Home » How to Win a McDonald’s Scholarship [2021 Edition]

How to Win a McDonald’s Scholarship [2021 Edition]

by Richard .

How to Win a McDonald’s Scholarship [2021 Edition] 

The Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) division of the McDonald’s Corporation has awarded over $48 million in college scholarships to students since 1985. And, this upcoming year, you could become one of those students! But finding and applying for the right McDonald’s Scholarship does require some research and work.

Currently, there are 4 main RMHC McDonald’s Scholarship programs you may be eligible to apply for. But you can only apply to win one of these scholarships.  Below are some of the main McDonald’s scholarship programs that you can apply for


RMHC Scholarship:

You can apply to win this scholarship as long as you meet the following eligibility requirements: 

  • Be a current high school senior who is eligible to attend a two or four-year college university, or vocational/technical school
  • Be a legal U.S. resident
  • Be less than 21 years of age
  • Have at least a 2.7 GPA 
  • Reside within the geographic boundaries of a participating RMHC chapter

RMHC/African American Future Achievers:

You can apply for one of McDonald’s African American Future Achievers scholarships if you have at least one parent of African American or Black Caribbean heritage. 

Apart from that, the same eligibility requirements apply: 

  • Be a current high school senior who is eligible to attend a two or four-year college university, or vocational/technical school
  • Be a legal U.S. resident
  • Be less than 21 years of age
  • Have at least a 2.7 GPA 
  • Reside within the geographic boundaries of a participating RMHC chapter
  • RMHC/ASIA (Asian Students Increasing Achievement)

You can apply for one of McDonald’s ASIA scholarships if you have at least one parent of Asian-Pacific heritage. Apart from that, the same eligibility requirements apply.

McDonald’s Scholarships are typically worth around $1000 each. And you can use that money to pay for your tuition, fees, books, supplies, and equipment required for your courses at accredited, nonprofit two or four-year colleges/universities or vocational/technical schools in the United States. But, while most McDonald’s Scholarships are worth $1000, some are worth much more. For example, this upcoming year, there will be 30 McDonald’s® HACER® National Scholarships, ranging from $5,000 to $100,000. 

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The exact amount for the other McDonald Scholarships will depend on your local RMHC chapter. So, check there for the most up-to-date information. 


How to apply for the McDonald’s Scholarships:

Let’s start with a complete list of what information and materials you’ll need for the application: 

  • High school transcript 
  • Official SAT/ACT scores
  • FAFSA Student Aid Report
  • Information about your financial situation 
  • Information about your first-choice college/university 
  • Information about your high school and academic record
  • Information about your involvement in extracurricular activities and any awards or honors you’ve received 
  • Detailed information about your involvement in community service, volunteer activities, and work/internship experience 
  • Answers to 4-5 short personal statement essay questions  
  • 1-2 letters of recommendation 
  • Video statement (optional and only for the HACER National Scholarship)

That looks like a lot, huh? Don’t worry! The application is actually quite simple. 

Write Memorable Personal Statement Essays:

Put yourself in the shoes of the McDonald’s Scholarship selection committees. Every year, they have to review thousands of applications. And they have to read even more essays from students like you answering the 4-5 personal statement prompts. So, make sure your essays stand out! 

The best way to do that is to make sure your essay has a hook introduction, uses descriptive language, and does more showing than telling. We know this is easier said than done. So, check out these helpful guides online for more in-depth advice. Also, make sure to proofread and edit your essays before submitting your application.

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Be Strategic When Asking for Letters of Recommendation:

Yes, you should ask for your letters of recommendation early. But is that all you can do to ensure it’s a letter that helps increase your chances of winning the scholarship? Nope! You can also do things like: 

Write your request for the letter of recommendation as a formal email to your teacher, mentor, coach, etc. that includes: the name of the scholarship, a link to where they can find more information about the scholarship, the deadline, and the core selection criteria 

In the email, also let them know what you enjoyed most about their class, activity, etc. (e.g. a specific lesson, discussion, or assignment that you learned a lot from), some achievements outside of their class (e.g. extracurricular awards), and a bit about your aspirations for college and life. Then, follow up by speaking to them in person about why you deserve this scholarship and how it will help you pursue higher education 

Next, follow up by email 1-2 weeks later to make sure they’re able to submit the letter on time

Finally, send a thank you letter to the people who wrote your letters once everything is complete! 

Submit Your FAFSA Early:

The official deadline for FAFSA isn’t until the end of June. But you’ll need the FAFSA Student Aid Report (SAR) to complete your application for the McDonald’s Scholarships by the January 18 deadline (February 3 for HACER National Scholarship). And, it also takes around two weeks to get your SAR after submitting the FAFSA. 

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Work Hard to Achieve a High GPA:

The minimum GPA for the McDonald’s Scholarships is a 2.7 (2.8 for the HACER National Scholarship). But, with academic performance being one of the main selection criteria for the scholarship, you can increase your chances by aiming to achieve an even higher GPA throughout high school. 

So, if there is still time before you’re set to apply, make sure to study hard and get help from teachers or tutors if you’re struggling in one or more of your classes. 

Volunteer and Participate in Community Service:

Most colleges and scholarship committees look for students who volunteer and participate in community service. Why? Because it shows them that you are committed to doing good in the world. And that’s something they want to reward you for so that you can do even more good in the future.

So, if you still have time before you’re set to submit your McDonald’s Scholarship application, make sure to be an active member in helping to build up your community.  


Winning one of the McDonald’s scholarships could be a great way to help cover the costs of your college education. But it’s not your only option for scholarships. Most of the McDonald’s Scholarships are non-renewable, meaning they’re only good for one year. However, there are a few exceptions.  Depending on the guidelines created by your local RMCH chapter, you may be able to renew your McDonald’s Scholarship by submitting a renewal application. 


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