bound California high schoolers. To qualify, seniors must be accepted into an accredited four-year program, carry a minimum high school GPA of 3.0, include two references, demonstrate outstanding community citizenship, and write a two-page essay on their driving desire to succeed.


Jeff Krosnoff Scholarship Fund

P.O. Box 8585

La Crescenta, CA 91214


Scholarship Link

11. Knox-Hirsch OTR Graduate Scholarship

Deadline: March 31st

The California Foundation for Occupational Therapy confers 12 scholarships in California each year, including the $1,000 Knox-Hirsch OTR Graduate Scholarship. Registered occupational therapists could receive financial support to finish a master’s or PhD program that’s accredited by the AOTA. Eligibility criteria requires holding current CFOT membership, living in California, verifying a minimum 3.0 GPA, having occupational therapy work experience in pediatrics, and submitting two professional letters of reference.


Knox-Hirsch OTR Graduate Scholarship

3458 La Sombra Drive

Hollywood, CA 90068

(818) 700-5648


Scholarship Link

12. Laurel Burch Memorial Scholarship

Deadline: March 1st

Sponsored by the California Art Education Association (CAEA), the Laurel Burch Memorial Scholarship awards $1,000 each year to high school seniors with extraordinary creative talent who plan to major or minor in visual arts and design at accredited U.S. institutes. For consideration, send an official transcript, three letters of recommendation, at least six digital images of artwork, and a personal statement on the power of artistic expression.


Laurel Burch Memorial Scholarship

80 West Sierra Madre Blvd. Suite 373

Sierra Madre, CA 91024

(626) 233-7879


Scholarship Link

13. Milken Family Foundation Scholars Program

Deadline: December 9th

Nominated high school seniors in the Greater Los Angeles area could receive $2,000 for four years, academic counseling, career mentoring, and job assistance through the Milken Family Foundation Scholars Program. Eligible California finalists for the interview round must hold a minimum GPA of 3.6, score at least 1250 on the SAT or 28 on the ACT, actively participate in community service initiatives, exhibit financial obstacles, and have permanent U.S. residency.


Milken Family Foundation Scholars Program

1250 Fourth Street

Santa Monica, CA 90401

(310) 570-4800


Scholarship Link

14. Norma Ford Memorial Scholarship

Deadline: August 5th

Named for the 2009 CAPPS Hall of Fame inductee who lost her cancer fight the following year, the Norma Ford Memorial Scholarship grants up to $3,500 through the California Association of Private Postsecondary Schools each summer. Nominees must be beginning the third or fourth academic year of an accredited BSN, LVN-BSN, LPN-BSN, or RN-BSN program for nursing in California. Recipients must experience a financing gap and exceed the 3.0 GPA requirement.


Norma Ford Memorial Scholarship

2520 Venture Oaks Way Suite 170

Sacramento, CA 95833

(916) 447-5500


Scholarship Link

15. Oliver Goldsmith, M.D. Scholarship

Deadline: February 12th

As a managed care consortium in Oakland, Kaiser Permanente funds the Oliver Goldsmith, M.D. Scholarship to bestow $5,000 upon several young clinicians who are entering their third or fourth year at an accredited medical school. Suitable applicants must be earning a Doctor of Medicine degree to practice medicine in Southern California and advocate for culturally responsive healthcare. Scholars also receive a six-week summer clerkship at any Kaiser Permanente facility.


Oliver Goldsmith, M.D. Scholarship

393 E. Walnut Street

Pasadena, CA 91188

(877) 574-0002


Scholarship Link

16. Ray Dale Memorial Scholarship

Deadline: December 31st

The California Academy of PAs presents the Ray Dale Memorial Scholarship for $2,000 annually to financially bolster student members who are enrolled full-time in California primary care physician assistant programs that hold ARC-PA accreditation. Appropriate applicants must reside in the Golden State, have good academic standing, exhibit financial need, intend to take the NCCPA Board exam, and participate in activities promoting the PA profession.


Ray Dale Memorial Scholarship

2318 S. Fairview Street

Santa Ana, CA 92704

(714) 427-0321


Scholarship Link

17. Robert Miller Memorial Scholarship

Deadline: March 24th

Each year, the California Association of Winegrape Growers (CAWG) Foundation sponsors the Robert Miller Memorial Scholarship to help Central Coast high school seniors or undergraduates who are planning to study viticulture and enology. The scholarship provides $500 for Allan Hancock Community College in Santa Maria or $1,000 for California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo. Applications must include an official transcript, ACT/SAT scores, two recommendations, and a 500-word personal essay.


Robert Miller Memorial Scholarship

1121 L Street Suite 304

Sacramento, CA 95814

(916) 379-8999


Scholarship Link

18. Sheryl Kratz Scholarship Fund

Deadline: March 15th

Worth $2,000, the Sheryl Kratz Scholarship Fund is offered by the California Groundwater Association to encourage young men and women to select college majors in hydrology, water resources engineering, water resources science, and related fields. Interested applicants must reside in California for 6+ months, attend an accredited in-state institution, pursue a groundwater industry career, and submit a 500-word personal essay. Similar scholarships in California are the ACWA Scholarship and Clair A. Hill Scholarship.


Sheryl Kratz Scholarship Fund

P.O. Box 14369

Santa Rosa, CA 95402

(707) 578-4408


Scholarship Link

19. Stephanie G. Hoffman Scholarship

Deadline: Varies

Ranging from $2,000 to $5,000 each year, the Stephanie G. Hoffman Scholarship is awarded by the Jewish Community Foundation & Endowment Fund to support bachelor’s or master’s students who are studying English, literature, library science, literacy, or reading education to excite underserved children about books. Eligible Jewish students must permanently reside within California’s San Francisco Bay Area from Sonoma County to the South Peninsula but may attend any accredited U.S. university.


Stephanie G. Hoffman Scholarship

121 Steuart Street

San Francisco, CA 94105

(415) 777-0411


Scholarship Link

20. Wilma Motley California Merit Scholarship

Deadline: February 1st

The American Dental Hygienists Association’s (ADHA) Institute for Oral Health has established the Wilma Motley Memorial California Merit Scholarship for awarding $2,000 annually to three associate, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral students studying dental hygiene. Selection criteria mandates pursuing the Registered Dental Hygienist (RDH) credential, meeting the minimum 3.5 GPA, residing or attending school in California, having relevant clinical experience, and showcasing leadership ability.


Wilma Motley California Merit Scholarship

444 North Michigan Avenue Suite 3400

Chicago, IL 60611

(312) 440-8900


Scholarship Link

Students who are “California Dreamin'” of attending college can find their wishes granted with scholarship assistance. The Golden State offers plentiful opportunities for striking gold and reaping lucrative financial aid. Scholarships are crucial because the average published tuition price for California’s public four-year universities is $9,270. Higher education expenses only rise higher in the private sector. For instance, Harvey Mudd College currently charges $52,916 for annual tuition and fees! College-bound residents should apply for the Cal Grant and some of these great scholarships in California.

GCD Staff


This concludes our coverage of the top California college scholarships.