Finding and Applying for Scholarships


Scholarships are financial awards for your education that do not need to be repaid. While they are typically based on merit, very often the scholarship committees take into consideration financial need as well in rewarding the recipients. Some scholarships are completely unrelated and are based on essay or project submissions. The total amount of financial aid received cannot be more than the cost of attendance (including books, supplies and living costs) for your culinary school.

Scholarships are typically developed to fit a particular student or family profile, whether based on academic interests or proficiency, ethnicity, interests or field of study, or they could be related to an affiliation such as religion, military, club membership or employer. There are even scholarships based on physical appearance, fire-safety knowledge or your creativity in making a prom gown completely made from duct tape.

Scholarships can help lessen the impact of ever increasing tuition costs. Almost 70% of college students graduate with student loan debt of an average of more than $28,000. Scholarships help to fill the gap between low-income and higher-income families. While much of government aid is focused on lower income students, middle and higher income families are left struggling with high tuition and living costs. Scholarships can help reduce the responsibility significantly. Even for independent students, it can mean less time spent working while trying to finish your degree.

Financial aid comes in many varieties and from many different locations. The first step in the process is to fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This will give you a good idea whether or not you are eligible for need-based financial assistance. The government will send both you and your colleges of interest a copy of your eligibility. The school then uses this to determine your eligibility for local scholarships as well as school-specific possibilities. You can use this finding to determine how much funding in scholarships you need to acquire.

As you can imagine, college scholarships can be extremely competitive – especially the higher dollar awards. Begin your research early! A great place to begin your search is your high school guidance counselor or the financial aid department at the college you want to attend. Very often they can point you in the direction of common scholarships and assist with the application process. In addition, it’s wise to check with employers or parents employers, clubs and local organizations as well. Sometimes they offer scholarships to employees or children of employees and members. The library is another great place to search for scholarships, and librarians are typically well versed in locating updated books across the state that list scholarships and requirements. Lastly, you can search the internet as well. A word of caution however; be wary of the multitude of scams involving paid searches. You should never have to pay for a scholarship search. Keep in mind, if you need $1,000 in scholarships, it doesn’t matter whether that funding comes from one source or ten sources – the final total is all that matters. Frequently the smaller dollar scholarships are easier and there is less competition.

Once you find a scholarship, you will need to apply. The application process is different for each one. Some scholarships require the school to submit on your behalf. In these cases, you should speak with the financial aid office. Make sure you follow the requirements exactly; some scholarship committees will disqualify you if you haven’t paid close attention and included all the pertinent documents. Make sure you are eligible for the scholarship – some are grade level specific, ethnicity or gender specific.

Some scholarships require an application while others have project or essay requirements. Every scholarship has its own deadlines and submission dates that range from months to years. Always read through the requirements, make sure you qualify and stick to the rules.

There are thousands of different scholarships for nearly every academic and personal interest. Everyone qualifies for a scholarship in some capacity, you just need to do your research. Scholarships for minorities are common as well as for traditionally male-dominated fields.

Some of the more prestigious awards are known on an international level. Being selected for one of these awards does more than assist you with funding your higher education – they also open doors for you that wouldn’t have existed if your weren’t selected.

These awards target the top 1% of students, seeking out the best and brightest. IN order to make a determination, SAT/ACT scores are typically used in combination with activities such as sports involvement, leadership, community service and group membership. In addition, some programs require multiple interviews, essays and reference letters. While these awards are higher dollar and celebrated, they are also strongly competitive.

Here are some of the more well-known culinary scholarships across the United States. There are thousands more that are not specific to culinary, but are just as functional.

  • Steve Hymans Extended Stay Scholarship, $500-$2,000, GPA 3.0+, hospitality majors,
  • Ecolab Scholarship, $3,000-$5,500, 12+ credit hours, hospitality related degree,
  • UniPro Scholarship, $2,500, restaurant, hospitality or food major at The Culinary Institute of America,
  • Robert E. Rich Aspiring Entrepreneurs Scholarship, $2,500, CIA, Cornell or Johnson & Wales University,
  • Rachel Ray’s Yum-O! Scholarship, $2,500, community college culinary programs,
  • J. Grisanti Memorial Scholarship Fund, $2,500, preference given to Kentucky students first,
  • Stratas Foods Scholarships, $2,500, students who have achieved a certificate of achievement from Johnson & Wales,
  • Coca-Cola Scholarship Fund, $2,500+, requirements vary (multiple programs),
  • Darden Scholars, amount varies, ProStart students, multiple awards,
  • Mary Adolf Scholarship, $2,500, preference given to ProStart students,

The qualification process is different for each and every scholarship. It’s important to visit the websites and thoroughly read through the requirements for each – and adhere to them. Deadlines are hard and fast, so don’t delay. Keep in mind, frequently essays, research and projects can be reused for multiple submissions, saving you time and effort. Some deadlines begin in your freshman year of high school, so it pays to plan ahead!

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