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The 8 Best Scholarships for Creative College Students


College is expensive. Tuition, books, housing and food expenses—it all adds up faster than you think! Sure, you can apply for a finite amount of financial aid or you can take out student loans, but for many, the burden of post-college debt is almost too much to bear. Recent reports reveal that the total student debt in the U.S. is approximately $1.3 trillion, owed by more than 40 million Americans. 

Of course, another way to relieve some of the financial anxiety that college can incite is by securing scholarships, whether for academic merit, athletic excellence or some other well-deserved accolade. With an estimated 2.7 million scholarships available to students, you can rest easy knowing that there’s a scholarship (or two or three) out there for you! Ashley Hill, CEO of www.collegeprepready.com, explains, "It is important for creative college students to focus on specific scholarships based on their talents, future career interests, and achievements so that they can save time and minimize the frustrations with searching for scholarships that fit them." That's why, together with Hill and Kevin Ladd, COO of www.scholarships.com, we’ve put together a list of scholarship opportunities for the creative college student who might be feeling left out. 

1. Against the Grain Artistic Scholarship

Purpose: To support Asian American students studying performing arts, visual arts, journalism and/or mass communications

Who should apply: High school seniors or full-time college students who are at least 50% Asian or Pacific Islander

Scholarship amount: $1,000

Approximately 10 ATG scholarships are awarded each year. Scholarship winners are selected based on their cumulative performance in five categories: content submission, academic performance, experience in leadership and community service, letters of recommendation and a committee interview. Among the 10 recipients in 2015, nine were female students majoring in unique fields of study like dance, literary studies and sustainable fashion. 

Related: The Most Artistic Schools

2. Arts For Life Award

Purpose: To encourage incoming freshmen to pursue careers in dance, drama, creative writing, music and/or visual arts

Who should apply: Florida high school seniors who have excelled in any of the aforementioned subject areas

Scholarship amount: $1,000

Twenty-five scholarships are awarded annually to students who excel in each of the five listed disciplines. To be considered, applicants must submit an essay explaining how the arts have positively affected their lives, as well as a portfolio of their work. This year, 19 of the 25 recipients were female. Watch Nushrat Nur, awarded for creative writing, perform her work at the National YoungArts Week 2016 in the video below. 


3. BMI Student Composer Awards

Purpose: To recognize and support outstanding student composers of classical music

Who should apply: Music students who are citizens of any country in the western hemisphere and are under the age of 28

Scholarship amount: Varies

Founded by Broadcast Music Inc. executives in 1985, the BMI Foundation is dedicated to promoting music education and performance. The BMI Student Composer Awards are just a few of the many awards, scholarships, grants and commissions that the foundation offers. Applicants will be lucky enough to have their work reviewed by a panel of highly accomplished, well renowned classical musicians and composers, including Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, the first female composer ever to win the Pulitzer Prize for Music. 

4. Chopin Foundation Scholarship

Purpose: To support young pianists through up to four years of preparation for the National Chopin Piano Competition

Who should apply: Piano students between the ages of 14 and 17

Scholarship amount: $500 – $1,000 per year

Fourteen-year-old Avery Gagliano and Taylor Wang were this year's youngest female recipients of the Chopin Foundation Scholarship. The highly competitive program asks applicants to submit an unedited video of themselves performing Chopin's work, along with a statement of professional goals and two letters of recommendation from professional pianists. 

5. Doodle 4 Google Art Competition

Purpose: To encourage students to express themselves in creative ways

Who should apply: High school students in grades nine through 12 (but all students in grades K-12 are eligible) with an interest in graphic design, painting, drawing and illustration

Scholarship amount: Up to $30,000

Google is currently accepting applications for this competition, which asks students to design a Google doodle with a specific message or purpose. Although several outstanding artists will be awarded, one national winner will receive a $30,000 college scholarship, a $50,000 Google for Education Technology Award for a school or non-profit organization of their choice and a trip to the Google Headquarters in California! 

6. VSA (Very Special Arts) International Young Soloists Award Program

Purpose: To encourage outstanding young musicians with disabilities and reward them with professional development opportunities, including the chance to perform at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.

Who should apply: Musicians of any instrument and genre between the ages of 14 and 25

Scholarship amount: $2,500

This unique opportunity is designed to create an all-inclusive atmosphere for young musicians, welcoming soloists and ensembles of almost any genre of music, including classical, jazz, hip-hop, rap, rock, pop, indie, bluegrass, folk, country, R&B, Latin and World music. 

7. Women in Film Scholarship 

Purpose: To help women develop successful careers in film, television, communications and new media

Who should apply: College women studying at major film schools across the country

Scholarship amount: Varies 

Shoshana Sachi, one of this year's WIF scholarship winners, is grateful for the opportunity to pursue her dreams of becoming "a voice for women in a field that favors so few." She explains, "I want to tell human stories, women’s stories... I want to be a face among the force that will showcase women as the resilient and complex human beings that we are. And I want those stories to reach everyone, in every place." WIF strives to empower Sachi and other female film scholars to join the fight for diversity in the media. 

8. Worldstudio Daring Young Artists to Dream Scholarship 

Purpose: To promote diversity in creative circles and to encourage young artists and designers to be more socially and environmentally aware

Who should apply: Undergraduate or graduate students with minority status majoring in fine art, graphic design, illustration, interactive design and/or photography

Scholarship amount: $2,000 – $3,000 

The Worldstudio shcolarship is awarded annually to 10 to 20 students who are of minority status or from economically disadvantaged backgrounds to help pay for college tuition and other educational expenses. The scholarship money is submitted directly to each student's respective institution. Applicants are assessed based on artistic ability, financial need and service to their communities. 

Related: 12 Gifts For Artistic College Grads

With the right combination of keen organizational skills and strategic preparation, you can definitely apply for and land multiple scholarships that will help you through your college years. Hill’s and Ladd’s online databases are just two of the many scholarship-matching options available to you. Christine Burney, a senior at Savannah College of Art and Design, also recommends mobile apps like Scholly for the collegiette or soon-to-be collegiette who’s always on the go.

It’s important to look for scholarships that not only apply to your area of study but also to your ethnic background and financial status. And, when you’ve exhausted your scholarship options, try identifying a list of competitions and exhibits that offer monetary prizes. Remember: your artistic abilities are a gift! Use them wisely. 

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