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Gates Scholarship Application Resources

Each year, a significant number of CPS students receive a Gates Scholarship, a highly selective, full scholarship award for exceptional minority high school seniors who must also qualify for a Federal Pell Grant. These resources will assist students in preparing their application for the Gates Scholarship.

The Gates Scholarship is awarded annually to 300 top student leaders with the intent of supporting their academic excellence through college graduation and providing them the opportunity to reach their full potential. 

This prestigious scholarship offers competitive, needs-based scholarships to 1,000 students across the country each year with a grant that can be used to pursue a degree in any undergraduate major at an accredited college or university.

Award Description

Scholarship recipients receive funding for the full cost of attendance that is not already covered by other financial aid and the expected family contribution, as determined by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Eligibility Requirements

To apply, students must be:

  • A high school senior
  • From at least one of the following ethnicities: African-American, American Indian/Alaska Native*, Asian & Pacific Islander American, and/or Hispanic American (*For American Indian/Alaska Native, proof of tribal enrollment will be required.)
  • Federal Pell Grant eligible (as determined by the FAFSA)
  • A U.S. citizen, national, or permanent resident
  • In good academic standing, with a minimum cumulative weighted GPA of 3.3 on a 4.0 scale
  • Planning to enroll full-time in a four-year degree program at a U.S. accredited, not-for-profit, private, or public college or university

The FAFSA4caster can provide an estimate or “forecast” of Pell Grant eligibility based on family tax information. You must know parent/guardian adjusted gross income to complete the online tool. 

Candidate Qualifications

An ideal candidate will have:

  • An outstanding academic record in high school (in the top 10% of his/her graduating class)
  • Demonstrated leadership ability (e.g., as shown through participation in community service, extracurricular, or other activities)
  • Exceptional personal success skills (e.g., emotional maturity, motivation, perseverance, etc.)

Students should ensure they are academically eligible and meet all Gates eligibility requirements before completing/submitting the Qualifying Questionnaire that is the first phase of the application.

Before You Apply

Explore these sites and resources to learn more about applying for the Gates Scholarship:

  • Create a student profile on The Gates Scholarship site.
  • Learn more about financial aid on the Federal Student Aid website.
  • Learn more about the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) formula for school years:
    2019-2020 | 2020-2021
  • Complete the FAFSA4Caster to estimate your Pell Grant eligibility (You must know parent/guardian adjusted gross income to complete the online tool).
  • Attend writing workshops and interview support for the Gates Scholarship application during the school year (January through April).

Reminders and Tips

  • The only component of the application that is available to submit is the Phase I Gates Qualifying Questionnaire. Students who are selected for Phase II will be invited to complete essay questions.
  • Be aware of the deadline to submit the Gates Qualifying Questionnaire, and note that the deadline is given in Pacific Standard Time. Note that Pacific Standard Time is two hours behind Chicago/Central Standard Time. Please plan to submit early.
  • Ensure a trusted adult reviews the Gates Qualifying Questionnaire prior to submission.
  • Establish a student profile on The Gates Scholarship site prior to July 15th to ensure you receive correspondence directly from The Gates Scholarship team once the application is open for students.
  • Double-check the spelling of your email account. Information from the Gates Scholarship Team will be shared via email or through their scholarship portal site only.
  • Do not apply for this scholarship if you do not meet the eligibility requirements.

The Office of School Counseling and Postsecondary Advising (OSCPA) will invite eligible seniors with a Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.3 (weighted) who met the eligibility requirements and their parent/adult chaperone to participate in CPS Gates Student and Parent Information Session(s) towards the end of the school year.

For immediate questions or concerns regarding the Gates Scholarship, please contact the CPS Scholarship Manager at

View information shared during the Virtual CPS Parent and Student Gates information session.
View information

CPS Scholarship Resources

Tools and resources can help your student explore scholarship opportunities and manage scholarship applications.

Related Links

  • CPS Gates Student and Parent Information Session presentation - Presented by CPS College and Career Specialists in conjunction with the DePaul University Center for Access and Attainment. Includes “Scholarship Essay Editing Support at DePaul University.” [ English  |  Spanish ]
  • 2019-2020 Gates Foundation Fact Sheet [ English  |  Spanish ]
  • Financial Aid Overview, Early Needs Analysis, and Important Next Steps [ English ]

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: