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7 top scholarships for music students
Debt-free funding that hits all the right notes.
If thinking about the cost of college is giving you a headache, you’re not alone. Luckily, there are plenty of debt-free funding options for music majors.
How we picked these scholarships.
We looked for music scholarship programs that are open to the broadest possible range of students and vary in eligibility requirements. We also looked at a full range of need- and merit-based scholarships while paying attention to award amounts and if a scholarship was specific to a particular field or area of study.
Grady-Rayman Prize in Vocal Performance
- Amount: $3,000
- Deadline: November 19
For vocalists, this scholarship is a unique opportunity to show off your skills and earn some cash. Applicants will first need to submit a recording of a piece supplied by the scholarship committee. After the initial audition, chosen candidates will be invited to sing in an on-stage competition. You will need to prepare two additional songs for the competition — one provided by the committee and one chosen by you. There will be a male and female winner in both the lower (high school) and upper (college) divisions. Along with receiving the $3,000 scholarship, winners will become year-long ambassadors for the “Negro Spiritual” Scholarship Foundation and Project Grady-Rayman.
Glenn Miller Birthplace Society Scholarship Program
- Amount: $1,000-$3,000
- Deadline: March 2
This is another scholarship for vocalists and instrumentalists. The scholarship awards are given out as prizes after showcasing your talent on stage. There are three prizes given for each category totaling $12,000 in scholarship funds. One area of caution — the competition is in Clarina, Iowa and participants are expected to fund their own travel and lodging. If you do not live near Iowa, it could end up costing you more to get to the competition then the amount you will win.
John Lennon Scholarship
- Amount: Varies
- Deadline: January 15
John Lennon is a legend and an inspiration for many. His memory lives on through the scholarship set up in his name by Yoko Ono. The scholarship supports the education goals of talented songwriters. Three scholarships totaling $20,000 are presented annually for the best original songs in any musical genre. The scholarship fund has awarded over $400,000 since 1997. Note that you can apply as a co-applicant if you wrote a song with a friend or family member. However, both applicants would have to meet all eligibility requirements and the award would be split equally.
The Strings Magazine Edith Eisler Scholarship Award
- Amount: $1,500
- Deadline: May 10
Strings magazine strives to support students who play a string instrument and are pursuing music in college. This scholarship provides a large chunk of funding and can be renewed for multiple years. However, applicants will need to reapply and be chosen each year — it’s not automatically renewable. Along with submitting the application, you will need two letters of recommendation, including one from your current instrumental instructor or professor. You will also need to answer essay questions regarding your passion and goals.
The NFMC Gretchen E. Van Roy Music Education Scholarship
- Amount: $300-$1,200
- Deadline: April 1
There are two prizes awarded, with first place being $1,200. The scholarship is available to students who are interested in pursuing music education — this is rare since many music-based scholarships focus on singing or playing a musical instrument rather than teaching. There’s a $10 processing fee to submit your application, so make sure you meet all of the requirements before applying.
The NFMC Irma Carey-Wilson Music Therapy Scholarship
- Amount: $750
- Deadline: March 1
This scholarship is for music therapy students. During the application process, you’ll need to include a detailed resume with your work experience and activities both as a student and in the community. There’s a $10 processing fee, so make sure the scholarship is a good fit before applying.
Berklee College of Music Presidential Scholarship
- Amount: Varies
- Deadline: Fall and Spring semester
Berklee College of Music offers a merit-based scholarship that covers full-tuition, on-campus housing and a laptop. This is huge and could change the lives of the lucky recipients. The best part is that there’s no separate application process. The college requires an audition for new students and you’re automatically entered into the scholarship pool during the application. The scholarships can also be used at Berklee’s Boston, Massachusetts or Valencia, Spain campuses.
How else can I pay for school?
If you’re looking for additional ways to fund your education, consider these options.
- Federal grants. Grants are another “free money” option that every college student should look into. The federal government offers multiple grants that you can qualify for by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
- Work Study. Work study is another government sponsored program that assists colleges with employing active students. This will allow you to work on campus with a schedule that works around your classes.
- Federal loans. Loans should only be used after you have exhausted all debt-free options. If you have to use loans, start with federal loans since they typically have lower interest rates and are more flexible than private loans.
Compare student loan providers
If paying for college is stressing you out, there are multiple scholarships that can help lighten the financial load. If you’re considering other forms of funding, check out our guide to student loans for more information.
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