BrightSprout Crossword Scholarship

The 2024 Crossword Scholarship is now open!  Please submit your crossword by the deadline: May 3, 2024.

About the BrightSprout Crossword Scholarship

BrightSprout believes in education for all students–no matter their background. Making a successful crossword puzzle is incredibly challenging. We want to reward the creative thinking and hard work that goes into writing crosswords with our annual Crossword Scholarship.

Each year, we award a great prize to one talented student. Instead of the typical essay, our crossword scholarship is awarded to the best  puzzle-maker. To apply, students must create and submit one 15×15 newspaper-style crossword puzzle on My Crossword Maker according to the instructions below.

Awards and Prizes

Our annual scholarship winner receives a $1,000 tuition scholarship and a free, lifetime subscription to My Crossword Maker. Up to five finalists will also be awarded a free lifetime subscription to My Crossword Maker. Semi-finalists will receive an honorable mention on our website.

Eligibility and Rules

The Crossword Scholarship competition is open to all current or incoming undergraduate students who will be enrolled for the fall 2024 semester or quarter. We verify enrollment with the winner’s school before dispersing the award.

To be considered for the competition, all crosswords must be original, written solely by the applicant, and not previously published elsewhere. Additionally, they must be created and published publicly on Crossword Maker following all instructions and guidelines outlined below.

How to Apply for the 2024 Crossword Scholarship:

1: Create Your Crossword Puzzle

First, make a free account on My Crossword Maker. Once you log into your account, click on “My Puzzles” in the navigation bar and click the “Create Newspaper Puzzle” button. Finally, set up your puzzle in a 15X15 grid.

IMPORTANT NOTE:  Make sure to create a newspaper puzzle (see below). Standard Puzzles will not be considered for the scholarship.

Crossword Hobbyist Crossword Scholarship
Be careful not to create a “standard” puzzle. Only 15X15 newspaper-style crosswords will be considered for the scholarship.

Next, write your puzzle! Your original crossword must fit the theme of My Hobby/Interest. We want to  know what you’re passionate about, and we want to learn it square by square. Your puzzle can cover anything you care about: music, cooking, spirit animals, vintage ceramic buttons, base jumping, skateboarding, cupcakes, homework, retro video games–the sky really is the limit.

The best (and winning) puzzles tend to meet the professional, newspaper-style crossword standards and tips outlined on the link. Puzzles should have a maximum of 78 words. Creators who make puzzles with fewer black squares also increase their odds of winning. Don’t forget to give your puzzle a title, which can provide fun clues to the subject or theme of the crossword.

We know that writing puzzles is hard! My Crossword Maker saves your work as you go, so you can come back later to finish it or complete it in multiple sessions.

2: Contact Us to ‘Unlock’ Your Puzzle

Once you finish your puzzle, email: [email protected], so that we can waive the fee for publishing your puzzle. In your email, make sure to include:

  • The email address you used to create your My Crossword Maker account
  • The title of your finished crossword puzzle

Within 24 hours, you’ll receive an email confirming that your puzzle is unlocked.

Tip: The scholarship competition is free to enter. Do not pay to publish your puzzle. Contact us before publishing your puzzle, so that we can waive the fee.

3: Publish Your Puzzle Once It’s ‘Unlocked’

To enter the competition, you must publish your puzzle. After you contact customer support and receive an email confirming that your crossword is unlocked, you can publish your puzzle for free. Simply click on the “Publish” button. Remember, if you’re prompted to pay for your puzzle, something is wrong. Don’t pay. Instead, contact us.

Once you review your clues and answers one final time, your puzzle will be published and available on the internet.

4: Officially Submit Your Puzzle for Competition Before the Deadline

After your puzzle is published, it’s time to apply for the scholarship by completing the short form below. You must submit the completed application form by application deadline: May 3, 2024.

Remember: only newspaper-style crosswords will be considered for the scholarship (see image in instructions above); standard-style puzzles will not be considered for the scholarship.

Make sure to verify that your email address is correct; all communication about the contest will be sent to the email address on the form below.


Scholarship Odds and Ends

Remember, you don’t have to pay anything to apply to this scholarship. Make sure to follow the steps above to avoid being accidentally charged.

All copyrights remain with you, the creator and you can use or publish your puzzle however you’d like. We will not own the rights to any submitted crossword puzzle. However, if you are a finalist or winner, your puzzle will be publicly posted on our website, which may impact your ability to submit it to some paid markets.

We post biographies of finalists and winners on our blog and social media pages. By submitting your puzzle to the contest, you consent to BrightSprout publicly posting your puzzle, your name, your school, and any other potentially identifying biographical information that you include about yourself on your submission form.

We strongly encourage you to share your crossword puzzle on your website, blog, or social media. Successfully creating a crossword puzzle is a huge accomplishment! Sharing it with others is a great way to celebrate your accomplishments. However, sharing your puzzle is not a requirement for entry.

Puzzle Judging & Winner Notification

The selection committee at BrightSprout determines the winning crossword puzzle. The committee makes their selection based on the cleverness of the theme, clues, and answers, as well as overall puzzle construction. A well-executed grid design will also be taken into consideration.

For your best chances of winning, make sure your puzzle follows newspaper-style crossword guidelines. The selection will be announced by June 3, 2024.

The winning scholarship is to be used exclusively for school tuition and related expenses. A check for $1,000 will be paid directly to the award recipient’s college, university, or trade school, upon confirmation on enrollment in the fall following the contest.


Please email [email protected] with any questions pertaining to this scholarship.

Terms and Conditions

  • Any successful applicant may be required to show proof that they are enrolled in or have been accepted to an accredited university, commencing studies for the Fall 2023 semester.
  • Any students who know any of the BrightSprout committee members personally are not eligible.
  • International students enrolled in an American or Canadian university may apply.
  • There is no cost to apply for this scholarship. We will not request any monies from applicants.
  • The winner of the scholarship is chosen at the sole discretion of the Selection Committee. The winner and the finalists will be announced on June 3, 2024.
  • By submitting your puzzle to the contest, you consent to My Crossword Maker publicly posting your puzzle, your name, your school, and any other potentially identifying biographical information that you include about yourself on your submission form.
  • Direct all inquiries to [email protected]