Sure, getting the chance to meet your favorite singer, actor, or sports hero is a dream come true. But let’s face it: Wouldn’t you prefer if that celebrity paid off your student loan debt?
In May, hip-hop star Nicki Minaj helped pay off student loans and tuition bills for fans with straight-A’s and announced she was starting a charity to help borrowers with student debt.
But Minaj isn’t the only star who wants you to get ahead of your student debt. Many famous folks have scholarships available, some with no minimum grade requirements. Here are five awesome options as well as information on how to apply.
1. UNCF Michael Jackson Scholarship Program
The Prince of Pop is not only releasing a new album posthumously but also helping students cover college costs.
The UNCF Michael Jackson Scholarship Program announced a one-time award to be disbursed in November 2017 that provides up to $5,000 to students studying communication arts or social sciences at one of the 37 UNCF schools (private historically black colleges and universities).
How to apply
Deadline: October 21, 2017
Available to: current and incoming undergraduate and graduate students
Aside from the fact that you must attend a UNCF college, the requirements are pretty open. You can be an incoming or current undergraduate student, even a fifth-year senior, or an incoming or current graduate student.
The minimum GPA is 2.5 on a 4.0 scale, and you can study any subject within the communication arts and social sciences fields, including psychology, English, TV production, and more. Applications are due in October, and winners are announced in November.
2. Jay Z’s Shawn Carter Foundation Scholarship
Beyonce made the news earlier this year by announcing her Formation Scholars program, but Jay Z has been dishing out scholarships for years.
The rapper set up the Shawn Carter Foundation Scholarship, with an award amount usually between $1,500 and $2,500, to help high school seniors, GED recipients, current undergraduate students, and vocational students facing personal and socioeconomic hardships.
The nonprofit, founded in 2003 by Jay Z’s mother, Gloria Carter, has raised money through many of the singer’s concerts, including his “On The Run Tour” with his superstar wife.
“It’s important because there’s so many children that need financing to get to where they need to go,” Carter told the Huffington Post about why she and her son started the foundation. “[Jay Z] comes from learning to give back, and he has touched people’s lives. He has changed their lives also. And in the process of doing that, he also changed his life.”
How to apply
Deadline: April 30, 2018
Available to: students who are 25 years old or younger
To be considered for this award, you must have a minimum GPA of 2.0. High school seniors, students with GED diplomas, undergraduate college students, and students at vocational or trade schools are eligible to apply.
By writing an essay and answering a series of questions, you must demonstrate a desire to pursue higher education and explain how you give back to your community despite any personal or financial setbacks.
3. John Lennon Scholarship
John Lennon is no longer alive to make music himself, but with the help of his widow, Yoko Ono, the Beatle is still making a mark on the industry. Since 1997, Ono has hosted an annual scholarship competition, in conjunction with the BMI Foundation, for college students who are songwriters and composers.
Three scholarships totaling $20,000 are awarded each year for the best original songs submitted to the competition. Prior winners have gone on to have successful musical careers, including writer and producer Andrew Horowitz.
How to apply
Deadline: February 1, 2018
Available to: students between 17 and 24 years old
Applicants must be U.S. college students and submit an original song no major music publisher or record label owns the rights to.
After submission, the track is judged by a panel of music publishers, songwriters, and industry executives, including Samantha Cox, BMI’s assistant vice president of writer-publisher relations, who oversees the competition. Winners will be announced in late summer or early fall of 2018.
4. Mister Rogers Memorial Scholarship
“I’d like to be remembered for being a compassionate human being who happened to be fortunate enough to be born at a time when there was a fabulous thing called television,” Fred Rogers told Emmy TV Legends.
It’s this legacy that lives on through the Mister Rogers Memorial Scholarship, which awards two $5,000 scholarships to rising seniors, graduating seniors, and graduate students studying in the field of children’s media.
In true TV fashion, the winners are flown to Los Angeles and presented with their awards at the annual College Television Awards. They also participate in the two-day Television Nominee Summit. Winners receive mentorship by children’s programming professionals for an academic year as well.
How to apply
Deadline: January 31, 2018
Available to: rising seniors, graduating seniors, and graduate students
No cardigan sweaters or house shoes are required to apply for this scholarship.
But you must be a rising senior, graduating senior, or graduate student with a demonstrated commitment to two of the following fields: early childhood education, child development/child psychology, film/television production, music animation, and production of cross-platform entertainment.
Applicants also must demonstrate that their goal is to build a career in children’s media and “further the values and principles of Fred Rogers’ work” by providing a detailed plan for how they’ll use the money and two letters of recommendation from professionals in the field.
Applications are evaluated by a committee formed by the two governors representing the Television Academy’s Children’s Programming Peer Group.
5. David Letterman’s Telecommunications Scholarship
Former late-night talk show host David Letterman must love his alma mater, Ball State University, because he’s handed out scholarships to students attending the school since 1985.
The comedian, a self-described average student, focuses on creativity rather than grades. Each year, one student in the telecommunications field receives $10,000, and there are smaller checks ($5,000 and $3,333) for two runners-up.
How to apply
Deadline: April 4, 2018
Available to: full-time students in the telecommunications field
Applying students must be majoring or minoring in telecommunications at Ball State University and submit a creative project, such as writing, research, interactive media, computer graphics, or websites. You must provide no more than two pages describing how the project idea was conceived, developed, and prepared.
You also must be enrolled in a minimum of 12 semester hours at the time of application and continue as a full-time student for the semester following the awards presentation.
Final decisions will be made by a committee of faculty and two graduate students, but all winners must provide copies of their entries to be sent to Letterman himself.
These are just a few of the many scholarships out there up for grabs. To make sure you have a shot at claiming some of this free cash, visit websites like Scholarships.com and Fastweb, which let you search for scholarships based on categories, interests, and more.
Once you determine a list of viable options, make a calendar of application due dates and schedule enough time to complete them all. And don’t scoff at scholarships that are worth a few hundred or thousand dollars; Julia Isabel Martinez Rivera scored $50,000 by cobbling together smaller awards.
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