Art & Design Scholarships (And How To Find Them)

Making the decision to further your education and attend college is a huge decision. With creative minds, committing to an art and design school can provide invaluable training for your future career. One of the biggest obstacles can be finances: how will you afford to attend art school? There are countless scholarship dollars that go untouched each year, and a large portion of those opportunities are for students interested in pursuing a degree in creative arts. We’ve put together some tips for how to find those art and design scholarships you may not have known about.

Think differently about creative scholarships

By nature, creative brains are hardwired differently than “traditional” students, hence the decision to commit to education full of hands-on, visual instruction. This means that the scholarships art and design students should be looking for differ from the opportunities someone pursuing a business or law degree is seeking. Typically scholarships will prioritize GPA and SAT/ACT scores. While grades are incredibly important, it can be hard to determine what kind of creative abilities you bring to the table as a student solely by looking at those test scores. This is why art and design scholarships typically ask for a portfolio. Your portfolio is a crucial part of your scholarship applications because it represents your body of work. It shows what you are capable of creating. Some scholarship providers will ask for one piece that best represents you, others will look for a collection that you’ve created to show a diverse body of work. There may be a prompt for a scholarship where you are asked to create something new and unique, or you could be asked to provide a complete portfolio to be considered for that scholarship. Art and design scholarships vary from drawing, to painting, to photography, and may be particular depending on the area of study you’ve chosen. 

Be prepared with an artist statement 

Students should search for scholarships that play well into their artistic abilities. Those interested in pursuing a career in 2d or 3d Animation should be looking for scholarships that aid their interests in animation. Be prepared as artists and designers to provide an artist statement, as this is a requirement that many creative scholarships will ask for. An artist statement should briefly describe how you work as an artist, and what your work as an artist means. It’s essentially a self essay that can be used as an introduction to your body of work. Artist statements are valuable in the scholarship application process, and for working artists in the industry, as they are used to give clients an idea of how you can help them and land a potential job opportunity. 

Do specialized research

Finding art and design scholarships is entirely possible if the student is willing to put time and effort into searching. There are scholarship search engines that will help filter out the scholarships that may not apply to you, and zone in on what is applicable. Most require inputting basic information, and will then send scholarships via email based on the program of interest, experience, and a few other details. Sallie Mae, Tuition Funding Sources, and The Department of Education’s scholarship search are a few examples. In addition to scholarship searches like Scholarships.com and email subscriptions, students can search for scholarships based on keywords related to their interests. For example, someone with an interest in fashion design should search “scholarships for students interested in fashion design,” “garment construction-related scholarships” or “scholarships for students with experience sewing.” That will typically yield results based on what they’re looking for. Students should take bits and pieces of the things that they’re interested in creatively, and input in a search to see what scholarships result from it. 

Ask around

There are other ways to find art and design scholarships. Sometimes if a student is working, whether part-time or full time, that company may offer tuition assistance to its employees. Parents of student companies often offer scholarships for those attending college. Usually, it’s just a matter of asking management if there are any organizational opportunities being offered and what the requirements are. Scholarship amounts can vary depending on company size, but it’s an option worth exploring.  

At Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design, there are a handful of scholarships offered to students. Students starting their college experience can have their portfolio reviewed by our portfolio review committee to earn potential scholarship money. Students who have already begun their college education are eligible for scholarships and should continue to apply for them even once school has started. Be sure to research internal and external opportunities. Oftentimes, students Financial Aid advisors can assist in pointing students in the right direction of finding scholarships well suited for their skillset. 

Scholarships for art and design students can be one of the most underutilized funding sources for tuition, simply because people do not know the scholarships exist, or where to find them. There is no way to know what kind of assistance is available for creatives without doing research. If art and design is your passion, a career rich in opportunities can be in your future with the help of creative arts scholarships.