Catholic Scholarships for College Students Tips, Resources & Expert Advice for Getting the Most Money for School

Meet the Experts

Stacy Caprio Catholic College Graduate Read bio

Written by…

Rob Sabo Read bio

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:

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

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.

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.

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.

Spotlight on four Catholic universities

The following institutions are popular choices for Catholic college students:

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.

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, 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.

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.