The Best Scholarships for Arts Students

How to Find Scholarships for Students Interested in Pursuing an Arts Degree

Photo courtesy of Unsplash.

Getting into art school is an amazing feat in itself. However, some top tier art schools can be on the pricey side, and finding the right fit can be tough. A good way to mitigate some of the associated costs and problems with paying for college is through scholarships and grants. 

Pursuing an art major can mean a lot of things and opens the door to a world of possibilities. Most will caution against pursuing a major in the arts, deeming it “impractical” and “a waste of time.” We say go for it, if that’s your passion in life. It sounds optimistic and somewhat unrealistic, but we truly believe you should give your dreams a shot if you really are invested in them. It’s not an easy journey, but it’s the most rewarding one. If all else fails, it’s never too late to change your career path. 

Some cool jobs you can pursue with an art degree are by being a professional artist, illustrator, photographer, animator, graphic designer, curator, or printmaker. However, you aren’t limited to any of these options and your job can be what you make it. 

How To Fill Out the FAFSA and Set Up Your CSS Profile

The amount of student debt in the U.S. is $1.7 trillion as of 2021 for 45 million borrowers nationwide. A way to navigate the fees associated with college is through scholarships. Everyone’s college journey is unique and finding scholarships isn’t any different. Scholarships are focused on catering to certain people, programs, and locations. Figuring out how much assistance you need is the first start to getting your education paid for. You do this by filling out the FAFSA. The FAFSA then determines, based on your institution of choice, your personal financial situation and calculated needs, what financial aid that you’re eligible for. 

First and foremost, what is financial aid? College financial aid assists students and their families with the expenses of college and higher education. It helps to cover tuition, fees, room, board, transportation, books, and supplies. There are several types of aid, including grants, scholarships, federal and private loans, and work study programs. Different types of aid are provided through several sources, including federal and state agencies, colleges, high schools, national and local organizations. When aid is awarded through these various resources, you have the option through your institution to accept or reject it. Some aid needs to be repaid, but others, including scholarships and grants, don’t require repayment. To be eligible, you typically fill out a FAFSA or CSS Profile

When filling out the FAFSA, it's best to complete it as early as possible. Financial aid is awarded on a first come, first serve basis, and when you fill it out earlier, you have a higher chance of getting additional aid. It’s a good idea to have a parent, friend, or councilor to help you with the FAFSA process. When you have help, it’s easier to navigate the ups and downs to finding funds for your education. You can view our FAFSA tips to learn more about the steps of filling it out. 

A CSS Profile is an additional form you can fill out to determine your eligibility for financial aid. It doesn’t take the place of the FAFSA, but acts more like a second profile that asks for more information regarding you and your family's financial situation. This is a useful tool for low-income students who are looking for opportunities for additional non federal financial aid. They offer fee waivers for the application for families that make less than $100,000 a year, and have a list of participating institutions and programs. Visit our CSS Profile Worksheet for more information on how to fill out the form. 

The average cost of college in the United States is $35,720 per student per year. The cost has tripled in the past 20 years. 
Photo courtesy of Unsplash.

Finding Scholarships that Cater to Your Art Niche

Different arts majors might require separate scholarship applications. Finding a scholarship for a communication major versus studio art might be a different ballpark altogether. Make sure to carefully review scholarship guidelines before submitting applications to ensure you meet the requirements. The process of filling out scholarships can be time consuming, overwhelming and sometimes exhausting. Although, we encourage you to apply to as many as possible for a chance at some additional funds. The scholarships we’ve accumulated on this list are meant for several different disciplines across the arts. Some of our suggestions from these sites are below: 

Against the Grain Artistic Scholarship

Aimed specifically toward Asian American applicants, the Against the Grain Scholarship is meant to assist majors in the arts. This includes the visual arts, journalism, and mass communication. The program has awarded at least 55 scholarships, totaling $75,000 since they started in 2011. Art scholarship applicants must be an Asian American US citizen, high school senior and older interested in pursuing college. The deadline to apply is June 30, 2022. 

Betty Harlan Memorial Art Scholarship

The Community Foundation of Northern Illinois’ Betty Harlan Memorial Art Scholarship is meant to provide assistance to students who are interested in pursuing degrees in the visual arts. To apply, an applicant must be a senior graduating college in Spring 2022 and preside in Boone, Ogle, or Winnebago County. Students are required to submit an essay and all application materials by the February 1st, 2022 deadline at 5 p.m. CST. The scholarship program encourages students who have shown involvement in organizations and clubs that focus in the visual arts during high school. 

CBC Spouses Visual Arts Scholarship

The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation offers several scholarships every year to Black and African-American students looking to pursue a college education. The CBC Spouses Performing and Visual Arts Scholarships are made to ensure students can receive financial assistance. To be eligible, you need to be a Black or African American student who is actively pursuing an undergraduate, graduate, or doctoral degree in the performing or visual arts. Each year, 10 applicants are selected to receive an award of $5,000. The deadline to apply is April 30, 2022, and application materials may vary. 

Emily M. Hewitt & Stephen Stocking Memorial Scholarships

Each year, the Calaveras Big Trees Association administers a scholarship fund in honor of Emily M. Hewitt, an artist and student who shared a love of art and nature. The scholarship is eligible for any student or graduate student enrolled full-time in an accredited California educational Institution who is interested in pursuing environmental art and other interests that involve nature. The scholarship award is $3,000, and students are required to submit a statement of personal and career goals, a resume transcript and the completed application form. 

Foundation for the Carolinas Scholarships

The Foundation for the Carolinas offers a variety of scholarships for several different disciplines. Their scholarship portal allows you to search for different options that might fit your major or area of study. To fly to any of their opportunities, you need to create an account that includes a login. Each phone has different eligibility requirements and when you start an application you'll be redirected to answer pre-qualification questions to see if the scholarship is a good fit. 

Haymarket Gallery Emerging Artists Scholarship

The Lincoln Community Foundation offers several scholarships through their website. The Haymarket Emerging Artist Scholarship started in 1996 and encourages students who are graduating seniors or former graduates of a Lancaster County public or private high school In Lancaster County Nebraska. The applicant must also be enrolled as an art major and an accredited art program. To apply you have to provide your high school or college transcript, 3 to 5 documents of original artwork along with brief explanations, and one reference email address from an art teacher. 

The average four year academic institution has a 60.4% graduation rate. Photo courtesy of Unsplash.

Looking for More Resources? Check These Out: 

The scholarship search feels like it can never end. If you’re running out of options, the best bet you have of getting a scholarship is to go local. Think of your marching band, local rotary club, non-profit organizations, and so on. If you’re still unable to find any arts major scholarships, go to your high school’s guidance office for tips, too.

We recommend that you look for scholarships via the State Department of Education, our Go Financial Aid Facebook and Twitter pages, and free scholarship search engines like Niche, fastweb, College Board, Scholly, and If you’re still looking to make a college decision, check out college selection search engines such as US News and Cappex

Also, check out Grantford’s Recycled Essay Scholarship, our guides specifically aimed toward Black women pursuing higher education, as well as our article for graduate student scholarships. Grantford keeps students up to date with other financial aid, scholarship, and student loan advice via our blog

Liz Anastasiadis
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