Criminal Justice Scholarships: 5 Great Opportunities for Financial Aid

 August 15, 2020
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Criminal justice scholarships

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Whether you aspire to help run a correctional facility, work in the courts or hunt down bad guys with the FBI, you’re not alone, as criminal justice is among the most popular career fields.

However, the advanced education required for some positions can be costly. Without criminal justice scholarships, students in this major borrow on average more than $8,000 per year in federal and private student loans.

To lessen your borrowing, or maybe avoid borrowing altogether, consider these criminal justice scholarships, along with some tips to find more:

1. The Criminal Justice Honor Society’s scholarships
2. The Brian Terry Foundation Scholarship Program
3. The Melissa Linville Criminal Justice Scholarship
4. NOBLE Scholarship Awards
5. The Gene Carte Student Paper Award

Plus: How to find additional criminal justice scholarships and FAQs

1. The Criminal Justice Honor Society’s scholarships

Also known as Alpha Phi Sigma, the Criminal Justice Honor Society is what it sounds like — an association meant to support high-performing criminal justice students. The society offers a pair of awards, the V.A. Leonard and Regina B. Shearn scholarships, to undergraduate and graduate students alike.

Each $2,000 scholarship is awarded, in part, based on your academic performance, personal statement and recommendation letters. The organization also hands out smaller-dollar criminal justice scholarships, from $78 to $500 to attendees of its annual conference.

Deadline to apply: January (The 2021 deadline is Jan. 31)

2. The Brian Terry Foundation Scholarship Program

Named after a border patrol agent who died in the line of duty, the Brian Terry scholarship is open to high school seniors and undergraduate college students who plan to study criminal justice and serve their community. To qualify, you must be a legal resident of the U.S. and have at least a 3.0 grade point average (GPA).

Don’t take your time applying, as only the first 100 applications are considered. You have to like your odds of winning, however, as 15 students were awarded in each of the last two years.

Deadline to apply: May

3. The Melissa Linville Criminal Justice Scholarship

Crimcheck, a background check and pre-employment screening company, runs this criminal justice scholarship named for one of its former team members. It awards $500 to high school graduates and college students seeking a career in criminal justice.

Applications are primarily judged on the quality of your college scholarship essay. You must write one to two pages about your goals in criminal justice, plus how the scholarship would help you achieve them.

Crimbeck prioritizes candidates who would represent the field of criminal justice with community service in mind.

Deadline to apply: August

4. NOBLE Scholarship Awards

The National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE) has three criminal justice scholarship opportunities, each for high school seniors. The scholarships (listed below) are meant for students who “will be committed to becoming a sworn law enforcement officer, special agent or work in a related position or field.”

  • Irlet Anderson Scholarship Award: $2,500
  • Charles Fonseca Scholarship Award: $2,000
  • Bernard and Sylvia Davis Thompson Scholarship: $1,500

Eligibility requirements for NOBLE scholarships are stiffer than most. You must …

  • Be a U.S. citizen high school senior
  • Sport at least a 3.8 GPA
  • Prove financial need

Award winners are honored during the organization’s annual training conference in August.

Meanwhile, if you’re an African-American student but not wholly committed to becoming a police officer, see the National Black Police Association’s Alphonso Deal Scholarship Award. It offers high school graduates the funding you might need for an education in law enforcement and related criminal justice studies (application deadline in May).

Deadline to apply: April

5. The Gene Carte Student Paper Award

If you’re more of a criminal justice scholar than an aspiring officer, you may be interested in the American Society of Criminology’s Gene Carte scholarship, which celebrates academic papers penned by undergraduate and graduate students. There are awards for first- ($500), second- ($300) and third-place ($200) finishes.

Papers of 7,500 words or less are accepted for submission and judged, in part, on the quality of writing and the contribution to criminology.

If scholarly writing is your thing, also consider the New Scholar Award ($500, August deadline), one of several scholarships for criminal justice majors offered by the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences.

Deadline to apply: April

Not sure about criminal justice? Check out our scholarship resources for more majors …
Computer science
Medical school
Nursing school

How to find additional criminal justice scholarships

Like gift aid for many other popular fields of study, criminal justice scholarships are plenty — you just have to know where to find them.

In addition to the opportunities described above, find additional listings from these sources:

Criminal justice degree schools Consult your financial aid office on campus to learn about its scholarships for criminal justice majors. Ball State University’s Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology, for example, features five scholarships for its students.
Local foundations Seek out philanthropic organizations in your own backyard. If your online search comes up empty, talk to city, county or state law enforcement. The Virginia Sheriffs’ Institute, for example, provides scholarships to permanent state residents who are studying criminal justice part or full time.
Professional associations There may be one or more groups that feature criminal justice scholarships based on your personal background or the specific subfield of criminal justice that you hope to pursue. Out to Protect Inc., for instance, hands out scholarships for criminal justice majors in the LGBTQ community. The American Association for Justice’s Leesfield Scholarship, meanwhile, is meant for law school students who show “commitment to preserving the civil justice system.”
Private companies You might forget to include for-profits in your scholarship search, but consider the sheer size of the private security industry: companies like Crimcheck (above) and My Alarm Center sponsor awards for students learning about criminal justice, law and related fields.

The cost to be educated, trained and certified or licensed as a corrections or law enforcement officer, a lawyer or other criminal justice professional varies widely. But whatever your overall cost, it could be reduced through gift aid.

Other frequently asked questions on criminal justice scholarships

What are the eligibility criteria for criminal justice scholarships? ● As you see from the five programs listed above, criteria vary widely and can hinge on your location, year in school, academic record, racial background and financial need, among other factors.
● Ensure you’re a fit for a specific opportunity before going to the trouble of gathering your application materials.
Where can you find criminal justice scholarships? ● As noted above, seek out aid from your school’s counselors, foundations, associations and private companies.
● Try using scholarship search tools to help you in your quest.
● Don’t limit yourself to criminal justice scholarships. There are general scholarship opportunities that could prove valuable, too.
What if criminal justice scholarships aren’t enough to pay for school? ● Seek out other forms of financial aid, including grants from your state.
● As you search and apply for gift aid, keep in mind that — unlike student loans — scholarships and grants don’t need to be repaid. So, prioritize those opportunities.
● Ask your school’s financial aid office about other opportunities that don’t include borrowing, such as work-study programs.
● If you must borrow, compare federal and private student loans.

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