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7 top scholarships for theater students

To be or not to be … in debt from your performing arts degree.

Have a passion for the stage? Luckily for you, there are a variety of scholarship opportunities catered toward students pursuing the arts.

How we chose these scholarships

When choosing these scholarships, we looked for programs that offered high amounts, were open to the widest range of theater students and could be renewed. However, not all of the scholarships listed hit every criteria.

Princess Grace Foundation Awards Program

Amount$7,500 to $30,000
DeadlineMarch 15th to June 1st — varies by scholarship program
Eligibility requirements

To qualify for this scholarship, you need to meet the following requirements:

  • Enrolled in a public or nonprofit US institution for studying theater, playwriting, dance performance, choreography, film or animation
  • US citizen or permanent resident
  • Nominated by school department dean or company artistic director
  • Nominating organization must be a registered 501(c)(3) for at least three years

The Princess Grace Foundation offers national scholarships to theater, dance and film artists who are in the early stages of their career and enrolled in a qualifying program. They’re based on merit and open to a wide variety of applicants. The maximum award amount is also significantly higher than most theater scholarships. Students must submit their application along with samples of their craft by late spring to be considered.

The Walt Disney Company UNCF Corporate Scholars Program

Amount$2,500 per year — renewable for two years
DeadlineRolling deadline
Eligibility requirements

To qualify for this scholarship, you need to meet the following requirements:

  • Identify as black or African American
  • College junior enrolled in a four-year degree program
  • Interest in pursuing a career in the entertainment industry
  • Minimum 2.5 GPA
  • Demonstrated financial need as verified by your college or university

The Walt Disney Company UNCF Corporate Scholars Program is geared toward underserved black and African American students interested in pursuing a career in entertainment, including those in performing arts and theater. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis, with 100 recipients chosen each year. Preference is given to students attending a historically black college or university (HBCU).

Bob and Marti Fowler Future Theater Educator Scholarship

DeadlineApril 1st
Eligibility requirements

To qualify for this scholarship, you need to meet the following requirements:

  • Inducted in the International Thespian Society (ITS)
  • Pursuing a degree in theater education
  • Enrolled full-time at an accredited college or university
  • Demonstrate leadership, work ethic, strong character, academic ability and organizational skills
  • Ability to effectively work as a member of a production team
  • Experience in different aspects of theater

The Bob and Marti Fowler Future Theater Educator Scholarship is designed specifically for students interested in pursuing a career in theater education. It’s a one-time scholarship that can be used to pay for tuition and fees. You’ll need to submit an essay explaining what you feel the characteristics of an exceptional theater educator are and how your accomplishments qualify you for the scholarship.

American Theater Organ Society (ATOS) Scholarship Program

DeadlineApril 15th
Eligibility requirements

To qualify for this scholarship, you need to meet the following criteria:

  • Between 13 and 22 years old — as of July 1st of any given year
  • Amateur or student organist
  • Studying professional theater organ with a professional theater organ teacher
  • Nominated by professional theater organ teacher

You’re considered an amateur organist if you meet any one of the following criteria:

  • Appeared as a featured organist at any ATOS convention other than in connection with a competition or contest sponsored by ATOS
    Earned over $1,000 in any one calendar year for organ performances
  • Sold recordings of your music to the general public
  • Performed regularly for pay before the general public in any entertainment venue

If you’re interested in pursuing theater music — specifically the organ — the ATOS Scholarship Program provides a unique opportunity. Not only is it open to international students, but you’re also eligible even if you’re not attending an accredited program.

To apply, you must submit an essay on why you feel you should be awarded the scholarship along with your interpretation on the different applications and musical styles in which theater and classical organs are used. You also need to provide proof of your amateur status as a theater organ musician to be considered.

Archibald Rutledge Scholarship Program

DeadlineFebruary 4th
Eligibility requirements

To qualify for this scholarship, you need to meet the following requirements:

  • Enrolled in 12th grade in a public school in South Carolina
  • Attended a public school in South Carolina for the past two years
  • Plan on attending a South Carolina college or university
  • US citizen

Offered through the South Carolina Department of Education, the Archibald Rutledge Scholarship Program is open to high school seniors in South Carolina who plan on attending college in the state. Five scholarships are awarded each year for multiple disciplines of the arts, including creative writing, dance, music, theater and visual arts. Theater students are required to submit a one-act original play thats between eight and 15 minutes long along with their application.

Grand Rapids Combined Theater Scholarship

Amount$1,000 to $2,000
DeadlineApril 1st
Eligibility requirements

To qualify for this scholarship, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Enrolled full time at an accredited US college or training program
  • Theater experience from a Grand Rapids local theater

Preference is given to theater arts majors.

The Grand Rapids Combined Theater Scholarship is geared toward theater arts majors with experience performing at community theaters in Grand Rapids, Michigan. As a merit-based scholarship, you must demonstrate ability, talent and dedication in the field of theater arts. Though the scholarship can be renewed once, returning recipients are still required to complete the full application.

Hope College Distinguished Artist Award

DeadlineFebruary 22nd
Eligibility requirements

To qualify for this scholarship, you must meet the following criteria:

  • High school senior
  • Accepted to Hope College
  • Plan to major or minor in theater

This merit-based scholarship is open to Hope College students with strong academic records and outstanding creative abilities in art, dance, music, theater or creative writing. The scholarship is renewable once, and over 60 awards are given out each year. On top of submitting an application, students are required to perform an on-campus audition and interview with a faculty member in November.

How else can I pay for school?

Scholarships are a great way to fund your education, but they aren’t the only option. Here are a few other ways to cover college costs:

  • Federal Pell Grant. This need-based grant of up to $6,195 is offered through the Department of Education to undergraduate students. To apply, you must submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
  • Federal Work-Study Program. With this need-based federal program, students work a part-time job on- or off-campus in exchange for money to go toward your cost of attendance. You also must submit the FAFSA to be considered.
  • Student loans. If you’ve exhausted all of your options for free aid, student loans are another way to cover expenses. You might want to consider federal loans first, since they typically come with lower rates and more flexible repayment options, before turning to private lenders.

Compare private student loan offers

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

Aspiring actors and actresses have a slew of scholarship opportunities to pursue their passion without breaking the bank. And if you need even more funds, you can check out our A-to-Z list of scholarships or our guide to student loans for more ways to pay for your theater degree.

Frequently asked questions

Do scholarships have to be repaid?

Typically, no. However, scholarships are often supplied by private organizations that set their own criteria for receiving and keeping scholarship funds. Make sure you adhere to any requirements that were agreed upon with the scholarship committee, such as maintaining a minimum GPA, majoring in a specific area of study or volunteering. If you don’t, you could be asked to return the funds.

What can I use scholarships to pay for?

It varies depending on the scholarship you receive, but usually the funds can be used for any educational expenses. If the scholarship program sends your funds directly to your school, they’re usually applied toward tuition and fees.

Is there a limit to the amount of scholarships I can receive?

No, though it’s possible to receive enough scholarships that you reach the maximum cost of attendance for your school. When this happens, you no longer show financial need and it can prevent you from receiving other funds, like grants or loans. You can also be taxed on excess scholarship funds that aren’t used to pay for qualifying education expenses.

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