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.
Need a student loan?Here are our top student loan lenders of 2019!
|1 Important Disclosures for Ascent.
Before taking out private student loans, you should explore and compare all financial aid alternatives, including grants, scholarships, and federal student loans and consider your future monthly payments and income. Applying with a cosigner may improve your chance of getting approved and could help you qualify for a lower interest rate. Ascent Student Loans may be funded by Richland State Bank (RSB). Ascent Student Loan products are subject to credit qualification, completion of a loan application, verification of application information and certification of loan amount by a participating school. Loan products may not be available in certain jurisdictions, and certain restrictions, limitations; and terms and conditions may apply. Ascent is a federally registered trademark of Turnstile Capital Management (TCM) and may be used by RSB under limited license. Richland State Bank is a federally registered service mark of Richland State Bank.
* Application times vary depending on the applicants ability to supply the necessary information for submission.
2 Important Disclosures for College Ave.
College Ave Student Loans products are made available through either Firstrust Bank, member FDIC or M.Y. Safra Bank, FSB, member FDIC. All loans are subject to individual approval and adherence to underwriting guidelines. Program restrictions, other terms, and conditions apply.
Information advertised valid as of 4/1/2019. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation.
3 Important Disclosures for Discover.
* The Sallie Mae partner referenced is not the creditor for these loans and is compensated by Sallie Mae for the referral of Smart Option Student Loan customers.
4 = Sallie Mae Disclaimer: Click here for important information. Terms, conditions and limitations apply.
5 Important Disclosures for SunTrust.
Before applying for a private student loan, SunTrust recommends comparing all financial aid alternatives including grants, scholarships, and both federal and private student loans. To view and compare the available features of SunTrust private student loans, visit https://www.suntrust.com/loans/student-loans/private.
Certain restrictions and limitations may apply. SunTrust Bank reserves the right to change or discontinue this loan program without notice. Availability of all loan programs is subject to approval under the SunTrust credit policy and other criteria and may not be available in certain jurisdictions.
SunTrust Bank, Member FDIC. ©2019 SunTrust Banks, Inc. SUNTRUST, the SunTrust logo and Custom Choice Loan are trademarks of SunTrust Banks, Inc. All rights reserved.
6 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Additional terms and conditions apply. For more details see LendKey
7 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
A government loan is made according to rules set by the U.S. Department of Education. Government loans have fixed interest rates, meaning that the interest rate on a government loan will never go up or down.
Government loans also permit borrowers in financial trouble to use certain options, such as income-based repayment, which may help some borrowers. Depending on the type of loan that you have, the government may discharge your loan if you die or become permanently disabled.
Depending on what type of government loan that you have, you may be eligible for loan forgiveness in exchange for performing certain types of public service. If you are an active-duty service member and you obtained your government loan before you were called to active duty, you are entitled to interest rate and repayment benefits for your loan.
A private student loan is not a government loan and is not regulated by the Department of Education. A private student loan is instead regulated like other consumer loans under both state and federal law and by the terms of the promissory note with your lender.
If your private student loan has a fixed interest rate, then that rate will never go up or down. If your private student loan has a variable interest rate, then that rate will vary depending on an index rate disclosed in your application. If the interest rate on the new private student loan is less than the interest rate on your government loans, your payments will be less if you refinance.
If you don’t pay a private student loan as agreed, the lender can refer your loan to a collection agency or sue you for the unpaid amount.
Remember also that like government loans, most private loans cannot be discharged if you file bankruptcy unless you can demonstrate that repayment of the loan would cause you an undue hardship. In most bankruptcy courts, proving undue hardship is very difficult for most borrowers.
8 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
|4.24% – 13.24%1||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|4.07% – 11.32%2||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents|
|4.84% – 13.49%3||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|4.50% – 11.35%*,4||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|4.25% – 13.25%5||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|6.08% – 7.22%6||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|3.95% – 9.81%7||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents|
|4.45% – 12.42%8||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents|