An Exclusive Opportunity: The Dell Scholars Program


The Dell Scholars Program is a highly competitive merit-based scholarship program established in 1993 by the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, the private foundation of Dell Technologies founders Michael and Susan Dell, to support college access and completion for exceptional high-achieving students with significant financial need.

Program Overview

The Dell Scholars Program aims to support talented students who show strong academic merit but lack the financial means to pursue higher education. Each year, the program selects 100 high school seniors from across the United States to receive a lucrative scholarship package covering full tuition, fees, books, and living expenses for undergraduate studies.

In total, the program has awarded over $150 million in scholarships to more than 1,700 students since its inception. Scholars represent a diverse array of backgrounds, ethnicities, and life experiences. However, they are united by their high academic achievement, leadership qualities, community service, and financial constraints that may otherwise have prevented them from attaining a college degree.


The program puts scholars on a clear path to graduation and successful careers by providing not just financial support but also ongoing mentoring, internship opportunities, career counseling, and networking opportunities with Dell alumni. Over 90% of Dell Scholars go on to complete their degree, a graduation rate far exceeding national averages. After graduation, many scholars pursue influential careers in various fields, including technology, medicine, education, public policy, and more.

Eligibility Requirements

To be considered for the Dell Scholars Program, an applicant must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident
  • Be a high school senior planning to enroll full-time in a bachelor’s degree program at an accredited U.S. nonprofit college or university in the upcoming academic year
  • Have a minimum unweighted GPA of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale (or equivalent)
  • Demonstrate significant unmet financial need according to federal financial aid guidelines
  • Show leadership qualities through community service, extracurricular activities, or employment

Applicants are evaluated based on academic achievement, demonstrated leadership potential, personal character, and financial profile. Specific requirements around GPA, test scores, and extracurricular involvement may vary slightly by year, so it’s best to check the program website for the most up-to-date eligibility criteria.

Application Process and Timeline

The Dell Scholars Program application typically opens in mid-September and has a deadline in early to mid-November. Here are the key steps and dates in a typical application cycle:

  • September/October – Application made available on the program website. Students complete online registration and profile.
  • October/November – Students submit application materials including transcripts, letters of recommendation, essay responses, and FAFSA/financial aid documents. Note – FAFSA must already be filed by this deadline.
  • November – Priority application deadline (dates may vary slightly year-to-year). All materials must be submitted by this date to be considered a complete, on-time applicant.
  • December-February – Application review process. Semi-finalist interviews are typically conducted in January via phone/video chat.
  • March – Finalists are notified and invited for an all-expenses paid Finalist Weekend event where scholarships are awarded. Students are given until the May 1st deadline to make college enrollment decisions.
  • August -Scholars begin receiving annual financial award dispersals for undergraduate studies upon verification of college enrollment.

The application involves several essay prompts, requiring thoughtful responses showcasing character and promise. Rigorous reviews consider both academic achievements and life experiences overcoming challenges. Competition is intense so meeting all deadlines and having a polished, well-rounded application is crucial.

Financial Award Details

Selected Dell Scholars receive extensive financial support throughout their undergraduate education to eliminate barriers to college success. Here are some key details:

  • Full Tuition Coverage – Entire tuition and mandatory fees at any accredited nonprofit college/university in the U.S. are covered regardless of cost.
  • Living Expenses – An annual cash award of $20,000 is provided for room/board, books, supplies, transportation, and personal expenses. This amount is adjusted yearly for inflation.
  • Computer Allowance – Scholars receive a Dell laptop and printer to support their studies. Equipment is replaced as needed.
  • Internship Grants – Competitive grants of up to $5,000 are available for unpaid summer internships or research experiences.
  • Graduate School Grants – One-time $7,500 awards assist with the costs of graduate/professional programs like law school or medical school.
  • Renewability – Scholarships are renewable for up to 5 years of undergraduate study (4 years for bachelor’s + 1 for master’s) as long as academic performance meets renewal standards.

This award package eliminates all out-of-pocket education costs so Scholars can solely focus on academic success and maximize their collegiate experiences and career development planning.

Additional Program Support

The financial support is supplemented through many valuable resources to help Scholars thrive in college and beyond:

  • Success Coaches – Designated program staff provide guidance on goal-setting, time management, career planning, and more.
  • Peer Mentoring – Connections made with upperclassmen and alumni Scholars for advice, encouragement, or internship/job references.
  • Leadership Programming – Conferences held each year focus on professional and personal development through seminars and networking.
  • Corporate Exposure – On-site tours, job shadowing and special events at Dell Technologies global headquarters and other partner companies.
  • Alumni Community – Lifetime membership opens up a supportive network for further education/career opportunities after graduation.
  • College Transitions Support – Advice for navigating academics, campus life, internships or career decisions beyond undergraduate studies is readily available.

This robust system ensures Scholars remain supported as holistic individuals from freshman year through their professional careers. Mentorship is key to long term success.

Outcomes and Impact

The selective Dell Scholars Program boasts incredibly strong results both during college and after graduation:

  • The six-year graduation rate is over 90%, far surpassing national averages of just over 60% overall.
  • 97% of recipients say the program positively influenced their college experience and career readiness.
  • 82% of graduates have attended or completed graduate/professional programs within five years.
  • Scholars go on to roles at top companies like Microsoft, Google, Apple and more or influential careers in health and public sectors.
  • Over $800 million in lifetime earnings and economic impact is projected from nearly 2,000 scholars so far.
  • Many alumni continue their commitment to the community through engaged careers and serving as role models.

This level of success demonstrates how comprehensive scholarship programs can be transformative beyond just funding schools. Long-term support systems and opportunities are equally impactful for cultivating exceptional leaders able to achieve great professional accomplishments.

Testimonials from Scholars

Hearing directly from Dell Scholars provides deeper insight into meaningful impact:

“This scholarship opened up so many doors that I never could have accessed otherwise. I’m now a medical resident thanks to all the guidance received.”

  • John, Class of 2015

“I was the first in my family to attend college, and now I have a job in Silicon Valley due to the invaluable network built through this program. It changed my life’s trajectory.”

  • Maria, Class of 2018

“The generosity of this award empowered me to take risks like study abroad without worries. I’ll pay it forward through teaching and mentoring college students one day.”

  • Sabrina, Current Junior Scholar

“Coming from a poor background, I never imagined a future with so much potential. Success coaching helped me tackle struggles and stay on track to graduate.”

  • Thomas, Class of 2020

Stories like these illustrate how the Dell Scholars Program transforms lives by unlocking human potential and cultivating future leaders who are able to positively impact their communities. The return on this investment is immense.

Frequently Asked Questions

Now, let’s address some of the most commonly asked inquiries from prospective applicants:

1. What are the Program’s specific selection criteria beyond GPA and financial need?

Top factors include leadership demonstrated through activities, awards, community service, or work. Personal character, goals, challenges overcome, and potential to succeed are also highly weighed. Essays must convey a compelling narrative.

2. Are certain majors or colleges preferred?

No, the program is open to any accredited US college or university, public or private, and does not favor any majors. Scholars have attended a vast range of institutions and pursued diverse fields of study.

3. What if my GPA dips below 3.5 after being selected?

As long as you remain in good academic standing per your university standards, one semester or even a full year below a 3.5 GPA would likely not cause renewal issues on its own. Significant recurring performance issues could affect the continuity of funding. Communicating openly with success coaches is advised.

4. How competitive is getting accepted? What are my chances?

Acceptance is extremely competitive as the program typically receives thousands of applications for only 100 slots. On average, only about 5-10% of applicants are selected as finalists. However, your chances also depend on the strength of your full application, so it is still worthwhile for qualified candidates to apply. Being a finalist puts you in a very selective pool.

5. Can I defer my scholarship if I want to take a gap year?

Deferring acceptance of the Dell Scholars award is typically not allowed. You must enroll as a full-time degree-seeking student directly out of high school at an eligible college in the upcoming academic year that you apply. Taking a gap year would result in forfeiting the scholarship if awarded. However, you are welcome to re-apply in a future cycle if gap year plans change.


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