5 Great Journalism Scholarships to Help Avoid Student Loans

 February 26, 2021
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Scholarships for Journalism Students

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Whether you’re a communications major trying to be the next White House press secretary, or a journalism student trying to ask the tough questions, one thing is clear: Getting there — through college or graduate school — will probably be a lot easier if you earn some journalism scholarships along the way.

Thankfully, we’ve done the reporting for you:

Check out these 5 journalism scholarships

Here are five organizations flush with journalism scholarships, plus some tips on where to find more:

1. Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ)
2. National Press Club
3. The American Copy Editors Society (ACES)
4. The Association for Women in Sports Media (AWSM)
5. National Press Photographers Foundation (NPPF)

1. Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ)

If you’re still in high school but can think big-picture, consider the SPJ Foundation’s essay contest. In 2021, applicants were asked to write a 300- to 500-word response to the question “Why must journalists strive to improve diversity and representation in both their coverage and in their newsrooms, and how might this happen?”

Annually, three students enter the winner’s circle: $1,000 (first place), $500 (second) and $300 (third).

If you’re more of a budding journalist than an accomplished essayist, try your hand at the Journalism Education Association’s Journalist of the Year Scholarships. You’ll be judged on your collection of clips and could win as much as $3,000 (first place) or $850 (runners-up).

Also check out: Already in college or grad school? The SPJ provides journalism scholarships and grants to attend conferences or as a reward for your best clips.

2. National Press Club

Like the SPJ, the National Press Club is another professional association that helps future members of the field afford their education. There’s a trio of four-figure journalism scholarships available:

  1. Scholarship for Journalism Diversity: A $2,000-$2,500 scholarship, renewable for up to three years, for students who add diversity to the industry.
  2. Feldman Fellowship for Graduate Studies in Journalism: A one-time stipend of $5,000, meant for students pursuing a second degree in the field.
  3. Richard G. Zimmerman Journalism Scholarship: A $5,000 award for high school seniors pursuing a journalism career.

Also check out: You can also find financial aid opportunities at your state-level press club. Alternatively, if you hope to practice newsgathering and writing internationally, review the Overseas Press Club Foundation’s list of 18 journalism scholarships and fellowships.

3. The American Copy Editors Society (ACES)

Listen up, college juniors and seniors — as well as grad students with an interest in editing the written word: There are six ACES journalism scholarships worth between $1,500 and $3,500 apiece.

Most notably, the Bill Walsh scholarship — named for a former Washington Post staffer — seeks out a top student who’s especially passionate about editing the news. The application, in part, asks you to pen 500 words about how you would handle newsroom drama as a rookie copy editor.

Winners of each of the six scholarships are also granted assistance to attend the annual ACES conference.

Also check out: If you’re an aspiring editor on more of a multimedia career track, consider the Online News Association’s fellowships. One opportunity awards an all-inclusive, hands-on experience to five students from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).

Not sure about majoring in journalism?
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4. The Association for Women in Sports Media (AWSM)

Each year, the AWSM awards up to eight female students a $1,000 journalism scholarship, along with a sportswriting, broadcast, social media or media relations internship at a top-flight sports media organization like ESPN or Sports Illustrated.

Any level of college student can apply for the scholarship/internship award, but you must pay AWSM’s membership fee to join the crowd.

Also check out: Aspiring sports content creators of all genders should check out the Associated Press Sports Editors’ four $1,500 journalism scholarships too. Applications are judged on both your published work and financial situation.

5. National Press Photographers Foundation (NPPF)

If you tell stories with images or video rather than paragraphs, look to the NPPF’s dozen-plus journalism scholarships. Included are photography scholarships for undergraduates and graduates; video and multimedia awards; and a grant for long-term visual journalism projects.

As a current student with a packed portfolio, you might consider applying for the NPPF’s College Photographer of the Year International scholarship. Two winners — receiving $1,000 and $500, respectively — are selected annually.

Also check out: Students leaning more toward broadcast or digital than traditional photography should also consider the Radio Television Digital News Association’s journalism scholarships. The organization has handed out 500-plus awards since 1970.

Look for more journalism scholarships

Once upon a time, I was in your shoes, attending journalism school and seeking financial aid to cover my tuition costs. After months of applying, I won $11,000 in journalism scholarships, but — newsflash — I didn’t secure financial aid from any of the five niche organizations listed above.

You too could find success winning awards elsewhere, perhaps from your school, employer or based on your journalism work to date. There are many reasons you could win scholarships.

Consider even more ways you might stand out on journalism scholarship applications, including your heritage or community. Some organizations strive to add diversity to a career field still in need of it.

As you continue searching for financial aid and writing scholarship essays, take the approach of a journalist reporting a new story. Search high and low, and then tell your best story.

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