Heisman Scholarship: Eligibility & Application Process

The Heisman High School Scholarship, previously known as the Wendy’s High School Heisman Memorial Trophy Award, is a prestigious honor in American high school athletics, named after the renowned college football player and coach, John Heisman. It was established in 1994 to recognize exceptional high school student-athletes who excel in academics, athletics, and community involvement.

Each year, high schools across the nation can nominate one male and one female student-athlete. This process has resulted in over 136,000 nominees to date. The selection process narrows down the field to 1,020 State Finalists, with 10 males and 10 females representing each state, including the District of Columbia. By early November, 102 State Winners are chosen, one male and one female from each state.

In mid-November, a panel of judges further narrows the pool to 12 National Finalists, with one male and one female selected from each of six geographical regions. Ultimately, two National Winners, one male and one female, are announced during ESPN’s national telecast of the college Heisman Memorial Trophy presentation on December 9th. Out of all the nominees, 145 have reached the National Finalist level, with 24 earning the prestigious designation of Heisman High School Scholarship National Award Winners. This annual awards show is broadcast on ESPN2, celebrating the outstanding achievements of these exceptional student-athletes.

The Heisman High School Scholarship is a collaborative effort between Wendy’s and The Heisman Trophy Trust. It capitalizes on the esteemed reputation of the Heisman Memorial Trophy, symbolizing exceptional talent combined with dedication, persistence, and hard work.

This program extends the Heisman legacy to the nation’s most distinguished high school seniors, recognizing both male and female scholar-athletes who excel not just on the sports field but also in their academic pursuits and contributions to their communities.

Over its 28-year history, the program has celebrated over 600,000 of the country’s most accomplished high school seniors. It has provided substantial college scholarships to students and contributed over a million dollars to support high school academic and athletic programs nationwide.

The Heisman High School Scholarship program highlights and honors high school senior athletes who are not only accomplished but also deeply engaged in their communities. By encouraging students from all corners of the country to share their stories of leadership and impact, the program aims to inspire every student to unlock their potential, push their boundaries, and utilize their talents not only for personal advancement but also for the betterment of their communities and the world at large.

What You Should Know 

The Heisman High School Scholarships are awarded to State Winners, National Finalists, and National Winners, with recipients required to adhere to the scholarship application process’s rules. These scholarships offer flexibility, allowing winners to attend any accredited college or university in the United States, without being tied to a specific institution.

To be eligible, scholarship recipients must enroll full-time (a minimum of 12 hours per semester or quarter) for the entire 2024-2025 academic year. These scholarships are non-renewable, cover a single year of study, and are intended exclusively for educational expenses such as tuition, books, and fees.

The scholarship funds are issued as a one-time payment for the full academic year, with the check sent directly to the student’s chosen college or university. It’s the student’s responsibility to forward the check to their institution. Scholarship recipients are also permitted to accept other awards in conjunction with the Heisman High School Scholarship.

In the event that a recipient does not enroll for the 2024–2025 academic year, any unused portion of the funds will be forfeited, and these funds will be returned to the Heisman High School Scholarship program. Deferments may be granted on a case-by-case basis for various reasons, like military service, religious work, gap years, or personal hardships, subject to approval by the program administrators.


To be eligible for the Heisman High School Scholarship, candidates must meet specific criteria:

  • Academic Excellence: Applicants must maintain a cumulative weighted high school grade point average (GPA) of at least a B (3.0) or better.
  • Sports Participation: Candidates should have participated in at least one of the sports recognized by the International Olympic Committee in the Summer and Winter Olympic Games, the Paralympic Games, or the National Federation of State High School Associations during grades 9, 10, or 11.
  • Leadership and Role Modeling: Applicants must exhibit leadership qualities within their school and community, serving as positive role models for their peers, especially underclassmen.

Eligibility for the Heisman High School Scholarship is contingent on meeting these requirements, ensuring that candidates are not only academically accomplished but also active contributors to their school, community, and sports.

Scholarship Levels

The Heisman High School Scholarship offers three levels of financial support:

  1. State Winners: Each state will have one senior male and one senior female awarded a $1,000 college scholarship. There are a total of 88 State Winners, and even those who do not advance to the National Finalist stage will still receive this $1,000 scholarship.
  1. National Finalists: From the pool of 100 State Winners (six senior males and six senior females from each of the six geographic regions), 12 National Finalists are selected. Among these, the 10 who are not named National Winners will receive a $2,000 college scholarship.
  1. National Winners: A judging panel will choose one senior male and one senior female from the 12 National Finalists as National Winners. These two exceptional individuals will each be awarded a significant $10,000 college scholarship.

These scholarship levels reflect the program’s commitment to recognizing and rewarding the outstanding achievements of student-athletes who excel in academics, leadership, and sports at both the state and national levels.

Application Process

The application process for the Heisman High School Scholarship is managed by a third-party organization called Kaleidoscope, using a separate application website. When the application period is open, students can initiate the process by clicking “Apply Now” on the program’s website, which redirects them to Kaleidoscope’s application platform.

Once on the Kaleidoscope website, eligible students can start the application by clicking the ‘Begin’ button. They are initially prompted to create an account by providing basic profile information and setting up a password associated with their Kaleidoscope Account. Following this, eligible students can proceed to complete the application, which is evaluated by Kaleidoscope to identify school winners through national finalists. The selection of National Winners is conducted by a committee that reviews the applications of National Finalists.

Throughout the application, students can navigate different sections using the ‘Jump to a Section navigation tool on the page’s side. Missing required sections prompts an error message, preventing submission until all necessary information is provided.

An essential step in the application process is to provide the email address of a school official who will review the application for accuracy. This official cannot be a relative or a parent/guardian of the student.

Students can log in to their accounts as often as necessary before the application deadline or until their application is submitted. It’s crucial to remember their username and password to access their accounts later in the process.

Important Information

It’s crucial to keep a few important reminders in mind for the Heisman High School Scholarship application:

  • Submission Deadline: The application must be submitted no later than October 17, 2023, at 3 p.m. PT/6 p.m. ET. Missing this deadline could result in the application not being considered.
  • Reviewer Deadline: If you are a reviewer, your evaluations and reviews must be submitted no later than October 19, 2023, at 3 p.m. PT/6 p.m. ET. This deadline is essential to ensuring that applications are properly assessed.
  • Results Announcement: The results of the scholarship awards will be made available online at www.heismanscholarship.com. This is where applicants can check for updates and information regarding the scholarship outcomes.

Adhering to these deadlines is vital for a successful application process and to stay informed about the scholarship results.

Leave a Comment