11/4/17 UPDATE: So far we've matched 72 students with counselors. As the early application deadlines are just around the corner, we're closing the scholarship application until further notice. We are hoping to recruit more counselors before opening the application back up — all our counselor volunteers are booked up! So if you're a student and you've got some regular application deadlines in your future, check back here every now and then to complete a scholarship application form. If you're a counselor who'd like to volunteer, we'd love to have you!

11/24/17 UPDATE: We're happy to say that we've had a few new counselors who have signed up to work with students and are accepting applications for a short period and taking on just a few more students! Note: We can place students on a first-come first-served basis, so please complete your application as soon as possible!


In 2015, a student I'd never met before wrote me an email that read:

"I come from a single parent household, my father does not support us in any way at all and my mother has just recently been let go of due to financial struggles, but I would like to ask for your help. Please light a little match to guide me through this." 

And, just like that, the Matchlighters Scholarship was born. 

What is it?


IT'S AWARDED TO 50 high-achieving, low-income students who, like the student above, haVE solid grades and test scores, but just need a little EXTRA help. 

Scholarships are given on a first-come first-serve basis and right now there are 50 slots available. Those interested simply have to complete and submit the application below.


Name of the scholarship: Matchlighters Scholarship
Deadline date: Rolling until Dec. 1, or until we’ve paired all of our counselors with students (whichever comes first)!
Detailed description: The Matchlighters scholarship is awarded to high-achieving, low-income students who have solid grades and test scores, but just need a little extra help. Scholarships are given on a first-come first-serve basis to students from all circumstances, including undocumented, transfer, gap-year, international, etc. Those interested simply have to complete and submit the application below.
Value of the scholarship: The Matchlighters Scholarship comprises four hours of one-on-one essay help and two hours of college list development from professional counselors at no cost. 
Number of scholarships available: As many as there are available counselors in a given application season. Based on current numbers, approx. 75 per year.
Minimum SAT/ACT and GPA: 3.0 unweighted GPA, or international equivalent
Residency Requirement(s): None
School Year: Senior in high school, gap-year student, transfer student, grad-school applicant

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How do I know if I qualify?  Check out this table. You qualify if your income level is equal to or less than the number in the row for your household size.

Why did I start this program? Because I believe in equal opportunity and access. 

Who conducts the four hours of one-on-one essay help and two hours of college list development? A small group of like-minded essay coaches and expert counselors.

Ready to apply? Click the "Apply Now" button below.

Want to volunteer to help students? Keep reading.

I remember signing up for Matchlighers thinking it was my last call for hope because I was so desperately seeking assistance with not only my college essay, but with the application process in general. Being both first-generation AND low-income, I found it quite difficult to navigate the college admissions process because at home, no one had experience regarding this topic and at my small public high school, the resources were limited. Once I found out I was accepted, I was immediately set up with my two counselors whom I can never repay for the help they provided. My essay counselor had so much patience with me and didn’t at all mind the fact that I was changing my essay topic every other day. He worked with what I gave him and encouraged me to get out of my comfort zone; overall, I couldn’t be happier with my essay. My college list developer was so incredibly kind and insightful, and best of all, she was willing to work around my schedule and set up appointments with me when I was available. I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity to be a Matchlighters scholar. Thanks again :)
— Angela, 2016/2017 Matchlighters Scholar
Sandy Clingman is the best counselor in the world. She was super patient as well as extremely quick and helpful with her essay coaching. She always went the extra mile when helping me. If this program runs on counselors with a heart as big as Sandy’s, this program will continue seeing success for many years to come. I would not be in the position I am today without you guys.
— Peter, 2016/2017 Matchlighters Scholar


The mind is not a vessel to be filled, 
but a fire to be kindled.
                                 - Plutarch


ARE YOU interested in volunteering to help HIGH-ACHIEVING, LOW-INCOME students write great college essays?

Click the "Counselor" button above to complete our volunteer form!