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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

AmountDeadlineEligibility requirements
$10,000, renewable for up to four yearsMarch 1, 2019
  • Graduating high school senior
  • Pursuing an undergraduate degree full time in a performing arts-related discipline
  • Resident of an eligible county* in South Carolina

*Eligible counties include Alexander, Anson, Cabarrus, Catawba, Chester, Chesterfield, Cleveland, Gaston, Iredell, Lancaster, Lincoln, Mecklenburg, Rowan, Stanley, Union and York.

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

AmountDeadlineEligibility requirements
$3,000, renewable for up to four yearsDecember 15, 2019
  • Resident or former resident of Northeastern Pennsylvania
  • Prove the scholarship will aid in your development as a professional artist
  • US citizen

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

AmountDeadlineEligibility requirements
Up to $1,000May 31, 2019
  • Current student or recent graduate from an accredited high school in Iowa
  • In 10th grade or higher
  • Minimum 3.0 GPA
  • Studying drama
  • Participated in a school-sponsored event during the current award year

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

AmountDeadlineEligibility requirements
$2,000March 15, 2019
  • Orange County high school senior from a qualifying public high school*
  • Minimum 3.75 GPA
  • Interested in pursuing studies in visual arts, performing arts, athletics or community service
  • Plan to enroll in a four-year accredited college or university
  • Demonstrate financial need
  • Completed 300+ hours of community service over four consecutive years

*Qualifying public high schools include Santa Ana Unified School District, Anaheim Union High School, Placentia-Yorba Linda School District or the Fullerton Joint Union High School District.

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

AmountDeadlineEligibility requirements
$1,000February 3, 2019
  • Florida high school senior
  • Set to graduate during the award year
  • Show excellence in creative writing, dance*, drama, music or visual arts

*Ballroom dancing and figure skating don’t qualify as a dance category.

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

AmountDeadlineEligibility requirements
$1,500February 3, 2020
  • Enrolled full time at Columbia College as a declared dance major
  • Completed at least 12 credit hours by the end of the fall semester of the current award year
  • Maintain a 3.0 GPA or higher
  • Demonstrate outstanding achievement

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

AmountDeadlineEligibility requirements
$10,000 to $50,000February 12, 2020
  • 18 years old or younger as of October 1, 2020
  • US citizen or permanent resident living in the US or stationed overseas due to active military duty
  • Demonstrate excellence in a STEM or humanities field, including music
  • Show proof of significant work being completed in your chosen field*

*Significant work is any accomplishment experts in the field recognize as meaningful that has the potential to make a positive contribution to society.

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

AmountDeadlineEligibility requirements
$3,000April 27, 2019
  • Enrolled or set to enroll in a degree-granting undergraduate program at an accredited college or conservatory
  • Majoring in music performance or education
  • Play the violin, viola, cello or bass
  • Demonstrate financial need, academic merit and a history of community service

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

AmountDeadlineEligibility requirements
$1,000 to $4,000, renewable for up to four yearsJanuary 15, 2019
  • Accepted for admission to the College of Saint Benedict (CSB) or Saint John’s University (SJU)
  • Recommended by a theater teacher
  • Able to participate in an on-campus interview
  • Not a current CSB or SJU student
  • Not awarded another institutional fine arts 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

AmountDeadlineEligibility requirements
$1,000, renewable for up to four yearsFebruary 1, 2019
  • Current applicant for admission to Drew College
  • Show a demonstrated talent for and interest in performing or fine arts, including theater
  • Willing to participate in performing or fine arts throughout your college career
  • To remain eligible for renewal, you need to enroll in at least 12 credit hours each semester and maintain good academic standing

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

Explore your options by APR, minimum credit score, loan amount and loan term. Select the Get started button to start an application with a specific lender.

Name Product APR Min. Credit Score Loan amount Loan Term
Stride Funding Income Share Agreement
As low as 2%
Up to $25,000
2 to 10 years
A student loan alternative for graduate students based on your future salary.
EDvestinU Private Student Loans
4.092% to 8.609% with autopay
$1,000 - $200,000
7 to 20 years
Straightforward student loans for undergraduate and graduate students.
CommonBond Private Student Loans
3.74% to 10.74%
$5,000 - $500,000
5 to 15 years
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
Varies by lender
Quickly compare private lenders for your school and apply for the right student loan.
Credible Labs Inc. (Student Loan Platform)
Starting at 0.99% with autopay
Good to excellent credit
Starting at $1,000
5 to 20 years
Get prequalified rates from private lenders offering student loans with no origination or prepayment fees.

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.

Frequently asked questions

Can I use my scholarships to pay for living expenses?

It depends on the terms of your scholarship. Many will allow you to use the funds for expenses outside of tuition and fees, while others won’t. Check with the scholarship committee for any restrictions on how you use the money. And keep in mind that if the funds are sent directly to your school, they’ll typically get applied to tuition and fees.

Do I have to claim scholarships on my taxes?

This will depend on how the scholarship is being used. If you’re applying the funds toward tuition, fees, books or equipment needed for your degree, then the funds are tax free and don’t have to be reported.

However, if all of your direct education costs are covered and you use the funds toward room and board, travel or other expenses, then the scholarship is considered income and must be reported. If you used a portion of the scholarship for tuition and a portion for room and board, then only the portion used for room and board needs to be reported on your taxes.

Can I combine scholarships with other forms of funding?

Yes — this is incredibly common since it can be difficult to earn enough from scholarships alone to fund your entire degree. However, your school will have a cost of attendance cap, which means you can’t bring in more funding than the total cost to attend the school.

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