Posse Scholarship

How to win a Posse Scholarship

Paying for college is an important consideration for any student beginning the college application process. To help offset the cost of college, many students apply for scholarships like the Posse Foundation scholarship. In fact, the Posse Scholarship is one of the best merit scholarships for high school juniors. Along with specialized mentoring, Posse Scholars receive money to help cover their cost of tuition at one of the many Posse Scholarship schools.

Now, you may be thinking, what is a merit-based scholarship? Well, a merit-based scholarship is one of several kinds of scholarships for college. Unlike need-based scholarships, which, as the name implies, are awarded based on financial need, merit-based scholarships are awarded based on a student’s demonstrated potential for success.

Most scholarships for high school juniors have specific eligibility requirements. Wondering if you’re a good fit for a Posse Scholarship?

In our guide to How to win a Posse Scholarship, we’ll discuss:

  • What is a Posse Foundation Scholarship?
  • Posse Scholarship schools
  • The Posse Scholarship deadline
  • Posse Scholarship requirements
  • Tips on how to win a Posse Scholarship
  • Other scholarships for college, and more!

If you’re not sure attending college is a possibility for you, a Posse Scholarship might be exactly what you need. Before we discuss what exactly a Posse Scholarship is, let’s take a look at the organization behind it. 

The Posse Foundation

Founded in 1989, the Posse Foundation is a nonprofit that has provided over $2 billion in scholarships to over 12,000 Scholars. By selecting a group of diverse and talented individuals, the Foundation creates a cohort capable of jump-starting positive change. 

Students who receive a Posse Foundation Scholarship have a 90% graduation rate. On campus, most Posse Scholars are involved as officers in student organizations as well as student government. Additionally, Posse Scholars come from over 20 cities nationwide and Puerto Rico, and over half of Posse Scholars are first-generation college students.

The Posse Foundation has received high recognition for its outstanding contributions to improving college access for students of diverse backgrounds. In fact, in 2010, President Barack Obama donated a portion of his Nobel Prize Award to Posse. In 2007, Posse’s President and Founder Deborah Bial received a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship for her work in reframing the college admissions process. 

As you can see, the Posse Foundation does critical work in innovating and improving college access. But, just what is a Posse Foundation Scholarship, and what does it mean for students attending Posse Scholarship schools?

What is a Posse Scholarship?

posse scholarship

Firstly, a Posse Foundation Scholarship is not just a financial award. It is an involved preparatory program to prepare students for success at one of the Posse Scholarship schools and after graduation. The Posse program is split into three parts:

  • Pre-Collegiate Training
  • Campus Program
  • Career Program

Each of these sub-programs is designed to help Posse Scholars prepare for, excel at, and put to use their college education. The Posse Scholarship requirements help the Foundation identify students who will most benefit from these programs. And yes, the Foundation identifies students: there is a nomination and recruitment process, which we’ll discuss later.

Pre-Collegiate Training

Before beginning their freshman year at one of the Posse Scholarship schools, Posse Scholars will participate in Pre-Collegiate Training (PCT). From January to August, high school seniors meet once a week for two hours. During this time, they will do workshops with other Posse Scholars in their cohort alongside Posse staff. These meetings prepare students for college by encouraging academic excellence, team building, cross-cultural communication, and leadership skills.

Campus Program

More than simply helping address the cost of college, Posse aims to support students throughout their college journey. After enrollment at a university, Posse Scholars benefit from the Campus Program, which connects them with an on-campus mentor. This mentor meets with Posse Scholars weekly as a group. For their first two years, each Scholar will also meet with their mentor one-on-one twice a month. Four times a year, Posse staff will visit campus to meet with Scholars and their mentors as well as campus liaisons.

Posse mentors’ primary objective is to forge strong bonds with Scholars and motivate them to graduate from college. To that end, the bimonthly individual meetings focus on academic progress, campus life, and goals. Group workshops, on the other hand, continue the leadership and team-building work from PCT while incorporating career development.

Career Program

Unlike many other scholarships for college, Scholars receive additional support through Posse’s Career Program. Through Posse’s relationships with graduate and professional schools and top-tier companies, students have the resources necessary to secure competitive internships and jobs. There are five components to the Career Program: internships, careers development workshops, career coaching, graduate + fellowship program, and the alumni network. While we won’t delve into these components here, it’s already evident that the Posse Foundation offers robust, long-term support.

Clearly, the answer to “What is a Posse Scholarship?” encompasses much more than the typical answer to “What is a merit-based scholarship?”. As you might have noticed, becoming a Posse Scholar is a lot more than simply meeting the Posse Scholarship requirements. Indeed, becoming a Posse Scholar means having a support system before, during, and after college. That means Scholars will never be alone during their college experience, no matter which of the Posse Scholarship schools they attend.

Up next, you’ll find a complete list of Posse Scholarship Schools. Learn more about each school and its offerings using our College Search Feature!

College Search Feature

Posse Scholarship Schools

posse scholarship schools

To help their students succeed, Posse partners with Posse Scholarship schools. Moreover, these Posse Scholarship schools are committed to helping Posse Foundation Scholarship recipients manage the cost of college and excel. In practice, Posse Scholarship schools offer Posse Scholars support such as full-tuition scholarships and weekly faculty mentoring.

Currently, there are 60+ Posse Scholarship schools located all over the country. Below is a comprehensive list of Posse Scholarship schools. Schools notated with a (V) are part of the Virtual Program. Scholars in the Virtual Program are selected and trained online and will attend Posse Scholarship schools alongside geographically diverse cohorts.

List of Posse Scholarship Schools

Agnes Scott CollegeIllinois Wesleyan UniversityThe College of Wooster
Babson CollegeKalamazoo CollegeThe George Washington University
Bard CollegeLafayette CollegeTrinity College
Boston UniversityLawrence UniversityTulane University
Brandeis UniversityLehigh UniversityUnion College
Bryn Mawr CollegeLewis & Clark CollegeUniversity of California, Berkeley
Bucknell UniversityMacalester College (V)University of Michigan
California Institute of the ArtsMiddlebury CollegeUniversity of North Carolina School of the Arts (V)
Carleton CollegeMount Holyoke CollegeUniversity of Notre Dame
Case Western Reserve University (V)Northwestern UniversityUniversity of Puget Sound
Centre College (V)Oberlin CollegeUniversity of Rochester
Colby CollegePepperdine UniversityUniversity of Virginia (V)
Connecticut CollegePomona CollegeUniversity of Wisconsin-Madison
Cornell College (V)Purdue University (V)Vanderbilt University
Cornell UniversityRhodes College (V)Vassar College
Davidson College (V)Rutgers University-New BrunswickVillanova University
DePauw UniversitySewanee: The University of the SouthWellesley College
Dickinson CollegeSmith CollegeWheaton College
Franklin & Marshall CollegeSt. Olaf College (V) William & Mary (V)
Hamilton CollegeSyracuse University
Hobart and William Smith CollegesTexas A&M University

As you can see, you’ll find many highly-regarded colleges and universities on this list of Posse Scholarship schools. Top-ranked schools from across the country have partnered with Posse to make a world-class education more accessible. It’s clear to see that Posse Scholars have access to some of the best academic resources in the nation.

Now that you understand the basics of the Posse Scholarship, you’re likely wondering about the Posse Foundation Scholarship application. Up next, we’ll discuss Posse Foundation Scholarship eligibility, including the Posse Scholarship requirements and what the Posse Foundation looks for.

Who qualifies for a Posse Scholarship?

Posse Scholarship

Many students can qualify for a Posse Foundation scholarship. Posse recruits from over 20 cities, so students from different geographic regions have the opportunity to win a Posse Scholarship. Anyone who meets the Posse Scholarship requirements can be nominated by their high school or a community-based organization.

If you’ve asked yourself, “What is a merit-based scholarship?”, you may wonder if the Posse Foundation scholarship is merit-based. The answer is yes, the Posse Foundation Scholarship is a merit-based scholarship. That means applications are not limited to students of a specific background or location, and students of all identities are eligible.

Posse Scholarship Nomination Process

The Posse Foundation selects its scholars through its Dynamic Assessment Process (DAP). Each year, from September through December, DAP uses “nontraditional forums” to create opportunities for students to demonstrate their skills and abilities. It is a three-part process consisting of individual and large-group interviews. Rather than assessing academic performance, the DAP identifies leadership potential, teamwork skills, and drive to succeed.

Students can be nominated as early as the second term of their junior year. For students, that means the Posse Scholarship should be considered alongside other scholarships for high school juniors. Nomination timelines and the Posse Scholarship deadline can vary by location. Your local Posse Scholarship office can provide up-to-date information on all important dates.

In addition to meeting important deadlines, nominated students must also meet the Posse Scholarship requirements. Logically, all scholarships for college have certain requirements; so, let’s learn more about Posse’s.

Posse Scholarships Requirements

Now, let’s take a deeper dive into the Posse Scholarship requirements. In order to be eligible for a Posse Foundation Scholarship, students must:

  • Be in the first term of their senior year of high school
  • Be nominated by either their high school or a community-based organization
  • Demonstrate their academic abilities and potential to succeed
  • Demonstrate leadership, in their high school, family, or community
  • Apply by the Posse Scholarship deadline

Most of the Posse Scholarship requirements are fairly straightforward. The nomination process is an important part of the Posse Scholarship requirements. This ensures only students whose abilities and potential have been demonstrated and recognized can win. This way, all students in the running are certain to have something to offer during the DAP.

However, some of the Posse Scholarship requirements are more general, referencing the qualities Posse is looking for in their Scholars. What exactly does demonstrating academic abilities look like? What does demonstrating leadership look like? Let’s unpack these Posse Scholarship requirements by breaking down what exactly Posse is looking for when they award their scholarships for college.

What does Posse look for?

Posse Scholarship requirements

Determining what kind of student is the right fit for a Posse Foundation Scholarship can be challenging. However, the Posse Foundation provides a list of characteristics they look for in potential Posse Scholars. Fundamentally, the Posse Foundation is looking for students who are:

  • Leaders within their high school or the greater community
  • Team players interested in working with diverse groups of people
  • Dedicated to their education (with a strong academic record)
  • Positive, motivated, and ambitious

Essentially, the Posse Foundation is looking for future leaders. Whether in government, specific industries, or right at home, Posse wants to help future leaders fulfill their potential. Given the prestige of the Posse Scholarship schools, it’s natural that Scholars must have demonstrable leadership skills and drive.


Leadership is one of the essential Posse Scholarship requirements for students applying. Leaders are often people who inspire and motivate others by being a unifying force in a common effort. Holding leadership positions, like in school clubs, sports teams, volunteer organizations, or community groups is great for demonstrating leadership abilities.

The best leaders are usually team players—they’re involved with various aspects of their organization and are always ready to help others. They don’t always conduct others and delegate tasks, but know when and how to get directly involved. Remember, you can be a leader even if you don’t have an official title. Consider what contributions you’ve made to the groups you participate in.


Of the Posse Scholarship requirements, education is equally important to leadership. Attending college is demanding, and there’s always the possibility of burnout from the workload and intensity of a college course load. Therefore, students must be prepared to dedicate themselves wholeheartedly to pursuing their education at any of the Posse Scholarship schools. For that reason, a proven track record of academic excellence is crucial.

Certainly, strong grades and test scores can be strong indicators of a student’s ability to succeed. With that said, it doesn’t mean students with lower GPAs won’t be considered. Showing improvement between terms in certain courses is a great way to show your determination and willingness to improve. By the same token, taking more challenging courses in subject areas that are interesting to you reflects well on you.

How many Posse Scholarships are awarded each year?

Posse Scholarship acceptance rate

Hundreds of students are awarded Posse Scholarships each year. In 2022, 829 students were selected to join a Posse, earning a collective $173.3 million in Posse Foundation Scholarships. These numbers include the Posse cohorts from both their traditional and virtual programs. It also includes Scholars from the inaugural class of the Posse Arts Program.

While it’s helpful to know how many students won a Posse Scholarship, you may also wonder about the Posse Scholarship acceptance rate. In actuality, the foundation does not report the Posse Scholarship acceptance rate on its website. However, in 2016, over 17,000 students were nominated for a Posse Scholarship and 718 were selected as Scholars. That puts the Posse Scholarship acceptance rate at just 4% for all nominated students.

What does a Posse Scholarship cover?

Students who receive a Posse Foundation Scholarship will have their tuition covered in full at one of the Posse Scholarship schools. Obviously, a full-tuition scholarship can greatly reduce the cost of college. With that said, however, it doesn’t cover all possible college expenses.

Different scholarships for college will cover different costs. With a Posse Foundation scholarship, you’ll still need to consider other living costs such as room and board, school supplies, books, and transportation. Fortunately, Posse Foundation Scholars are still able to take advantage of other scholarships for college.

In addition to having their tuition covered, Posse Scholars receive invaluable support during their four years at Posse Scholarship schools. Four times a year, Posse Foundation members, campus liaisons, and mentors will all come together to meet with their Posse Scholars. As stated above, Posse Scholars can meet regularly with their on-campus mentor, one-on-one or in a group. 

In addition, the Posse Foundation invites students to a weekend-long trip in the spring, called the PossePlus Retreat. Over the weekend, students will identify and explore social issues that are important to them alongside faculty, administration, and other students.

Becoming a Posse Scholar

Posse Scholarship

If you meet all of the Posse Scholarship requirements, you may be selected to be a Posse Scholar. Part of becoming a Posse Scholar means accepting an ED binding agreement to one of the Posse Scholarship schools. Once all Scholars have been selected, each city’s Posse gathers for a ceremony to celebrate the newest class of students.

Becoming a Posse Scholar is a high honor and no small thing. It is a long-term commitment to your partnership with Posse. Just as Posse is dedicated to your future success, you’ll need to be dedicated to your Posse. Expect to engage with your cohort and the many resources Posse provides its scholars for many years to come.

5 Tips to Win a Posse Scholarship

Tips for Winning a Posse Scholarship

Posse Scholarship

1. Speak to your guidance counselor about the Posse Scholarship

Do you think you might meet all the Posse Scholarship requirements? Don’t be afraid to ask your guidance counselor if they’re part of Posse’s nomination network.

2. Practice your interview skills

The Dynamic Assessment Process is three rounds of group and individual interviews. Before you go, be prepared to speak with staff and other prospective scholars about your experiences.

3. Submit all required documents and application information

Documents are required concurrently with interviews, so check your email often and stay on top of all Posse Scholarship requirements.

4. Think about your strengths and weaknesses

Consider what aspects about yourself you want to highlight to Posse and how you might contextualize any low scores.

5. Don’t miss the Posse Scholarship deadline

Applying on time is crucial to being considered—check with your city’s Posse program office to keep you on track.

Other Scholarships to Explore!

Many universities are expensive, but that shouldn’t prevent you from applying. Here are some additional scholarships for high school juniors you may want to explore to help cover the cost of college.

Additional Scholarships to Explore

Posse Scholarship

Hope Scholarship

Many scholarships for college are only available to students in specific geographic regions or states. The Hope Scholarship was created in 1993 for Georgia residents. However, there are now Hope scholarships for Tennessee and South Carolina. This merit-based scholarship helps students cover their college tuition and varies depending on the school they choose to attend.

Equitable Excellence Scholarship

The Equitable Excellence Scholarship is another merit-based scholarship. Each year, 100 winners are awarded a $5,000 scholarship, which is renewable for all four years of college. Similar to the Posse Scholarship, this scholarship looks for “leadership, determination, and resilience as critical enablers of their future success.”

The Gates Scholarship

Some scholarships for college cover a student’s entire cost of attendance. The Gates Scholarship is a great opportunity for high school seniors from low-income households to win a full ride to college. Eligible applicants must identify as African American, American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian and Pacific Islander American, and/or Hispanic American.

Questbridge Scholarship

One of the most well-known scholarships for college is the QuestBridge Scholarship. QuestBridge provides students with two different types of scholarships. The first is College Prep Scholarships, which helps give juniors a jump start on their college applications. This often leads to these same students becoming finalists in Questbridge’s second scholarship, QuestBridge National College Match. This scholarship awards full tuition to students who match with one of QuestBridge’s partner schools.

How to Win a Posse Scholarship Final Takeaways

The Posse Scholarship is one of the best scholarships for high school juniors looking for scholarships for college. Remember, the Posse Scholarship requirements require high school seniors to be nominated by their high school or a community-based organization. To become a Posse Scholar, students must meet the Posse Scholarship requirements of demonstrating their leadership abilities and academic potential.

With 60+ Posse Scholarship schools, Posse Scholars have access to amazing opportunities at top institutions across the country. Full-tuition scholarships like these lower barriers to college access and open endless doors for Scholars. For more information on the Posse Scholarship, visit Posse’s website or contact your local Posse office today.

Posse Scholarships

Stefanie Tedards wrote this article. Looking for more admissions support? Click here to schedule a free meeting with one of our Admissions Specialists. During your meeting, our team will discuss your profile and help you find targeted ways to increase your admissions odds at top schools. We’ll also answer any questions and discuss how CollegeAdvisor.com can support you in the college application process.