Film school is expensive. For many future film students, financial aid is a necessity when it comes to attending film school. Luckily, there are plenty of scholarships available to undergraduate and graduate students that make studying film feasible.
In addition to general scholarships and scholarships awarded specifically through individual universities and departments, there are a handful of private scholarships that are geared towards filmmakers, storytellers, and other creatives. If you’re worried about how to pay for your film degree, check out our list of the top 10 scholarships for film school:
Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences Student Film Awards
The Student Academy Awards provide student filmmakers with the opportunity to win up to $5,000 and gain recognition for their excellence in film. Categories include Animation, Documentary, Live Action Narrative and Alternative/Experimental. Previous award winners include filmmakers Spike Lee, Robert Zemeckis, and Patricia Cardoso. There is both a domestic (U.S.) and international film school competition included. Ultimately, this is a very prestigious award that any aspiring filmmaker would greatly benefit from. There are three winners for each category.
- Domestic: Any current film student pursuing either a Bachelors or Masters degree at a school recognized the Student Academy Awards (SAA) Executive Committee.
- International: Film students currently enrolled in a CILECT member school or students who have a film currently selected for a SAA qualified festival.
Amount awarded: Up to $5,000 (first place in a category)
Deadline: TBA for 2020
AIGA Worldstudio Scholarship
The AIGA Worldstudio Scholarship is dedicated to aiding students from underrepresented and disadvantaged backgrounds that want to pursue a degree in visual arts. Their mission is to promote diversity in creative fields and cultivate social responsibility. Although this arts scholarship is not available to general film students, students who are pursuing animation are encouraged to apply. Since 1995, over 700 students have received this award.
Eligibility: Undergraduate or Graduate students pursuing a degree in graphic design, illustration (including animation), or photography.
Amount awarded: up to $5,000
Application: the application includes a written statement, financial information, and 5-10 portfolio samples.
Deadline: April 15th, 2020
ASIFA – Hollywood’s Animation Educator Forum Scholarships
The ASIFA scholarships are intended for students who are pursuing a degree or focus in animation. The animation scholarship is merit-based and includes a one-year associate membership to ASIFA-Hollywood if selected. In 2018, this scholarship was awarded to eight students.
Eligibility: Open to undergraduate students in their second year of study or above. Also open to graduate students.
Amount awarded: $2,500 - $5,000
Application: the application includes a biography, proposal, estimated budget on how the funds will be spent, portfolio work, and two letters of recommendation.
Deadline: TBA for 2020
CBC Spouses Visual Arts Scholarship
The CBC Spouses Visual Arts Scholarship is intended for any African American or black student who is pursuing a degree in visual arts, including filmmaking and acting. This visual arts scholarship is awarded based on academic merit and community involvement, and is awarded to over 300 students annually.
Eligibility: Open to both masters and undergraduate students.
Amount awarded: $3,000
Application: the application includes a resume, two letters of recommendation, an official transcript, and five portfolio pieces.
Deadline: April 3rd, 2020
The Charles and Lucille King Family Foundation
The Charles and Lucille King Family Foundation scholarship is awarded annually to undergraduate juniors and seniors studying film and television. This film scholarship specifically seeks out students who demonstrate academic excellence and potential in the professional world.
Eligibility: Junior and senior undergraduate students
Amount awarded: up to $3,500 per academic year
Application: the application includes financial information, a list of previous awards/achievements, a personal statement, and at least two letters of recommendation.
Deadline: April 15th, 2020
The Francis D. Lyon Graduate Fellowship
The Francic D. Lyon film scholarship seeks to aid graduate students who are pursuing a field in film, drama, writing, and/or entertainment. The Phi Delta Theta fraternity awards this film school scholarship, but students do not need to be members of the fraternity in order to be eligible. There is one recipient annually.
Eligibility: anyone who will be enrolled in a filmmaking graduate program for the entirety of the upcoming year. Must be enrolled in a film school in the U.S. or Canada.
Amount awarded: $2,500
Application: the application includes a work sample and a transcript.
Deadline: March 29th, 2020
The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences
The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences awards multiple national and regional scholarships for students pursuing a degree in the entertainment industry, film, television, and/or journalism. Check out the link to see which scholarship applies to you.
Eligibility: primarily high school students who are pursuing an undergraduate degree.
Amount awarded: varies with each scholarship.
Application: the application materials vary with each scholarship.
Deadline: March 15th, 2020 (for all national scholarships)
Support Creativity Scholarship
The Support Creativity Scholarship offers three different scholarships for students who are pursuing any creative degree, including filmmaking. The decision is based on a project that must be completed specifically for the scholarship. The project should demonstrate a student’s passion for their field. This scholarship is awarded to students who are pursuing an education in the New York area (New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, or Pennsylvania). There is one winner per category (3).
Eligibility: undergraduate or graduate student pursuing an education in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, or Pennsylvania.
Amount awarded: $1,000
Application: the application includes an essay that describes an innovative design. This design should demonstrate your strong enthusiasm for a specific field.
Deadline: TBA for 2020
The TalNexus Scholarship for a Master in Fine Arts Degree
The TalNexus Scholarship for an MFA degree seeks out exemplary storytellers who are pursuing a Masters in the Fine Arts. Students who are studying film and writing are especially encouraged to apply. In addition to the monetary award, selected recipients are automatically accepted to the TalNexus’ Writers Workshop or Film Lab! These workshops are entirely free and include room and board.
Eligibility: Those who have a background in writing or filmmaking and have been admitted to an MFA program.
Amount awarded: up to $4,000
Application: the application includes samples of your portfolio and proof of enrollment in an MFA program.
Deadline: September 2020
Women in Film Scholarships
Women in Film’s mission is to make the voices of female storytellers heard. The Women in Film Scholarship Program is committed to helping women of all backgrounds and ages pursue a field in film, television and/or communications. The scholarships are primarily directed to students seeking degrees in the Los Angeles area, including at institutions such as AFI, Chapman, UCLA, and USC.
Eligibility: varies with each scholarship. Student must be an undergraduate or graduate student pursuing a degree at a specific institution.
Amount awarded: varies with each scholarship
Application: varies with each scholarship
Deadline: varies with each scholarship
Ultimately, scholarships can help you realize your goal of becoming a filmmaker. Although film school can seem pricey, pursuing a degree in film becomes much more practical and worthwhile if you receive some kind of financial aid. For more information on film schools and film programs, take a look at FilmSchool.org's Film School Database.