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Scholarships: Guide to Financing Your Education

Scholarships: Guide to Financing Your Education
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Noodle Staff March 12, 2024

Our guide streamlines the search for educational funding by providing access to a diverse range of opportunities, spanning specialized fields like health informatics and social work, as well as advanced degrees in education and business.

Guide continues here

When searching for scholarships, it’s key to evaluate the different categories available:

  • Merit-based: Awarded based on academic achievements, talents, or abilities.
  • Need-based: Considering financial need, these aim to provide opportunities for those who might not be able to afford education otherwise.
  • Identity-based: For individuals of certain demographics, such as ethnicity, gender, or religion.
  • Field of study: Specific to your chosen major or career path, supporting students in specialized areas.

Understanding which categories you fit into will streamline your search and application process for scholarships matching your qualifications and needs.

What Is an External Scholarship?

External scholarships for college differ from those provided by a university in that private donors, foundations, or businesses fund them. The amount of money awarded can range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars per student.

Although the majority of scholarships are available to the general population and are based upon academic performance, engagement in community service, or financial need, there are also a number of scholarships targeted towards students from specific groups. As Conor Brosnan, M.Ed., a guidance counselor at Algonquin Regional High School in Northborough, Massachusetts, notes, “A company may provide a scholarship for the children of employees, or there might be a scholarship for students of Italian heritage.”

Some of the most common kinds of scholarships include:

Merit-based scholarships

These scholarships are awarded nationally based on a student’s academic performance. The way that organizations gauge a student’s educational promise depends on the goals of the specific scholarship. For instance, the National Merit Scholarship Corporation offers awards to students based on their PSAT scores, while the Siemens Foundation (whose mission is to support education and workforce preparation in science, technology, engineering, and math) selects its recipients through a rigorous STEM competition, with prizes up to $100,000.

These scholarships are open to students from across the country, so they tend to be particularly competitive.

Heritage-based scholarships

Identity-based organizations that work with communities of a certain nationality or ethnicity sometimes offer scholarships to students of that heritage. For instance, The Agnes Jones Jackson Scholarship offers a scholarship to NAACP members, while the Hispanic Scholarship Fund supports students with a Latino background. In addition to identifying with the group awarding the scholarship, there may be other eligibility requirements for interested students, such as a minimum GPA or community service requirements.

LGBTQ scholarships

Students who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer (LGBTQ) may be eligible for certain scholarships, such as the Point Foundation Scholarship, which is given to students who have notable academic and leadership achievements, or the LEAGUE Foundation Scholarship, awarded to students with a minimum 3.0 GPA and community-service involvement.

Scholarships for women

Under certain circumstances, women entering college are eligible for scholarships that are expressly tied to their gender. For instance, women pursuing particular fields can apply for scholarships like those given out by the Women in Defense organization to female applicants who are interested in studying international relations.

Similarly, single mothers entering college are eligible for scholarships such as the Soroptimist Live Your Dream Award, while women who are returning to school at an older age may be eligible for financial awards like the AARP Women’s Scholarship Program.

Scholarships from religious organizations

National and local religious organizations may have funds for students of a specific faith. For instance, the Islamic Society of North America offers scholarships to Muslim students, while the Baptist Life Association offers awards to students affiliated with Baptist churches.

Scholarships from local organizations

A variety of local organizations often have funds that they use to help students from their geographic area pay for college. Students should consider researching scholarships offered by local businesses, civic groups like the Elks organization or the Girl and Boy Scouts, or religious institutions in their community.

Scholarships off the beaten path

There are scholarships out there for nearly everyone, even some offered by less conventional funders. Members of Starfleet, the International Star Trek Fan Association, who are thinking of pursuing the sciences are eligible for a variety of scholarships. Or, if a student happens to be a descendant of Lambert and Annetje Van Valkenburg, who immigrated to the United States in 1643, she may be eligible for the Van Valkenburg Memorial Scholarship.


What Kind of Criteria Should I Expect?

Because external scholarships are provided by a wide range of donors, the criteria can vary greatly. While some organizations may emphasize academic performance, other scholarships are offered based on a student’s commitment to a particular cause or her leadership experience. These measures may be evaluated through a student’s transcript, test scores, or extracurricular involvement. Moreover, some organizations may require students to write an essay or complete a project and will select recipients according to an evaluation of these submissions.

Deadlines and applications for scholarships vary, so be sure to keep track of important dates. It’s a good idea for prospective college students to begin researching organizations that award support no later than the summer prior to their senior year. In fact, since some scholarships are given out to students in earlier grades, it’s advisable that younger high-school students search for these financial opportunities as well.


Where to Find External Scholarships?

Thanks to the Internet and the ever-increasing precision of search engine algorithms, finding an external scholarship is just a Google-inquiry away. Still, the world of external scholarships is vast. To narrow the search, Brosnan suggests the following resources:

“Many of the scholarships offered on these sites are national, or even international, which are much more difficult to win when compared to smaller, local scholarships,” says Brosnan.

To learn about these less competitive local scholarships, students should inquire with their guidance counselor to see what they may qualify for and what the specific criteria are.


Will My Scholarships Affect My Financial Aid?

Receiving a scholarship is, without question, a reason to celebrate since it’s money that does not need to be repaid. Still, being awarded this type of financial support could have an effect on a student’s overall aid package from the university.

According to the College Board, if all of the aid a student receives surpasses the calculated need by more than $300, “The federal government requires the college to reduce the amount of need-based financial aid it awards a student.” In such a case, the college or university will decide which elements of the aid package to cut. While this may sound negative, receiving external scholarships is really a benefit since a college’s overall aid package is likely to contain at least some loans — which, in contrast to scholarships, need to be repaid.


Final Thoughts

Just as with other aspects of financing a college education, applying for scholarships should be done thoughtfully and with purpose. Applicants should keep a log of deadlines, requirements, and which scholarships renew automatically and which they’ll need to reapply for annually. As Brosnan recommends, “Students need to spend some time researching for which scholarships they qualify. The more time students put into their scholarship search and applications, the better chance they have of being awarded a scholarship.”

(Written by Seth Czarnecki)

Using Scholarship Platforms

Scholarship search engines and resources like Fastweb and Scholarships.com provide access to extensive scholarship databases. By entering personal and academic information, students receive a curated list of scholarships for which they might qualify. Professional organizations in your field may offer scholarships or resources for specific career paths, potentially presenting better opportunities to stand out. These platforms often provide additional tools for organizing applications and tracking deadlines, making the scholarship application process more manageable.

Consulting with Advisors

Academic advisors provide personalized guidance, as they are familiar with your educational background, strengths, and interests. They can identify scholarship opportunities aligned with your profile, advise on strategies to strengthen your applications, and potentially recommend lesser-known scholarships within your institution or network. They can also assist in understanding the impact of scholarships on your overall financial aid package. Leveraging their expertise maximizes your chances of securing suitable scholarships.

Tracking Your Scholarship Applications

Organizing your scholarship applications is crucial. Create a system to track various requirements, deadlines, and submission processes. Maintain a checklist for each scholarship, noting essays, recommendation letters, transcripts, and other necessary documents. Gathering materials well in advance avoids last-minute rushes and ensures thoughtful, complete applications. This systematic approach increases efficiency and the quality of your applications, potentially boosting your chances of success.

Software for Managing Scholarship Applications

Several applications can help you efficiently track scholarship applications:

  1. ScholarshipOwl is notable for allowing students to apply to multiple scholarships through a single platform. It provides a personalized experience by matching you with scholarships that suit your profile and allows you to track the status of your applications in real-time​​.
  2. Scholly Search offers an intuitive interface and a matching system that pairs you with scholarships based on your personal preferences. It also includes features for tracking your application statuses and deadlines​​​​.
  3. RaiseMe enables students as early as the 9th grade to start earning micro-scholarships for various accomplishments. The app also serves as a resource for information on U.S. colleges and their associated costs​​.
  4. PLEXUSS College Admission Help is not just a scholarship locator but also assists in finding suitable colleges and provides financial aid information. The app offers networking options, increasing the possibility of finding the right educational opportunities and scholarships​​.
  5. HBCU HUB is geared towards students looking for historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and associated scholarships. The app helps in searching for HBCU schools and provides all the necessary tools for application​​.
  6. College Scholarship Calculator, available only for Apple device users, helps you to find colleges and their financial offerings. It provides a side-by-side comparison of costs and stats, which can be very helpful when selecting schools​​.
  7. Scholarships.com app brings the comprehensive resources of the Scholarships.com website to mobile users. You can create a custom profile, gain access to a vast scholarship database, and find other financial aid resources​​.

These apps are designed to help streamline the scholarship application process, keeping you organized, and ensuring you stay on top of deadlines and application requirements.

Specialty Scholarships

In 2020, women held 24 percent of corporate board seats in Europe and North America (up from 20 percent in 2019). By 2022, that number rose to 29 percent, representing more than a 20 percent increase over two years and a near 50 percent increase over three years. While the numbers are certainly improving, there are still miles to go to achieve gender parity in business across the globe.

One simple solution lies in higher education. A master’s degree in business administration opens doors to high-paying leadership roles in various industries. A business education can prepare students for lucrative careers in areas like engineeringaerospace and defense, and executive leadership. So, why do women represent only 41 percent of MBA candidates when they constitute more than half of the global population?

Many philanthropic organizations are working to address this disparity through women’s scholarships, fellowships, and financial aid opportunities. These graduate scholarships range from waived tuition fees to full tuition, allowing female students to take an important step toward becoming future women in business.

Full-time MBA programs and women in business

As of 2022, eight percent of CEOs were female. This certainly isn’t due to a lack of leadership potential. The Harvard Business Review notes, “Research has shown that firms with more women in senior positions are more profitable, more socially responsible, and provide safer, higher-quality customer experiences.”

The dearth of female graduate students in MBA programs hurts more than just women. Diversity correlates directly with increased innovation, which drives market growth. Companies that take advantage of this knowledge are more likely to thrive. Businesses face real consequences when they fail to recruit female candidates for executive leadership roles. With an MBA degree, these women are well-suited to nab top-tier positions and, in turn, spur success for their organizations.

Best MBA scholarships for women

Women’s scholarships for business administration are, thankfully, numerous. This section covers some of the most prominent and lucrative opportunities out there for female applicants. Bear in mind that new scholarships are released frequently. Be sure to supplement this list with additional research.

The Forté Foundation fellowship programs

The Forté Foundation fellowship programs offer much more than financial assistance to their Forté Fellows. The organization is well-known for providing ongoing support and networking opportunities in addition to fellowships and school grants. These awards are available for full-time, part-time, and executive MBA students applying to specific schools. To date they’ve awarded more than $334 million to 13,000 Forté Fellows.

The Forté Fellows selection process includes a rigorous scholarship application. Students must show excellent extracurricular activities, GMAT scores, GPAs, and work experience.

Jeanette Rankin Women’s Scholarship Fund (JFR)

The Jeanette Rankin Women’s Scholarship Fund (JFR) provides scholarships for low-income women 35 years and older looking to build better lives through post-secondary education. Its mission is to inspire a better world by empowering women through education. Today, the organization has awarded more than $4 million directly to 1,300 women seeking business degrees.

National Scholar Grants go to applicants who demonstrate financial need and provide recommendations and personal essays.

Chicago Booth School scholarships

The University of Chicago Booth School of Business offers The Herman Family Fellowship for Women Entrepreneurs every year to support female students seeking MBA degrees. Chicago Booth also provides many other merit-based awards with varying application requirements.

The American Association of University Women (AAUW) career grant

The American Association of University Women (AAUW) career grant supports women pursuing MBA degrees. In the 2022-2023 academic year, the association awarded over $6 million in grants to women in business. Primary consideration goes to women of color.

London Business School

If you’re considering studying abroad, London Business School is a great choice. It offers full-tuition grants to multiple female MBA candidates per year. All eligible candidates are automatically considered upon applying to the school.

INSEAD Judith Connelly Delouvrier Endowed Scholarship

INSEAD, another international graduate business school, offers a full-tuition ride for women who win their prestigious Judith Connelly Delouvrier Endowed Scholarships. Female applicants must submit essays on why they should receive the award as “meritorious scholars.”

HHL Leipzig Graduate School of Management

The HHL Leipzig Graduate School of Management offers merit-based scholarships to female MBAs in its part-time and full-time programs. Applicants must provide proof of high academic performance and excellent GMAT or HHL entry test scores.

Additional opportunities for women in business

MBA scholarship programs are just one avenue by which women can pursue support. Even post-graduation, organizations are keen to elevate and celebrate female leaders and entrepreneurs in business. Here are some additional opportunities to consider.

C200

Nonprofit organization C200 is “…changing the face of business, one woman at a time.” Its mission is to inspire, educate, celebrate, and advance current and future women entrepreneurs and corporate leaders. It has awarded over $1.68 million to 13,000 women in business through reach-out programs. It also offers a protegé program to help female business owners thrive with the assistance of mentors.

Working for Women

Working for Women “facilitates strategic partnerships between businesses committed to affecting social change and nonprofits focused on supporting the success of women who are economically marginalized.” It provides this support via financial and skill-based contributions for women in business.

U.S. Small Businesses Administration

The U.S. government also provides support for women in business via the U.S. Small Businesses Administration. “The Office of Women’s Business Ownership (OWBO) helps women entrepreneurs through programs including business training, counseling, federal contracts, and access to credit and capital.” The office also provides financial assistance for female entrepreneurs running U.S.-based businesses.

(Written by Alfred Heekin)

Financing graduate school can be challenging and stressful. Taking out student loans enables many to earn degrees that advance their careers, but it also leaves them with student debt that can take years to pay off. According to the Education Data initiative, the average graduate student borrower incurs over $90,000 in federal student loan debt. For master’s holders, the figure is a slightly more reasonable $71,287; however, that doesn’t include an average undergraduate student loan debt of over $36,000. NerdWallet notes that students typically shell out another $31,000 in interest payments while paying back loans.

Working your way through school can help mitigate costs, especially if your employer offers a reimbursement program. However, not all students have the option to work while they earn their degrees. Fortunately, there are many scholarships or fellowships available—particularly in a specialized field like health informatics—that may reduce your student loan burden. These can enable you to spend more time focusing on your coursework and less time worrying about how you’ll pay for it all.

What scholarships are available in health informatics?

According to the Education Data Initiative, the average master’s degree costs $66,340, though many programs, especially at top schools, are even more expensive—some exceed $120,000. Luckily, government agencies, health informatics professional organizations, and schools offer scholarships and fellowship opportunities.

Government agencies

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) offers a public health informatics fellowship that includes two years of informatics mentorship experience, plus training and coursework. This fellowship has boosted the career of many health informatics professionals, including the CDC’s current Chief Data Officer.

Students complete data science boot camps, open courseware, and workshops in the first year. Though a federal agency houses the program, you’ll have the opportunity to work at multiple levels of government.

Of note, you need a master’s degree or a doctoral degree to apply for this program (​​e.g., MPH, PhD, MD, etc.). However, the CDC offers to forgive student loans for eligible students (beginning with the 2023 class) who agree to work for the agency for two years after completing the program. Your loans must be federally made, insured, or guaranteed to qualify. Fellows also are paid and typically field numerous job offers after completing the program.

Professional organizations

Several health informatics professional organizations offer scholarship funds for graduate students. The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Foundation offers a $5,000 scholarship to one HIMSS Student Member. It also offers scholarships to students pursuing specific health informatics fields. Finally, HIMSS awards grants to students pursuing research and education.

The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) offers a $2,000 scholarship for master’s students pursuing an informatics or related degree. The AHIMA also provides a merit scholarship and a scholarship program for veterans. All applicants must be in good standing academically and complete at least 24 credit hours before applying.

Schools

Many degree programs offer student scholarship opportunities beyond traditional financial aid. For instance, the University of Pittsburgh awarded 14 health informatics scholarships—ranging from $1,950 to $4,000—to students during the 2021-2022 academic year. Though the scholarship is merit-based, students also must report their level of financial need.

At Hofstra University, submitting your application to their health informatics program automatically qualifies you for a scholarship award. Hofstra also provides graduate scholarship opportunities for those who already work in a hospital system (many informatics degree applicants already work in the healthcare industry).

(Written by Lucien Formichella)

Where can I find information about scholarships for social workers?

With so many social work scholarships available from states, schools, corporations, and agencies, it’s important to narrow your search and sort out what is and isn’t applicable in your situation. Conducting targeted research to identify the right scholarship funds will help you stay focused. You may even want to establish a dedicated email address to collect any and all correspondence relevant to your search, so that you can better focus and organize your efforts.

One good place to start looking for scholarships is to utilize an aggregator like scholarships.com. You can customize your search to work for your specific criteria to best match the types of scholarships you qualify for. Sallie Mae has information that helps you locate graduate scholarships, and registration on their site will allow you to search 950,000 scholarships worth up to $1 billion. Sites like this are particularly helpful as they separate out graduate scholarships from undergraduate scholarships, making your search a little easier.

What types of scholarships are available to MSW students?

Guidance on scholarships can be found from a variety of sources including schools, businesses, and foundations. Determining where you fit and your eligibility will help you organize your applications and your focus.

Financial need-based scholarships

This type of scholarship is targeted specifically to those social work students who demonstrate financial need. Contacting your school’s financial aid office is a great place to start—financial aid officers will provide the critical first steps for your search and can offer a framework for both full-time students and those who need to be more creative about their timing and finances. Also, professional organizations like the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) provide scholarship assistance and guidance to its members with their own opportunities for funding.

Identity-specific scholarships

These are scholarships reserved for many underrepresented and protected minority groups, including people who identify as Asian American, Black, Hispanic/Latino, LGBTQ+, and Native American. Examples of these scholarships include the Dr. Joyce Beckett Graduate Student Tuition Scholarship, which is awarded by The National Association of Black Social Workers to African American graduate students looking to focus on providing social services to Black communities, and The National Association of Puerto Rican Hispanic Social Workers (NAPRHSW), which supports graduate students from these backgrounds based on financial need and academic accomplishment.

School-specific scholarships

Another place to search for scholarships is on the admissions or financial aid pages of your own school’s website. The University of Pennsylvania has a page called Funding Your Education dedicated to financial aid, scholarship opportunities, and financial assistance for graduate students, with links to work study opportunities and fellowship programs. Every school will have financial aid advisors and website resources to help map out available opportunities.

Specialization scholarships

Specialization scholarships may be available if the focus of your study is in specific areas like oncology social work, or aging and gerontology, or those working in social justice or public health. The Melanie Foundation Scholarship awards money to graduate or doctoral candidates studying the field of mental health, and there are many other opportunities for support for graduate students focusing on social work in healthcare at scholarships.com.

Service scholarships

Service scholarships can be more targeted and specific in their requirements, so you’ll need to read their applications carefully. For instance, The Bethesda Lutheran Communities Lutheran Student Scholastic & Service Scholarship offers two scholarships to active Lutheran students who will focus their careers in human services on serving people with developmental disabilities, while the George and Donna Nigh Public Service Scholarship provides “scholarship opportunities to outstanding students who are preparing for careers in public service,” though “(e)ligible applicants must be residents of Oklahoma and attend a college or university in Oklahoma.”

Which nonprofits offer scholarships to social workers?

The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) has a foundation page that is a great resource to explore in your search for funding and offers two scholarships for master’s degree candidates. The Consuelo W. Gosnell Memorial Scholarship “is awarded to master’s degree candidates in social work who have demonstrated a commitment to working with, or who have a special affinity with, American Indian/Alaska Native and Hispanic/Latino populations. Candidates who have demonstrated a commitment to working with public or voluntary nonprofit agencies or with local grassroots groups in the United States are also eligible.” They also feature the Verne LaMarr Lyons Memorial Scholarship for master’s degree candidates who “demonstrate an interest in or has experience with health/mental health practice and have a commitment to working in African American communities.”

How can I qualify for an MSW scholarship?

Putting in the time for some quality research will yield the information you need from scholarship and other funding sources. Of course, you will be required to submit documentation regarding your income and resources (provided through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA application), as well as undergraduate transcripts, test scores, essays, personal statements, and letters of recommendation.

Make sure to read all materials and instructions carefully when you apply. You may be able to reuse essays and answers from application to application, but make sure you fill out each with fresh eyes and a clear understanding of what each institution requires (and tailor your responses accordingly!).

What are some other ways I can finance my MSW?

There are other sources of financing to help you cover the cost of graduate school, including grants, fellowships, loans, stipends—and, in some instances, even employer tuition reimbursement.

Grants are similar to scholarships in that, unlike loans, you don’t need to pay them back. To fulfill the requirements of a grant, it’s likely you’ll need to report your grades and provide periodic updates on your progress. You may need to repay a grant if you withdraw from school or fall below a required GPA, so read grant applications carefully and be prepared to follow-through on all preconditions.

Fellowships are typically merit-based and available both from schools and external organizations, and are more likely to be applicable to internships or fieldwork, as they are short-term.

Loans are always an option, but you should be very careful about how and how much you borrow. There are state and federal loans available to college students, and private loans designed for graduate students, but they will need to be paid back, with interest. There are loan forgiveness programs available from groups like the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) that might prove very helpful, if loans are something you’d consider taking on to help finance your education.

You may want to explore each of these options for use separately, or in combination, in order to help pay your tuition bill. Approaching the financing of your degree is as equally important as your search for just the right graduate school—you can’t do one without the other—and doing your due diligence regarding your financial aid beforehand will help ensure your satisfaction with earning your degree (and lessen your anxiety) and avoid any unpleasant financial surprises along the way.

(Written by Lucy Davies)

(Last Updated on February 26, 2024)

The benefits of a teaching or education master’s are undeniable. Educators with advanced degrees earn more money than their bachelor’s-degree-only peers—often a lot more. They also enjoy a broader range of elementary education and secondary education opportunities—including chances to join administration—with a graduate degree.

The question is whether the career-boosting power of a master’s in teaching or master’s in education is worth the cost. If you’re looking at high-profile MAT or MEd programs with a correspondingly high price tag, determining the ROI can be tough. The costs are undoubtedly a little daunting when you’re earning the average teacher’s salary.

Luckily, there are many government, nonprofit, and private scholarships for teachers and future teachers available to help you mitigate the expense of going to grad school. The only reason more people don’t take advantage of this free money is that getting it takes work. First, you have to find the right scholarships. Then, you have to apply for them. Scholarships for teachers are granted based on subject area, academic merit, need, location, and other qualifiers. Applying for multiple scholarships can be a time-consuming process.

Time-consuming, yes, but also undeniably worthwhile for many. Every scholarship dollar is one dollar you don’t have to pay while enrolled in a part-time or full-time master’s program. In this article about scholarships for teachers in graduate school, we cover:

  • Where can I find information about scholarships for teachers and other educators?
  • What types of scholarships are there for master’s in education students?
  • Do I have to be a teacher to qualify for Master of Education scholarships?
  • Are there corporate scholarships for teachers and educators?
  • How can I qualify for master’s in education scholarships?
  • What are some other ways I can finance my master’s degree?

Where can I find information about scholarships for teachers and other educators?

Locating appropriate scholarships can be more challenging than applying for them. That’s because there are millions of scholarships sponsored by thousands of agencies and companies. Most colleges and universities collect information about scholarships available to different departments on their websites, and financial aid counselors can also be helpful resources.

That said, finding scholarships for teachers going to graduate school often means sorting through pages and pages of scholarships that aren’t a good fit to find the handful that are. One way to speed up the process is to use scholarship aggregator sites like Fastweb and Scholarships.com. These sites let you search their huge databases of scholarships by various criteria (e.g., location, degrees earned, or field of education) to narrow down your results to only those you’re most likely to qualify for.

Finding scholarships for teachers in graduate school can be slightly more challenging because not all scholarship search sites differentiate between graduate scholarships and undergraduate scholarships. Sallie Mae has a graduate scholarship search platform on its site with 950,000 scholarships just for graduate students.

Many of these sites require searchers to sign up before they can see the full list of results. To ensure your inbox isn’t overwhelmed with updates, create a new email address just for your scholarship search.

What types of scholarships are there for master’s in education students?

Merit scholarships for teachers

These scholarships exist to help teachers with excellent academic and professional records fund their graduate study. Some merit scholarships restrict eligibility to financially disadvantaged applicants. Still, many exist to reward especially talented teachers, aspiring teachers with high GPAs, or teachers whose extracurricular activities are in some way exceptional.

Need-based scholarships for teachers

Need-based scholarships often have only one requirement: applicants must demonstrate financial need, though some need-based scholarships do take academic achievement, demographics, and other factors into account. The Gates Millennium Scholars Program, for example, is a full-ride scholarship for low-income minority students pursuing degrees in education (and some other disciplines).

Individual scholarships for teachers

In these scholarship programs for graduate education majors, recipients may not need to meet academic requirements. Instead, they agree to perform some form of service upon the completion of their degrees. A foundation dedicated to bringing qualified teachers into elementary schools and high schools in underserved districts might provide scholarships to teachers in master’s degree programs who commit to teaching in these shortage areas for a specified number of years after graduation.

Identity-specific scholarships for teachers

Students in graduate programs who identify as members of protected or underrepresented minority groups are eligible for this type of scholarship. Some graduate scholarships for teachers are earmarked for racial or ethnic groups, like African Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanic Americans, Middle Eastern Americans, or Native Americans. Others are for LGBTQ+ students. To qualify for this type of scholarship, you may also need to be either the first person in your family to be accepted into a higher education program or a first-generation US citizen.

Specialty scholarships for teachers

If you’re already a teacher and you’re going back to school to become a subject-matter expert or specialist, look for scholarships specific to your discipline or the specialty area you want to join (like early childhood education or foreign language instruction). Students enrolled in the University of Pittsburgh‘s School of Education to earn an MAT in either Mathematics or Science Education may qualify for specific scholarships that other master’s in teaching students don’t.

School-specific scholarships

Like many schools, the School of Education at the University of Pittsburgh has a list of scholarships and grants available on its website. If you can’t find any information about available scholarships on your school website, contact the school’s Education Department to ask for a list of scholarships available to students pursuing graduate teaching degrees.

Scholarships sponsored by professional associations

Many professional associations sponsor scholarships and grants for students enrolled in programs related to specific fields. One such scholarship is the National Council of Teachers of English’s Edwyna Wheadon Postgraduate Training Scholarship Fund for middle and high school English teachers who want to take graduate-level courses.

Do I have to be a teacher to qualify for Master of Education scholarships?

Not necessarily. There are graduate scholarships for teachers that stipulate that applicants must have completed a teacher education program and have a certain amount of teaching experience or meet specific work requirements to qualify. To be eligible for the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics’ $3,000 Engaging Students in Learning Mathematics Grant, for instance, teachers must teach mathematics in the sixth, seventh, or eighth grade for at least 50 percent of the school day.

There are also, however, many graduate teacher scholarships for college students launching teaching careers or college graduates who want to become second-career teachers. In some cases, these scholarships require applicants to agree to meet specific post-graduation work commitments. The American Association for the Advancement of the Sciences’ Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program is one example of this type of scholarship for aspiring educators. Open to both undergraduates and graduates who plan to teach STEM subjects, it provides recipients with full tuition plus a stipend—provided they teach for two to five years in a high-need school district after graduation.

Are there corporate scholarships for teachers and educators?

There are plenty of corporate and company-sponsored scholarships for teachers. Many people searching for scholarships don’t realize that in addition to the scholarships offered by large national and multinational corporations, there are also small businesses that sponsor scholarships at the local level. Sometimes these are offered directly, though programs that award larger scholarships may be overseen by a foundation created to manage the scholarship program.

Corporate scholarships for teachers are often awarded to recipients who plan to teach subjects related to a corporation’s niche. National Geographic Learning sponsors a National Association of Agricultural Educators scholarship for teachers who want to work for agricultural education programs.

How can I qualify for master’s in education scholarships?

Every scholarship-granting organization is looking for different qualities in recipients. Applicants are asked to provide different forms of documentation, depending on what kind of scholarship they’re hoping to receive. When scholarships are based on financial need, applicants may be asked to submit proof of income and other resources (usually by providing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) application or tax statements). Organizations and companies that fund merit-based scholarships typically ask for applicants to submit transcripts and test scores. In many cases, applicants must also submit a short essay or personal statement detailing why they deserve the available funds as well as multiple letters of recommendation.

You can maximize the chances that you’ll qualify for graduate scholarships for teachers by applying for various scholarships and always reading application guidelines carefully. Nearly all funding organizations and firms publish all the information you’ll need to apply, including application deadlines, detailed instructions, contact information, downloadable application templates, and a list of essential components.

Here are four tips that can help you get more scholarships:

  • Follow instructions carefully. Organizations that grant scholarships receive many applications from people who didn’t read the application guidelines. The simple fact that you met the basic requirements can set your application apart.
  • Don’t try to reinvent the wheel. If you’re serious about landing as many teaching scholarships as possible, keep track of the essay questions you’ve already answered. Whenever possible, edit these for subsequent applications.
  • Keep your search for graduate scholarships broad. In addition to graduate scholarships for teachers, look for scholarships related to your location, religion, ethnicity, interests, gender, or community activities.
  • Set a target number of applications. Applying for graduate scholarships can feel like a never-ending slog (especially given that many scholarships are granted for just one semester or academic year). Knowing that the end is in sight can help you stay focused and stay positive.

What are some other ways I can finance my master’s degree?

Teachers pursuing graduate degrees have access to all the conventional funding sources. These include federal government loans, state government loans, and private student loans (which can be used to cover tuition, books, supplies, and even housing), government or private education grants that don’t have to be repaid, and employer tuition reimbursement for those teachers lucky enough to have their degrees partially or fully funded by their districts.

You may also be eligible for one or more loan forgiveness programs for teachers after earning an MAT or MEd. These programs are designed to encourage more people to become school teachers by waiving repayment for subsidized and unsubsidized loans for teachers willing to work for an educational service agency, a school serving low-income families, or an area with a major teacher shortage.

Some financing options are specific to one demographic. Troops to Teachers, for example, is a program run by the Department of Defense to help veterans launch new careers in teaching and address teacher shortages in public schools in underserved areas of the US (especially in subjects like math, science, and special education). Veterans enrolled in the program receive both financial assistance and job coaching.

As you research scholarships, grant programs, fellowship programs, and other funding opportunities, you’ll discover that scholarship award amounts for teachers pursuing graduate degrees in education tend to be more modest than those available to undergraduate students. Don’t let that discourage you from putting in the time and effort it takes to land one or more of them. Keep in mind that the cost of a master’s degree in teaching is often less than the cost of an undergraduate degree in education. More importantly, scholarships add up. A single $2,000 scholarship might seem like a drop in the bucket, but land a few of them, and those scholarships may cover a significant chunk of your degree.

(Written by Christa Terry)

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