Whether you’re a talented flutist or an aspiring composer, attending an excellent music school can help you achieve your goals. However, the cost can be prohibitive. For example, it costs over $62,000 per year to attend The Juilliard School, a world-renowned university for musicians and performers.
But you might not have to cover the expenses on your own. A number of music scholarships are available to help reduce your education costs.
7 best music scholarships for college students
Scholarships are one of the best forms of financial aid you can receive. When you take out federal or private student loans, you have to repay them with interest. Scholarships work differently because you don’t have to repay them. Plus, you can apply for and receive multiple scholarships, reducing how much you need to borrow to pay for school.
Hundreds of scholarships are designed specifically for musicians. Some are relatively small and might cover only the cost of your textbooks, while others might cover your tuition and housing. Below are seven of the top music scholarships available.
1. School-issued scholarships
The colleges you apply to can be the best sources of scholarships and financial aid. School-issued scholarships can have a much higher value than other awards. For example, the Berklee College of Music Presidential Scholarship covers the cost of tuition, on-campus housing, and a laptop.
For some scholarships, there’s an audition process to qualify. To find out what scholarships your school offers to music students and how to apply, contact the financial aid office.
2. State music educators association scholarships
Each state has its own music educators association. These state associations often run scholarship programs, offering awards to musicians who are college students or who are about to go to college. For example, the New Hampshire Music Educators Association awards four $300 scholarships to graduating high school seniors who plan to major in music education.
Contact your state music educators association directly to find out about scholarship opportunities.
3. John Lennon Scholarship
Music scholarships aren’t just for classical musicians. If you prefer contemporary music, a John Lennon Scholarship might be a good option for you. Yoko Ono, an artist and activist who was also the wife of legendary musician John Lennon, partnered with the BMI Foundation to set up the scholarship program for songwriters and composers of alternative, pop, rock, indie, electronica, R&B, and experimental music.
Each year, three scholarships totaling $20,000 are awarded. To qualify, you must meet the following criteria:
- You must be a U.S. college student.
- You must be between the ages of 17 and 24.
- You must submit an original song.
Submissions are reviewed by professionals within the music industry. For more information, visit the John Lennon Scholarship website.
4. Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Performing Arts Scholarship
If you’re an African-American or black college student majoring in the performing arts, you might qualify for the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Performing Arts Scholarship. Award winners receive $3,000.
To qualify, you must meet the following requirements:
- You must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
- You must be a full-time college student.
- Your grade point average must be at least 2.5 on a 4.0 scale.
- You must submit a resume, two letters of recommendation, and a two-minute visual recording sample.
Applications are due in April of each year. For more information and to apply, visit the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s scholarship site.
5. Strings Magazine Edith Eisler Scholarship
If you play a string instrument and can demonstrate financial need, you could qualify for the Strings Magazine Edith Eisler Scholarship. Recipients win $3,000 and are featured in an issue of the magazine.
To be eligible for the award, you must meet the following criteria:
- You must play the violin, viola, cello, or bass.
- You must submit an application demonstrating financial need, academic merit, and a history of community service.
- You must provide two references, including one from your current music instructor or professor.
- You must answer essay questions describing your passions and goals.
Applications are due in April of each year. For more information, visit the Edith Eisler Scholarship site.
6. National Federation of Music Clubs scholarships
The National Federation of Music Clubs (NFMC) offers several scholarships for various types of musicians. Whether you plan to major in composition or play the French horn, the organization offers a scholarship for you. Awards range in value from $500 to $3,000.
The largest scholarship is the Student/Collegiate Auditions Award for piano, organ, harp, classical guitar, man’s voice, woman’s voice, violin, viola, cello, double bass, woodwinds, brass, and percussion. Applications are due January 15 of each year. To qualify, you must meet the following criteria:
- You must be between the ages of 19 and 26.
- You must be a U.S. citizen.
- You must pay a $30 entry fee.
- You must be a member of the NFMC.
- You must audition live or by CD.
For more information about the scholarships, visit the NFMC website.
7. Kerope Zildjian Concert Scholarship
If you’re a percussionist, you could win up to $3,000 through the Kerope Zildjian Concert Scholarship. Plus, you could receive up to $500 to visit Zildjian’s headquarters as well as complimentary cymbals.
The competition is open to musicians worldwide, but you must meet the following requirements:
- You must be an undergraduate student.
- You must be enrolled in school full time.
- You must complete an application, submit a resume, and send in a recorded performance.
Submissions are due in June of each year.
For more information and to apply, visit the Kerope Zildjian Concert Scholarship website.
Paying for college as a musician
Music scholarships can reduce your education costs and help you pay for college. However, they might not cover the total cost of attendance. If you’ve exhausted your scholarship and federal aid opportunities and need help paying for school, another option to fill the gap and complete your degree is to apply for private student loans.
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