Funding Your Art Degree Find Money for Undergrad and Graduate Art Studies

An art degree is a valuable and useful degree, despite stereotypes to the contrary. It’s no secret that the cost of getting an education is high and that in many areas of the country, it’s still rising. And as the cost of college rises, so does the burden of student loans. How can you afford to pay for your art degree without sinking into debt? Scholarships and grants offer a great alternative. You don’t have to pay them back and they can be used to pay for tuition, living expenses, research, and even travel in some cases.

Scholarships & Grants for Art Students

Scholarships are available in a wide variety of art disciplines and have varying criteria. Many art scholarships require submission of an artwork, design, or music or performance recording. To help you in your search for scholarships, we’ve compiled a list of scholarships and grants organized by type that will help you get a head start in your search.

Sponsoring Organization: Art Renewal Center
Amount: Up to $3,000
Application Deadline: May 31st

The ARC Scholarship awards $30,000 split between 10 of more students chosen based on their submission of 10-15 paintings or sculptures. Only works of fine art rendered from life and representative of humanist values will be accepted, and only students who are enrolled in an ARC-approved program are eligible.

Sponsoring Organization: South Carolina Department of Education
Amount: $2,000
Application Deadline: February 5

This program grants South Carolina 12th grade high school students with scholarships to study creative writing, dance, music, theatre, or visual arts at an institute of higher education in South Carolina.

Sponsoring Organization: The Art Institute
Amount: Up to $18,600 (20% of tuition)
Application Deadline:

The Art Institute’s Art Grant supports undergraduate students by funding up to 20% of their tuition at a campus-based Art Institute school in the U.S. or Canada.

Sponsoring Organization: British Columbia Arts Council
Amount: Up to $6,000
Application Deadline: April 30

Residents of British Columbia can apply to the BC Arts Council for scholarships up to $6,000 in funding to study at any institution in the world. The scholarship provides funds for education in arts administration, community-based arts practice, conservation, curating, dance, media arts, museology, music, theatre, and visual arts.

Sponsoring Organization: Screen Actor’s Guild
Amount: Up to $4,000
Application Deadline: March 15

The John L. Dales Scholarship, which helps fund full-time study in the United States, is available to individuals who meet certain earning criteria and who are members of the SAG-AFTRA or whose parents are members. Standard scholarship and transitional scholarships are available.

Sponsoring Organization:
Amount: Up to $1,000
Application Deadline: May 31

Awarded to high school seniors and college freshman & sophomore students, the Krylon Clear Choice Art Scholarship gives five students scholarships and gift packages of Krylon Artist Sprays and Adhesives. Ten runner-ups will also receive the gift package.

Sponsoring Organization: Scholastic Art & Writing Awards
Amount: Up to $10,000
Application Deadline:

The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards is one of the nations longest-running art scholarship organizations. The award recognizes youth excellence in 29 categories of art and writing, including ceramics & glass, comic art, drawing & illustration, film & animation, mixed media, painting, photography, sculpture, video games, art portfolio and more.

Sponsoring Organization: BMI Foundation
Amount: $5,000
Application Deadline: February 15

The BMI Future Jazz Master Scholarship was created in 2015 to recognize an outstanding jazz performer pursuing an advanced degree.

Sponsoring Organization: College Art Association
Amount: $15,000
Application Deadline: November 15

The fellowships offered by the Terra Foundation for America Art offers grants to U.S. publishers for manuscripts considering American art in an international context, non-US publishers on American art manuscripts, or translation of books on American art topics to or from English.

Sponsoring Organization: German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD)
Amount: €750 monthly + health care insurance & travel subsidies
Application Deadline: October 31

The German Academic Exchange Service provides one-year scholarships to students from the U.S. or Canada to pursue graduate level or higher academic studies in fine art, film, and design/visual communication in Germany.

Sponsoring Organization: Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti
Amount: 30-50% of tuition
Application Deadline: 27 November

NABA supports 12 students to study in two-year postgraduate programs in communication design, product design, or interior design at an Italian university.

Sponsoring Organization: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
Amount: $4,000-$8,000
Application Deadline: November 6

This scholarship is available to residents of Virginia to study at institutions in the state. Fellowships are granted to undergraduates, graduates, and professionals in several categories, including art history for graduate students.

Sponsoring Organization: Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
Amount: Varies
Application Deadline:

The Academy supports scholarship around the study or analysis of film every year through the Academy Film Scholars grants.

Sponsoring Organization: The Joan Mitchell Foundation
Amount: $12,000
Application Deadline: By nomination

Supports ten diverse early career artists with a yearly, unrestricted grant. Candidates must be nominated.

Sponsoring Organization: American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works
Amount: $32,000
Application Deadline: January 22

Nine fellowships are granted every year for a wide-range of post-graduate fellowships to develop and practice specific skills in conservation. Internships are one year long and completed at museums or other conservation facilities.

Sponsoring Organization: The National Society of Arts & Letters
Amount: $5,000
Application Deadline: February 1st

This scholarship provides up to $5,000 to fund private study, special training, or personal advancement for aspiring artists between 16 and 22 years old.

Sponsoring Organization: American Academy in Rome
Amount: Varies
Application Deadline: November 1

Every year, 30 emerging scholars and artists are invited to Rome for 11 or more months to pursue their careers in one of several art-related disciplines. The Rome Prize covers room and board, a stipend, a workspace, and privileged access to Rome.

Sponsoring Organization: American Association of University Women
Amount: $20,000
Application Deadline: November 15

This fellowship presents women from all fields with monetary resources to offset the cost of living and the final year of education while they completing a dissertation or publish research.

Sponsoring Organization: Entertainment Software Association Foundation
Amount: $3,000
Application Deadline: May 29

The ESA provides up to 30 scholarships a year to women and minority students wishing to pursue degrees in the computer and video game arts industries.

Sponsoring Organization: The University of Iowa
Amount: $4,000
Application Deadline: April 1

The Madeline P. Scholarship helps women of American Indian descent with a tribal affiliation to afford the cost of college. The grant is renewable for three additional years.

Sponsoring Organization: The National Federation of Republican Women
Amount: $2,500
Application Deadline: June 1

The National Federation of Republican Women awards three scholarships yearly to support women seeking graduate or masters degrees in any field.

Sponsoring Organization: Luminarts Cultural Foundation
Amount: $15,000
Application Deadline: Late March

Two $15,000 awards in Women’s Voice are awarded every year by the Luminarts Cultural Foundations. Applicants must live within 150 miles of the Chicago Loop and be students or graduates of a degree program, conservatory, or professional artist development program.

Sponsoring Organization: Congressional Black Caucus Foundation
Amount: $3,000
Application Deadline: March 3

Awards scholarships to full-time undergraduate students to study performing arts. Preference is given to African-American students who live in a CBC Member district.

Sponsoring Organization: Congressional Black Caucus Foundation
Amount: $3,000
Application Deadline: 29 April

The CBC Spouses Visual Arts Scholarship awards African-American or black students who reside or go to school in a CBC member district an award to study visual arts, including ceramics, drawing, fashion, graphic design, painting, photography, sketching, and video production.

Sponsoring Organization: Entertainment Software Association Foundation
Amount: $3,000
Application Deadline: May 29

Up to 30 scholarships a year will be awarded to women and minority students wishing to pursing degrees in the computer and video game arts through the ESA Foundation Scholarship.

Sponsoring Organization: The University of Iowa
Amount: $4,000
Application Deadline: April 1

The Madeline P. Scholarship helps women of American Indian descent with a tribal affiliation afford the cost of college. The grant is renewable for three additional years.

Sponsoring Organization: Worldstudio Foundation & AIGA
Amount: Up to $5,000
Application Deadline: Late March

The Worldstudio and the AIGA team up each year to support minority and/or economically disadvantaged students in realizing their artistic dreams by attending college and giving back to their communities.

Sponsoring Organization: Entertainment Software Association Foundation
Amount: $3,000
Application Deadline: May 29

Up to 15 graduating high school seniors and 15 college students pursing degrees to work in the computer and video game arts will be awarded the ESA Foundation Scholarship every year.

Sponsoring Organization: Handweavers Guild of America
Amount: March 15
Application Deadline: $4,000

The HGA Scholarships are given to students who wish to study in fields related to fibers. The scholarship is eligible for students in the U.S. and Canada.

Sponsoring Organization: The Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences
Amount: $2,500
Application Deadline: June 29

Students pursuing careers to develop interactive entertainment through studies in art, animation, engineering, game direction & design, music composition, programming, and sound design should try their luck applying for the Randy Pausch Scholarship Fund.

Sponsoring Organization: Print and Graphics Scholarship Foundation
Amount: $1,000-$5,000
Application Deadline: April 1

The PGSF Scholarships grant funds to undergraduate and some graduate students who wish to pursue a career in print or graphic communications.

Sponsoring Organization: The Center for Craft Creativity & Design
Amount: $15,000
Application Deadline: February 6

Every year, 100 universities nominate two graduating seniors to the Windgate Fellowship Award Competition. The award seeks to support a project that will further the career of craft artists and contribute to the advancement of the field of craft design.

Sponsoring Organization: Council of Fashion Designers of America & Target
Amount: $25,000
Application Deadline: Varies

The CFDA/Teen Vogue Scholarship Program grants the winning sophomore fashion design student $25,000 tuition at a CFDA Participating School.

Sponsoring Organization: Daltile & American Society of Interior Designers Foundation
Amount: $10,000
Application Deadline: April 26

The Daltile Interior Design Scholarship contest challenges students to select a charity or non-profit and redesign its current space using Datile products. The $10,000 prize must be used for undergraduate study expenses.

Sponsoring Organization: American Society of Interior Designers
Amount: $12,000
Application Deadline: December 1

The David Barrett Memorial Scholarship recognizes undergraduate or graduate students for their interest and skills in using classic designs and traditional materials.

Sponsoring Organization: Two Ten
Amount: $3,000
Application Deadline: April 1

Students interested in pursuing a career in footwear design should consider this renewable scholarship from Two Ten.

Sponsoring Organization: Council of Fashion Designers of America
Amount: $25,000
Application Deadline: Varies

The Liz Claiborne Design Scholarship Award recognizes one student every year who best addresses the lifestyle and needs of modern women through fashion. The scholarship is meant to pay for the winner’s senior year tuition and/or educational expenses at a CFDA Participating School.

Sponsoring Organization: Association of Moving Image Archivists
Amount: $4,000
Application Deadline: May 15

The AMIA Scholarship Program supports graduate or advanced-program students studying archival administration, image studies, library or information science, and museum studies with the cost of tuition.

Sponsoring Organization: British Columbia Arts Council
Amount: Up to $6,000
Application Deadline: April 30

Residents of British Columbia can apply to the BC Arts Council Scholarship for up to $6,000 in funding to study at any institution in the world. Conservation studies are included.

Sponsoring Organization: The Kress History of Art
Amount: $60,000
Application Deadline: November 30

The Kress History of Art provides six fellowships each year for pre-doctoral study. The fellows are awarded the opportunity to spend two years living and studying in one of several European art history research centers.

Sponsoring Organization: The Kress History of Art
Amount: $25,000-$30,000
Application Deadline: April 1

A minimum of six Kress Interpretive Fellowships are awarded yearly for 9-12 month professional development opportunities in museum curating or museum education at American Art museums. Students who have completed a BA or higher are eligible to apply.

Sponsoring Organization: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
Amount: $4,000-$8,000
Application Deadline: November 6

This scholarship is available to residents of Virginia to study at institutions in Virginia. Fellowships are granted to undergraduates, graduates, and professionals in several categories, including art history for graduate students.

Sponsoring Organization: Luminarts Cultural Foundation
Amount: $5,000-$15,000
Application Deadline: Late March

Two $15,000 awards in Women’s Voice and Men’s Voice, and three $5,000 awards in Piano, Strings, and Winds are awarded every year by the Luminarts Cultural Foundation. Applicants must live within 150 miles of the Chicago Loop and be students or graduates of a degree program, conservatory, or professional artist development program.

Sponsoring Organization: The Kennedy Center American College Theater Film Festival
Amount: $500-$5,000
Application Deadline: Varies

Each year, participating schools nominate one student and a partner to complete in the regional competition for the URTA Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship. Winners of the regional competition go on to compete at the national level.

Sponsoring Organization: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
Amount: $20,000
Application Deadline: December 1

One student who has shown high attainment in the field and study of music and one who has shown high attainment in a field including theater are chosen yearly to receive the Kate Neal Kinley Memorial Fellowship to offset the cost of tuition of advanced study in the U.S. or abroad.

Sponsoring Organization: National Federation of Music Clubs
Amount: $1,000-$15,000
Application Deadline: February 1

The NFMC Young Artist Awards recognize the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners of a competition held biennially for Piano, Strings, Man’s voice, and Woman’s Voice.

Sponsoring Organization: BMI Foundation
Amount: $5,000
Application Deadline: February 15

The peermusic Latin Scholarship competition awards a $5,000 scholarship to a student composer of the best instrumental work or original song in a Latin genre.

Q&A with Mary A. Booker, Director of Financial Aid, Pomona College

Q

When should students and parents start thinking about scholarships?

AThe time is now; and the sooner you start, the better it will be in the long run. The longer you plan for paying for college, the more options you give yourself. Families are not penalized in the financial aid process for saving.

Q

Before the actual process of applying for financial aid begins, what steps can students take to prepare?

AStudents and parents can start by reviewing the application forms. Make a list of all the schools to which you will be applying and outline deadlines and required forms. Take time to review the FAFSA® and CSS Profile if needed. Some schools have merit scholarship applications in addition to the FAFSA® or CSS Profile. Make sure you are aware of those application deadlines as well.

Q

At what point should a student apply for financial aid and what is the first step?

AAll students should file the FAFSA® as soon as possible. Starting with the 2017-2018 application cycle, the FAFSA® can be filed beginning October 1, 2016.

Q

Is there any other advice you can share for a high school student beginning to look at how to pay for college?

AStart the research for outside, private scholarships the summer of your junior year. Any help beyond what the institution provides can help reduce the overall cost of attendance.

Financial Aid & the FAFSA® for Art Students

FAFSA® stands for the Free Application for Federal and Student Aid. Filling out and submitting your FAFSA® is the first step towards getting federal aid for college, graduate school, or career school. The federal government, state government, and schools use the information you provide in the FAFSA® to determine how much aid you are eligible to receive. Everyone should fill out a FAFSA®. There are many factors that go into calculating your financial need and many factors besides income, including the size of your family an age of your parents, are taken into account.

For the 2017-2018 admissions cycle and moving forward, FAFSA® will be available starting October 1. FAFSA® are usually due to colleges in February or March, however, so fill your FAFSA® out as soon as it becomes available.

The FAFSA® takes, on average, less than 30 minutes to complete.

The U.S. Department of Education lets you get an early estimate of your aid by filling out the FAFSA®4caster tool.

You can fill out a paper or a PDF version of the FAFSA®. Electronic copies are received more quickly.

If you’ve already filed your taxes, you may be able to automatically retrieve the information you need to fill out the FAFSA® from the IRS.

Once you fill out your FAFSA®, the information is shared with the schools you’ve listed on your application and to your state higher education agency. The colleges and the state agency use the FAFSA® to determine if you’re eligible for further aid.

Once the office of Federal Student Aid processes your FAFSA®, they will send you a Student Aid Report (SAR). Make sure to look the SAR over carefully and check for any mistakes. If you find an error, or if your information needs to be update, you can do so here.

The schools you’ve listed on the FAFSA® and that have accepted you will calculate your aid and send you an aid offer (known as an award letter) letting you know how much aid you’re eligible for. The offer amount is calculated by taking the cost of attendance and subtracting your expected family contribution (EFC), which is determined using the information you fill out in your FAFSA®. The college uses that information to determine your financial need.

Read carefully over the award letter to understand the type of aid that’s being offered. Is it a loan that needs to be paid back or free money, such as a grant? Talk with your family to determine what aid you need and if you are willing to take out a loan. Make sure to reply to the school with your decision by the deadline set out in your award letter.

The Federal Student Aid office of the U.S. Department of Education, the organization that manages the FAFSA®, provides more than $150 billion each year to millions of students to pay for higher education.

The Rising Cost of a College Education

College costs are rising across the country and can be a major barrier for students wishing to receive an art degree. In fact, college costs have risen 6 percent over inflation for years, and it only cost $2,600 to attend Harvard in 1972. Now, the cost to attend the Ivy League school is nearly 17 times that. Taking out loans to pay for such an expense can be costly and financially burdensome in the long-term.

Thankfully, there are other financial aid options, such as scholarships and grants. It will require time and effort to apply for these awards but it is well worth it because students do not need to pay back a scholarship or grant the way they would a student loan.

  PUBLIC TWO-YEAR IN-DISTRICT PUBLIC four-YEAR IN-state PUBLIC TWO-YEAR out-of-state private non-profit four-year
Tuition and Fees
2014-15 $3,347 $9,139 $22,958 $31,231
2013-14 $3,241 $8,885 $22,223 $30,131
$ Change $106 $254 $735 $1,100
% Change 3.3% 2.9% 3.3% 3.7%
Tuition and Fees
2014-15 $7,705 $9,804 $9,804 $11,198
2013-14 $7,540 $9,498 $9,498 $10,824
$ Change $165 $306 $306 $364
% Change 2.2% 3.2% 3.2% 3.4%
Tuition and Fees & Room and Board
2014-15 $11,052 $18,943 $32,762 $42,419
2013-14 $10,781 $18,383 $31,721 $40,955
$ Change $271 $560 $1,041 $1,464
% Change 2.5% 3.0% 3.3% 3.6%
Source: College Board

Student Loan Debt on the Rise

Outstanding student debt in the U.S. totals more than $1.2 trillion. Loan debt too often becomes a burden that students and families feel for years after graduation. Be sure to research alternatives to loans before accepting them, especially if the loan is unsubsidized. Scholarships and grants are great, and free, alternatives, especially as average debt per borrower continues to increase yearly.

Class of 2014

Average debt per borrower in each year’s graduating class.

Source: Mark Kantrowitz analysis, NCES data

How to Find and Apply for Art Scholarships

1 Don’t wait! Start considering scholarships and grants now.

Scholarships are competitive and have varying deadlines. Art scholarships often require you to submit a piece of your artwork/design/music/film. It’s important to start looking for scholarships early to give yourself time to create the works that you’ll submit with your application. When researching and talking to schools, talk to the admissions office about scholarships – both those that are offered by the school and outside scholarships.

2 Get specialized.

Art is a wide discipline with many sub-specialties. There are many scholarships out there that focus on one or two specialty subjects (crafts or menswear, for example). You probably have a good idea of what area of art you want to specialize in. Scholarship competitions that focus on specific areas of art often have fewer applicants, so you’re chances of being granted a scholarship may be higher. Ask your teachers and career counseling office for recommendations of scholarships to apply to.

3 Make a list of scholarships and check eligibility requirements.

There are hundreds of art scholarships out there, and it can be difficult to sort through them all to find which ones you might qualify for. Check the websites of schools that you are applying to – many of them have lists of scholarships online that you can easily sort through. Consider keeping a physical list of scholarships that you’re interested that contains the application deadlines and requirements. You can see where application requirements overlap and keep track of your application progress.

4 Compile the documents you’ll need to apply.

Make sure you’re on track to finish your artwork before the application deadlines begin. This can be by far the most time-intensive part of any application, but also the most enjoyable. As you’re creating your works, think about why you want to go to college to study art and what about creating art inspires you. Those are great things to include in your essays. Most scholarships also require at least one letter of recommendation from a teacher or community leader. Make sure to ask them early on so they have time to write you a stellar letter that highlights your character and interest in art.

5 Be on time.

Submit your applications on time. You’ve worked hard on them and have been diligent getting to this point. Make sure you give yourself the best chance possible by meeting all of the requirements for each application with complete and detailed information.

6 Follow up promptly, if requested

If the scholarship program contacts you for further information, respond as quickly as possible with the documentation they request.