Slu Mlk Essay

Saint Louis University offers undergraduate scholarships that recognize, among other areas, academic accomplishment, service involvement and leadership capability. Depending on your major, there may be additional scholarship opportunities offered by your program or department.

Scholarships are awarded at the beginning of your first term and are generally automatically renewed each year, provided you maintain the required GPA and have not exceeded the maximum number of terms offered. 

What is 'Priority Consideration'?

At SLU, we urge all prospective students to complete their online applications for freshman admission by Dec. 1. By doing so, you are automatically considered for SLU’s merit-based scholarships. No separate application is required.

If we receive your application after Dec. 1, you will be given scholarship consideration based on the availability of funds. Separate applications are still needed for competitive awards, such as the President and Martin Luther King Jr. scholarships.

Merit-based Scholarships


Competitive Scholarships

Presidential Scholarship

Saint Louis University’s Presidential Scholarship is a four-year award for exemplary student leaders. This competitive award covers the full cost of tuition for eight consecutive full-time (up to 18 credit hours) fall and spring semesters.  

Eligibility Requirements

  • Cumulative high school GPA of 3.85 or higher, weighted or unweighted, as reported on your transcript at the end of your junior year
  • Official test score of at least 30 composite on the ACT or SAT of at least 1330 (math + critical reasoning) taken prior to March 2016 or a 1390 (math + evidence-based reading and writing) taken after March 2016

These criteria are used only for determining eligibility and do not guarantee that you will be selected as a Presidential Scholarship recipient. After reviewing the applications, SLU invites a select group of students to our St. Louis campus in January or February to interview and compete for a Presidential Scholarship.

Award Amount: Full tuition for eight consecutive full-time (up to 18 credit hours) fall and spring semesters.

Application Instructions

Topic for Scholarship Essay

Prepare a 500-word answer to the following essay question before starting your application:

The Presidential Scholarship is awarded to students who live Saint Louis University’s mission of being servant leaders and men and women for others along with demonstrating strong leadership and interpersonal skills. What does it mean to you to be a leader? Give a detailed example of how you have positively influenced others through leadership, and explain how you would continue the University’s mission as a student.

Additional Notes

  • The Presidential Scholarship will replace any other offer of merit-based scholarship or award previously awarded from SLU.
  • Presidential Scholars can apply for additional funding (up to $1,200) to support an Investigative Learning Experience that can take the form of a research venture, service project, internship or other co-curricular endeavor.
Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship

SLU’s Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship is an academic award offered to students who have demonstrated leadership as agents of change or influence within their school and/or community activities.

King Scholars champion the ideals of Dr. King and his legacy of servant leadership, on campus and beyond. If you receive a King Scholarship, you’ll participate in a structured program designed to deepen your self-awareness, be exposed to multicultural experiences and encouraged to develop as an advocate for positive social change.

Eligibility Requirements

Freshman students

  • Cumulative high school GPA of 3.25 or higher, weighted or unweighted, as reported on your transcript at the end of your junior year. Transcripts will be accepted through the first semester of your senior year.
  • For students entering in the 2018-19 academic year, the test score needs to be an ACT composite of 23 or greater or an SAT of 1050 (math + critical reading) taken prior to March 2016 or an SAT of 1130 (math + evidence-based reading and writing) taken after March 2016

Transfer students

  • Completion of at least 24 credit hours of transferable college coursework by the end of the spring term.
  • Cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher as calculated by Saint Louis University (This number may not correspond with your GPA as it appears on your transcript.)

These criteria are used only for determining eligibility and do not guarantee you will be selected as a Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship recipient. After reviewing the applications, SLU invites a select group of students to our St. Louis campus each March to interview for a Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship. 

Award Amount: Minimum of $13,000; average SLU award is $24,000 per year

  • This scholarship is renewable for up to eight semesters for freshmen and six semesters for transfer students. The exact amount of the award varies.

Application Instructions

Freshman students

Transfer Students

Topics for MLK Jr. Scholarship Essays

Please respond to the following essay prompt in 500 words or less.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must do it because conscience tells him it is right.” King Scholars are members of an inclusive and intentionally diverse community that leads our campus in addressing issues of social injustices. Please describe one experience or project where you worked with and through social injustices, and what did you learn about working in diverse settings from this experience and/or project? How do you see yourself being an agent of change on SLU’s campus?

Saint Louis University National Merit Award

Saint Louis University collaborates with the National Merit Scholarship Corp. (NMSC) to fund a limited number of scholarships to freshmen each year. These highly competitive awards are funded from one of three sources — Saint Louis University, an outside corporation or the National Merit Scholarship Corp. itself.

Award Amount: Varies

  • If SLU funds the scholarship, the recipient receives $2,000 in additional aid per year.

Application Instructions

Award Timeline

  • Spring semester, senior year of high school: SLU receives a roster of eligible students from the NMSC and determines award recipients.
  • March: NMSC begins to offer awards to students chosen by SLU. Awards are accepted by the student.
  • June: NMSC notifies SLU and awards are posted to student's financial aid award.

More information about the National Merit Scholarship Corporation


Transfer Scholarships

Jesuit Transfer Scholarships

Jesuit Transfer Scholarships are awarded to incoming transfer students based on their GPA in previous college coursework. The scholarships are renewable over a maximum of six semesters and require you to maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA.

Award AmountGPA Requirement

$10,000 per year


$12,000 per year


$14,000 per year

3.5 or higher

Application Instructions

Phi Theta Kappa Scholarship

Phi Theta Kappa awards more than $37 million in transfer scholarships each year at institutions across the country, including SLU.


  • 3.0 cumulative GPA in previous college coursework
  • 60 transferable college credit hours (or an associate degree)
  • Confirmation of good standing by Phi Theta Kappa adviser in a letter to the Office of Admission

Award Amount: $1,000 per year

  • Renewable over a maximum of six semesters
  • May be combined with other scholarships award by SLU.

Application Instructions

John Paul Fechter Service Scholarship

The John Paul Fechter Service Scholarship recognizes transfer students who have demonstrated significant dedication to community service.

Eligibility Requirements

  • 2.5 cumulative GPA in previous college coursework
  • 60 transferable college credit hours
  • Demonstration of significant involvement in community service

Award Amount: $10,000 per year

  • Renewable over a maximum of four semesters with completion of 40 hours of community service per semester

Application Instructions

  • Apply via your mySLU portal. Click on the Scholarship Suite icon under the Tools tab and complete the general application questions, then click Finish and Submit. Choose the John P. Fecther Scholarship and apply.
Billiken, Ignatian, University, Deans’ or Vice Presidents’ Scholarships

Transfer students who will have completed fewer than 24 semester hours of college credit at the time they enroll at SLU (not including college credit earned during high school) may, at the discretion of the University, also be given consideration for one of the freshman merit-based scholarships.


Other Scholarships

Jesuit Community Scholarship

One student from each of the 28 Catholic high schools in the Archdiocese of St. Louis as well as five Catholic high schools in the Metro East will receive a scholarship to SLU. Each high school will recommend one candidate for the award.

Eligibility Requirements

    • Minimum 3.2 cumulative GPA.
    • Financial need as demonstrated by a completed FAFSA. FAFSA must be completed by Jan. 15.
    • Attendance at one of the following Catholic high schools:
      • Archdiocese of St. Louis: Barat Academy, Bishop DuBourg High School, Cardinal Ritter College Preparatory School, Chaminade College Preparatory School, Christian Brothers College High School, Cor Jesu Academy, DeSmet Jesuit High School, Duchesne High School, Incarnate Word Academy, John F. Kennedy Catholic High School, Nerinx Hall High School, Notre Dame High School, Rosati-Kain High School, Saint Francis Borgia Regional High School, Saint Louis Priory School, Saint Louis University High School, St. Dominic High School, St. John Vianney High School, St. Joseph's Academy, St. Mary's High School, St. Pius X High School, St. Vincent DePaul High School, Trinity Catholic High School, Ursuline Academy, Valle High School, Villa Duchesne Oak Hill School and Visitation Academy.
  • Metro East: Althoff Catholic High School, Father McGivney Catholic High School, Gibault Catholic High School, Marquette Catholic High School and Mater Dei Catholic High School

Award Amount: $5,000 to full tuition, depending on financial need

  • Annual award amounts will vary depending upon the financial need of the recipient.
  • This award is renewable each academic year for full-time students who maintain a 3.0 GPA and perform of 20 hours of community service annually at their alma mater high school.

Application Instructions

  • Complete and submit the online application for freshman admission, FAFSA and all required materials (transcripts, ACT or SAT scores, etc.) by Dec 1.
  • Complete and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by Jan. 15.
  • Prepare a 500-word essay in response to the question “What does a Catholic education mean to you?”
  • Application materials must be submitted by your high school guidance counselor and are due no later than Jan. 15.
  • For more information, contact your high school guidance counselor.
Jesuit High School Award

The Jesuit High School Award recognizes students from Jesuit high schools for their continued commitment to Jesuit education.

Eligibility Requirements

  • Automatically awarded to freshman applicants from a Jesuit high school 

Award Amount: $3,000 per year

  • Renewable over eight consecutive semesters to students who maintain a minimum 2.0 cumulative GPA.
  • Can be combined with other merit-based scholarships.

Application Instructions

Family Award

Undergraduate siblings who are enrolled full-time at SLU are each eligible for the Family Award.

Eligibility Requirements

  • Multiple siblings enrolled at SLU as full-time undergraduate students
  • The Family Award can be combined with other scholarships or grants, but not with full-tuition scholarships, such as Presidential Scholarships or tuition remission.

Award Amount: $3,000 per year

  • Renewable as long as multiple siblings remain full-time undergraduate students and each student maintains at least a 2.0 GPA.

Application Instructions

Saint Peter Claver Service Scholarship

This scholarship is awarded to an incoming student from an urban setting who is committed to community service. Only one award is expected to be granted every four years. The selection and renewal decisions will be completed by committee.​

Eligibility Requirements

  • Minimum 3.2 GPA and ACT score of 23
  • Verifiable record of community service and demonstrated financial need

Award Amount: Approximately $2,200 per year

  • Renewable over a maximum of four semesters so long as you maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA and complete 40 hours of community service per academic year in North St. Louis City and selected surrounding communities

Application Instructions

  • Complete and submit the online application for freshman admission and all required materials (transcripts, ACT or SAT scores, etc.) by Dec. 1.
  • Complete and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by Feb. 15.


Private Scholarships

In addition to Saint Louis University Scholarships, many students receive scholarships from outside sources. Though extra work is required, the reward can be significant. It is recommended that students search for these scholarships throughout their entire academic career.

Free websites exist to assist you in your search, and you may want to consider opening a separate email account to manage the responses. 

Finally, you may want to write a simple, generic letter indicating why you deserve the scholarship. Then as you continue to apply, you can simply edit your letter to target a particular scholarship.

The policies, regulations, procedures and fees are subject to change without prior notice, if necessary, to keep Saint Louis University policies in compliance with state and federal laws and/or with rules and regulations of Saint Louis University.

Billiken, Ignatian, University, Deans’ and Vice Presidents’ Scholarships

Eligibility Requirements

The Billiken, Ignatian, University, Deans’ and Vice Presidents’ scholarships are awarded to incoming freshmen based on your previous academic performance and official ACT/SAT test scores.

Award Amount: $3,000 — $20,000 per year

These scholarships automatically renew based upon full-time enrollment over eight consecutive semesters and maintenance of the required GPA referenced below.  

Application Instructions

Complete and submit SLU’s online application for freshman admission and all required materials (transcripts, ACT or SAT scores, etc.) by Dec. 1.

A critique of an important SLU scholarship

St. Ignatius of Loyola emphasized the purpose of human existence as to “praise, revere and serve God,” or “Ad majorem Dei gloriam.” Related to this Latin phrase is the word “magis,” which means “do better.” Magis matters in university settings to students as they better themselves on their journey to graduate, but it also matters to committee members who create rules for and oversee social justice scholarships.

Many saw the opening up of the Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship beyond incoming freshmen as an indication signaling an end of its problematic tradition and as an opportunity. That current SLU students would not be rewarded for radical social justice work under a scholarship that incentivizes social justice work may indicate a symptomatic issue inherent to the MLK Scholarship.

The MLK does not prioritize radical social justice work, but its optics. Radical social justice is advocacy in service of institutional change –, not advocacy in service of perceived change.

The criteria for an MLK scholar needs a recalibration towards its supposed social justice tenets. The current requirements basically read as such: Are you a freshman, sophomore or junior SLU student? Can you fill out this MLK scholarship application? How well can you write a scholarship essay? Where is your resume? Let us see two letters of recommendation. Also, do you have the minimum 3.0 GPA?

Clearly how a candidate looks is preferred over who, where, and what the candidate has been or is about. For a scholarship that is supposed to prioritize social justice, one would expect more than a scholarship essay.

Once scholars join MLK, they are not held to any level of accountability for continuing social justice, and many current scholars take advantage of that. When there was an unprecedented occupation of SLU’s campus, there was never any sign of organized leadership from our MLK scholars.

Finding out who is responsible for the tremendous apathy that week may lead to some sort of accountability. There are no measures in place to ensure that MLK scholars are at the forefront in carrying out Dr. King’s ideals; Ferguson was just another predictable opportunity missed.

The real work of MLK scholars is praised, but often not backed by incentive. Incentives must integrate the real work with student life by providing assistance that will overcome simple limitations: retention, community and transportation. Without any aid, a complex naturally emerges where students feel that they have to choose between fighting for the right cause and studying for the right grades – not to mention financing cost of attendance the right way. End-of-the-year-reception accolades do not come with increased funding to support ongoing efforts.

The MLK Scholarship remains a program without funding and focus required to encourage radical social justice work. The only difference between MLK and more highly incentivized programs is its social justice purpose.

For example, the Presidential Scholarship – which awards full tuition ($38,700) and a community program that provides up to $1,200 for scholar’s projects – asks for exemplary academic and disciplinary standing, but nothing in terms of social justice standing. Meanwhile, MLK recipients receive an average amount of $24,000 a year.

The disparities between MLK and Presidential scholarships suggest that if you get good grades you will be honored, but if you are fighting for change, you are more disposable. The social justice component of MLK is rooted in our university mission’s “service of humanity” just as much as the intellectual “pursuit of truth.” Can you imagine if we valued social justice as we did academics?

MLK continues to struggle with issues of diversity. Part of this rests in the fact that SLU does not appeal to black students for reasons stated below. This year, MLK received only two black scholars for its incoming freshmen class. In the St. Louis American, I write extensively about how the purpose of a scholarship in the name and honor of an activist who rallied for black uplift cannot be fulfilled without its recipients being majority black. That is because black students who are affected by racial oppression are best equipped to move the meter forward in terms of racial social justice. Therefore, we need to look for and support them.

Some of their struggles include having significant communal space replaced by a majority white SGA and being relegated to a closet in the Center for Global Citizenship; being tokenized or asked to “speak for” our race by often-well-intentioned white professors, on a predominately white campus, located in a nearly half-black St. Louis (49.2% 2010 census); and forgiving racist insults by unassuming white Billikens. Meanwhile, black student percentages at SLU remain at six percent. This is an issue for MLK because it has failed to live in the tradition left by its parent, the Calloway scholarship, which was established to recruit black students.

MLK Committee and Saint Louis University: We need “magis.”

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