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8 College Scholarships from Celebrities: Students Pay for School with Unique Financial Aid

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Comedian and author Stephen Colbert, host of Comedy Central’s popular news satire The Colbert Report, is in the “real news” himself.

Colbert and his wife, Evelyn McGee Colbert, have made a gift to McGee Colbert’s alma mater, the University of Virginia. McGee Colbert, who graduated in 1985, double-majored in drama and English. The university’s College of Arts & Sciences is using the money toward an Arts Scholars program for students studying studio art, dance, drama or music.

According to UVa Today, sixteen incoming first-year students will be beneficiaries of the new College Arts Scholars program made possible with the Colberts’ donation. UVa Today states that new College Arts Scholars will be granted special access to the best arts resources available at the University and funding for arts-intensive summer work while The Washington Post explains that UVa students who decide to major or minor in an arts field can receive a Colbert Arts Scholars Award up to $3,000 between their third and fourth years to spend on an intensive art-related project.

8 College Scholarships from Celebrities

In addition to this recent “Stephen Colbert scholarship” of sorts, several other well-known celebrities have offered or currently offer financial assistance to college students in one way or another. Eight of them are listed below.

1. David Letterman

Late-night TV talk show host David Letterman has sponsored a scholarship for students at his alma mater, Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, since 1985. Full-time Ball State students who are first-quarter juniors through first-quarter seniors majoring or minoring in telecommunications may qualify for Letterman’s generous financial award. Unlike most other scholarships, grades are not a condition for eligibility. Instead, students must have a “reasonable expectation of becoming a professional in the telecommunications industry.” For Letterman Scholarship details, guidelines and application, visit the Ball State University Departmental Scholarships page.

2. Jerry Seinfeld

Since 2000, over 175 public school students from New York City have received college scholarships courtesy of comedian Jerry Seinfeld. Seinfeld and his family established the Seinfeld Scholarship Program in 2000 to “give back to the city they love.” Seinfeld Scholars receive a four-year scholarship to the college or university of the student’s choice. The program will cover up to $10,000 of any unmet educational financial needs—tuition, room and board, books, and incidentals. For details about the Seinfeld Scholars Program and application information, visit Seinfeld Scholarship Program How to Apply.

3. Kid Rock

Robert Ritchie, better known by his stage name Kid Rock, is a musician that’s proud of his Detroit roots, and the rock star/rapper is using profits from his “Made in Detroit” clothing line to help area college students. Proceeds from the sale of a T-shirt featuring the company’s trademark logo embedded in the Wayne State University logo are funding a Kid Rock/Made in Detroit scholarship at Wayne State to help students in the College of Fine, Performing and Communication Arts pay for their education. For details about the Made In Detroit Scholarship and application information, visit Wayne State University Made in Detroit Scholarship.

4. Alec Baldwin

The oldest Hollywood-working actor of the famous Baldwin brothers, Alec Baldwin received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in drama from New York University in 1994. The philanthropic celebrity has established an endowed scholarship for NYU students in the Tisch School of the Arts Department of Drama. The Alec Baldwin Drama Scholarship Fund provides financial support for students who exhibit an unwavering work ethic, leadership skills, a willingness to collaborate, and an ability to tolerate risk and work with constructive criticism along with plenty of talent. For information about the Alec Baldwin Scholarship Fund, visit Support Tisch.

5. will.i.am

The Grammy-winning Black Eyed Peas star will.i.am has created a college scholarship which covers tuition, books and fees for four years. “The only thing you have to worry about is succeeding and showing the world that the youth is the future of America and the world. The only thing I ask for you guys is to prove that single parents are the strongest people on the planet,” he announced on Oprah in 2009. For information about will.i.am’s scholarship program, visit i.am.scholarship.

6. Paul Newman

University of California Berkeley Haas School of Business students may be eligible for a scholarship established in honor of the late Paul Newman. Give Something Back Business Products, the largest independent office supplier on the West coast, created the scholarship to recognize Paul’s commitment to creating positive change in the world. All profits after taxes from Paul’s “Newman’s Own Organics” products, which range from salad dressing to dog food to wine, are donated to charity. Newman was a founding funder for the Haas School’s Center for Responsible Business and Give Something Back is “giving something” to college students, as Newman himself would have done. For details about the The Give Something Back CSR Scholarship and application information, visit Haas School Newsroom.

7. John Lennon

Established in 1997 by Yoko Ono, the John Lennon Scholarship for Songwriters and Composers honors the memory of Ono’s husband, iconic singer-songwriter John Lennon. The program recognizes young songwriters aged 15 through 24, working in any genre. Almost $250,000 in scholarships have been awarded since the scholarship’s inception. Entries are accepted from students attending a select group of schools, which are listed on the BMI Foundation, Inc. website, and from the National Association for Music Education (MENC). For details about the John Lennon Scholarship and application information, visit BMI Foundation, Inc.

8. Magic Johnson

NBA superstar Earvin “Magic” Johnson started the Magic Johnson Foundation in 1991 to raise money for and raise awareness of HIV/AIDS. The Foundation’s Taylor Michaels Scholarship Program was founded in 1998 and named after Taylor Michaels, the Chief Operating Officer for Magic Johnson Enterprises who passed away that year. Each Taylor Michaels Scholar receives a scholarship ranging from $2,000 to $5,000 and scholarships are renewable up until the student’s fifth year of undergraduate studies. For details and application information, visit the Magic Johnson Foundation Taylor Michaels Scholarship.


Melissa Rhone+

Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.

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jol240 over 5 years ago jol240

Have any of these famous people actually "received" financial aid?