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Equitable Excellence Scholarship: Introduction

Finding the top merit-based scholarships for college can feel daunting. With so many programs out there, it can be hard to conduct a scholarship search. It’s overwhelming to find scholarships for college that meet your needs, we know! In this guide to the Equitable Excellence Scholarship, which has replaced the AXA Achievement Scholarship, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about applying for this opportunity. We’ll cover eligibility, award amounts, and timelines. In addition, we’ll provide helpful tips for winning the Equitable Excellence Scholarship. And, we’ll answer common questions about this merit-based scholarship.

To begin, though, let’s first review some basic information on merit-based scholarships. For example, these scholarships are different from other types of financial aid, including need-based scholarships and loans. We will also provide an overview of Scholarship America, a valuable resource for your scholarship search. In addition, we’ll provide links to other helpful information on financial aid and scholarships.

Scholarship Search: Tips for finding scholarships for college

Merit-based scholarships are financial awards provided by companies, community organizations, and schools, given to aspiring college students who apply directly for these scholarships. Eligibility criteria vary depending on the mission of the organization offering the scholarship. So it is important to make sure you fulfill the requirements before applying. Once the application window closes, scholarship committees within these companies and organizations select winners. The selection proceess is based on academic achievements and other significant accomplishments. Significant accomplishments can include successes in athletics, arts, community programs, and other extracurricular activities.

Merit-based scholarships are different from other types of financial aid. Unlike loans, you don’t need to pay back merit-based scholarships. And unlike need-based scholarships, students and their families do not need to demonstrate financial need. As such, for many families, merit-based scholarships are an important piece of the strategy for covering the cost of college.

As you begin your scholarship search, you will likely notice that merit-based scholarships vary in size, competitiveness, and eligibility requirements. Top merit-based scholarships provide significant financial support to cover the cost of college and can be extremely competitive. However, there are many types of merit-based scholarships available for all types of students that offer significant support in offsetting the cost of college and providing equal access to educational opportunities. 

Scholarship America

You can begin your college scholarship search for available merit-based scholarships through sources like Scholarship America. Scholarship America is a free, searchable online database of scholarships for college. The mission of Scholarship America is to “help students fulfill their college dreams” by designing “meaningful solutions to address systemic inequities for students.” In addition to helping with your scholarship search, Scholarship America also offers other helpful information like student success stories and tips on preparing for college.

The Equitable Excellence Scholarship is just one of many merit scholarships in the Scholarship America listings. Find more information about Scholarship America and scholarships for college here. Further, you will find more detailed information on merit-based scholarships, including specific examples of merit scholarships offered by schools, companies, and other organizations here. Finally, you will find more general guidance on finding and applying to scholarships here.

What is the Equitable Excellence Scholarship?

The Equitable Excellence Scholarship, which has replaced the AXA Achievement Scholarship, is a competitive merit-based scholarship. It provides support for students to help cover the cost of college. Every year the Equitable Foundation awards a $5,000 scholarship to 100 Equitable Excellence Scholarship winners who best demonstrate “the qualities of leadership, determination, and resilience as critical enablers of their future success.” This scholarship is renewable for all four years of college, significantly offsetting the cost of college for Equitable Excellence Scholarship recipients and their families.

Scholarship to cover immediate costs

In addition, the Equitable Foundation also offers a one-time scholarship in the amount of $2,500 to an additional 100 students to help cover immediate costs of college like tuition, books, and room and board. Further, all Equitable Excellence Scholarship winners also receive professional development support during their first year of college. This support includes mentoring, networking, and the development of professional skills provided by Equitable executives.

Equitable Excellence Scholarship requirements are similar for both types of financial awards. First, you must be a high school senior planning to attend a 2-year or 4-year college or university. In addition, you must be a citizen or resident of the United States living in any of the 50 states, Washington D.C., or Puerto Rico. As part of the application, you will need to submit an essay describing how you have exhibited courage, displayed strength, or shared your wisdom with others in your community. For this scholarship, while high grades are important, the essay describing your commitment to your community is a key component of the application.

Who funds the Equitable Excellence Scholarship?

Equitable, a financial services company, funds the Equitable Excellence Scholarship through the Equitable Foundation, the charitable-giving arm of the company. Previously, when AXA owned Equitable, AXA funded this scholarship and named it the AXA Achievement Scholarship. Since 2020, however, Equitable has revamped this scholarship and renamed it the Equitable Excellence Scholarship. The eligibility requirements for applicants are similar, and the application process is also similar. However, Equitable changed the monetary award amounts and enhanced the professional development opportunities and engagement programs.

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The mission of Equitable and the Equitable Foundation is to give back to their communities by helping people achieve financial security. Accordingly, the Equitable Excellence Scholarship focuses on supporting and encouraging students by providing scholarships for college so they can continue to provide leadership and achieve positive impacts in their communities.

Further, the Equitable Excellence Scholarship is also supported through partnerships with other organizations, including Scholarship America, CommonApp, and National College Attainment Network.

AXA Achievement Scholarship vs. Equitable Excellence Scholarship

As noted above, the Equitable Excellence Scholarship used to be the AXA Achievement Scholarship. AXA—a major insurance company—owned Equitable until 2020. Since then, Equitable has redesigned this merit-based scholarship and changed the name from AXA Achievement Scholarship to Equitable Excellence Scholarship. As with the AXA Achievement Scholarship, the Equitable Excellence Scholarship also provides funding for scholarship winners along with professional development opportunities and engagement programs.

Because Equitable revamped this scholarship, they’ve changed several important aspects of the scholarship. Eligibility requirements remain similar. Applicants must be high school seniors, and a citizen or resident of the United States living in any of the 50 states, Washington D.C., or Puerto Rico. However, financial award amounts are different. 

The Equitable Excellence Scholarship offers two levels of financial awards: the top level is a $5,000 annual award that is renewable for each of the four years of college, while the second level is a one-time scholarship in the amount of $2,500. Scholarship winners at both levels are also provided with professional development opportunities and programs, including mentoring, networking, and professional skill development.

How much is the Equitable Excellence Scholarship?

When Equitable revamped the AXA Achievement Scholarship, they changed the monetary award amounts, although there are still two levels of financial awards for Equitable Excellence Scholarship winners. The top level provides 100 annually renewable $5,000 scholarships for college for each of the four years of college. This means that over the course of four years of college, the scholarship total amounts to $20,000 per recipient.

In addition, the Equitable Foundation also awards 100 one-time scholarships for college in the amount of $2,500 to provide support as they begin their academic journeys. This award can be used for any college-related expenses including books, tuition, and room and board.

Finally, in addition to the monetary scholarships for college, Equitable Excellence Scholarship recipients also have access to development opportunities and engagement programs through Equitable. These opportunities allow students to work directly with Equitable employees and executives, and include mentoring, networking, and professional skill-building programs.

Is the Equitable Excellence Scholarship competitive?

Like the former AXA Achievement Scholarship and most top merit-based scholarships, the Equitable Excellence Scholarship is quite competitive. Since the Equitable Excellence Scholarship requirements are unrestricted, it is one of the more competitive merit-based scholarships. Equitable accepts up to 10,000 applications for this scholarship and closes the application once the limit is reached. Given that a total of 200 scholarships will be awarded, this is a highly competitive scholarship, especially for the larger award amounts.

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Students planning to apply for the Equitable Excellence Scholarship should allow plenty of time to plan their application and craft a strong essay. Also, they should plan to apply early before the 10,000 application limit is reached.

To maximize your potential for winning this scholarship, seek out opportunities to become involved with your community. Past winners have demonstrated a high level of commitment to community-oriented activities, served in leadership roles, and achieved significant positive impacts. They have also demonstrated courage and resilience, and they’ve created compelling plans and goals for their future.

Am I eligible to apply for the Equitable Excellence Scholarship?

As with the former AXA Achievement Scholarship, to be eligible for the Equitable Excellence Scholarship you must be a current high school senior who plans to enroll full-time in an accredited 2-year or 4-year college or university in the United States. Also, you must either be a citizen of the United States or a legal resident living in one of the 50 states, Washington D.C., or Puerto Rico. Lastly, you will also need to provide a release that allows the Equitable Foundation to publicize your identity, including your photograph, along with information about your achievements in their program materials. 

How do I apply for the Equitable Excellence Scholarship?

Like the former AXA Achievement Scholarship, the application window for the Equitable Excellence Scholarship opens each October. If you would like to receive a reminder notification when the application becomes available, sign up here.

Since the application requires an essay, you should begin working on your essay as soon as you are ready. Remember that you will need to showcase your ability to “exhibit courage in pursuing what’s possible, display strength in managing challenges and share wisdom with others.” Think about experiences and activities that you would like to describe well ahead of time. Are there significant or measurable impacts you can point to? Is there a leadership role you are proud of? As you write your essay, highlight your personality and goals through clear descriptions of your motivations, challenges, and results to craft the strongest essay possible. Also, remember to seek out assistance from those who know you well and can provide ideas and feedback.

Finally, keep in mind that you must be one of the first 10,000 applicants for this scholarship. The application will close once 10,000 applications are received, even if that is before the published deadline.

Equitable Excellence Scholarship: Application Timeline

The Equitable Excellence Scholarship application will open in October. As with the former AXA Achievement Scholarship, only the first 10,000 applications will be accepted for review, so you should plan to apply early. The application deadline is usually in the middle of December—make sure to check the exact date once the application opens. 

The Equitable Foundation will notify Equitable Excellence Scholarship winners in the spring and will then release a public announcement over the summer.

Equitable Excellence Scholarship: Additional Questions

Is the Equitable Excellence Scholarship different from the AXA Achievement Scholarship?

Yes! Previously, the AXA Achievement Scholarship existed when AXA, a major insurance company, owned Equitable. In 2020, Equitable revamped the AXA Achievement Scholarship and renamed it the Equitable Excellence Scholarship. In addition, they changed award amounts and enhanced professional development opportunities and engagement programs.

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Are Equitable Excellence Scholarship requirements different from the AXA Achievement Scholarship requirements?

Equitable Excellence Scholarship requirements are very similar to those for the AXA Achievement Scholarship. These Equitable Excellence Scholarship requirements include senior status for high school students who are planning to attend a 2-year or 4-year university for college. In addition, applicants must be citizens or residents of the United States, Washington D.C., or Puerto Rico and be willing to sign a release that allows the Equitable Foundation to share their identity in publicity materials.

Can I apply for the Equitable Excellence Scholarship through Scholarship America?

Yes! Scholarship America provides information and links to many scholarships for college, including the Equitable Excellence Scholarship. So, begin your scholarship search through the Scholarship America website. You can browse for this and other scholarships for college that you may be eligible for. 

How is the Equitable Excellence Scholarship judged?

The Equitable Excellence Scholarship rewards students with outstanding achievements in the areas of leadership and community service. So, strong grades and high test scores are very important. But, they are not enough to ensure that you will be among the winners. The scholarship committee looks for students who show potential for assuming leadership roles in their community. Specifically, they are seeking students who have “courage to pursue what’s possible; display strength in managing challenges; share wisdom with others.” 

In previous years, recipients of this scholarship have demonstrated a significant commitment to their communities, assumed important leadership roles, and achieved significant positive outcomes. You can learn more about past winners here and here.

When does the Equitable Excellence Scholarship close?

Equitable has not yet announced the deadline for the 2023 Equitable Excellence Scholarship. However, in 2022 the deadline was December 17th. Keep in mind that applications close once Equitable receives 10,000 completed applications, which may be sooner than the stated deadline. It is a very good idea to apply early.

When will I know if I won the Equitable Excellence Scholarship?

There is no published date by which successful candidates will be notified. However, scholarship winners can expect to be notified sometime in the spring of the year after they have applied. In 2022, Equitable Excellence Scholarship winners were notified in February, so students can expect a similar timeline this year.

5 Tips to Win the Equitable Excellence Scholarship

Once you decide to apply for the Equitable Excellence Scholarship, you should begin planning your essay. Focus on the impactful roles and activities you have done within your community, especially those where you have demonstrated leadership and achieved significant positive results. To help you in your planning, here are the top five things to keep in mind to ensure you submit the strongest possible application for the Equitable Excellence Scholarship:

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1. Show your leadership

Equitable seeks out students who engage deeply with their communities and invest in the world around them. The scholarship committee is looking for students who have overcome obstacles and provided leadership. You want to show strong potential for achieving continued positive impacts. To be competitive for this scholarship, plan to take on extracurricular activities that you are passionate about and that allow you to give back as a leader or significant contributor. 

2. Write a standout essay

A strong essay is a key component of the Equitable Excellence Scholarship application. Remember, to become a winner you must stand out among thousands of other students. So, think about how best to describe the accomplishments you are most proud of and the passions that drive you. Show that you are committed to your community and share the goals you have going forward.

3. Learn from past winners

One of the best ways to achieve success is to learn from those who have gone before you. Take some time to research recent winners from the 2021 and 2022 application cycles to see how your profile compares. Once you have gathered some ideas for what you would like to include in your application and essay, find others who can help you refine these ideas and make them come to life in your application. Think about teachers, counselors, coaches, or other mentors who know you well and can provide ideas and feedback.

4. Keep your grades up

While academics may not be the most important aspect of the Equitable Excellence Scholarship, high grades still matter. Make sure that you keep your GPA as high as possible to avoid raising any concerns with the review committee. Plan additional study time and seek out tutoring support if necessary.

5. Submit early!

Remember, Equitable will only review the first 10,000 applications they receive. This means the application portal may close well before the deadline. Plan to submit your application as soon as possible to ensure that you’re considered.

How to Win the Equitable Excellence Scholarship: Final Thoughts

The Equitable Excellence Scholarship is one of the top merit-based scholarships available. Becoming an Equitable Excellence Scholarship winner can help significantly offset the cost of college and also provide valuable professional development opportunities. Given that as many as 10,000 students apply every year for 200 possible scholarships, it is also quite competitive. 

To ensure the best possible chance of winning, begin your research and planning early. Select community-focused extracurriculars that align with your passions and personal goals, and seek out opportunities to provide leadership and achieve meaningful positive impacts. For inspiration, research prior Equitable Excellence Scholarship winners and compare your profile to theirs.

At the beginning of your senior year, begin working on your essay. Seek input and guidance from other people who know you well and can help you decide how best to demonstrate your qualities of leadership, determination, and resilience. It is important to create the strongest possible application and essay, and to submit early!

CollegeAdvisor has many resources available to help you with your scholarship search and applications. Two good starting points if you are just beginning to think about the cost of college are this webinar and this article on financial aid and scholarships. When you are ready to begin your scholarship search to find which scholarships you are eligible for, Scholarship America is a great resource for aspiring college students. Finally, if you are interested in learning about some of the top merit-based scholarships, check out the Vanderbilt Merit Scholarships, the Coca-Cola Scholarship, and the USC Merit Scholarship.

CollegeAdvisor experts can help you with your scholarship search and any of your merit scholarship needs. Happy searching!

Zell Miller Scholarship

This article was written by Lori Dunlap. If you want to get help with your college applications from Lori or other CollegeAdvisor.com Admissions Expertsregister with CollegeAdvisor.com today. Also, check out our other guides to Merit-Based Scholarships as you embark on your college application journey!