You need to begin filling out applications for scholarships well before you expect to enter photography school. The first step is to complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). You can find it online at the FAFSA website. You need your current tax forms, financial records, and a calculator, and it will take a few hours to complete. If you are under 23 and still living with your parents, you will fill out the form using their tax returns and information. The form can be submitted online.
The money from scholarships, like grant money, does not have to be paid back.
Scholarship money can be awarded based on a large array of factors. Your high school GPA, community service, and photography contests can all win you scholarship money. This money comes from colleges, businesses, nonprofit groups, and others, and it is usually not based on financial need, though that can be a factor. Even if you don’t have the highest grades, there are scholarships available. The school that you plan to attend will have lists and you can also search online for possibilities.
Some scholarships are available from photography associations. For example, the National Press Photographers Foundation, Inc. has scholarships for up to $2,000 for undergraduate and continuing education students. Professional Photographers of America also awards scholarships. Do an online search and you will find photography scholarships that are attached to a particular school. The school of your choice may have information on its website about possible scholarships. You may need to provide a portfolio of photographs that you have taken, and some scholarships are awarded in specific categories, such as scenic, digital, news photos, or portraits.
There are other scholarships not based on photography. You will find scholarships for older students, minority students, students just out of high school, or those planning to stay in a certain location.
Apply for any scholarships for college students of any major. Many businesses and organizations have scholarships available for their employees or children of their employees. Religious, service, and nonprofit organizations offer scholarships.
Apply for as many scholarships as possible that fit your circumstances. Every little bit helps so you can get through photography school without a heavy load of student loans.