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.

We want to help! That’s why in this post, we’re going to look at: 

  • The differences between the 4 RMHC McDonald’s Scholarship programs 
  • The eligibility requirements for each of the McDonald’s Scholarships
  • How much McDonald’s Scholarships are worth and if they’re renewable 
  • How to apply for the McDonald’s Scholarships, including detailed descriptions of what you’ll need for each section of the application  
  • The McDonald’s Scholarships application timeline
  • 5 tips to increase your chances of winning one of the McDonald’s Scholarships 

One note before we jump in: If you’d like to apply to more than just one of the Ronald McDonald House Charities Scholarship Programs, Scholly Search is the #1 scholarship app in the world and will instantly match you with hundreds-of-thousands of dollars scholarships based on your interests, accomplishments, and traits. Give it a try today with a 100% free trial!

Now, let’s jump right into an overview and the eligibility requirements of each of the McDonald’s Scholarships! 

What are the RMHC McDonald’s Scholarships? And Who’s Eligible to Apply? 

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. 

Let’s now look at each one, along with their eligibility requirements, so you know exactly which one you should 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: 

  • 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/HACER (Hispanic American Commitment to Educational Resources) Scholarship

You can apply for one of McDonald’s HACER Scholarships if you have at least one parent of Hispanic heritage. But unlike the other McDonald’s Scholarships, there are two types of HACER Scholarships: local and national.  

For the local HACER Scholarships, the eligibility requirements are the same as the ones above: 

  • 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

For the HACER National Scholarships, the requirements are mostly the same as the local scholarship. But there are a few important differences (in bold): 

  • Be a current high school senior who is eligible to attend a two or four-year college university (vocational/technical schools are not included)
  • Be a legal U.S. resident
  • Be less than 21 years old
  • Have at least a 2.8 GPA
  • Disclose other scholarship programs that you’ve applied for

How Much Are McDonald’s Scholarships Worth? 

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. 

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. 

To find your local RMHC chapter, go to Google and search for “[local city] Ronald McDonald’s House Charity scholarships”. Then find the chapter’s webpage on scholarships. If you can’t find any info on scholarships, send an email to request more information.   

Are McDonald’s Scholarships Renewable? 

Typically not. 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. This is another thing you’ll want to check on when looking through your local RMCH chapter website or when requesting more information.

Do You Need to Be a McDonald’s Employee to Apply for the Scholarships? 

You do not! The McDonald’s Scholarships are available to all students who fit the eligibility requirements we listed above. 

But if you do happen to be a McDonald’s employee, you may also consider applying for their tuition assistance program called the Archways to Opportunity

How to Apply for the McDonald’s Scholarships

Alright, time for the good stuff! Let’s get into how you apply to win one of 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. But to make sure you’re well prepared to submit a stellar application, let’s look at each of those materials in a bit more detail.

High school transcript

You can submit either an official or unofficial transcript. But if you send an unofficial transcript, you’ll need to convert it to one of the acceptable file types (.pdf, .tif, .png, .jpeg, .jpg, .bmp and .xps). Also, make sure it shows all of your grades throughout high school (not just a single term grade report) and includes your name. 

Note: If you’re applying for the HACER National Scholarship, you only need to send in your high school transcripts if you’re selected as a semi-finalist. 

SAT/ACT scores

You’ll need to upload a score report from the SAT/ACT to complete your application. But the score report doesn’t need to be sent directly from College Board or the ACT. Just upload a copy of the official report you received to the McDonald’s Scholarship application portal. 

FAFSA Student Aid Report

After completing the FAFSA, you’ll receive a Student Aid Report (SAR) that shows you information on your eligibility for federal student aid. You’ll need to upload all 5 pages of your SAR, with your Estimated Family Contribution (EFC) visible, to your application for one of the McDonald’s Scholarships. You’ll also need your SAR to fill in some of the financial information (see next section). 

You should gain access to your SAR within two weeks of submitting your FAFSA. But if you haven’t filled out the FAFSA yet and need some guidance, check out How to Apply for FAFSA – 2020-2021

Note: If you’re applying for the National HACER scholarship, you only need to send in your FAFSA Student Aid Report if you’re selected as a semi-finalist. 

Information about your financial situation

One of the criteria used to select winners of the McDonald’s Scholarships is financial need. So, you’ll be asked to share information on: 

  • Estimated Family Contribution (EFC) found on your FAFSA SAR
  • Number of members in your household
  • Number of dependents (e.g. your siblings) attending college in fall 2021
  • Total cash, checking, savings, and cash value of stocks (exclude 401k, IRA) (you’re not required to answer this one)
  • Whether you live with at least one of your parents
  • Whether your parent(s)/legal guardian(s) were employed last year (2020)
  • The marital status of your parent(s) or guardian(s)
  • Whether your parent(s)/legal guardian(s) receive any Federal or State Aid

If you have any special circumstances regarding your family’s financial situation that you’d like to be taken into account, you can also write a short statement (300 words max). 

Information about your college/university

If you win a McDonald’s Scholarship, the money will be sent directly to whichever college/university you attend. If you’re not sure which school that will be yet, don’t worry. You can just enter the information about your first-choice (where you most hope to attend). If needed, you can also change this school later within the application portal. 

Either way, the application will ask you to input the following information about that school: 

  • State where the school is located 
  • Name of the school
  • You’re expected degree program (associates, bachelors, certificate, masters, doctoral)
  • The type of academic institution (certificate, four-year college/university, two-year college/university, vocational/technical school)
  • Your intended major 
  • Your anticipated graduation date

Note: For some reason, the application gives you options that go against the eligibility requirements. Remember you can only apply for McDonald’s Scholarships if you’re planning to enroll in associates or bachelors degree programs at a two-year college/university, four-year college university, or a vocational/technical school (vocational/technical schools are NOT eligible for the HACER National Scholarship).

Information about your high school and academic record

The application will ask you the following information about your high school:

  • State and city where it’s located 
  • School name
  • School address
  • Your graduation date
  • Your principal’s name, email address, and telephone number
  • Your academic counselor’s name, email address, and telephone number 
  • Whether or not your school ranks students 
  • If your GPA is weighted or unweighted
  • Your current GPA on a 4.0 scale 
  • Your ACT composite score OR your SAT scores for Reading/Writing and Math
  • The number of Honors, AP, IB, or Dual Enrollment classes you’ve taken 

Note: Although you’ll be asked about your GPA, class enrollment history, and test scores in this section, you’ll still need to upload a complete transcript and SAT/ACT scores to complete your application. 

Information about your involvement in clubs/extracurricular activities and any awards or honors you’ve received

Are you active in school clubs? Do you participate in any extracurricular activities? Have you won any awards? If so, you’ll need to list that on your application and include information on: 

  • The names of the club/extracurricular activities, number of years involved, and the highest positions held (e.g. Volleyball Team, 3 years, Varsity Captain)
  • The name of the awards, level (school, city, state, national, etc.), and number of years achieved (e.g. Honor Roll, School, 4 years) 

Detailed information about your involvement in community service, volunteer activities, and work/internship experience

Community involvement is also one of the main selection criteria used to pick recipients of the McDonald’s Scholarships. 

So, you’ll be asked to share the following information about community service and volunteer activities in a section of the application titled “Resume”: 

  • A detailed description of the service activity and your role
  • Club/Organization name
  • Average hours per week of service
  • Number of weeks served per year
  • Number of years involved
  • When you participated in the activity (during high school/secondary school) 
  • If you’re still participating in the activity 

For any work/internship experience, you’ll be asked to share the: 

  • Employer name
  • Position 
  • Start month and year
  • End month and year
  • Average number of hours worked per week  

Tip: You can save yourself some time when inputting information about your community service and volunteer activities. How? By using the same information you included when talking about volunteering and community services in the activities section of your college applications. For a refresher on best practices, check out this helpful guide on how to write about your activities on college applications

Answers to 4-5 short personal statement essay questions

No matter which McDonald’s Scholarship you apply for, you’ll need to write short essays (100-300 words max; varies per question and program) to answer the following questions: 

  • What has most influenced your professional or career aspirations for the future?
  • Describe an influential person in your life, and how he/she has helped change your view of yourself and the world. You may use examples from your family life, community service, or extracurricular activities.
  • Some believe that a person of character demonstrates the following six qualities: trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, and citizenship. Pick one of these qualities, describe the value of this quality, and, most importantly, explain how you have exemplified this trait.
  • Describe a time when you were in a leadership or responsibility position. What obstacles did you have to overcome? How did you overcome those obstacles to obtain your goal?

If you’re applying for the McDonald’s HACER National Scholarship, you’ll also need to write one additional short essay to answer these questions: 

  • What career path are you planning to pursue? What do you want to be when you grow up, and why?

Note: The word count for these short essays varies between scholarship programs. For one program (e.g. RMHC Scholarship), you can answer the first question listed here using up to 150 words. But for another program (e.g. HACER National Scholarship), you can answer that question using only up to 100 words. So, be sure to check the word limit listed in the application portal before you begin writing.  

Tip: If you’ve written similar essays for your college applications, you can reuse those essays in your scholarship application! Just make sure to edit them so they fit the scholarship essay prompt and word count. 

1-2 letters of recommendation

You’ll need to submit 1-2 letters of recommendation from teachers, coaches, mentors, etc. Ideally, these people can speak to your strengths in academics, community service, and potential to thrive in college. 

Your teacher or mentor will need to submit the letter of recommendation via a link provided from the application portal. But make sure to let them know at least 2 weeks in advance before you send them the link. That way, they’ll know when to expect it and be able to schedule sufficient time to write the letter.  

Tip: You’ll likely have already asked for recommendations from 2 teachers or mentors when completing your college applications. So, if you want, you can save time and make things easier. How? By asking those same teachers or mentors to write the recommendations for your McDonald’s Scholarship application. 

Video statement (optional and only for the HACER National Scholarship)

If you want, you can include a short video explaining why you deserve one of the HACER National Scholarships. When making your video, follow these guidelines: 

  • No more than 2 minutes in length
  • Uploaded to YouTube or another free video service (mailed video submissions on DVDs or any other physical format are not accepted) 
  • If the video is password protected or requires a sign in to view, you must include the password in your application
  • The video must be available through August 2021

For inspiration, check out this awesome video submission from one of last year’s applicants: 

 

Note: You will not be penalized if you choose not to include a video statement. 

McDonald’s Scholarships Application Timeline

So, you now know how to apply for a McDonald’s Scholarship. But when do you need to actually get started on the application? When is the deadline? And when would you find out if you’ve won the scholarship money? Let’s see now! 

2020-21 Application Timeline for the Local RMHC McDonald’s Scholarships

October 1: The application for the McDonald’s Scholarships opens 

January 18: The deadline to submit your application 

January 25: The last day for your teacher, coach, mentor, etc. to submit your letter of recommendation 

April 30: The winners of the McDonald’s Scholarships are announced 

August: The scholarship funds are disbursed to the recipient’s colleges/universities 

Note: These dates may vary among the different RMHC chapters. So, double-check to be sure of the application timeline for applicants in your geographic area.  

2020-21 Application Timeline for the McDonald’s HACER National Scholarship

If you’re applying for the McDonald’s HACER National Scholarship, the application timeline has a few differences from the one above.  

October 5: The application for the McDonald’s HACER National Scholarship opens 

February 3: The deadline to submit your application

February 10: The last day for your teacher, mentor, etc. to submit your recommendation letter 

February 16: Semi-finalists are announced and gain access to the semi-finalist application

March 3: The deadline for semi-finalists to complete the semi-finalist application 

May 7: The winners of the national McDonald’s HACER National Scholarships are announced 

July/August: The scholarship funds are disbursed to the recipient’s colleges/universities 

5 More Tips to Increase Your Chances of Winning the McDonalds Scholarship

We’ve already shared a few tips in the “How to Apply for a McDonald’s Scholarship” section of this blog post. But here are a few more to give your application an extra boost! 

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 on scholarship essays and personal statements for more in-depth advice. Also, make sure to proofread and edit your essays before submitting your application! 

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. 

So, don’t wait until the last minute! Complete the FAFSA as soon as you can! Also, remember, if you need guidance on filling out the FAFSA correctly, you can find all the information you need by reading How to Apply for FAFSA – 2020-2021.

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. You can also consider some of the strategies listed in this helpful article on ways to boost your GPA

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. For ideas on ways you can volunteer your service, check out this awesome list of 100+ community service project ideas.  

Where to Find More Scholarships 

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. There are many more scholarships you can apply for and win! 

To easily find them, download Scholly Search, the #1 scholarship app in the world that instantly matches you with hundreds-of-thousands of dollars in scholarships based on your interests, accomplishments, and traits! 

You can also check out the rest of our blog where we share tips on how you can find ways to pay for college and win other scholarships like the Burger King Scholarship and Taco Bell Live Más Scholarship.

Good luck!