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Top 10 scholarships for performing arts students

These debt-free funding options deserve a standing ovation.


Have a passion for performing arts? Dedicated to dance, mesmerized by music or spellbound by the stage? Luckily, there are a variety of scholarships available to help cover the cost of pursuing whatever it is you love.

How we chose these scholarships

Because there are a few different types of performing arts students, we tried to find scholarships that could meet the needs of the most applicants. Our list is broken down by general performing arts scholarships, as well as programs designed specifically for students pursuing dance, music or theater.

General performing arts scholarships

Mary Doctor Performing Arts Scholarship

South Carolina high school students from the Charlotte area might want to pay special attention to this scholarship. It awards $10,000 each year to two graduating seniors who plan on pursuing an undergraduate degree in the performing arts. It’s renewable for up to four years, assuming there are funds available and you continue to meet the requirements.

The scholarship panel considers not only your financial need and academics, but also your personal achievements, community involvement, career potential and desire to enrich the lives of others through performance art.

F. Lammot Belin Arts Scholarship

Designed for residents of Northeastern Pennsylvania, the F. Lammot Belin Arts Scholarship is unique in that you don’t need to be formally trained as a performance artist to qualify. It’s also open to students pursuing any type of art, including painting, sculpture, photography, music, drama, dance, literature and architecture.

Renewable for up to four years, you can use the award to finance any individual program or project proposal as long as you receive prior approval by The Waverly Community House.

The Donna Reed Foundation for the Performing Arts Scholarship

If you’re a high school student in Iowa interested in pursuing performing arts, don’t miss out on this scholarship. To apply, you need to submit a three- to five-minute audition video, head shot and recommendation from a drama educator.

As a merit-based scholarship, recipients are selected based on their personal statement, qualities and skills demonstrated in their audition video, personal recommendation and future potential.

Mark P. Tiner Scholarship

The Mark P. Tiner Scholarship is geared toward high-achieving high school students with a passion for the performing arts, and serving their community. You need to have completed at least 300 hours of community service over your high school career and demonstrate financial need to qualify.

Dance scholarships

Arts for Life! Scholarship

Every year, 25 Florida high school seniors are awarded $1,000 each for demonstrating excellence in dance and other creative categories. Applicants must submit an essay explaining how the arts have positively influenced your life and a portfolio showcasing your talent in your chosen category.

For dance students, this means submitting two contrasting pieces totaling less than five minutes as well as a performance recorded within the last year. Group performance pieces and costumes aren’t allowed.

Forest Foundation Dance Scholarship

This merit-based scholarship is open exclusively to dance majors at Columbia College in Chicago. And you don’t need to be a US citizen to qualify — international students are welcome to apply. Keep in mind that this scholarship doesn’t cover online courses — funds can only be applied to traditional in-person classes.

The application requires a one- to two-page essay detailing your dance experience, how you’ve served as a role model for others and your career goals. You also need to submit a 150-word essay from your Dance Studies class, along with a four-minute video showcasing your teaching, choreography or performance.

Music scholarships

Davidson Fellows Scholarship

The Davidson Fellows Scholarship is designed for not just dedicated musicians, but any students pursuing a career in STEM or the humanities. Since it’s only awarded to applicants 18 years old or younger, graduating seniors should apply early in their senior year or even during their junior year to ensure they remain eligible. If selected, you’re required to attend an awards reception and other events in Washington, DC in September 2020.

Strings Magazine Edith Eisler Scholarship Award

Calling all string musicians — this scholarship is for you. The Strings Magazine Edith Eisler Scholarship is a merit- and need-based award open to students who play a string instrument and plan to major in music performance or education. To apply, applicants must submit two written references, including one from your current instrumental instructor or professor. You also need to submit an essay describing your passions and goals. While the scholarship isn’t automatically renewable, you’re welcome to reapply each year.

Theater scholarships

College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University Theater Scholarship

Planning to attend the College of Saint Benedict or Saint John’s University? Love theater? This scholarship is what you’ve been looking for.

While you don’t have to major in theater to qualify, you need to be enrolled in at least two credits of theater courses or participate in the Theater Department’s annual productions.

Drew Scholarship in the Arts

If you’re planning on attending Drew College and love either performing or fine arts, you might want to pay close attention to this scholarship. Since you don’t need to major in the arts to qualify, it’s perfect for students who have a passion for theater but plan to pursue other interests.

Even better, the scholarship is renewable for up to four years — as long as you’re able to maintain full-time enrollment and good academic standing.

How else can I pay for school?

Need more funds to help pay for your degree? Consider these alternatives when scholarships fall short:

  • Federal grants. Add federal grants to the list of college funding you don’t have to pay back. You can apply for several grants simply by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Free and easy — our two favorite things!
  • Federal student loans. When you’ve exhausted your free options, the US Department of Education offers student loans to use for education expenses. You can apply by filling out the FAFSA — and this is usually the best place to start when you need to borrow for school. That’s because they typically have more flexible repayment plans and additional options for borrowers facing financial hardship.
  • Private student loans. If you’re unable to fund all of your education expenses through scholarships, grants and federal loans, you can turn to private loans. Keep in mind that repayment plans typically are less flexible than with federal loans — and interest rates can be higher.

Compare private student loan providers

Data indicated here is updated regularly
Name Product Min. Credit Score Max. Loan Amount APR
SoFi Student Loans
Full cost of attendance
1.90% to 11.76% with autopay
Undergraduate financing with no late fees to US citizens with good credit.
Earnest Student Loans
Cost of attendance
Starting at 1.24%
Undergrad and graduate financing with a nine-month grace period.
EDvestinU Private Student Loans
4.092% to 8.609% with autopay
Straightforward student loans for undergraduate and graduate students.
CommonBond Private Student Loans
3.31% to 9.74%
Finance your college education through this lender with a strong social mission and terms that fit your budget.
Edvisors Private Student Loan Marketplace
Varies by lender
Varies by lender
Varies by lender
Quickly compare private lenders for your school and apply for the right student loan.

Compare up to 4 providers

Bottom line

Free money is out there for passionate performers interested in pursuing their craft. And if you need even more ideas, you can check out our A-to-Z list of scholarships and our guide to student loans for more ways to pay for your arts degree.

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