The Gates Millennium Scholars Program and The Gates Scholarship

Posted On Feb 15, 2022 |

If you are an exceptional college bound student coming from a low-income family who is among the minority in the United States, you can definitely use the financial aid the Gates Millennium Scholars Program can provide.

What is the Gates Millennium Scholars Program? Is it the same as the Gates Scholarship?

The Gates Millennium Scholars (GMS) Program is a scholarship grant funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. It was started in 1999 with a 1 billion dollar funding from the foundation.

The Gates Scholarship was established in 2017 as a direct replacement for the GMS Program for the United States, which reached its goal of 20,000 scholars in 2016. Basically, the GMS Program still continues to this day as a blanket program including the Gates Scholarship found within the program.  

The scholarship program is currently administered by the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) and partner organizations including the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, APIA Scholars, and the American Indian Graduate Center.

What Are The Goals of the Gates Scholarship?

The main goal of the Gates Scholarship is to provide an opportunity for outstanding minority students to excel and reach their fullest potential.

This scholarship aims to increase the number of underrepresented minorities in majors or disciplines such as computer science, education, engineering, library science, mathematics, public health and the sciences.  

This scholarship aims to provide access to education to minority students from low-income families or those with high financial need by covering their education costs to a college or university of their choice.  

The ultimate goal of this scholarship is to produce a diversified generation of students who will become future leaders of the United States of America by providing support to these students from their undergraduate college education all the way through to their master's and doctoral degrees.

What are the Benefits of the Gates Millennium Scholars Program?

The Gates Scholarship is an academic scholarship award given to 300 outstanding, minority, high school seniors from low-income households. This scholarship is renewable and can cover all the unmet financial requirements for your college or university undergraduate years all the way to postgraduate studies.

This scholarship covers all the cost of education incurred that is beyond the coverage of any other student financial aid you are receiving along with the expected family contribution, as determined by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Included in the coverage are tuition, room and boarding, books, transportation and any other fees or expenses related to the college or university you're attending.  

Aside from just funding, the Gates Scholarship is quite comprehensive in the support it provides. Other services offered to scholarship winners by the program include a strong support network providing academic assistance, mentoring, professional advice and guidance, and help with financial literacy.

How Do I Become a Gates Scholar?

The Gates Millennium Scholars Program is basically a highly selective, last-dollar scholarship given only to incoming college or university students from a minority that show financial need and excellent academic and leadership skills.

You need to prove you have significant financial need and are unable to afford the cost of attendance to a college or university, and be one of the high-achieving ethnic minority students supported by the program. You need to be outstanding in academics, show great leadership skills, and a willingness to participate in community service or volunteer work. 

Who Is Eligible to become a Gates Scholar?

The criteria to be eligible to become a Gates Scholar include these:

  • Plan to enroll full-time in a four-year (bachelor's) degree program at an accredited, not-for-profit US college or university
  • Be one one of the following ethnic minorities: African-American, American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian American/Pacific Islander, and/or Hispanic American.
  • Meet federal Pell Grant eligibility criteria and show significant financial need.
  • Be a high school senior.
  • Have a cumulative 3.3 GPA on an unweighted 4.0 scale.
  • Be a citizen of the United States or a legal permanent resident.

What Is the General Timeline of the Scholarship?

Using 2021 as the sample, the scholarship opened for application on July 15, 2021, with the deadline for filing of applications on September 15, 2021.

During December 2021 to January 2022, the announcement and processing of semi-finalists for the scholarship takes place. This includes opening of applications for semi-finalists and deadline for filing them.  

Finalists for the scholarship are announced on March 1, 2022 and throughout the whole month of March, interviews with the finalists take place.  

By April 2022, the selected scholarship winners will be announced, with the financial awards being disbursed during the Fall of 2022.  

As of now, the scholarship applications are closed but they usually open during July. 

What Are the Steps to Apply for the Gates Scholarship?

While it is possible that the selection committee of the scholarship program will find and contact you through their selection process, there is a way to apply directly to the program if you believe you are eligible.

The first step is to create a MyTGS profile on their website here.  

Then you need to gather these requirements:

  • Your full academic record that includes your cumulative GPA and class rank
  • From the college or university you plan to attend, you'll need your acceptance letter (college or university must be a four-year accredited institution) along with any financial aid award letter from that college or university.
  • You also need some family financial information, including your status as either a dependent or independent student and your personal gross annual income from the past year along with possibly you family.
  • Prepare a list of names, dates, and descriptions of participation of your leadership roles and experiences, community service experiences and employment experiences.

The initial application usually just involves filling up a questionnaire, but if you reach the semi-finalist stage, a longer questionnaire is given along with the requirements of essays, updated transcripts and letters of recommendation.

Need More Assistance With Your Scholarship Applications?

As long as you fit the main criteria, there is absolutely no downside to applying to the Gates Scholarship. However, just to be sure you get as much student financial aid as possible and in case your application to this scholarship doesn't pan out, you should also apply to other scholarships and seek other grants.

You can read this if you need more information on how scholarships work, and how to apply for them in 5 days. Sign up to our scholarship cheat sheet if you want some tips to find and win more scholarships for you. And once you've found those scholarships, use this organizer to keep them organized and our 5-day scholarship accelerator to find a way to apply to as many as you want, faster.

About the Author

Christen is the founder of Hive Education. She is passionate about helping families navigate the college application and admissions processes. She helps students set goals to work towards their own debt-free degrees with her personalized scholarship searches, scholarship courses, and by sharing her scholarship strategies that won her over $900,000 in for her own college education. With four years of experience in higher education, two years working with teens in inner city high schools in New Orleans, and starting her first college consulting company during a pandemic in 2020 she strives to make college accessible for everyone, especially for first generation, low income, and minority students. In her spare time she loves to share her love for books with her daughters. You can find her on Facebook.

And don't forget to follow us on socials for latest updates.

As Seen On