Enhancing your ability to harness the power of the written word like Mark Twain or Jane Austen is more than a novel idea with scholarships for writers.
Hundreds of essay contests are available to reward eloquent wordsmiths with free tuition money. Whether you enjoy writing young adult novels, newspaper articles, biographies, film scripts, or self-help books, there are scholarships to fund your creative training. Following the imaginative itch to put your thoughts on paper, or Kindle screens, can pay off.
The BLS reports that writers claim a mean annual wage of $69,130. Competition is strong though with media jobs only growing by 4 percent through 2024. Pave your pathway to published success by sending your samples for some of these 20 top-notch writing scholarships.
Reviewing the Top Scholarships for Writing
1. Atlas Shrugged Essay Contest
Deadline: April 28th
The Ayn Rand Institute celebrates the Prometheus Award Hall of Fame inductee’s final novel by hosting an Atlas Shrugged Essay Contest yearly. Submission is open to graduating high school, college undergraduate, and graduate writers worldwide who have a strong grasp on English. Entrants must pen an original, error-free essay of 800 to 1,600 words exploring that philosophical meanings of Rand’s work. First place wins $20,000, but other awards of $3,000, $2,000, and $1,000 are gifted to runners-up.
Atlas Shrugged Essay Contest
2121 Alton Parkway Suite 250
Irvine, CA 92606
2. Barbara Deming Memorial Fund
Deadline: January 31st
Named after a respected civil rights essayist who lead the Second Wave of feminism, the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund provides $500 to $1,500 scholarships to United States or Canadian feminist women in the creative arts. Writers who are self-publishing fiction, nonfiction, poetry, or mixed genre pieces could apply. Before January 31st, online applications must be accepted with a 400-word project description, resume, 20 pages of writing, and a $25 fee by credit card or PayPal.
Barbara Deming Memorial Fund
P.O. Box 717
Bearsville, NY 12409
3. Don Klepper Memorial Scholarship
Deadline: February 1st
Valued at $2,000, the Don Klepper Memorial Scholarship is presented annually by the Texas Outdoor Writers Association (TOWA) to honor the legendary reporter for the San Antonio Express-News. Currently enrolled bachelor’s or master’s students whose career plans include writing about environmental and wildlife conservation may apply. PDF applications must be accompanied by an unofficial transcript, faculty recommendation, written summary of outdoor activities, and goals statement.
Don Klepper Memorial Scholarship
2226 Encino Loop
San Antonio, TX 78259
4. Garden Writers of America Scholarships
Deadline: December 20th
The Garden Writers of America (GWA) Foundation distributes several scholarships for $500 to $2,000 apiece to college undergraduates who are majoring in horticulture, botany, plant science, agriculture, or journalism to pursue a career in garden communication. Qualified recipients must attain at least junior standing, matriculate full-time at accredited U.S. schools, be responsible citizens, hold a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0, and submit two outstanding written compositions, preferably published.
Garden Writers of America Scholarships
355 Lexington Avenue, 15th Floor
New York, NY 10017
5. Go on Girl! Aspiring Literary Scholar Award
Deadline: March 15th
Established in 1991, the Go on Girl! Book Club encourages the writing pursuits of women of African descent by bestowing the Aspiring Literary Scholar Award for $1,000. Eligibility criteria requires full-time freshmen, sophomores, and juniors to attend historically Black colleges (HBCUs) with a cumulative GPA of 2.5 or higher in any major. Judging is majorly based on candidates’ 800-word essay describing the power of the written word in connection to the African Diaspora.
Go on Girl! Aspiring Literary Scholar Award
P.O. Box 3368
New York, NY 10185
6. Helen McCloy/MWA Scholarships
Deadline: February 18th
The Mystery Writers of America offers the Helen McCloy Scholarships to honor the Edgar Award-winning author who created the psychiatrist detective Dr. Basil Willing and became MWA Grand Master in 1990. Two $500 awards are given to budding mystery writers from the United States who are pursuing college-level writing degrees or workshops. The committee requests an official class description, 500-word essay on writing interests, and three short stories or novel chapters.
Helen McCloy/MWA Scholarships
1140 Broadway, Suite 1507
New York, NY 10001
7. Janice Bevilacqua Memorial Scholarship
Deadline: June 10th
The Community of Writers at Squaw Valley grants the $1,100 Janice Bevilacqua Memorial Scholarship each year to remember the poet who appeared in anthologies like Uno Kudo Volume II: Naked before losing her lifelong struggle with cystic fibrosis. Funding covers full-tuition for that summer’s Writers Workshop for fiction or nonfiction participants. Other monetary options include the Henry Carlisle Memorial Scholarship and Blair Fuller Memorial Scholarship.
Janice Bevilacqua Memorial Scholarship
P.O. Box 1416
Nevada City, CA 95959
8. JFK Profile in Courage Essay Contest
Deadline: January 4th
Celebrating the 100th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s birth, the JFK Presidential Library and Museum is offering the first-place winner $20,000 for the Profile in Courage Essay Contest. Cash awards of $1,000 and 500 are available for six additional finalists. Interested writers under 20 years old must craft original essays of 700 to 1,000 words highlighting a United States elected official who has demonstrated political courage. A bibliography with at least five reputable sources is requisite.
JFK Profile in Courage Essay Contest
Boston, MA 02125
9. John A. Lent Scholarship in Comics Studies
Deadline: January 8th
The International Comic Arts Forum (ICAF) established the John A. Lent Scholarship in Comics Studies for $500 to honor his 45-year career teaching mass communications and authoring or editing 61 books like Asian Comics. Annually, graduate students at accredited U.S institutions who are undertaking research-based writing projects about comics apply. A three-person committee evaluates candidates’ cover letters, professional resumes, advisor recommendations, and 20-page project excerpts.
John A. Lent Scholarship in Comics Studies
1801 North Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA 19122
10. L. Ron Hubbard Writers Contest
Deadline: December 31st
L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of the Church of Scientology, was a prolific #1 New York Times best-seller with sci-fi novels like Battlefield Earth and Final Blackout. Hubbard’s legacy lives on with an annual Writers of the Future Contest, which grants a grand prize of $5,000 and first runner-up prize of $1,000. Amateur writers can submit their original, unpublished short novels of science fiction, fantasy, and dark fantasy under 17,000 words.
L. Ron Hubbard Writers Contest
7051 Hollywood Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90028
11. Les Payne Founder’s Scholarship
Deadline: February 13th
Worth $2,500, the Les Payne Founder’s Scholarship is gifted by the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) and named for the Pulitzer Prize winner known for speaking out against racism as a Newsday correspondent. Eligible undergraduate and graduate students attending U.S. colleges with a minimum 3.0 GPA for print journalism aspirations can apply. Applications must include a 1,000 to 2,000-word essay discussing three journalistic issues they’re enthusiastic about.
Les Payne Founder’s Scholarship
1100 Knight Hall Suite 3100
College Park, MD 20742
12. McKnight Artist Fellowships for Writers
Deadline: November 18th
As one of the largest scholarships for writers, the McKnight Artist Fellowships are awarded by the Loft Literacy Center for $25,000. Each year, five accomplished writers from Minnesota are chosen for their outstanding ability to create children’s literature, poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, and literary nonfiction. An additional $3,000 can be provided for attending writing conferences or retreats. Suitable applicants must submit at least 20 pages of typed, double-spaced manuscript and proof of residency.
McKnight Artist Fellowships for Writers
1011 Washington Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55415
13. National Writers Association Scholarships
Deadline: December 31st
Ranging from $400 to $1,000, the National Writers Association Scholarships are granted without restrictions for high school, college, and amateur writers seeking professional development to publish their first story or book. Eligible U.S. citizens and permanent residents with a social security number may apply. The process requires sending a statement of ultimate writing goals, official transcript if applicable, estimated budget, and up to 20 double-spaced pages of writing samples.
National Writers Association Scholarships
10940 S. Parker Road Suite 508
Parker, CO 80134
14. Norman Mailer Student Writing Awards
Deadline: April 30th
Named after the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist known for publishing The Executioner’s Song and Armies of the Night, the Norman Mailer Student Writing Awards are bestowed by the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE). Each year, two $5,000 and three $2,500 scholarships are presented to high school, community college, and four-year college students specializing in creative nonfiction or poetry. Entries for these scholarships for writers are judged based on originality, imagery, aesthetic style, and intellectual/emotional effect.
Norman Mailer Student Writing Awards
1111 W. Kenyon Road
Urbana, IL 61801
15. Phyllis Gebauer Scholarship in Writing
Deadline: June 27th
At the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), the Writers’ Program awards the Phyllis Gebauer Scholarship in Writing to cover the tuition of three full-length courses for 10 non-degree seeking students. Qualified applicants must be U.S. citizens or resident aliens, have gross income not exceeding $2,500 per month, and display writing promise. The need-based scholarship requires submitting tax returns, FAFSA reports, two references, and two succinct 250-word essay responses.
Phyllis Gebauer Scholarship in Writing
405 Hilgard Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90024
16. Richard G. Zimmerman Scholarship
Deadline: March 1st
Endowed by a long-time National Press Club member, the Richard G. Zimmerman Scholarship awards $5,000 yearly to one college-bound high school senior who’s following their writing passion into higher education. Selected scholars must be admitted to accredited four-year U.S. colleges, declare a journalism major, maintain full-time enrollment with a 3.0 GPA or better, and have unmet financial need. Applications for these scholarships for writers are incomplete without three work samples, three recommendation letters, FAFSA forms, and transcript copies.
Richard G. Zimmerman Scholarship
529 14th Street NW, 13th Floor
Washington, DC 20045
17. SCBWI Student Writer Scholarship
Deadline: April 15th and December 2nd
Biannually, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators offers unpublished amateurs the Student Writer Scholarship with full-tuition to the SCBWI Conference. Deserving recipients are at least 18 years old, United States citizens, full-time college university students studying English or creative writing, and not under contract. Electronic applications should income a five-page manuscript, proof of enrollment, writing synopsis, and English professor recommendation.
SCBWI Student Writer Scholarship
4727 Wilshire Blvd. Suite 301
Los Angeles, CA 90010
18. TC National Writers Series Scholarships
Deadline: March 1st
The Grand Traverse Regional Community Foundation presents the TC National Writers Series Scholarships for $3,000 annually to support junior and senior high school writers residing in Michigan’s Antrim, Benzie, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, and Leelanau counties. Tickets for the book festival are included to connect aspiring writers with today’s best-sellers. Applicants to these scholarships for writers must submit a short fiction, nonfiction, or poetry manuscript up to 2,000 words in MLA format.
TC National Writers Series Scholarships
250 E. Front Street Suite 310
Traverse City, MI 49684
19. Wallace Stegner Writing Fellowships
Deadline: December 1st
At Stanford University, the Wallace Stegner Writing Fellowships grant $26,000 stipends per year to artists who are perfecting their craft within the Creative Writing Program. Five fiction and five poetry fellows are selected to work full-time alongside faculty and convene weekly for a three-hour writing workshop. Online applications are accepted with two reference contacts, a statement of intent, resume or curriculum vitae, and manuscript up to 9,000 words.
Wallace Stegner Writing Fellowships
450 Serra Mall, Building 460
Stanford, CA 94305
20. Young Native Writers Essay Contest
Deadline: April 30th
Sponsored by the Holland & Knight Charitable Foundation, the Young Native Writers Essay Contest is hosted annually with a $2,500 first-place prize. It’s intended for Native American, Native Hawaiian, or Alaskan Native high school students in grades 9-12. With a detailed bibliography, entrants construct a well-written, maximum 1,200-word essay addressing how youth can advance Native initiatives within their region. Winners also receive a complimentary trip to the National Museum of the American Indian.
Young Native Writers Essay Contest
800 17th Street NW Suite 1100
Washington, DC 20006
Footing the tuition for a college education is costly, but writers have even more expenses to publish their next “Great American Novel.” According to Author Unlimited, self-publishing companies can charge over $10,000 to launch your book. Budget estimates also show at least $500 for cover design, $2,000 for hiring an editor or proofreader, and $300 for book formatting. Finding external financial resources is essential to get your writing into readers’ hands and start reaping sales. Luckily, the above 20 scholarships for writers can help afford your future creative endeavors.
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