College can be expensive for anyone, but it may be especially difficult for dancers whose families have already invested a great deal of money in their dance training. Luckily, several national and regional scholarships are available to dancers in the United States.
These scholarships are available to students throughout the country although eligibility requirements differ from scholarship to scholarship. Be sure to check with the organizations you're interested in before starting the application process.
Beverly Miller Dance Scholarship
The Costume Gallery presents the Beverly Miller Dance Scholarship each year. It's open to citizens of both the United States and Canada who are between 12 and 21. The scholarship was established for the purpose of helping young people pursue their educations as dancers. $10,000 in scholarships are given on an annual basis. One award for $1,000 and eighteen scholarships of $500 are given annually.
To apply for the Beverly Miller Dance Scholarship, applicants must fill out an online application and describe their passion for dance. They also must express how they would use the scholarship and acquire letters of recommendation from their teachers. Watch their blog for announcements and updates.
World Dances Scholarship
The World Dances offers a monthly Harlequin Floors Scholarship Contest. This isn't a traditional scholarship, but applying is fairly easy. Simply upload your dance video and supply the requested information, then it becomes a contest in which visitors to the site vote for their favorites. Therefore, you can ask your friends to vote by posting the link to your video on social media. Four winners are chosen for a $250 scholarship every month. Two of those winners are chosen by votes on the videos alone while the other two are chosen by a panel of judges. According to The World Dances organization, this is a monthly scholarship for dancers to put toward their dance dreams.
The National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts provides the annual YoungArts Scholarship, with Dance among the ten disciplines that are eligible. The types of dance that are eligible include ballet, hip hop, and choreography. Hopeful applicants must be between 15 and 18 years of age and in grades 10 through 12. You can start the process online and must pay a fee of $35 to register with the program. All applicants are then included in the organization's scholarship list service.
This scholarship program gives awards to 150 dancers each year, with award amounts from $250 to $10,000. In addition to the monetary awards, winners are invited to participate in National YoungArts Week and often regional programs. Winners also receive mentoring and professional support that can last throughout their careers.
Regional Dance America
Regional Dance America is an organization on a mission to decentralize dance throughout the country. It offers a scholarship specifically for the organization's own National Choreography Intensive that welcomes students from around the country and is held on the campus of Florida State University. It aims to award around $1,650 per dancer for its multi-faceted program that brings successful, esteemed dance professionals together to teach aspiring dancers a variety of aspects of dance.
National Federation of Music Clubs Awards
While they do not offer traditional scholarships, the National Federation of Music Clubs offers over $750,000 in awards each year. Applicants should be members of the National Federation of Music Clubs at the individual or group level, but joining the organization is rather straightforward and easy. Awards are available in a variety of denominations, and applicants need to be native-born or naturalized citizens of the United States.
This organization offers prizes on local, state, and national levels. Among the scholarships offered are:
- The NFMC Thelma A. Robinson Award in Ballet in the amount of $2,500
- The NFMC Dance Award (Jazz, Lyrical or Tap) with a first place prize of $200
- The NFMC Dance Award for Ages 15 to 18: Ballet and/or Theatre Dance (Jazz, Lyrical or Tap) with an award of $300
Princess Grace Awards
The Princess Grace Awards are for students all over the country who are passionate about dance, theater, or film. The award amount varies according to the tuition costs of the applicant's school, and the award typically ranges from $7,500 to $30,000. Dance scholarships must go directly to tuition, and they may not be used for living expenses or other related educational costs for the dancer.
The application process starts when a school or artistic director nominates the dancer, and the dancer herself must be entering her last year of an undergraduate or graduate program. Nominating oneself is not allowed. The nominator must submit a typed, one-page statement that explains why the dancer deserves a Princess Grace Award, and the statement must also describe how the candidate has the potential to advance the field of dancing.
The nominee must then provide a completed online application, work samples, a resume, and personal statement. The Princess Grace Foundation scholarships must be used for study in the United States, and the winners must be citizens of the United States or have permanent residency status.
Association of Dance Conventions & Competitions
The Association of Dance Conventions & Competitions offers scholarships that range from $500 to $1,000 per school year for each student who is chosen for the scholarship. In order to qualify, students need to have attended at least two ADCC Member competition events during the current season, and applicants must be high school seniors who have already been accepted to an accredited college or university.
You can apply online. Students should complete the application form, provide a personal, one-page essay, obtain at least one recommendation from a studio director or other dance professional, send a headshot photo, and provide a high school transcript. Awards are given based on performance experience in ADCC competitions, the applicant's passion for dance, and academic achievement.
National Dance Education Organization
The National Dance Education Organization offers $300 scholarships to students to attend their conferences. To be considered for awards from the National Dance Education Organization, you need to be a current NDEO member and have already registered and paid for the NDEO National Conference. If an applicant's school is not an NDEO member, the student will need to pay $175 for the conference; if the school is a member, the rate is $125. Additionally, applicants must be enrolled to be a full-time student with a major in dance at an accredited college or university.
To apply for the scholarship, applicants should provide their basic information, a color head shot, their NDEO member number, and a receipt for the National Conference registration. Students should also submit a description of their current involvement in dance, future goals, and reasons for needing the scholarship. Additionally, applicants are responsible for securing a letter of recommendation from a dance teacher or faculty member.
Most regional scholarships are only available to students who live in, or attend school in, specific states or areas. These dance scholarships typically seek to celebrate local talent by providing opportunities to help emerging artists continue their educations. Additional eligibility rules also apply.
Donna Reed Performing Arts Scholarship
Donna Reed was the beloved entertainer who was the star of the aptly titled The Donna Reed Show. The Donna Reed Performing Arts Scholarship was created in her memory by the organization that also honors her legacy, the Donna Reed Foundation for the Performing Arts. This foundation offers scholarships to performing arts students, including dancers, in Iowa, Donna's home state. Scholarships of up to $1,000 per student are awarded each year.
Applicants should be Iowa high school students who have demonstrated an interest in the performing arts and who are in grades 10 through 12 with a grade point average of at least 3.0 at an accredited high school. Students should initiate their applications online at the foundation's website, and they need to be prepared to submit a video audition along with a completed application.
Arts for Life!
Arts for Life! celebrates the creativity and artistic talents of students throughout the state of Florida. It awards $2,000 to 25 high school seniors each year across five categories, one of which is Dance. Applicants simply submit an essay on how the art of dance has positively influenced their lives. They upload two videos that showcase contrasting pieces, ensuring that the content is suitable for general audiences. The performances that are submitted must be current. The choreography doesn't have to be the original work of the applicant, but dancers must perform solo.
Gregory Hines Youth Scholarship Fund
The American Tap Dance Foundation presents scholarships primarily to New York dancers through the Gregory Hines Youth Scholarship Fund each year. While many awards are offered to younger dancers, there are also scholarships that college students can win for tuition. These are based on merit as well as need. Most of these scholarships are partial awards that cover between 25 percent to 50 percent of the costs of tuition while a select few full scholarships are awarded every year.
The application process is fairly simple and the application itself can be downloaded online. Applicants should ask for letters of recommendation from dance teachers and others that know of their artistic talent and interact with them on a regular basis. Dancers must then fill out the application and upload it, and send in the $40 registration fee. Keep in mind that you may also need to pay a registration fee for classes with this organization.
When students are certain that they want to attend one specific performing arts university, their best scholarship choices may very well be specific to the school they hope to attend. Many dance schools provide scholarships based on need, merit, and other qualifications.
As the most revered performing arts college in the country, Julliard's dance department boasts such famous alumni as Bebe Neuwirth, Phoebe Cates, Lar Lubovitch, Paul Taylor, and Ohad Naharin. There is a lot of competition for both admission and scholarships at this Manhattan-based school.
Julliard describes its scholarship policy as need-based and merit-informed. As such, the priority is in helping students who really need the assistance to attend. The exact amount of each scholarship and award varies from student to student. The awards are typically renewable as long as the student re-applies and is making satisfactory academic progress.
Students should apply for financial aid to be eligible for scholarships.
Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University
Considered to be among the top dance colleges in the country, the Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University hosts over 500 on-campus events each year. The school is located only 45 minutes from New York City, so it offers students access to all the cultural attractions of the Big Apple. Its alumni include Calista Flockhart, Kristin Davis, Jane Krakowski, and Sheryl Lee Ralph.
As an accredited member of the National Association of Schools of Dance, the dance department of Mason Gross offers a variety of degrees, including a Bachelor of Fine Arts, a Masters of Fine Arts in Dance, and a Masters in Education with a focus on dance education. Scholarships may be awarded to students on any of these degree tracks.
The types of scholarships available include academic, artistic, need-based aid, and combination awards. Artistic scholarships are awarded based on special talents, academic merit, or other achievements. The award amount varies depending on the student and situation. In addition to their application and fee that must be submitted through Rutgers University, prospective Mason Gross students should also apply for financial aid to qualify for a scholarship. The application fee for Mason Gross students is $65.
The University of the Arts
Located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the dance program of the University of the Arts offers students a strong Bachelor of Fine Arts program to prepare them for lives as professional dancers. Famous alumni of the University of the Arts include Courtney Lapresi, David Graham, Kate Flannery, and Judith Jamison.
Institutional scholarships and grants are available based on academic excellence, talent, and need. While the award will vary greatly from student to student, the University of the Arts provides a mock-up of a possible sample of financial assistance which reveals one student receiving a Promising Artist Award in the amount of $13,000 and another receiving a Promising Artist Award in the amount of $20,000.
Keep On Dancing
Keep in mind that it's best to reach out to your guidance counselor at your high school and the financial aid office of prospective universities. They should be able to provide you with the latest and emerging scholarships for dancers. While dancers are typically eligible for all academic scholarship options that are available to most students, most dancers aren't able to apply for dance scholarships with their schools the way that football players or cheerleaders can. Full rides are rare for dancers, but you can still find ways to help finance your education so you can work toward a rewarding career in dance.