Zina Kumok Image Written By: Zina Kumok | Edited By: Kevin Ladd | Updated: July 1, 2024

Music Scholarships

Five college students with musical instruments

When most students think about scholarships, they imagine scholarships designed for students who have high GPAs or excellent test scores. Maybe they also think about scholarships that are for athletically inclined students or ones who have few financial resources. But there’s another type of scholarship: a music scholarship. Music scholarships are given to students who are interested in music and plan to pursue it in college. Music scholarships are different from other types of scholarships, so there’s a lot you should know before you start looking. Read below to understand where to find them, how to apply and what makes them unique compared to other types of scholarships.

Continue reading the article below the scholarship list.

25 Music Scholarships with Approaching Deadlines

What is a music scholarship?

A music scholarship is given to a student who has some kind of musical talent, usually vocally or instrumentally. Music scholarships may be given to students who are attending a specific music school or conservatory or to music students in general.

Like with other kinds of scholarships, music scholarships will often include an application that will ask for your personal, contact and demographic information. You may also have to share financial details about you and your family. This may be used to determine if you have demonstrated financial need.

You may also have to write an essay and provide at least one letter of recommendation from an adult, like a music teacher or band director. Some music scholarships may also ask for a video instead of or in addition to a traditional written essay.

How to apply for a music scholarship

One of the biggest things that sets music scholarships apart from other types of awards is the audition.

Like with other kinds of artistic scholarships, you may have to audition in person or virtually as part of a music scholarship application. This audition may be an important part of your application. Since the Covid-19 pandemic, many music schools now allow virtual auditions.

Aside from the audition, applying for a music scholarship is similar to other scholarship applications. Just make sure to understand the eligibility rules and requirements and ask the scholarship coordinator if you’re unsure about any of the process.

No matter what kind of school you plan to attend, you should fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA is a standard form you must complete if you want to receive federal student loans, grants and work-study. Even if you don't think that you will qualify for need-based aid, you should still fill out the FAFSA. Without it, you will not be eligible for federal student loans, which are a much better option than private student loans.

Also, many schools will only award their own scholarships if you have already submitted the FAFSA. This is even true for merit-based scholarships. Some third-party scholarships may also require the FAFSA. There’s no fee associated with the FAFSA, so there’s no reason not to apply.

Some schools may require that students submit the CSS Profile, which is an alternative to the FAFSA. CSS Profile information can be used to determine if you qualify for need-based aid. In some cases, you may have to submit both the FAFSA and the CSS Profile.

For example, the renowned Berklee College of Music requires that students complete the CSS Profile, not the FAFSA, to be eligible for need-based financial aid. Juilliard may also require the CSS Profile for students who need financial aid.

If you’re applying for scholarships through your school, the best thing you can do is complete your application as soon as possible. Sometimes awards are only given on a first-come, first-serve basis. If you wait too long, you may not receive as much financial aid as you would have otherwise.

Also, some schools have two financial aid deadlines. If you are relying on financial aid, then you should submit everything by the earlier deadline. That’s another good reason to submit the FAFSA and/or the CSS Profile early as well.

How to find music scholarships

Music scholarships are often found through your specific school, whether it’s an official conservatory or a general college with a music department. When you apply, you may be automatically entered in the running to win a music scholarship.

For example, Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music does not require undergraduate or graduate students to submit a separate application to receive a merit scholarship.

However, that may not be the policy everywhere. At some schools, you may still have to submit a separate application to be considered for additional scholarships.

If you’re not sure what your school’s process is, you can reach out to the financial aid department directly and ask them. When you do, make sure to determine the official deadline for all possible scholarships.

You can find music scholarships through musical organizations or groups. Scholarships.com will also match you to music scholarships you are eligible for.

Music scholarship Frequently Asked Questions

Can I get a band scholarship?

If you're a member of the marching band and want to join your college’s marching band, you may be able to win a special scholarship.

For example, Purdue University offers several different band scholarships for students. Their Leath Scholarship provide $1,000 for in-state students and $2,000 for out-of-state students. This is a one-time award. Between 20 and 30 awards will be given out.

Are some music scholarships only available for certain instruments?

While some music scholarships are open to all kinds of artists, others may have more niche requirements.

For example, the GRCF Llewellyn L. Cayvan String Instrument Scholarship is only available to students who play the violin, viola, violoncello, or the bass viol. Both undergraduate and graduate students are eligible to apply.

When should I start looking for music scholarships?

Start now to be on the safe side. Scholarship deadlines can vary wildly but the sooner you begin looking, the less chance there is that you miss out on a scholarship deadline. There are scholarships for all students; even those still in their freshman year of high school. If you’re a high school senior, then you definitely should start looking for scholarships ASAP.

And when you’re already enrolled in college, you can still keep looking for scholarships. One of the most common mistakes that students make is not applying for scholarships after finishing high school.

Do you have to attend a music school to win a music scholarship?

While some scholarships may require that applicants attend a music school, others may be open to all kinds of music students. You may just have to major in music or be pursuing a career in music to be eligible.

Are community college students eligible for music scholarships?

If you're a student interested in music and attending a community college, you still might be able to find a music scholarship, though it may be a bit more difficult if you are attending a 2-year school.

Even if you can’t find a music scholarship as a community college student, you can still apply for other types of scholarships and grants. If you’re attending an in-state institution, for example, which you definitely would be if you are enrolled in a community college, you may qualify for grants that can significantly reduce your expenses.

Are graduate students eligible for music scholarships?

While the number of scholarships is higher for undergraduate students, there are still a fair number of awards for graduate and doctoral music students. These students may find it easier to apply for scholarships directly through their schools.

Many graduate and doctoral students can find assistantship or instructor positions that will often come with a stipend or a large tuition discount. These positions are often limited so you should apply as soon as possible.

Are there music scholarships for minority students?

Minority students who plan to attend or are already attending a music school can find special scholarships just for them.

For example, the Great Value Colleges Music Scholarship for Black Students is given out twice a year to Black students who are majoring or minoring in music. The award is given out twice a year for $5,000 each.

Do music scholarships have a need-based component?

Music scholarships may only judge candidates based on artistic talent and ability. However, some will also consider demonstrated financial need. This will partially depend on whether you're applying for a scholarship with a school or through a third-party organization.

For example, Juilliard says that most of their institutional scholarships require both merit and demonstrated financial need. There are a few scholarships that only consider merit, but these are the exceptions.

What is the typical GPA requirement for a music scholarship?

While students interested in music scholarships need to work hard at their craft, they should also work hard academically. Many music scholarships still have a minimum GPA requirement that you must fulfill to be eligible.

While the exact GPA requirement will vary, a basic rule of thumb is to maintain a 3.0 GPA or higher. For example, at the University of Colorado Boulder’s College of Music, students must keep a 3.0 GPA to stay eligible for any existing internal music scholarships.

If their GPA falls below that minimum, they may be placed on scholarship probation with one chance to improve their GPA. If it still doesn’t hit the 3.0 mark, then their scholarship will be revoked.

If I’m a music student, should I only apply for music scholarships?

While music scholarships may seem like a natural fit if music is your main focus, you could be hurting yourself if you don’t expand your scholarship search.

Regardless of your intended major, you should make sure that you look for awards that aren’t just based on that single criterion. Think about what else you could be well-suited for, like basic academic scholarships or awards for students with a similar demographic background.

For example, if you are part of the LGBTQIA+ community or an ally thereof, you can look for scholarships that are only available to students who fit that description. If you're having trouble thinking about the kinds of scholarships you may be eligible for, sit down with a family member or good friend and ask them to brainstorm with you. You might be surprised at the list you come up with. If you have African American heritage, you should also consider searching for African American Scholarships or scholarships for Black students, for another example.

Are international students eligible for music scholarships?

International students studying in the U.S. may have more difficulty finding scholarships that they can apply for. Their best chance at finding financial aid may come from their home country, not the U.S.

However, some music schools still provide scholarships to international students. Like with other types of scholarships, you may be judged on your financial need, not just your musical talent.

Juilliard does offer scholarships to international students, as long as they complete the specific financial aid application.

Are there full-tuition scholarships available for music students?

In most cases, music scholarships are only worth a few thousand dollars and are often cannot be renewed for subsequent years. However, there are always exceptions.

For example, the famous Curtis Institute of Music provides full-ride tuition scholarships for all students, even if they don’t have demonstrated financial need. Those who do have demonstrated financial need may also be eligible for scholarships to help with living expenses.

Can I use state grants for music schools?

If you need financial aid to attend music school, don't forget about state grants. If you're attending a music school in-state, you may qualify for a state grant. Some state grants may only be available for students attending a public school, while others are available to students attending any accredited school.

To apply for a state grant, you may have to submit a separate application. Many state grants also require that students complete the FAFSA to qualify.

Some states will accept all students who qualify and submit the application by the deadline, while others have a limited number of awards. It's always best to submit the application as soon as possible, even if you're not sure you're going to attend a local school.

You can visit the FAFSA website for a list of state grant deadlines. If you’re not sure what kind of grants are available, just visit your state’s department or bureau of education.