The road to becoming the next great American chef isn’t quite as straightforward as becoming and accountant, lawyer or doctor. Culinary school has a pretty diverse student population, since many people might work in the restaurant or food service industry for years before deciding to go back to school, shifting gears from another industry altogether.
No matter how students get to culinary school, all are looking for ways to pay for it. Since restaurant wages are notoriously low, most students entering culinary school from within the industry will have to take out loans to pay for school. That’s where scholarships come in! There are many scholarships for culinary arts students, and some come from very unexpected places.
National Culinary Arts Scholarships
Let’s start with the major players in culinary arts scholarships, namely the major culinary and restaurant associations in the United States.
There are also many people who decide to pursue their passion for food later in life, and enter a culinary academy after Outstanding culinary students who are enrolled in a two- or four-year culinary program can apply for the American Academy of Chefs Chair Scholarships, through the American Culinary Federation. These prestigious awards are reserved for the best of the best in culinary education. The ACF also sponsors scholarships for high school students looking to go directly into a culinary degree program. Another large national program for aspiring chefs and bakers is The Culinary Trust Scholarship Program, which is a flexible award that can be used towards culinary education, independent study or other research.
The Culinary Institute of America Scholarships
As one of the most recognizable and well respected culinary schools in the country, many culinary students will study at the Culinary Institute of America. For this reason, many of the major scholarship programs for culinary students have special relationships with CIA (including the American Culinary Federation), and the school itself gives out some substantial scholarships of its own. In some cases, just your SAT scores will get you some scholarship money, while other CIA scholarships are need-based and will look at your FAFSA. Either way, if you are thinking of applying to CIA, makes sure to use their financial aid website and office to get the most amount of aid for your culinary education.
Foundation Scholarships for Culinary School
Private foundations are a great source of scholarship money for the culinary arts.
We’ve already heard about the American Culinary Federation scholarships which are awarded nationally, but there are a number of other great programs that are both geared towards specific segments of the population (like women) or can be used in a certain region of the United States. The American Institute of Wine and Food maintains a scholarship fund that distributes scholarships to culinary students through local chapters (the contact information for each chapter can be found here). Women Chefs and Restauranteurs distributes annual scholarships to females entering the restaurant industry.
American Academy of Chefs and Culinary Trust Scholarships and Grants
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