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How to Apply for the Coolidge Scholarship

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Female student holding a folder in a room with her classmates.

Welcome to our look at the Coolidge Scholarship, a special program that rewards high school students across the United States for their hard work and achievements. Named after Calvin Coolidge, the only modern president known for his unusual hobby of translating Dante’s works from Italian for fun, this scholarship reflects his profound respect for undergraduate education. Coolidge believed that education is the cornerstone of life, a philosophy that is deeply embedded in the scholarship that bears his name.

The Coolidge Scholarship distinguishes itself as America’s “unconditional” merit scholarship, which means it is awarded without regard to geographic location, race, family background, or family income. It uniquely empowers recipients by allowing them to use their scholarship at any accredited U.S. college or university where they are admitted, thus supporting their education right from the start—before they even apply to college.

Operated by the Calvin Coolidge Presidential Foundation, this nonprofit, nonpartisan organization manages the Coolidge Scholars Program and promotes values that resonate with Coolidge’s vision of historical awareness and educational importance. Join me as we give you the details of this prestigious scholarship and discover how it continues to shape the lives of young scholars today.

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What is the Coolidge Scholarship?

The Coolidge Scholarship is a prestigious, full-ride scholarship that covers the entirety of a student’s tuition, room, board, and additional expenses for four years of undergraduate study at any accredited U.S. college or university. This award is open to high school juniors from any background and academic discipline, emphasizing its non-partisan and need-blind application process.

The selection for the Coolidge Scholarship hinges primarily on academic excellence. Secondary criteria include a demonstrated interest in public policy, an appreciation for the values espoused by President Calvin Coolidge, and traits like humility and service.

Each year, finalists are invited to the Coolidge Historic Site in Plymouth Notch, Vermont for a series of interviews with the Coolidge Scholars Finalist Jury. Here, students engage deeply with the legacy of President Coolidge, particularly through orientation and ongoing engagement with the Coolidge Foundation’s debate programs.

In addition to the main scholarship, the program also recognizes one hundred of the top applicants as “Coolidge Senators”, who receive an all-expenses-paid trip to the Senators Summit in Washington, D.C. This summit provides an opportunity for high-achieving students to learn more about President Coolidge, explore the nation’s capital, and connect with peers from across the country.

Managed by the Calvin Coolidge Presidential Foundation, the Coolidge Scholars Program is a testament to the academic dedication and public policy interests that marked Coolidge’s own life, offering a comprehensive and enriching opportunity for young scholars today.

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The Coolidge Senators Program

The Coolidge Senators Program, operated by the Coolidge Foundation, is a separate initiative from the Coolidge Scholarship, designed to honor one hundred academically exceptional applicants who show a deep interest in the life and legacy of Calvin Coolidge. Every student who applies for the Coolidge Scholarship is automatically considered for the Coolidge Senators designation; there is no need for a separate application.

Those selected as Coolidge Senators are directly notified by the Coolidge Foundation and are required to attend the Coolidge Senator Summit to officially receive the honor. The Summit is an all-expenses-paid, multi-day event that includes tours of Coolidge’s hometown and engaging discussions on policy and business with notable experts.

The Senators participate in seminars addressing significant national topics. This event commemorates Coolidge’s journey from Vermont to the presidency but also emphasizes values such as entrepreneurship and the private sector’s role in maintaining a healthy republic.

During their visit, Senators explore significant sites like Coolidge’s birthplace, the family homestead where he was sworn in as President, the church his family attended, and the cemetery where he rests. The Summit is also a platform for building connections with peers and mentors from across the country, creating a network that extends into their college years and beyond.

Coolidge Senators receive a modest, one-time college scholarship and are offered further enrichment opportunities, including an annual national conference and an alumni summit in Washington, D.C. The Coolidge Foundation ensures that the Senators’ experience is educational and instrumental in building lasting relationships and leadership skills. The Summit typically occurs in August following the scholarship application cycle to bring a rich start to the academic year for the new Senators.

Who is eligible to apply for the Coolidge Scholarship?

To be eligible, applicants must intend to enroll as full-time undergraduates for the first time in the fall of 2025, aligning their application with their projected high school graduation in the spring of 2025. The scholarship specifically targets those who are in their junior year at the time of application, with no flexibility regarding this timing.

For instance, students who plan to graduate early or take a gap year, delaying their start date beyond fall 2025, are not eligible to apply. Similarly, current high school seniors, regardless of their age or academic progression, such as those who have skipped grades or are contemplating retaking their senior year, are not eligible to apply.

Furthermore, immediate family members of current employees or trustees of the Coolidge Scholars Program or the Calvin Coolidge Presidential Foundation are excluded from applying, ensuring a fair and impartial selection process for all other candidates.

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How to Apply for the Coolidge Scholarship?

To apply for the Coolidge Scholarship, applicants need to follow a detailed step-by-step process using the program’s online application system. Here’s a comprehensive guide to the application steps:

  • Step 1: Create an Account

Begin by creating an account on the Coolidge Scholarship’s official website. If you encounter an error message or issues verifying that you are human, try clearing your browser cache or switching to a different browser or internet network.

  • Step 2: Fill Out the Profile Form

Complete all required sections of the Profile form. If you encounter an error saving your data, click “Save Draft,” then navigate back to the Homepage and re-enter the Profile form to try saving again.

  • Step 3: Complete All Required Sections

Check if each section of the application—such as the “Honesty Statement,” “Letters of Reference,” and “Academic Information”—is filled out completely. Each section should be marked as “Complete.” If a section is listed as “Action Required,” you need to address the incomplete areas before you can submit your application.

  • Step 4: Select and Manage Letter Writers

Choose two referees: one to discuss your academic abilities and another to vouch for your character and extracurricular achievements. Only one individual should write each letter, and no co-written letters are allowed. Input your letter writers’ information in the provided portal.

If you or your referees face technical issues, such as not receiving confirmation emails or being unable to upload documents, first try resending the invite or changing the registered email. For persistent issues, contact the Coolidge Foundation directly or encourage your letter writers to send their letters via email to the designated Coolidge email address.

  • Step 5: Write and Cite Your Essays

Write your essays with careful attention to the prompts. If referencing “The Autobiography of Calvin Coolidge” or other materials, use parenthetical citations within the text of your essay to save space.

  • Step 6: Review and Submit

Before submitting, review your entire application to ensure accuracy and completeness. If the “Submit” button is inactive, check if all forms are indeed marked as “Complete.” Incomplete forms can prevent submission.

  • Step 7: Submit Your Application

Once all parts are completed and no sections are listed as “In Progress,” click the “Submit” button. If you are still unable to submit, double-check that there are no uncompleted sections or unresolved technical issues.

  • Step 8: Follow-up

After submitting, you can log into your portal to check the status of your recommendation letters and any other application components.

If you experience login or submission issues due to browser settings, switch to a recommended browser like Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox. For Safari users, adjust the privacy settings to allow cookies and website data or use an alternative browser.

Applicants should follow these steps carefully and check if their submission is complete and stands the best chance of success. Remember, accuracy and thoroughness are important, as the Coolidge Foundation does not accept updates or changes once the application has been submitted.

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Coolidge Scholarship Selection Criteria

The Coolidge Scholarship emphasizes academic excellence as its primary selection criterion. This prestigious award recognizes high school students who have excelled in their studies and have also engaged deeply in intellectual pursuits beyond the classroom. Successful candidates typically demonstrate a profound academic depth, choosing rigorous courses and showing a keen intellectual curiosity.

For instance, historical figures like Jonas Salk, known for developing the polio vaccine, exemplify the type of scholar the program seeks. Salk’s early disinterest in science contrasts with his later profound impact on human health, highlighting that Coolidge Scholars are expected to possess more than just a stellar academic record; they embody a genuine passion for learning and discovery.

The scholarship also evaluates candidates based on several secondary criteria. An interest in public policy and an appreciation for the values upheld by President Calvin Coolidge are critical. Coolidge, who diligently studied public policy from his youth through his presidency, serves as a role model for applicants. However, the scholarship is open to students from all academic fields, not just those planning to pursue degrees in public policy or government.

The qualities of humility and service are highly valued. Coolidge himself noted in his autobiography the importance of humility for leadership, a sentiment that the scholarship echoes in its selection process. Applicants are expected to demonstrate a commitment to community service and to be involved in making significant, practical contributions to their communities. This focus on community engagement favors actions that are impactful and feasible, rather than grandiose but impractical initiatives.

Coolidge Scholarship Selection Timeline

The Coolidge Scholarship selection timeline for the 2024-2025 academic year begins with the application launch, scheduled for late summer or early fall of 2024. The specific start date will be announced closer to the time. All application materials, including letters of reference, must be submitted by a deadline that is yet to be determined.

By the summer of 2025, all applicants will receive notifications regarding the status of their applications. These updates will be accessible through the applicants’ online portals. Those who are named finalists will receive direct phone calls from the Coolidge Foundation and will be invited to the Finalist Interview Weekend in Woodstock and historic Plymouth Notch, Vermont. For this event, the foundation covers all travel and lodging expenses for the finalists and one accompanying parent.

During the summer of 2025, the newly selected Coolidge Scholars will participate in an orientation week at the Coolidge Foundation in Plymouth Notch, Vermont. This event marks the start of their experience as Coolidge Scholars.

Each application cycle, the Coolidge Foundation expects to award two or three new scholarships. The process of selecting finalists is meticulous, with up to ten finalists being invited to the Finalist Interview Weekend. Here, they will engage in interviews with the Coolidge Scholarship Finalist Jury. Transportation, lodging, and meal costs for each finalist and one parent or legal guardian are provided by the program.

All applicants, whether they are named finalists or not, will be informed of their application outcome by the summer of 2025, ensuring that every candidate is aware of their status and next steps.

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Important Dates for the 2023-2024 Coolidge Scholarship Application

The 2023-24 Coolidge Scholarship application is currently available for potential candidates to apply. Interested students can access the application through the program’s official website.

The deadline for submitting all application materials, including letters of reference, is set for Thursday, January 18, 2024, at 5:00 PM Pacific Time.

It is essential for applicants to ensure all required documents are submitted by this deadline to be considered for the scholarship.

Final Thoughts

Applying for the Coolidge Scholarship is a wonderful chance to win a college fund— but it’s also an opportunity to join a community that values leadership and learning. Every step you take, from filling out the application to writing your essays, is part of becoming a more prepared and insightful student.

Start your application with confidence, future Coolidge Scholar! This could be your stepping stone to making a big difference in the future, just like President Calvin Coolidge did. Good luck, and may this experience inspire you as much as the scholarship’s legacy!

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Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is it worth applying for the Coolidge Scholarship despite the high competition?

Yes, applying for the Coolidge Scholarship is highly recommended, even though the award is highly competitive. While only a select few win the scholarship each year, all finalists are eligible for a one-time Finalist Award scholarship if they do not win the main scholarship. A significant number of top applicants are designated as “Coolidge Senators,” an honor that includes participation in the annual Coolidge Senators Summit hosted by the Coolidge Foundation. Many applicants also find that the process of applying for the Coolidge Scholarship provides valuable experience that aids in college and other scholarship applications.

2. Does the Coolidge Scholarship guarantee university admission? 

No, the Coolidge Scholarship does not guarantee admission to any university. Recipients are responsible for securing their own admission to an accredited U.S. college or university. The scholarship is contingent upon admission and can be used at any accredited institution where the student is admitted.

3. Are there any restrictions on which universities I can attend with the Coolidge Scholarship?

There are no restrictions regarding which universities recipients of the Coolidge Scholarship may attend. The scholarship can be utilized at any accredited American college or university where the student gains admittance.

4. Am I eligible for the Coolidge Scholarship if I am graduating early?

No, the Coolidge Scholarship is only open to high school juniors who will be graduating in the spring of 2025 and starting college in the fall of 2025. Students who plan to graduate early or in a different year are not eligible for the 2023-24 scholarship cycle.

5. Can I reapply or retake my senior year to become eligible for the Coolidge Scholarship?

No, applicants are not allowed to retake their senior year or otherwise alter their graduation date solely for the purpose of qualifying for the Coolidge Scholarship. The program requires applicants to be current high school juniors without any changes to their academic timeline.

6. Can international students apply for the Coolidge Scholarship?

The Coolidge Scholarship is only open to U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents. However, U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents attending high school abroad are eligible to apply.

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