There is a shortage of skilled labor in the automotive industry, particularly in the automotive technician field. This has led to a number of large organizations in the industry starting scholarship funds in order to help people get the education needed to fill these roles throughout the industry.
This article features 10 of the best automotive scholarships out there, and it gives you all the information you need to go after these scholarships. Each scholarship featured comes with a description of the scholarship and the basic information you need to decide whether or not to apply for it. Additionally, after you finish reading up on the top 10 automotive scholarships, you can check out the FAQ at the end of this article for advice on scholarships, application strategies, and more.
1. Automotive Aftermarket Scholarships
Automotive Aftermarket offers a large number of automotive scholarships worth up to $5,000. They work with over 40 organizations to offer these scholarships. There seems to be a general application that allows you to apply for all of the scholarships at once. In 2021, 427 scholarships were awarded out of 881 applications (which means that a little more than 50% of applicants received a scholarship, which is incredible odds). The odds aren’t that good every year but in 2019, 37% of applicants received at least one scholarship, which is still really good compared to most scholarships. Additionally, 22% of winners received multiple scholarships. If there’s one automotive scholarship application you complete this year, make it this one. They’re currently accepting scholarship applications for 2022.
Scholarship Amount: $1,000-$5,000
Scholarship Deadline: March 31
2. DEWALT Trades Scholarship
While a specific deadline or application period was not mentioned on the website, it’s important to note that you will want to apply as early as possible when the application window does open, as they only consider the first 1,000 applications. This scholarship is available to students studying full-time at a two-year college or vocational/technical school earning a degree or certificate in a trade like automotive technology, diesel technology, heavy equipment operation, and more.
Scholarship Amount: $10,000
Scholarship Deadline: Unknown
3. Pep Boys Find Your Drive Scholarship
Pep Boys awards five $10,000 scholarships every year to applicants from four major metropolitan areas and one U.S. territory. These areas are Los Angeles, Dallas, Houston, Philadelphia, and Puerto Rico. Additionally, 10 $5,000 scholarships are awarded to students from anywhere in the United States or Puerto Rico. The scholarships are available to students pursuing an automotive technician degree or certification. Recipients of the scholarship are eligible for preferred placement in a Pep Boys internship or apprenticeship program. Upon graduation, they have preferred placement for a full-time automotive tech position.
Scholarship Amount: $5,000-$10,000
Scholarship Deadline: May 21st
4. SEMA Scholarships
SEMA stands for Special Equipment Market Association. The SEMA show is a trade show that allows aftermarket parts manufacturers to display alongside automotive manufacturers. SEMA strives to support students who wish to go into the automotive industry, through loan forgiveness (available to graduates who are members of SEMA) and through their scholarship program, which awarded over 110 students scholarships last year (available to anyone who wants to work in the automotive industry).
Scholarship Amount: $1,000-$5,000
Scholarship Deadline: March 1st
5. BMW/SAE Engineering Scholarship
This engineering scholarship funded by BMW and the Society of Automotive Engineers is available to incoming freshman students with a minimum GPA of 3.75 who scored in at least the 90th percentile on the reading and math portions of the SAT. Students must be pursuing an ABET-accredited engineering program. One scholarship is awarded every year and it renews annually up to three times.
Scholarship Amount: $1,500/yr
Scholarship Deadline: March 15
6. SAE/Ford Partnership for Advanced Studies Scholarship
In order to qualify for this recurring scholarship, students must be pursuing an engineering degree or a related science degree in an ABET-accredited program. The scholarship is available for high-school seniors specifically, as it is designed to be paid out over four years of college. The application season opens January 4th. Students must have a 3.0 GPA, provide two letters of recommendation, and be a current/recent student participant in the Ford NGL Network and/or a Powered by Ford STEAM Academy. This is a good example of the kinds of scholarships you can find when you get involved in organizations that have to do with your interests and career ambitions at an early age.
Scholarship Amount: $1,500/yr
Scholarship Deadline: March 15th
7. Automotive Women’s Alliance Foundation Scholarships
This scholarship is for women who plan to work in the automotive industry upon graduation from college. While direct automotive programs are supported, the scholarship has also been awarded to students in mechanical engineering, computer science, and many other areas of study. The common thread is that all students planned to apply their learning to a career in the automotive industry.
Scholarship Amount: $2,500 (average)
Scholarship Deadline: Jan. 8
8. Garage Gurus Scholarship
The goal of the Garage Gurus scholarship is to help address the automotive technician shortage and skills gap in the automotive industry. They’ve done this by awarding an average of 12 scholarships per year since 2015. Scholarships are open both to graduating high-school students and to adults who are looking to go into an automotive career path. The scholarship is specifically for people who are planning to study to become automotive technicians.
Scholarship Amount: $2,500
Scholarship Deadline: 2022/2023 Not Announced
9. Andrew Piech Memorial Scholarship
This scholarship is available to students who are pursuing a certificate or degree in automotive or technical vocational subjects at a two- or four-year nonprofit college, university, or community college. For-profit colleges and institutions are explicitly excluded from eligibility. Applicants must also reside in New Mexico. The scholarship is available to both full-time and part-time students. The scholarship is given to up to two applicants every year.
Scholarship Amount: $2,200
Scholarship Deadline: July 15
10. Palo Alto Rotary Club Vocational Scholarships
The scholarships offered by the Palo Alto Rotary Club are a perfect example of the kinds of scholarships offered by community organizations across the country. Even if you don’t live in Santa Clara or San Mateo (the areas for this specific scholarship) you will likely be able to find similar scholarships offered by similar local organizations in your region. These scholarships are for students who plan to pursue vocational studies, including automotive technology. The Palo Alto Rotary Club awards 10 scholarships every year, ranging from $500 to $2,000.
Scholarship Amount: $500-$2,000
Scholarship Deadline: April 17
Frequently Asked Questions
How important are scholarships like this when trying to pay for college?
You might have noticed something while reading this article. Although some of the 10 best automotive scholarships featured do provide quite a bit of money, they’re hardly a drop in the bucket when it comes to the overall cost of most college programs. Some of these scholarships can, however, cover a year or two of community college in total, which is something to consider. I call the scholarships featured in this article “third-party scholarships.” In other words, they aren’t scholarships tied into specific colleges or universities, and they aren’t part of the federal or state government’s financial-aid system. You should expect most of your college funding to come from financial aid from your university, vocational school, or the federal government.
Automotive scholarships like the ones featured here can be a massive help covering the gaps in financial aid that most often have to be covered by private, unsubsidized student loans. So the answer is, these kinds of scholarships can be incredibly helpful and valuable when it comes to minimizing student debt and covering expenses. It’s unlikely you will be able to pay for the bulk of your education with these scholarships. You should try to avoid counting on a third-party scholarship in order to afford your degree, because winners are often not announced until after you have enrolled in a program and financially committed to a year of school.
If the odds are against me, is it worth the time to apply to these scholarships?
Yes! Think about it this way. Let’s say applying for each scholarship takes an average of five hours (in reality it will likely take much less time than this). Say you apply for all of our top 10 automotive scholarships. That would be 50 hours spent applying for these scholarships. Say you win just one $2,500 scholarship (most of the scholarships featured here are worth more than this). That’s still a return of $50/hr on the time you spent applying for the scholarships. Even if you don’t get a single scholarship out of the deal, it’s still worth spending the time just in case. This is especially true if you consider that some of the scholarships come with opportunities beyond financial assistance.
When you consider the application periods, deadlines, and criteria of these scholarships, keeping track of them seems like a daunting task.
Thankfully, modern technology offers plenty of solutions to this problem. The first step is to sit down and put all the information on deadlines, application periods, application requirements, eligibility criteria, etc. in your phone right now. Then, schedule when you want to start the application process. It’s best to apply as early in the application period as possible to avoid missing any deadlines. Some scholarships only review the first applications as well, so it pays to apply early on in the application period. Remember to request letters of recommendation as far in advance as possible, as you can’t control how long it takes other people to get their letters of recommendation to you. Schools can sometimes drag their feet when getting you information, so make sure you request any information you need from your school early as well. Store the required information in an organized way, in a place that is easy to remember and access. Once the application period opens up, you will have everything you need to streamline your application process. If this sounds a little bit like a job, that’s a good way to think of it! Especially since if you win even one of these automotive scholarship awards, you’ll have earned more money than you would likely be able to at an actual job.
What kinds of automotive careers are there and how much can I make in this industry?
Well, it all really depends on what part of the industry you’re interested in. If you want to be an automotive technician or mechanic, people working these jobs earn a median income of $44,050 per year. However, you can do this job with just an associate’s degree, or even a certificate, meaning you will spend a lot less time and money on post-high-school education.
Industrial designers, mechanical engineers, and electrical engineers can also find plenty of work in the automotive industry, and it only requires a bachelor’s degree in the corresponding subject to score one of these jobs. These professionals make a median salary between $70,000 and $103,000.
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