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Top 10 scholarships for performing arts students
These debt-free funding options deserve a standing ovation.
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
|$10,000, renewable for up to four years||March 1, 2019|
*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
|$3,000, renewable for up to four years||December 15, 2019|
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
|Up to $1,000||May 31, 2019|
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
|$2,000||March 15, 2019|
*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.
Arts for Life! Scholarship
|$1,000||February 3, 2019|
*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
|$1,500||February 3, 2020|
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.
Davidson Fellows Scholarship
|$10,000 to $50,000||February 12, 2020|
*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
|$3,000||April 27, 2019|
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.
College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University Theater Scholarship
|$1,000 to $4,000, renewable for up to four years||January 15, 2019|
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
|$1,000, renewable for up to four years||February 1, 2019|
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
We update our data regularly, but information can change between updates. Confirm details with the provider you're interested in before making a decision.
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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