The 10 Best Art Scholarships for High School Students

If you ask any artist what they need to succeed, you’ll probably get some exciting answers. “Passion!” they might say, or “A burning desire to express one’s self.”

As moving as these answers might be, they often miss the most crucial aspect of a successful art career: money.

While everyone knows what a starving artist is, no one wants to actually be one. That’s especially true for those planning on going to art school, where they’ll refine their skills and make connections that will help them establish themselves. 

And like every other program in higher education, going to art school can be very expensive.

Fortunately, there are many excellent scholarships available to artists of every medium. These programs seek to encourage the next generation of creative thinkers by giving them money to further their education.

Sometimes, the awards can be enough to pay for books and supplies. In other cases, the awards pay for an entire semester.

Just as importantly, these scholarships involve a wide variety of application options. Sometimes, hopefuls need to provide a portfolio and links to meaningful work. In other cases, just a short essay will do.

With so many options, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. But by looking at this list of the ten best art scholarships for high school students, the artist in your life will be able to quickly find the right choice so you can get back to their real passions.

High School Art Student
Bublikhaus | Shutterstock

Doodle 4 Google Competition

Even if you have never heard the words “Google Doodle,” you probably know what a Google Doodle is. 

That’s what they call the little drawings and cartoons found on the main Google search page, visited by millions of people each day.

Every year, one lucky high school student gets to have their artwork picked for the annual Doodle 4 Google Competition

Not only will the winning image be the Google Doodle for a full 24 hours, but the artist receives a $30,000 college scholarship and Google will donate $50,000 in technology to a school or non-profit.

The four national finalists each receive a $5,000 scholarship and have their work featured in the Doodle for Google gallery.

Anyone interested in applying for the competition must complete their entries by March 4th of each year. The FAQ also lists the theme for each year’s competition.

AIGA Worldstudio Scholarships

The American Institute of Graphic Arts Worldstudio Scholarships seek to help artists from underprivileged and disadvantaged communities further their craft. 

Each year, the AIGI sends out thousands of dollars, aiding over 800 students since 1995.

These scholarships tend to be distributed in the amounts of $2000 to $3000. However, AIGA has been known to award $5000 in scholarship money to exceptional artists. 

Additionally, the association provides $500 cash awards to anyone who receives an honorable mention.

Project Yellow Light Hunter Garner Scholarship

For artists who want to make a real difference while earning money for college, there’s the Hunter Garner Scholarship offered through Project Yellow Light.

Committed to raising awareness about distracted driving, the Hunter Garner Scholarship awards monies to artists who find the best way to communicate with audiences. 

Applicants can submit work to be displayed on a billboard, shared via social media, broadcast on the radio, and presented as a video.

No matter which medium they use, artists must create projects that teach others about the dangers of distracted driving.

Scholarship awards range from $1000 for 10 to 20-second video clips for social media to $8000 for a 30-second video clip.

The scholarship deadlines are determined each year, so carefully check Project Yellow Light’s FAQ page for up-to-date information.

Frame My Future Scholarship Contest

Presented by Church Hill Classics, the Frame My Future Scholarship contest asks students to visualize their future. Artists working in everything from a photograph and mixed media to ink and paint can create an image that captures their future plans.

Awards go to the four submissions that receive the most votes from the public. The first prize receives a 6000 scholarship for the upcoming school year. The second prize wins $2500, the third prize wins $1000, and $500 goes to the fourth place entry.

All entries must include a description of the project, no more than 500 words long. All application materials must be submitted between December 1st and April 1st leading up to the student’s freshman year.

Past winners ranged from expressive self-portrait drawings to photography of martial arts.

Isaac Yunhu Lee Memorial Arts Scholarship

The Isaac Yunhu Lee Memorial Arts Scholarship provides aid to junior or high school students from low-income backgrounds. The scholarship money puts art school within reach for those who otherwise would not be able to afford it.

To apply, students must write an essay about one of the best artworks they’ve created. The essay should describe both the actual creation of the piece and its inspiration.

The creator of the winning entry selected by judges will receive a $12,000 scholarship. The money will be sent directly to the financial aid office of the winner’s chosen school.

All applications must be submitted by April 14th of each year. Judges will notify winners by May 10th of the same year.

Anne DiSerafino Memorial Scholarship

For women looking to pursue a fine arts degree, the Anne DiSerafino Memorial Scholarship may be a great choice. Established by the family of the watercolor artist for whom it’s named, the Anee DiSerafino Memorial Scholarship strives to bring more women to art schools.

Because the scholarship exists to provide today’s women with an opportunity denied to DiSerafino in her own time, applicants must write an essay about their plans. 

Applicants must use between 400 and 600 words to answer the following question: “What drives your passion for art and how would this scholarship help you pursue that passion?”

Applications for the DiSerafino Scholarship must be submitted by April 10th of each year. Winners will be notified by May 10th of the same year. The best essay receives $1,483 to put toward earning a fine arts degree.

KBK Artworks Scholarship

For many artists, their work isn’t just about self-expression. It’s also about making the world a better place.

If that’s your goal as an artist, then the KBK Artworks Scholarship wants to help. High school seniors planning on entering an art program can apply for the scholarship, which awards $1000 to the winner.

For this application, students need only to provide a copy of their favorite piece and an explanation of its goals. 

This explanation comes in the form of a 400 to 600-word essay, which describes the relationship between art and community.

All materials must be submitted by July 1st and winners will be notified by July 31st.

Ocean Awareness Contest

Artists interested in environmental studies should investigate the Ocean Awareness Contest. Hosted by the nonprofit group Blue Seat, the Ocean Awareness Contest introduces a new theme each year and asks artists to create a work to express that theme.

For 2022, artists are working with the theme “The Funny Thing About Climate Change.” Artists create works that provide a fresh look at climate change, helping people approach the subject in a new way. 

In particular, judges want to see a humorous approach to climate change, something that can make audiences laugh while still getting the message.

Submissions can be in the form of visual art, film, and multimedia, as well as poetry or performing arts. All submissions must be completed by June 13th of each year.

Awards range from $250 for honorable mentions to $1500 for first prize.

Against the Grain Artistic Scholarship

Asian American artists can receive support from the Against the Grain Artistic Scholarship. Top prize winners receive $1000 toward tuition and fees as they pursue a degree in the visual or performing arts, as well as journalism or mass communications.

Applicants must be of at least 25% Asian or Pacific Islander ancestry and must have a GPA of 3.0 or higher. 

Submissions should include both a portfolio of the applicant’s best work as well as an essay describing the significance of each included piece. Materials must be submitted by May 31st of each year.

Judges will determine the winner based on the quality of the submissions, as well as the applicant’s academic record. In some cases, letters of recommendation and interviews with the judges will also be used.

CardsDirect Future Designer Scholarship

Perhaps the most unique scholarship on this list, the CardsDirect Future Designer contest awards $1500 toward tuition and fees to the high school student who designs the best greeting card. Winners will also have their designs featured on the CardsDirect site.

The best entries will be those that capture small moments of great significance. More than just a birthday or an anniversary, winning designers create cards that commemorate the silly, sad, and meaningful parts of everyday life.

Entries must be submitted by November 1st of each year. Twenty nominees will be selected and made available for public voting on November 4th, while the winner will be selected on November 15th.