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Scholarships and Financial Aid for Music Students

Grants, Student Loans, & Fellowships

You’ve taken the first step by deciding to pursue a career in music. Second step—you’ve found a school to attend. Now, you’re faced with the question, “how do I pay for college?” Music students have many financial aid options.

Start with your school of choice. Most universities and colleges offer music students a wide range of financial aid options. Federal and state financial aid is available, as well as music scholarships. In addition, there are many organizations and music schools that offer scholarships.

Music Financial Aid Options

Music students can seek federal and state financial aid to defray the cost of higher education. Most colleges and universities offer federal-funded financial aid for undergraduate and graduate music students. Music financial aid options include federal grants, college work-study program, and federal loans. Grants are gift aid that does not have to be repaid. College work-study programs provide students the opportunity to work part-time to help pay for some college expenses. Students typically work up to 20 hours per week. Music students can also obtain federal loans to supplement any other aid they receive.

To be considered for federal financial aid, students must apply for it. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) website can be found at www.fafsa.ed.gov/ where students can apply online. It is important to apply as soon as possible, and prior to the school year in which you will be attending college. The deadline to submit the FAFSA is usually June 30.

Keep in mind, once the FAFSA is submitted, it is automatically sent to the state where it is determined if state financial aid is available and if the student qualifies. If a student qualifies, they are notified. The deadline for state financial aid often differs from federal financial aid. Be sure to note the deadline and fill out and submit the FAFSA well in advance.

Obtaining Music Scholarships

Besides federal and state financial aid opportunities, music students may qualify for a number of music scholarships. Most universities and colleges have either a music department, or a School of Music division. These divisions often times offer a wide range of financial aid options as well as scholarships for students pursuing a career in music. Here are some examples:

School of Music—University of Wisconsin—Madison: This university offers merit-based scholarships to highly gifted music students seeking a major in music. For students to be considered, they must audition and have proof of excellent academic standing. The amount awarded is $4,000 per year, for up to four years.

Manhattan School of Music: This school awards merit and need-based scholarships, as well as federal financial aid for music students demonstrating a financial need.

Crossroads College, Rochester, MN—offers federal and state financial aid and music scholarships for qualifying students. These apply to transferring students and incoming students only. All students are required to audition, either in person, by videotape, or DVD.

Bienen School of Music: This program is for music students attending graduate school. Students can receive full-tuition grants, and stipends, fellowships, and graduate teaching assistantships. Scholarships are also awarded and are merit-based.

Some states provide scholarships to music students. Iowa offers the Iowa Scholarship for the Arts. This scholarship is for students attending Iowa colleges or universities. Students are required to complete an application, a one-page essay, and submit two letters of recommendation. The scholarship amount awarded to the winner is between $1,000 and $2,000. Deadline for applying is February 9 of each year.

Organizations Offer Music Scholarships

Some organizations also offer music scholarships and financial aid for students pursing music careers. Some examples of such organizations include the Young Musicians Foundation, and BMI Foundation, Inc.

Young Musicians Foundation (YMF), located in California, awards nearly 40 musicians ages 9-25 in the southern California area scholarships. Scholarships are awarded in two categories: instrumentalists (through senior year of high school), and vocalists (until the age of 25). Amount awarded ranges from $250 to $3,500. In addition, YMF awards three other scholarships; one for those majoring in music in college; another for wind players; and one for students living in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods.

BMI Foundation, Inc. offers a wide range of music scholarships. Some examples include the John Lennon Scholarship, and the Women’s Music Commission. The John Lennon Scholarship, created by Yoko Ono is unique since students of select schools can only apply. Another scholarship offered is the Women’s Music Commission. Women age 20-30 who compose classical music can apply. The winning composer receives $5,000.

Other music scholarships offered by organizations include:

Scholarships for Undergraduate Performance: This scholarship is administered by Sigma Alpha Iota. Four $1,500 scholarships are offered to qualifying undergraduate students who are current members of this association. Applicants are required to fill out an application and submit a taped audition. Music options include voice, keyboard & percussion, winds & brass, and strings.

Bach Organ Scholarship: This scholarship is awarded to AGO memebers residing in Rhode Island orattending a Rhode Island college. Award amount ranges from $800 – $1,000.

Nellie Love Butcher Music Scholarship: Administered by the Daughters of American Revolution National Society, this scholarship awards up to $5,000 to music students pursuing an education in voice or piano. This is a one-year scholarship, however, students can reapply each year for up to four years. Performance CD is required to be considered.

Gerke Collegiate Artist Scholarships: This scholarship is administered by Mu Phi Epsilon Foundation for undergraduate students pursing a degree in music.o Two schoalrships for $500 are awarded. Applicants must submit a CD with a 15-30 minute recording. Woodwinds, brass, percussion, and strings only.

Hazel B. Morgan Scholarship: Administered by Mu Phi Epsilon Foundation awards $500 towards graduate studies in music education. Applicants are required to submit letters of recommendation and a short statement of goals for teaching music.

Ronnie Berg Drummers Scholarship: This scholarship is administered by the Community Foundation of Dutchess County in Poughkeepsie, New York for graduating high school seniors or current college students passionate about drumming. This scholarship is not renewable. Award amount is $1,000.

Key Points about Music Financial Aid and Scholarships

With so many music scholarships and music financial aid available for music students, it’s no wonder the process can become overwhelming. Here are a few points to keep in mind:

  • Talk to the School of Music officials, or Music department to find out what is available to you.
  • Be prepared before filling out the FAFSA, and apply online for faster approval. Make sure you have all pertinent information for filling out the form.
  • Know your deadlines—both federal and state financial aid. The earlier you apply, the better your chances of qualifying for financial aid. If you apply after the deadline, your need is handled on a first-come, first-served basis.

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