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Scholarships for Photography Students

Grants, Student Loans, & Fellowships

Focus, aim, click! Choosing a major in photography is an exciting career. Whether it is through a specialized art/photography school, or a major university’s art school, photography students can expect a variety of scholarships to consider. And with the high demands of funding an education, free money, like scholarships, is a great supplement to a student’s financial aid package.

Photography students should seek financial assistance through the campus financial aid office. Many colleges and universities offer general scholarships and grants for students, in addition to departmental scholarships. For specialized scholarships, such as photography awards, students should speak to departmental staff for scholarship opportunities. Photography courses and majors are often part of the art department, the School of Art, College of Creative Arts, the photojournalism department, or other areas of study within a major university or college.

Looking for scholarships and awards doesn’t have to stop here. Students interested in further supplementing their financial aid package can seek outside scholarships using the Internet. Many organizations offer awards, contests, and scholarships for qualifying photography students.

Free Money for Photography Students

Free money—sounds impossible, but isn’t. Scholarships are free money photography students can apply for to help pay for their college expenses. With some research and perseverance, students can find a variety of photography scholarships.

University Scholarships

Most colleges and universities offer general scholarships based on merit and/or financial need through the school’s financial aid office. In addition, most colleges and universities offer departmental scholarships based on the student’s area of study, such as photography.

Examples of university scholarships include:

Bethany Lutheran College offers photojournalism scholarships to students who demonstrate photography skills. Recipients are required to contribute photos to the school yearbook, and campus newspaper. A portfolio and written summary is required for consideration.

The University of Western Florida’s Department of Art offers the Presidential Talent Scholarship to incoming freshmen pursuing an Art degree with a concentration in a variety of fields, including photography. Amount awarded is $1,500 per year. This award is renewable for up to four years.

At San Francisco State University, students interested in photography are part of the College of Creative Arts. The university offers the Strauss Scholarship for Photography which awards one or more students anywhere from $200 to $1,000 in photography. Applicants must be full-time students majoring in art with a concentration in photography. Portfolio required.

Montana State University offers scholarships to incoming freshmen interested in applying to the School of Film & Photography. Requirements are strict and include an essay, film and video submissions, up to 20 photographs, and two theatre auditions.

Brooks Institute in California offers its students grants or merit-based scholarships. The Presidential Grant Program is given to qualifying students who demonstrate outstanding academic achievement and show exceptional need. Award amount ranges from $500 to $2,000. Its Merit Scholarship Program offers exceptional students who demonstrate an excellent academic record up to $6,000 which is distributed over four years.

Outside Photography Scholarships

Photography students can also seek outside scholarships, offered by professional organizations, to supplement their financial aid package by searching the Internet.

Here are some examples:
Still Photographer Scholarship—administered by the National Press Photographer Association, the scholarship awards students enrolled in four-year institutions, pursuing a bachelor’s degree in photojournalism. Award amount is $2,000.

The Aaron Siskind Foundation’s Individual Photographer’s Fellowship (IPF) program provides grants to up-and-coming photographers. Several applicants are selected to receive the grants. Award amounts vary.

Vermont Professional Photographers offers scholarships to students interested in studying photography. To be considered for a scholarship, students must be members of this organization. Award amount varies.

The North American Nature Photography Association offers the NANPA Summit College Photography Scholarship and Internship. This program is designed to bring out emerging photographers. Applicants must be a minimum of 19 years old and enrolled in an accredited two or four year institution. Winners attend the NANPA Summit, receive a one year NANPA membership, and more.

Tips for Getting Photography Scholarships

  • Create and maintain a portfolio. Many scholarships require photography students to submit original work.
  • Check with the school’s department which offers photography courses and majors. Usually this is the art department, creative arts department, or the journalism department, depending on the angle of photography.
  • Speak to a financial aid representative on campus. Federal and state grants, loans, as well as merit-based and need-based scholarships may be available.
  • When seeking outside scholarships start early and note all deadlines.

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