Grants for Art Students

Free Money is Music to the Ears

Most college-bound students depend on some measure of grant money to form part of their education fund. For students studying mathematics, or pursuing a degree in one of the many fields of science and technology, grants are fairly abundant. But for those students studying art, in any of its many forms, college grants can be harder to find. College-bound students interested in the arts can take heart, however, as there are many grant programs dedicated to the needs of art students. They may not have the high profile of their more traditional counterparts, but they are out there, and they are waiting for the right art major to apply.

Grants for art students can be found for nearly every artistic endeavor. Programs exist to support students studying music, fashion design, film and theater, and traditional and modern visual arts. They are sponsored and supported by professional associations, colleges and universities, corporations and private endowments. For students pursuing a study of the arts, grants for college may be less abundant. But financial aid for art majors is out there, and students just need to know where to look for student grants

Federally Funded Grants for Art Students

There are currently no Federal grants specifically dedicated to the financial needs of art students. However, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t any Federal financial aid programs which might be beneficial to students pursuing a study of the arts. Any search for college financial aid should begin at the government level, and art students can take advantage of some of the Federal programs designed to make college more accessible to all students in the United States.

College-bound art students can apply for the following Federal education grants:

  • The Federal Pell Grant – The Federal Pell grant is available to undergraduate students who can demonstrate the requisite level of financial need. This is a general education grant, and is open to all students regardless of their course of study. Award amounts are subject to change, but the current maximum award allowed is $5,550 per academic year.
  • The Federal TEACH Grant – The Federal TEACH grant may be available to those art students who are considering teaching art or art history as a way of subsidizing their own work. This is an award-for-service grant, and recipients must agree to a predetermined term of service teaching at a school that serves students from low-income households. The annual maximum award currently stands at $4000.
  • The Jacob J. Javits Fellowship Program – While not strictly an arts-specific grants program, the Jacob J. Javits Fellowship provides financial assistance to graduate students pursuing advanced degrees in a variety of fields, including creative writing, music, film, theater and studio arts. Award amounts vary according to financial need, and availability of funding.

While none of the above programs are arts-specific, they do offer vital financial aid to students regardless of major or intended course of study. When searching for grants, art students should consider all general grants and scholarships for which they may be eligible.

Grants from the Private Sector

Many grants for art students are supported by the private sector. Professional associations, private endowments and businesses closely associated with the arts often sponsor financial aid programs for students pursuing studies in a particular art form. These programs are designed to encourage and support the study of certain art forms, and are typically highly competitive. Finding grant opportunities in the private sector can be difficult, and students will need to do some research to find the programs for which they may be eligible.

Art students looking for grants should begin by focusing on the artistic field they wish to study. From this starting point they can begin to look for businesses, associations and individuals who may be sponsoring education grants for students in their field. For example, a student intent on studying painting and drawing might begin their search by looking at well-known art supply companies, successful artists or reputable galleries and museums who may be sponsoring valuable college grants. The search for private sector grants will take time, and in this instance the internet will be every art student’s most valuable tool.

Arts Colleges and University Programs

Colleges and universities routinely offer grants to students who face a financial shortfall in their college funding. Many of these will be general grant programs, and students pursuing an art major will be eligible to apply. The majority of the remaining grants are traditionally targeted to mathematics, science and technology, or to specific career training for students looking to fast-track their entrance into the national workforce. Colleges and universities with large arts and humanities departments, however, often offer limited grants for students pursuing degrees in various fields of artistic endeavor. Art majors, regardless of discipline, should contact their department heads, and their financial aid advisers, for details on any and all programs that may be available at their school of choice. More often than not, department heads and college financial aid advisers will also have information on grant programs that are not necessarily sponsored by the school, but are supported by organizations or private endowments directly related to the student’s field of study.

Students attending an art institute, or dedicated school of the arts, will find a greater selection of available grants. Art schools, dance academies and schools for the dramatic arts often offer grants to their resident students. These financial aid programs are typically merit-based, or will at least place greater emphasis on a student’s academic and artistic achievements. Grants at art schools and art academies are highly competitive, and students should be prepared to apply early, and to present a reference portfolio or audition tape highlighting their talent.

Some examples of the types of grants available from art colleges include:

  • The Art Institutes is a system of more than 50 art schools throughout North America specializing in graphic design, media arts and fashion. They sponsor a variety of scholarships and grants for their students, including the Art Institutes and Americans for the Arts Poster Design Competition and the Art Institutes Passion for Fashion Competition. Applicants must submit a sample of their work to a judging committee, who will determine a winner based on artistic merit.
  • The Academy of Art University offers a number of financial aid programs, including the Teacher Grant which provides financial assistance to high school and college art instructors who are returning to school for further training. The Academy of Art University also awards 300 annual Portfolio Grants for undergraduate students as determined by a submitted portfolio of their work. Interested students should contact the Academy of Art University directly for further details.
  • Brigham Young University’s College of Fine Arts and Communications sponsors a wide range of scholarships and grants for attending students. Areas of study in which financial aid is available include Dance, visual arts and theater. All of BYU’s programs are determined on the basis of artistic merit, and applicants will be required to submit a portfolio or to attend competitive auditions.

Students pursuing their studies in any of the many art fields often feel ignored when it comes to financial aid for college. While science and technology may get a larger share of high profile grants and scholarships, there are still many sources of grants for the study of the arts. Art students should be prepared to do some research, and to spend some time tracking down available grants. But in the end, grant funding is available and waiting for diligent art students to come and claim it.

Students interested in pursuing a degree and career in any of the arts should also consult our section on Scholarships for Art Students for further information on financial aid programs from which they may benefit.


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