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U.S. Senate Youth Program FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions for the U.S. Senate Youth Program.

NOTE: The 2021 USSYP program is currently suspended due to COVID-19.

What is the United States Senate Youth Program?

The California Department of Education (CDE) administers the United States Senate Youth Program (USSYP), which is an annual scholarship competition funded by the William Randolph Hearst Foundation and endorsed by the United States Senate. Each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia select two high school juniors or seniors to participate in the USSYP. The delegates receive a $10,000 college scholarship and attend a one-week all-expense paid trip to Washington, D.C..

What are the Eligibility Requirements?
  • Student must be nominated by his or her high school principal to be considered for the USSYP.
  • Principal may nominate up to two students from the high school.
  • Nominated student must be a high school junior or senior currently serving in an elected or appointed leadership position in a student government, civic, or educational organization for the entire school year for which they are applying.*
  • Student must be actively serving and representing his or her peers in qualified leadership positions in organizations that relate to government, education, public affairs, and/or community service.
  • A nominated student must be a legal permanent resident of the United States, currently enrolled in a California public or private secondary school, and living in the state he or she will represent for the entire academic year at the time of application.
* The student is required to be actively serving in an elected or appointed leadership position in any one of the following student government, civic, or educational organizations during the entire school year for which they are applying:
  1. Student Body President, Vice President, Secretary, or Treasurer
  2. Class President, Vice President, Secretary, or Treasurer
  3. Student Council Representative
  4. National Honor Society Officer
  5. Student Representative elected or appointed (appointed by a panel, commission, or board) to a local, district, regional or state-level civic, service and/or educational organization approved by the state selection administrator.
Participation or holding an officer position in academic clubs and/or educational competition programs or conferences do not qualify a student for the USSYP although many students who qualify participate in such. The positions listed below do NOT qualify the student for the program:
  • Attendance or officer position at Boys or Girls Nation or State Conference
  • Member of the National Honor Society (serving as an elected officer for the organization for the entire school year is acceptable)
  • Member or leader of the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts or JROTC
  • A founder or chairperson of a self-created group
  • A participant, captain or officer in Mock Trial, Debate Team, Model U.N. or other academic club, conference, or competition where the primary engagement is for individual educational enrichment.

For additional information regarding the program rules, please review the USSYP brochure on the William Randolph Hearst Foundation USSYP website External link opens in new window or tab..

How does the principal select the school’s nominees?

Principals can take sole responsibility for the selection of the student nominees. Some principals delegate that authority to a vice-principal, a head counselor, or other appropriate person. Others conduct a selection process including a small committee—e.g., a school site council or school board member, a counselor, and a teacher who may interview potential candidates.

NOTE: The 2021 USSYP program is currently suspended due to COVID-19.

Questions:   USSYP | ussyp@cde.ca.gov
Last Reviewed: Tuesday, July 14, 2020
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