You don’t have to attend a faith-based school, or join the seminary to qualify for many religious or faith-based college scholarships.
Many national organizations and churches give scholarships to active members of their local congregations who are seeking higher education.
A history of membership at a local church is necessary to be eligible for most religious scholarships.
You will probably have to write an essay about your experience in your church, temple or mosque and may even be asked to supply a letter of recommendation from a church official who knows you well.
The Presbyterian Church USA (www.pcusa.org) has a number of scholarship programs for undergraduate and graduate students, attending both non-Presbyterian and Presbyterian schools. While the funding for students attending Presbyterian schools is a bit more than other schools, PCUSA values encouraging members in all fields of study to get college degrees. The Bealls Scholarship is awarded to female members studying the arts who are from the Southeastern US and attending any college, while the National Presbyterian College Scholarship is reserved for students attending one of the PC USA-related schools.
If you are interested in studying religion or entering a pastoral degree program, the United Church of Christ (www.ucc.org) offers Brown Pastoral Scholarships of $10,000 to UCC members working to become ordained ministers. These are in addition to the UCC’s $1,000 scholarships to undergraduates attending UCC related colleges.
Jewish students will find scholarship opportunities with their local Jewish community organizations. These smaller organizations will often look for nominations for deserving students, either on the basis of proven leadership skills within the Jewish community, academic achievement, or financial need. The Jewish Vocational Service is a need-based scholarship program that offers $5,000 through local affiliates to students who demonstrate financial need.
There are fewer scholarships available for Muslim students, but there is an opportunity to get money for college if you are a practicing Muslim. Most scholarships are awarded either through the universities themselves or through community organizations so you’ll want to check in with the student financial aid office or high school guidance counselor for more information about local scholarships.
We’ll continue to profile faith-based scholarships, so check back frequently for newly uncovered award programs.