Yet another consequence of COVID-19 is that many high school seniors are considering waiting a year to start college or trade school, often referred to as “taking a gap year,” because they don’t want their education to be via online classes.

While scholarship funding organizations allow for gap years, local leaders want families to know students still need to apply while they’re in school to be eligible for funding. In fact, in many cases they need to apply by Jan. 15, 2021 – just two months from now. Deadlines for each scholarship are available on their respective websites.

“If someone graduating this spring wants to wait till the fall of 2022 to start using their scholarship, that’s fine. But we’re reminding them that they still need to apply for it now,” said Patty Salo Downs, Executive Director of Duluth’s Marshall H. and Nellie Alworth Memorial Fund. “It would be natural for a student to apply in early 2022 after their gap year, but being a year removed from high school by then, they would unfortunately no longer be eligible for some scholarships. We don’t want to see that happen.”

In other words, current high school seniors seeking scholarships to begin school in Fall 2021 or Fall 2022 need to in many cases apply at the same time – right now. (Not all foundations limit students to applying during their senior year, however. For example, Blandin Foundation students who have graduated from Itasca County-area schools are eligible to apply up to age 25.)

Scholarships totaling nearly $5 million are available to students in northern Minnesota. A broad range of majors are funded, from four-year bachelor’s degrees to two-year associate of arts degrees, including vocational and technical degrees for those pursuing careers in the trades.

Many scholarships also allow for a two-plus-two approach, where students start at a community college for two years and transfer to another academic institution to complete their bachelor’s degrees.

“There are scholarships for various career interests, affiliations and other criteria, including ones solely for graduates of certain high schools, as we have with the Greater Denfeld Foundation,” said Lori Huska of Northland Scholarship Services, representing the Foundation. “Scholarships in our region aren’t just for college, either. Many are for trade schools, so there’s a scholarship that fits most everyone.”

Among the region’s larger scholarships, and the approximate amounts awarded each year, are:

  • Alworth Memorial Fund $1.2 million
  • Blandin Foundation $1.1 million
  • Center for Scholarship Administration – Wells
  • Fargo Trust $970,000
  • Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation $800,000
  • Greater Denfeld Foundation $350,000
  • Grand Rapids Area Community Foundation $200,000
  • Lake Country Power Les Beach Memorial $155,000

Information about these and other scholarships is available on foundation and high school websites, plus from high school guidance offices.

Additional fallout from COVID-19 is that traditional, in-person “Scholarship Nights” at high schools – to provide information about scholarships and the application process – have been replaced this year by online sessions.

Co-hosted by the Alworth Memorial Fund and the Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation, 30-minute informational sessions will be held at these dates and times:

  • Thursday, December 17, 2020, at 9:30 a.m.
  • Tuesday, January 5, 2021, at 7:00 p.m.

Participation by computer, tablet or smartphone will be by logging on to Participation by phone will be by calling 872-240-3311, access code 111-607-813.

Applications are now being accepted for Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation scholarships, at; students may apply for Alworth scholarships at Completed submissions for these two organizations are due by Jan. 15, 2021.