Catholic Scholarships

Scholarships for Catholic Students... Many Catholic colleges offer scholarships as a means of attracting the nation's brightest students,

Updated October 27, 2022 is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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Tips, Resources & Expert Advice for Getting the Most Money for School

We created the following guide to help Catholic students find and apply scholarships based on their faith and values. We've also compiled useful information on ways students can strengthen and boost their faith while on and off campus, as well as the reasons why Catholic and non-Catholic students choose to attend the many Catholic colleges and universities throughout the nation.

Scholarships for Catholic Students

Many Catholic colleges offer scholarships as a means of attracting the nation's brightest students, and also to offset the higher tuition costs that come with attending a private university. There are many different private and organizational scholarships available to Catholic students as well. Here are 20 of the commonly pursued Catholic scholarships:

Catholic Financial Life scholarships

Catholic Financial Life scholarships

  • Applicants must be members of Catholic Financial Life for at least one year before applying for a scholarship.
  • Amount: $1,000

Catholic Order of Foresters Fraternal Scholarship

Catholic Order of Foresters Fraternal Scholarship

  • Awarded to members over the age of 17 who plan to attend a Catholic postsecondary institution.
  • Amount: $5,000 ($1,250 for four years)

Catholic United Financial Scholarship

Catholic United Financial Scholarship

  • Open to CUF members of any age who are pursuing postsecondary education.
  • Amount: $500

Catholic University of America Scholarships

Catholic University of America Scholarships

This private Catholic University in Washington, D.C. offers many different first-year, transfer and merit-based scholarships The Catholic University Scholarship is awarded to students with strong high school academic achievement and class rank.

Amount: $10,000-$25,000

College of St. Benedict Trustee's, President's & Dean's Scholarships

College of St. Benedict Trustee's, President's & Dean's Scholarships

  • These merit-based scholarships are awarded to students with exceptional academic achievement, coupled with demonstrated leadership and extracurricular activities.
  • Amount: $9,000-$24,500, renewable for four years

Del Papa-Grimaldi Endowment Fund Scholarship

Del Papa-Grimaldi Endowment Fund Scholarship

  • Available to high school seniors or college freshmen residing in the Archdiocese of Detroit.
  • Amount: $2,500

DeSales University Catholic School Grants

DeSales University Catholic School Grants

  • Available to graduates of Catholic high schools.
  • Amount: $3,000

Georgetown University Undergraduate & 1789 Scholarships

Georgetown University Undergraduate & 1789 Scholarships

  • Georgetown awards several hundred scholarship each year to undergraduate students with demonstrated academic merit and financial need.
  • Amount: $1,000-$60,000 annually
  • The 1789 scholarships are for need-based students.
  • Amount: $3,000

Gonzaga Merit Scholarships

Gonzaga Merit Scholarships

  • Recipients are chosen based on difficulty of their degree path, GPA, SAT scores and other recommendations.
  • Amount: $7,000-$20,500 for freshmen; $10,000-$20,000 for transfer students

Holy Cross Institutional Scholarships

Holy Cross Institutional Scholarships

  • College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass., offers a number of merit-based tuition scholarships, and it awards more than 440 Holy Cross Scholarships for students with demonstrated financial need.
  • Amount: $500 to $50,700

Italian Catholic Federation College Scholarships

Italian Catholic Federation College Scholarships

  • Available to students with demonstrated scholastic achievement (minimum 3.2 GPA) and financial need.
  • Amount: $500-$1,000

John Carroll University Undergraduate Merit & Signature Scholarships

John Carroll University Undergraduate Merit & Signature Scholarships

  • Merit scholarships to this small Jesuit Catholic college in University Heights, Ohio are awarded based on SAT scores and extracurricular achievement.
  • Amount: $10,000-$25,000.
  • Signature scholarships are awarded to students in the university's honors, leadership or scholars programs.
  • Amount: $5,000

Knights of Columbus Bishop Charles P. Greco Graduate Fellowships

Knights of Columbus Bishop Charles P. Greco Graduate Fellowships

  • Awarded each year to students in a fulltime master's program designed for teachers of people with intellectual impairment.
  • Amount: $2,000

Knights of Columbus Fourth Degree Pro Deo/Pro Patria Scholarships

Knights of Columbus Fourth Degree Pro Deo/Pro Patria Scholarships

  • For incoming college freshman pursuing a bachelor's degree at a four-year Catholic university in the U.S.
  • Amount: $1,500, renewable for four years

Knights of Columbus John W. McDevitt Fourth Degree Scholarships

Knights of Columbus John W. McDevitt Fourth Degree Scholarships

  • For students entering freshman year of college at a Catholic institution.
  • Amount: $1,500.

Loyola University Chicago Academic Scholarships

Loyola University Chicago Academic Scholarships

  • Loyola's presidential, Damen, Loyola, trustee and dean's scholarships are available to academically qualified students regardless of financial need.
  • Amount: $16,000-$21,000 annually. The university's Rambler award provides approximately $7,500 toward tuition. Students must be admitted to the college by Feb. 1 for consideration for the award.

National Catholic College Admission Association Scholarship

National Catholic College Admission Association Scholarship

  • Eight scholarships are available to college-bound high school seniors who plan to enroll in a CCAA-member school.
  • Amount: $1,000.

Ruth K. Jacobs Memorial Scholarship

Ruth K. Jacobs Memorial Scholarship

  • Available to fulltime college students majoring in music.
  • Amount: $1,500

University of Notre Dame Merit Scholarships

  • Notre Dame offers merit scholarships to first-year students with exceptional academic, service and leadership accomplishments.
  • Amount: Varies. Renewable for four years.

Villanova University Presidential Scholarship Program

  • This renewable merit-based scholarship is awarded to students who have first been nominated by their high school's top administrator.
  • Amount: Full tuition, books, room and board is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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5 Tips for Finding More Catholic
Scholarships on Your Own

Tuition at private Catholic colleges far exceeds tuition at state-sponsored colleges and public universities. According to the College Board's Trends in Higher Education report, in-state tuition at public four-year state colleges was just under $10,000 for the 2017-2018 academic year, and nearly $35,000 for private four-year institutions. It can be even higher at top-tier Catholic institutions.

For many students, winning a scholarship to a Catholic college is a priority to help offset these steep tuition costs. Following these five tips can help students find additional Catholic school scholarships.

  • 1. Put in the time.

    There are dozens of sites students can will have to scrub for pertinent scholarships, not to mention the time it takes to properly compile all the materials necessary to apply, such as letters of recommendation, personal essays, transcripts, and of course filling out the application forms. Expect to spend many, many hours in the research phase – students may review dozens, even hundreds of potential scholarships – as well as in the application phase. This isn't the time for a quick weekend rush job. It can be an arduous process that requires patience and persistence, particularly with prestigious and competitive scholarships.

  • 2. Check with potential colleges and universities.

    The importance of seeking institutional assistance – especially for high-achieving students with impeccable academic and civic engagement credentials – can't be overstated. Catholic colleges often offer qualified students thousands and tens of thousands of dollars in institutional scholarships funded by generous and large donor and alumni networks.

  • 3. Dig into the big scholarship sites.

    Among the leaders are, fastweb!, Cappex, and the College Board's scholarship search tool. The U.S. Department of Labor also has a scholarship finder on its CareerOneStop site.

  • 4. Dig into your academic and faith network.

    College financial aid advisers are likely to put students on the right path on their scholarship hunt. Likewise for key members of students' local diocese who have a vested interested in student success. High school students also can check with their guidance counselors about potential scholarships that dovetail with their academic or athletic achievements.

  • 5. Search leading Catholic organizations.

    The Knights of Columbus, for example, offers many different annual scholarships that can help fund tuition at a Catholic college. These groups can be a great starting point for a student scholarship search.

Steps to Applying for Catholic Scholarships

Scholarships are important because they reduce students' need for federal financial aid, such as loans that have to be paid back. Graduating from college with a cumbersome financial student debt load can lead to default – in fiscal year 2014, more than 580,000 students defaulted on their loans.

Although most scholarships have their own set of requirements for applicants, they typically include some basic requirements, such as applicants' high school or college grades, SAT or ACT scores, and financial need. For certain colleges, high-achieving students with stellar GPAs are placed into consideration for institutional merit-based scholarships simply by applying to the college. Colleges use merit-based aid to attract the best students to their campuses.

Organizing and compiling all relevant materials, as well as tracking due dates and deadlines, is of utmost importance when applying for Catholic scholarships. Students also can follow these three tips to help them sail through the application process and hopefully land a Catholic scholarship.

Step 1
Build a winning academic resume.

Grades often are the first thing scholarship committees review. Students whose grades place them in the top percentile of applicants stand a better chance of making the final cut.

Step 2
Build a winning portfolio of extra-curricular activities.

Academic merit is but one important criteria for winning a scholarship. Scholarship committees often seek academically talented students who also have demonstrated exceptional leadership and a strong commitment to community service and Catholic involvement. Extra-curricular activities can include athletic accomplishments, being a part of school clubs and organizations, or involvement in service and stewardship. Students who are highly engaged in high school and in their communities – as well as in their Catholic faith — often continue those trends during their university studies and make for exemplary college students.

Step 3
Polish your essay and interviewing skills.

Some scholarships require a personal nomination, such as a letter of recommendation from a high school principal or a campus professor. Many require personal essays, as well as in-person interviews. The essay is where scholarship committees learn more about candidates, while the interview is often the deciding awarding factor. Winning essays should be creative, hold a consistent theme, convey applicants' strengths and commitments, and be well-written. For interviews, applicants can conduct mock interviews with key academic personnel or until they've polished their approach and speaking skills.

What to Know About Applying to & Attending a Catholic University

Catholic colleges and universities differ from other postsecondary institutions in that institutional leaders have a concerted focus on four guiding principles that are intertwined with all educational curriculum. They are:

  • Commitment to service
  • Faith in the Christian vision and goals
  • Reflection of faith
  • Fidelity to Catholic traditions

These are the tenets that make attending Catholic college different from non-faith-based institutions. Here are some other things to consider and frequently asked questions about attending a Catholic university.

Q: What are some of the main benefits of attending a Catholic college?

A: Faith-based colleges can help students expand their understanding of Catholic principles and traditions since curriculum is steeped in Catholic atmosphere and intellectual ideals. They can also offer students a kind of “safe harbor” where their Catholic faith will be supported, encouraged and nurtured.

Q: Do non-Catholic students usually attend Catholic colleges?

A: According to the Association of Colleges and Universities, just over half of all students at four-year Catholic colleges identified as Catholic. Catholic colleges draw non-Catholic students because some rank among the most respected postsecondary institutions in the U.S. These include Georgetown University, Boston College, St. Johns University, University of Notre Dame, Fordham University and Gonzaga University. These colleges are noted for their rigorous admissions and academic standards that attract top-tier students from throughout the U.S. and abroad.

Q: What is a Jesuit university, and are they different from other Catholic colleges?

A: Jesuit universities, like Catholic colleges, share ideals and beliefs. There are 28 Jesuit schools in the U.S. All are members of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities. The largest include Boston College, Creighton University, Canisius College and Fairfield University. These institutions promote Jesuit and Catholic identity through an education guided by spiritual justice and a commitment to the greater good. Their mission is educate students who also will serve others and society. Typically, enrollment at these institutions is open to all qualified students regardless of their religious identity.

Q: Do students who attended catholic elementary schools and high schools have a better chance at admissions into Catholic colleges?

A: According to the ACCU, just 79 percent of Catholics attending a Catholic university received a Catholic elementary education and 65 percent attended a Catholic high school[]. For many students, attending a Catholic college is a natural extension of their educational and spiritual journey; however, as noted, admission to top-tier Catholic colleges is highly competitive and students are judged more on their academic performance than their educational history.

Spotlight on four Catholic universities

The following institutions are popular choices for Catholic college students:

1. Creighton University

Located in Omaha, Neb. Creighton is committed to developing students' Jesuit Catholic values and traditions. Students are challenged to reflect on their relationship with God, the importance of service, individual worth and cultural diversity. Faculty and staff strive to teach principles that can better society, promote critical thinking, and foster an ethical understanding of the complex issues facing the world.

2. Boston College

The first postsecondary institution in the city of Boston, this college is grounded in Jesuit Catholic ideals – students are encouraged to develop not only intellectually, but ethically and spiritually as well in order to better live in service of others. The college was founded in 1863.

3. DePaul University

DePaul is the largest Catholic College in the U.S. with campuses in Chicago and Lincoln Park, Ill. Faculty integrate service opportunities into curriculum, and the university features more than 45 institutions and centers whose focus is on social justice. The university's educational programs are rooted in Catholic and Vincentian history, spirituality and service.

4. Georgetown University

Georgetown is the country's first Catholic and Jesuit college. It is a global research institution committed to developing student faith, civic engagement and service opportunities through academic scholarship and cultural programs. The college was founded in 1789.

Finding/Joining the Catholic Community on Campus

Many colleges and universities have dedicated gathering places for Catholic students. Here are some of the most common meeting places where students can join their peers, engage in service, and find resources to strengthen their faith journey.

Newman Centers

Among the first U.S. campus Newman Centers were those founded on the University of Wisconsin in 1883 and the University of Pennsylvania in 1893. Newman centers provide pastoral and residence services to Catholic students at non-Catholic institutions. One of the nation's largest Newman Centers is the St. John's Catholic Newman Center on the campus of University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The center offers Catholic students daily mass, bible studies, ministry opportunities, social events, residence and dining services and more. Newman Centers foster the strength of a campus' Catholic community.

Catholic Student Centers

Catholic student centers, such as the one on the campus of Iowa State University at Ames, often function as parish that's a “home away from home” for Catholic students. These university faith communities offer resources such as ministry services and opportunities, daily mass and confession, sacraments and more. Most importantly, they help connect Catholic students to others students who share their faith.

Student Parish Centers

Like other Catholic community centers, parish centers offer a place for students to develop a support network of Catholic friends and mentors. Many are steeped in tradition – the Catholic Campus Community near the University of Michigan has served U of M's Catholic students for more than 90 years. In addition to ministry services, these centers also offer ample opportunities for service both within the church and in the greater community – which could be important when applying for Catholic scholarships.

Where else can Catholic students get support?

School isn't the only place where Catholic students can find support – many Catholics who've left home for college become integral members of the local parish near their university. These five resources also can help Catholic college students on their educational and faith journeys.

This site created by Fr. Felix Just, a former teacher at Loyola Marymount University and Santa Clara University, is a repository of Catholic resources that includes audio conferences, various electronic materials that delve into the New Testament, full text of the Roman Catholic Mass, resources for further study of world religious and much more.

Catholic Relief Services

CRS offers many free downloadable prayer books to help students better connect with and live their faith. CRS also features a university program for students to engage with other students, faculty and staff as Catholic ambassadors.

Fellowship of Catholic University Students

The mission of this collegiate college outreach is to share the Catholic faith with college students through missionary, local events, discipleship and national conferences. Catholic students also can find faith resources on their campus through FOCUS.

National Catholic College Organizations

Groups such as The National Catholic College Admission Association, the National Catholic Educational Association and the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities can help students find news, resources and choose a school that meets their needs and faith expectations.

Other Ways to Strengthen Faith
on Campus

Strengthening Catholic faith and identity is a primary mission of Catholic colleges and universities. There are many ways students can increase their Catholic identity on campus, including:

  • Deepening Ties with Faculty & Campus Clergy

    At Catholic colleges and universities, professors and other faculty have a wealth of experience teaching subject matter blending with Catholic traditions. Foster these relationships – these are the people that shape the Catholic culture of a college.

  • Stewardship

    Stewardship is about giving back the gifts students have received. Developing a student life filled with generosity of time, finances, talents and abilities, trust and discipleship can help students find deeper meaning in their core Catholic principles and faith.

  • Be Active

    Students dedicate countless hours to study, but they also should earmark time each day to interact with fellow like-minded students. Student groups and organizations can help develop and deepen students' spirituality, engagement and emotional connection to their Catholic principles.

From the Expert

Stacy Caprio graduated from Boston College, a Catholic college, in 2014 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology. She is an online marketer who enjoys running A/B tests, writing articles, and helping businesses grow.

Q: What did you like most about attending a Catholic institution?

A: One of my favorite things was seeing the Jesuits walking around every day and having them teach in the classrooms. It was a great way to get a religious, Catholic perspective on all topics, including scientific and other, which is something you won't get at a regular school.

Q: What are some ways students can keep and strengthen faith while in college?

A: Attending weekly mass and joining Catholic groups, which helps with making new friends with strong faith.

Q: What are some of the best ways to connect with other Catholic students on campus?

A: Join faith-based groups and participate in campus events.

Q: How can students find faith communities on campus?

A: A great way is to ask friends who have gone to the school before you about their favorite faith-based events and groups – that's how I found my favorite on-campus groups. You can also search online in the club/activity section of the school's website, or go to an activity fair to find faith clubs.

Q: How can students who don't attend a Catholic university stay connected to Catholic faith?

A: You can still find faith-based activities, clubs and friends at non-Catholic universities, but you may have to look a little harder.

Q: How does attending a Catholic university differ from the college experience at a non-faith-based institution?

A: There is a different atmosphere and openness regarding faith at a Catholic university. You may be shut down or ridiculed for expressing faith at a non-faith-based institution, but that would rarely happen at a Catholic one.

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