Art Scholarships 101 Creative Funding Opportunities & Resources for a Debt-Free Art Degree

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Prospective students pursuing a degree in the arts often have standout talent, energy and the ability to express themselves. Not only do these students create beautiful works of art, from portraiture and graphic design to theater productions and dance numbers, their passions can translate into lifelong careers. In this guide, find funding options for art degrees, including scholarships and alternative ways to pay, and learn ways to craft winning scholarship essays and applications.

Search for Art Scholarships

Not all scholarships are based on academic performance. Many are geared toward rewarding a student’s artistic talent and skills. Whether students are looking to make a career out of getting an arts degree or just pursuing a dream, there are a variety of scholarships they can apply for

Step-by-Step Advice for Winning an Art Scholarship

The arts encompass a variety of categories, including painting, photography, design and illustration, as well as culinary, musical or literary artistic forms. These multiple artistic genres can lead to rewarding careers after graduation. Here are eight ways to identify and win scholarships for art degrees:

  1. Narrow the field

    To begin the process, sort art scholarships you’re interested in by state or college, enrollment level, ethnicity, renewability and GPA requirements. Keeping the eligibility requirements in mind helps applicants think about what the scholarship committee is looking for so applicants can subtly integrate that theme into their application.

  2. Look for specialized art scholarships

    Although prospective students certainly want to check out all of their options and gather a pool of as many scholarships as possible, focusing on applying to specialized scholarships may be a winning strategy because they will have fewer competitors.

  3. Compile a captivating portfolio

    When putting together a portfolio, artists want to let their best works shine through, but they shouldn’t play it safe: It’s important to demonstrate range and creativity as well. If applying to a particular field within art, applicants should compile a portfolio personalized to that interest.

  4. Nail the introduction

    Although a great portfolio will get the committee’s attention, a perfect personal statement will show readers that the artist can follow through on that talent. Be provocative. Start with an enticing hook that draws the readers in. Tell them why they need to keep reading.

  5. Write a passionate personal statement

    In personal statements, art students want to express their talent and indicate what they wish to pursue within art. While they should be professional by linking to future career goals, they must make sure their passion and artistry shine through by including details about their personal background.

  6. Don’t get stage fright

    The application is a chance to showcase talent, not shrink from it. Applicants should bring up any achievements, awards, recognitions or special honors they have received, all of which demonstrate a track record of dedication and success.

  7. Be concise

    Scholarship committee members are required to read a lot of essays, so applicants should not take too much of their time. They are more likely to stand out by having a short essay that is to the point than a longer one that covers everything.

  8. Edit

    To keep the essay short and sweet, applicants should edit it multiple times. The goal is not just to eliminate mistakes but to craft tighter prose. Since even the best writers have editors, applicants should get someone else to proofread their essay and provide feedback.

Alternative Routes to Pay for Your Art Degree

Besides scholarships and financial aid, there are many other ways to fund an education. Here are a few ideas on how to save or get money for a future degree:

Bulk up on savings

There are many personal choices potential students can make in everyday life to save up for an art degree. Students can take advantage of bank-sponsored programs that automate deposits into savings accounts or round up purchases to the nearest dollar and place the remainder in a savings account. Every dollar adds up, and students can save without even thinking about it.

Seek out tax deductions

The federal government has tax policies favorable to students, so it’s not a bad idea to talk with a tax accountant well before filing day to see what education-related expenses are eligible for deductions.

Go to work

Some art programs allow students to bypass prerequisites if they can demonstrate experience, leading to both a reduced course load and lower costs.

Get a certificate instead

Certifications might be a money-saving way to get professional experience in art that can translate to a career. There are many art certifications, such as art education, forensic art and art therapy that can save time and money. The requirements for entry range from holding a bachelor’s degree to possessing work experience to passing examinations. If students want to teach art, there are also varying types of teacher licensure programs that come with the completion of a recognized preparation program. Check with specific colleges about their program options.

Crowdfund your art degree

Crowdfunding sites are a great way for students to raise money for education by getting donations from sponsors and the community. Since many crowdfunding sites were set up for creative types, art students are at a particular advantage. Here are three sites to consider:


People can raise money for anything using GoFundMe, which charges users about eight percent of the total amount they raise.


Artists can cultivate a network of patrons who pay to see the work they produce. Rather than earning money in a lump sum, Patreon lets donors give monthly. The service keeps about nine to 11 percent of pledges for operating costs.


This free service, which charges about eight percent in fees, is open to anyone wanting to fund a project, including an educational endeavor.

Extra Resources to Find Art Scholarships & Funding

There are many organizations, schools and companies that provide scholarships to prospective art students seeking ways to fund their education. Search these websites for additional art degree funding options:

Art Educators provides a list of scholarships available to prospective art students wanting to further their education. Students can find specialized art scholarships pertaining to their artistic interests.


The federal government is the biggest provider of money for college. All students should fill out an application to see what they can get, especially if they have little in the way of funds.

National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards

Winners of the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award, get generous funding for tuition, an internship abroad, expensive art supplies or projects.

Scholastic Art & Writing Awards

The organization behind these awards recognize, exhibit and publish youth talent. It focuses on rewarding the unique talents of youth in the fields of art and providing opportunities for higher education.

This site provides resources for aspiring women artists looking to further their studies in their prospective field. Scholarships are sorted by state, college and enrollment level.

Worldstudio AIGA

This site provides resources for minority or economically disadvantaged students who are interested in art. It shares information on scholarships for these students and encourages them to give back to the community through their pursuits.

For more information, visit our College Learning and Resource Center. It’s packed with expert insight and resources to succeed in college.

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