Talented young actors who attend college before hitting the big time in New York or Hollywood could benefit greatly from tuition-saving scholarships for acting.
Although a degree isn’t required, acting programs help deepen your ability to channel characters’ emotions and captivate audiences. Lupita Nyongo, James Franco, Sigourney Weaver, and Debra Messing are just a few actors holding BFA or MFA degrees.
Majoring in acting, especially at NAST-accredited colleges, builds connections for auditioning in this competitive field. Motion picture industry growth is expected to boost acting jobs by 10 percent through 2024. The BLS predicts these 6,600 new roles will provide a mean hourly wage of $37.47, though salary potential is virtually limitless. Prepare yourself with the techniques to impress casting directors with funding from these 25 acting scholarships.
1. Barbizon College Tuition Scholarship
Deadline: December 1st
Barbizon Modeling and Acting International LLC offers a colossal College Tuition Scholarship for $100,000 to cover four years of higher education. Hopeful entrants must be graduating high school seniors in the United States who will study full-time at accredited senior colleges and universities. Legal U.S. residents who aren’t affiliated with Barbizon or its advertising agencies could be selected in the random drawing.
Barbizon College Tuition Scholarship
4950 W. Kennedy Blvd. Suite 200
Tampa, FL 33609
2. CBC Spouses Heineken USA Scholarship
Deadline: April 21st
Established in 2000 in Curtis Mayfield’s honor, the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Spouses Foundation organizes the Heineken USA Scholarship to bestow $3,000 upon African American youth yearly. Funding is reserved for full-time undergraduate students of color who maintain a cumulative GPA of 2.5 or higher in performing arts majors, including acting, drama, and theatre. Applications must feature two electronic recommendations, a 500-word personal statement, and two-minute video audition.
CBC Spouses Heineken USA Scholarship
1720 Massachusetts Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20036
3. Chicago Drama League Retention Scholarship
Deadline: February 1st
At Columbia College Chicago, the Student Financial Services (SFS) Office provides the Chicago Drama League Retention Scholarship for $1,500 to continuing, full-time undergraduate theatre students majoring in acting. Eligibility criteria requires having completed 12+ credits at Columbia, obtaining a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better, demonstrating financial need on the FAFSA, having contributed to the Theatre Department’s productions, and submitting a two- to three-page essay.
Chicago Drama League Retention Scholarship
600 S. Michigan Avenue
Chicago, IL 60605
4. Donal Harrington Memorial Scholarship
Deadline: April 29th
Celebrating its 75th anniversary, the School of Drama at the University of Washington in Seattle awards the Donal Harrington Memorial Scholarship for at least $1,000 to remember the directing professor’s 30-year tenure. It’s intended for Washington State residents who are enrolled as full-time students for the B.A. in Drama or MFA in Acting. Qualified applicants must carry a minimum departmental GPA of 3.5, have unmet financial need, and exhibit outstanding artistic entrepreneurship.
Donal Harrington Memorial Scholarship
101 Hutchinson Hall
Seattle, WA 98195
5. Donna Reed Foundation Scholarships
Deadline: May 31st
Named after the Academy Award-winning actress known for appearing in It’s a Wonderful Life and From Here to Eternity, the Donna Reed Foundation has awarded merit-based scholarships since 1986. For $1,000, Iowa high school seniors must be studying drama and have acted in official school productions. Other qualifications include being accepted at an accredited U.S. college, maintaining good standing with a 3.0 GPA or greater, and providing a high-quality video sample of their acting abilities.
Donna Reed Foundation Scholarships
Denison, IA 51442
6. Elaine Sirkin Forbes Scholarship
Deadline: April 1st
Belonging to the NSPA, The Pittsburgh Foundation manages over 260 funds, including the Elaine Sirkin Forbes Scholarship for $500 to $2,000 each year. Graduating high school seniors from Pennsylvania’s Allegheny County must be pursuing two- or four-year degrees in the visual or performance arts like acting to qualify. Applications are incomplete without a transcript showing a minimum 2.5 GPA, the Student Aid Report (SAR), a one-page personal essay, and two reference letters.
Elaine Sirkin Forbes Scholarship
Five PPG Place Suite 250
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
7. ETSU Diversity in Acting Scholarship
Deadline: March 1st
At East Tennessee State University, the Division of Theatre and Dance grants the Diversity in Acting Scholarship to freshmen and continuing undergraduates who are active theatre majors. Interested actors must attain a minimum major GPA of 3.0, audition for a main role in faculty-directed productions, devote 10+ hours per week to stage work, and complete a theatre course every semester. Applying involves performing two contrasting monologues on video.
ETSU Diversity in Acting Scholarship
201 Campus Center Building
P.O. Box 70626
Johnson City, TN 37614
8. George Heller Memorial Scholarship
Deadline: March 15th
The Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) Foundation honors one of its founders by presenting the George Heller Memorial Scholarship for up to $2,500 annually. Eligible members and their legal dependents can utilize funding for tuition and fees at accredited U.S. higher learning institutions, including acting school. Actors seeking advanced performing arts training could pursue the John L. Dales Transitional Scholarship instead.
George Heller Memorial Scholarship
5757 Wilshire Blvd. Suite PH1
Los Angeles, CA 90036
9. Grand Rapids Combined Theatre Scholarship
Deadline: April 1st
Valued at $2,000, the Grand Rapids Combined Theatre Scholarship stands among the hundreds of funds managed by the Grand Rapids Community Foundation for $1,000 annually. It’s reserved for aspiring actors from Michigan who are enrolled as full-time theatre or performing arts majors at accredited U.S. universities. Selection is based on students’ academic merit, experience in the community theatre scene, financial need, recommendation letters, and professional artistic potential.
Grand Rapids Combined Theatre Scholarship
185 Oakes Street SW
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
10. Henry and Joyce W. Sumid Scholarship
Deadline: April 30th
Known for training well-known actors like Dustin Hoffman and Gene Hackman, the Pasadena Playhouse Alumni & Associates inspires a new generation with the $5,000 Henry and Joyce W. Sumid Scholarship each year. From the associate to the master’s level, this fund helps residents of Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, and Washington study theatre arts. Actors must submit a transcript showing a 3.0 GPA or better, resume of roles played, and theatre instructor’s recommendation.
Henry and Joyce W. Sumid Scholarship
P.O. Box 398
Pasadena, CA 91102
11. Heroes and Legends Scholarship
Deadline: June 17th
Created by Motown alumna Janie Bradford, the Heroes and Legends (HAL) Scholarship assists at-risk, minority youth who demonstrate extraordinary talent and drive for performing arts careers, including acting. Suitable candidates must be U.S. citizens between 17 and 26 years old, reside or study in Southern California, attend accredited colleges or community-based training facilities, consistently earn a minimum 2.0 GPA, and serve as positive role models.
Heroes and Legends Scholarship
361 S. Oakhurst Drive
Beverly Hills, CA 90212
12. Irene Ryan Acting Scholarships
Deadline: December 15th
The University/Resident Theatre Association (URTA) partners with the Kennedy Center to provide 16 regional and two national Irene Ryan Acting Scholarships. Ranging from $500 to $5,000, the funds help exemplary student performers at accredited U.S. institutions who make bold acting choices and have clear objectives in entertainment. Three rounds of live auditions are required, including a contrasting two-person scene and monologue or solo musical number.
Irene Ryan Acting Scholarships
2700 F Street NW
Washington, DC 20566
13. Jean Scharfenberg Scholarship
Deadline: April 30th
Endowed in 1993, the Jean Scharfenberg Scholarship is presented yearly by the Illinois State University School of Theatre to support budding actors with $500 to $1,000. Eligible theatre majors must be seniors or MFA candidates, register for 12+ academic hours per semester, obtain a minimum ISU average of 2.5, participate in main or second stage productions, display strong work ethic, and be beginning a professional acting career. Also consider the Blackfrairs Scholarship and Suzzanne Douglas Scholarship.
Jean Scharfenberg Scholarship
Campus Box 5700
Normal, IL 61790
14. Johnny Depp Scholarship Program
Deadline: June 1st
The Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute offers three yearly scholarships for acting, such as the Johnny Depp Scholarship Program to honor the Pirates of the Caribbean star. It’s designed for domestic students over age 18 who are entering full-time study at the New York or West Hollywood campus of the Two-Year Conservatory with a minimum GPA of 2.5. Applications for the Fall semester must include a head shot, acting resume, official transcript, and two recommendations.
Johnny Depp Scholarship Program
115 East 15th Street
New York, NY 10003
15. Kevin Corrigan Scholarship for Young Actors
Deadline: October 31st
Named after the Bronx native with over 149 acting credits like Goodfellas and The Departed, the Kevin Corrigan Scholarship for Young Actors is gifted by the Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute each year. It’s open to non-matriculated teen actors between 12 and 17 years old who are from New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. Funding helps the talented next generation fund any further study in acting, including college degrees.
Kevin Corrigan Scholarship for Young Actors
115 East 15th Street
New York, NY 10003
16. King Family Undergraduate Scholarships
Deadline: April 1st
The Charles & Lucille King Family Foundation is a New Jersey-based nonprofit founded in 1988 that’s created $7,000 Undergraduate Scholarships to support college juniors and seniors seeking careers in television and film, including acting. Full-time students at accredited, four-year U.S. universities are evaluated based on academic excellence, media industry experience, financial need, and demonstrated potential. There’s also the Foundation’s $10,000 Heinemann Award for New York University students.
King Family Undergraduate Scholarships
400 Madison Avenue Suite 8D
New York, NY 10017
17. M. Josephine O’Neil Arts Award
Deadline: March 1st
In memory of the Lambda State Executive Board member who passed at 100 years old, the Illinois Chapter of the Delta Kappa Gamma Society International gifts the M. Josephine O’Neil Arts Award for $6,000 total annually. Interested women must legally reside in Illinois, approach their junior year at accredited U.S. colleges, declare arts majors like acting or drama, and be recommended by a Lambda State chapter. Don’t forget to attach two dramatic samples on a DVD or CD.
M. Josephine O’Neil Arts Award
3045 Fairway Road
Stockton, IL 61085
18. NATAS Pacific Southwest Scholarships
Deadline: March 31st
Worth $500 to $5,000 apiece, the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS) Pacific Southwest Chapter grants scholarships to full-time undergraduate and graduate students. Applications are only accepted from chapter-affiliated areas, including Las Vegas, San Diego, Santa Barbara, and Palm Springs. Eligible acting majors must take 6+ units per term at accredited colleges, display good scholastic records, plan careers in television, and have need for financial assistance.
NATAS Pacific Southwest Scholarships
P.O. Box 80255
San Diego, Ca 92138
19. Ossie Davis Scholars Program
Deadline: January 31st
The United Negro College Fund (UNCF) administers the Ossie Davis Scholars Program to provide up to $6,800 in honor of the American Theater Hall of Famer and civil rights activist. Interested African American freshmen attending accredited, four-year HBCUs can apply for various majors, including theater, drama, acting, and performing arts. Selected scholars must be legal U.S. residents, hold a minimum 3.0 GPA, and use artistic activism to better humanity.
Ossie Davis Scholars Program
1805 7th Street NW
Washington, DC 20001
20. Richard C. and Joyce J. Hannon Scholarship
Deadline: March 1st
Located in Canton, Ohio, the Stark Community Foundation (SCF) offers the Richard C. and Joyce J. Hannon Scholarship for varying amounts to support Carrollton High School graduates in their artistic pursuits. Acceptable majors include music, acting, drama, theatre arts, speech, broadcasting, and film production. Hopeful applicants should gain admission at accredited four-year universities, display academic merit with a minimum 2.5 GPA, and participate in school performances.
Richard C. and Joyce J. Hannon Scholarship
400 Market Avenue North Suite 200
Canton, OH 44702
21. Rising Star in Production Scholarship
Deadline: June 15th
As Las Vegas’ largest video filming facility, Levy Production Group offers the $1,000 Rising Star in Production Scholarship to young adults seeking careers in acting, screenwriting, directing, sound design, animation, and cinematography for making motion pictures. Eligibility criteria includes being at least college freshmen, attending accredited U.S. post-secondary schools, sustaining a cumulative GPA above 3.0, and writing a statement about their financial need.
Rising Star in Production Scholarship
5905 South Decatur Blvd.
Las Vegas, NV 89118
22. Stein Family Scholarship Fund
Deadline: January 31st
The Hawaii Community Foundation (HCF) distributes $4.5 million each year through over 200 private, state-based funds, including the Stein Family Scholarship. Students from West Hawaii who are studying full-time at accredited, nonprofit U.S. colleges with a cumulative GPA of 2.7 or higher and unmet financial need could qualify. Preference is given to first-generation students as well as performing arts majors like theatre and acting. Check out the Walt Dulaney and George Jon Scholarship too.
Stein Family Scholarship Fund
117 Keawe Street Suite 108
Hilo, HI 96720
23. Utah Theatre Association Scholarships
Deadline: November 23rd
Auditioning for the Utah Theatre Association can provide actors, singers, dancers, and playwrights with scholarships up to $3,000 for their performing arts training. Colleges that often participate include Brigham Young, Idaho State, Central Washington, Southern Utah, and Dixie State, but high school seniors pursuing any accredited U.S. college are welcome. Audition packets must include 25 resumes and headshots for the judges’ review while candidates perform two contrasting monologues.
Utah Theatre Association Scholarships
5715 S 1300 E
Murray, UT 84121
24. Virginia Budge Fine Arts Award
Deadline: April 17th
Named after the fictional character imaged by playwright Bridget Ossmann in Teachers Left Behind, the Virginia Budge Fine Arts Award offers $500 to Ohioans from Butler County who exhibit exceptional talent and creativity. Qualified candidates must be at least 12 years old, pursue drama or artistic classes, and intend to make beauty in various media like acting. To apply, submit an instructor recommendation, school/college transcript, list of experience, and four essay question responses.
Virginia Budge Fine Arts Award
2548 Resor Road
Fairfield, OH 45014
25. Vivian Klemz Memorial Scholarship
Deadline: January 29th
The Ventura County Community Foundation (VCCF) grants the Vivian Klemz Memorial Scholarship for at least $500 annually to Californians who creatively excel in the visual and performing arts, such as acting. From Thousand Oaks to Santa Paula, residents are applying to fulfill financial need for attending accredited, four-year arts institutes nationwide. Online applications are deemed incomplete without a recent transcript, resume, tax return, and maximum 700-word personal essay.
Vivian Klemz Memorial Scholarship
1317 Del Norte Road Suite 150
Camarillo, CA 93010
You don’t have to act surprised when college tuition bills arrive. According to the NCES, the annual net price is $16,188 at public and $41,970 at private, nonprofit institutions on average. In fact, the renowned Tisch School of Arts charges $26,941 per full-time term! Finding the money to propel with acting career in college is challenging, but financial aid can keep your dreams of the limelight alive. Scholarship opportunities provide free funds that won’t amass debt bigger than the big screen. Whether you prefer musicals, indie films, or TV sitcoms, these 25 great scholarships for acting can help you snag the role of a lifetime.