5 Great Computer Science Scholarships (And How to Find More)

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Computer science scholarships

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The average computer science student borrows more than $8,000 for each and every year of their education, according to Student Loan Hero’s recent study of which majors require the most debt.

Although a sizable entry-level salary can ease student loan repayment, there’s a way to avoid borrowing those loans in the first place: Seek out computer science scholarships.

There are scholarship opportunities for students of every background, including awards designed specifically for women and people of color who are still underrepresented in the field. Here are five worth considering, plus additional tips on how to find more.
1. Women Techmakers Scholars Program
2. Microsoft’s Tuition Scholarship
3. Stokes Educational Scholarship Program
4. Adobe Research Women-in-Technology Scholarship
5. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ Presidents’ Scholarship
How to find more computer science scholarships

1. Women Techmakers Scholars Program

Created in honor of Dr. Anita Borg, a technologist known for furthering gender equality in her field, the Techmakers program is meant for any undergraduate or graduate student that identifies as female. It awards US$10,000 to be used on your ensuing year of study.

Techmakers is unique to more generic computer science scholarships, as it consists of non-financial support as well. Scholarship winners are invited to attend the annual Google Scholars’ Retreat, which includes chances for networking and workshops.

Applying for the award is no easy task. You must provide grade transcripts, a resume and a persuasive recommendation letter as well as responses to five essay prompts. Applications are judged based on your “impact on diversity, demonstrated leadership and academic background.”

Deadline to apply: The application period for 2019-20 is closed, but the deadline usually falls in December for the following fall.

2. Microsoft’s Tuition Scholarship

Microsoft’s scholarship is open to students seeking a bachelor’s degree in computer science, engineering or a related field. International students attending class in the U.S. are also eligible to apply.

For its scholarship, Microsoft seeks “demonstrated passion for technology, academic excellence, and leadership while working to push the software industry forward,” and prioritizes the applications of students who have helped promote diversity in their field while studying on campus.

Besides offering partial and full-ride scholarships for one academic year, the tech giant also administers a Diversity Conference Scholarship to allow students to attend educational events by paying for their conference registration, as well as providing them with $1,200 stipend.

In addition, Blacks at Microsoft, a group of employees at the company, distributes a pair of $5,000 awards to worthy high school seniors looking to study computer science or another eligible degree. These students will also be eligible to receive this award annually through four consecutive years of education, should they continue to meet the scholarship’s criteria.

Deadline to apply: Jan. 26 for the Microsoft scholarship, and March 8 for the Blacks at Microsoft program.

3. Stokes Educational Scholarship Program

The Stokes program is one part computer science scholarship, one part National Security Agency (NSA) job. High school seniors who are planning to major in computer science or engineering are eligible to receive up to $30,000 annually to cover tuition and fees — and a salary working for the federal agency. You would receive year-round pay and benefits despite working just the 12 weeks of summer per year while you’re enrolled.

In terms of the job itself, the NSA says its technologists work on “applications programming, computer security and graphics, and the design and implementation of software involving database management systems, real-time systems, networking and distributed processing systems.”

Note, however, that by accepting the Stokes award, you must agree to work for the NSA beyond your graduation.

Eligibility requirements include U.S. citizenship, a 3.0 minimum grade point average and high SAT or ACT scores. The application includes the college scholarship essay prompt, “Why I want a career at NSA.”

Deadline to apply: October 31

4. Adobe Research Women-in-Technology Scholarship

Unlike some of the other scholarships, you don’t have to be a U.S. national to receive this one-time award of $10,000. Adobe’s scholarship program serves female undergraduate and graduate students studying computer science anywhere in the world.

Winners also receive a one-year subscription to use Adobe’s suite of tools, access to a mentor who works for the company and the opportunity to interview for a separate internship.

To apply, you’ll need to submit your transcripts, resume, contact information for three references and answers to four essay questions. You could better your odds by including a minute-long multimedia presentation that describes your career aspirations.

Deadline to apply: Sept. 27

5. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ Presidents’ Scholarship

Many merit-based computer science scholarships award aid for your grades, but the IEEE’s scholarship doles out $10,000 for an outstanding project. It must be entered in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF), which attracts 1,400 students from over 40 countries annually.

The IEEE hands out a variety of other scholarships to computer science students. If you’re a member of your school or region’s branch, you might apply for the Richard E. Merwin Student Scholarship (application deadline in April) — it offers awards valued at $1,000 and above for active students (with no stellar science fair project required).

Deadline to apply: May, when the international competition is held

How to find more computer science scholarships

Computer science scholarships and STEM scholarships abound far beyond just these five opportunities. Here are a few ways to find sources of aid that don’t need to be repaid:

  • Focus on your niche: There are computer science scholarships for seemingly any specific interest within the field. If you’re passionate about cybersecurity, for example, you might be eligible for the federal government’s Scholarship for Service initiative. If you simply love video games, on the other hand, check out the Entertainment Software Association’s scholarship.
  • Join student or professional associations: Like the IEEE, many organizations offer computer science scholarships to students. For instance, the Society of Women Engineers offers gift aid to both members and non-members alike. Do some research into groups that would help you network your way to some much-needed gift aid.
  • Don’t forget about non-technology scholarships: Limiting yourself to computer science scholarships would be a mistake — consider all the other reasons you could win scholarships. The Asian Pacific Fund, for example, serves students of Asian heritage pursuing an education in everything from computer science to finance. (Eligibility may vary depending on the scholarship, so make sure you check the criteria for each scholarship before applying.)

As you find computer science scholarships, keep your eyes on the prize: a debt-free education. The more scholarship money you win, the less you’ll need to borrow in the form of federal and private student loans.


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