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Scholarships are gifts that typically don’t have to be repaid and are designed to help students pay for costs related to earning a college degree or certificate program. They can be a one-time gift or are renewable, depending on the scholarship.

Types of Scholarships

Some scholarships are earned by meeting or exceeding certain standards set by scholarship providers. Some scholarships reward a student’s academic achievement or a combination of academics and special talents, traits, or interests. Other scholarships are based on a student’s financial need. 

  • Financial need
  • Merit
  • Talent (visual and performing arts, athletics)
  • Volunteerism and service
  • Religious affiliation
  • Organizational affiliations
  • Other qualifications

To be considered for most scholarships, students will have to submit applications that require basic information including, transcripts, activities resume and in most instances complete an essay. 

CPS Academic Works General Scholarship Application Tool

The Academic Works online scholarship application system and management tool provides information about scholarship opportunities specifically for CPS students from middle school through high school, although the majority of the scholarships are for the group of students that can apply the funds immediately, high school seniors. 

Academic Works simplifies and consolidates the process of researching and applying for scholarships that have been vetted by a CPS professional:

  • Enables online application submissions (although some scholarship providers still prefer paper applications)
  • Recommends scholarship opportunities that are aligned to students academics, interests, etc. 
  • Provides information on more than 200 scholarships and free summer programs available to CPS students
  • Keeps students and parents informed of new opportunities as scholarships are added to the system year-round

Each school year, senior students are required to complete the General Application within the Academic Works tool to access and apply for scholarship opportunities. The general application becomes available in early August for the following school year. Students in other grade levels can complete a General Application, but it is not required.

Connect to scholarship resources:

Tips for Qualifying for Scholarships

Eligibility varies by scholarship, but students can improve their overall chances of winning a scholarship by:

  • Getting good grades
  • Preparing and practice to do well on the ACT or SAT tests
  • Being involved in school clubs and extracurricular organizations (outside of school)
  • Submitting thorough college applications 
  • Submitting applications prior to deadlines and meeting eligibility criteria
  • Following directions carefully
  • Writing exceptional essays to respond to questions within scholarship applications

For more information about CPS scholarship resources, email CPS Scholarship Manager at

Gates Scholarship

The Gates Scholarship is the largest national scholarship for minority student leaders. Each year CPS students are recipients of this prestigious and highly selective award. Chicago Public Schools is one of the only school districts that prepares rising senior students for the Gates Scholarship. Gates Information Sessions are hosted in June. Check with your school counseling department for more information.

Learn More

Office of College and Career Success

School Counseling and Postsecondary Advising


773-553-3543 (Fax)

42 W. Madison St.
Chicago, IL 60602

Contact CPS Scholarship Manager: