Bill and Melinda Gates paid for all of Sebastian Vega’s college.
Now a college senior at USC, Vega received the Gates Millennium Scholars Scholarship (GMS) when he was a senior in high school.
“My [high school] counselor said, ‘Hey, I know about your financial situation. You can most definitely get into a top program in the country. You just need the financial help. So, she said, ‘You should apply to this scholarship called The Gates Millennium Scholarship,’” he explained.
The college scholarship is entirely funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. It started in 1999 and was a $1.6 billion initiative. Its goal was to help students of color get financial help so they could go to college with everything paid for.
“Anything that you need in order to sustain yourself in college is totally and completely covered by Gates,” stated Vega. “You’re literally set up in the best situation that you can be in.”
Vega grew up in a low-income household with a single mother. He moved from San Antonio to Los Angeles to attend USC and is an aspiring journalist.
1,000 new GMS applicants were selected each year until 2017, and starting in 2018, it switched to 300 students. There’s a 96% retention rate among 1st year Gates Scholars.