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The mission of the Renaissance Scholars Program (RSP) is to provide scholarships to high achieving, low-income students who will be the first in their family to earn a bachelor’s degree. The Program offers a renewable college scholarship of up to $5,000 per academic year (a maximum of $20,000 toward your bachelor’s degree).

 RSP works closely with a variety of partners to connect students with mentoring organizations on their college campuses. RSP provides additional growth opportunities and resources for scholars, including in-person and virtual events.  

Renaissance Scholars is now offering awards through our three partner HBCUs (Elizabeth City State University, North Carolina Central University, and Stillman College) to new and continuing students!

Requirements for HBCU Applicants
  • High school applicants must plan to attend one of the following universities:

  • Elizabeth City University

  • North Carolina Central University

  • Stillman College

  • Current students at these universities may apply in their Freshman or Sophomore year. Juniors and Seniors are not eligible to apply.

Requirements for All Applicants:

  • U.S. citizenship is not a requirement (see FAQ section for more). 

  • Plan to earn a bachelor’s degree from an accredited U.S. 4-year college. 

  • Will be the very first person in your family to earn a bachelor's degree. Students who have a parent or sibling with a bachelor’s degree, or a sibling currently enrolled in a 4-year college are not eligible. (see FAQ section for more). 


  • Have significant demonstrated financial need. Renaissance defines this as Pell eligibility or equivalent for those who do not file the FAFSA. If Renaissance scholarship winners go on to win a “full ride” scholarship through a college or organization, the Renaissance award will be rescinded (see FAQ section for more). 


  • Have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 and show academic achievement.

March 1 Deadline

March 1 Application Due

March Committee Review

All applicants notified of decisions by May 1st.

May 1 Deadline

Mid March Application Opens

May 1 Application Due

May Committee Review

All applicants notified of decisions by July 1st.


(NOTE: Scholarships cannot be applied at community college. If students decide to enroll or continue at community college, they will need to reapply when they are ready to transfer.)

In addition to meeting the requirements above, The Renaissance Foundation is looking for students who demonstrate: leadership potential, a concern for others, and a strong work ethic. These qualities can be demonstrated through participation in volunteering, membership in clubs/community organizations, paid/unpaid work, or family responsibilities. Successful candidates are able to clearly communicate their strengths and goals in their written application and essays.

Application Checklist

Students must upload and submit all parts of the application by the submission deadline. Incomplete applications will not be reviewed.

Complete and proofread all required application boxes.

Submit Documents

  • Most recent unofficial high school transcripts and college transcripts, if applicable.

  • One of the following financial documents:

    • A PDF/screenshot of your FAFSA confirmation email. Be sure the student’s full name, Student Aid Index (SAI), and Pell eligibility statement are clearly visible*

    • A PDF/screenshot of the student’s estimated Student Aid Index (SAI) generated using the Federal Student Aid Estimator*

    • A PDF/screenshot of the student's completed ORSAA/alternative financial aid application

    • A PDF/screenshot of parent's most recent tax paperwork (Form 1040 or similar) only if FAFSA/ORSAA/alternative application don't apply

    • International students: I-20 form or other financial documentation that was submitted to your U.S. college.

 *See example of acceptable FAFSA documents here.

Letters of Recommendation

Note: We recommend sending your requests as soon as possible. It is polite to give recommenders at least two weeks to complete their letter. You can request recommendations before you are finished with your application.

  • Letter of Recommendation #1- from an educational source (teacher, counselor, non-family member)

  • Letter of Recommendation #2- from any source (teacher, counselor, coach, boss, mentor, non-family member)

Essay Questions

Essay #1 (500 to 1,000 words)

  • The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Describe a significant personal challenge or problem you've faced, how it affected you, how you overcame or tried to overcome the problem, and what you learned about yourself in the process. As you consider your future goals, how will you use what you've learned from this experience?

Essay #2 (select one prompt, 400 to 600 words)

  • Describe your personal and career goals for your life after college. How will your college experience help you to achieve your goals?

  • Tell us why you are pursuing your selected major. Why do you find the subject interesting? How will studying this topic support your future goals?

  • What goals do you hope to achieve in college? Explain your personal and educational goals, as well as the steps you will take to achieve them.

Optional Items

  • Activities summary or resume

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