Broadcasting School Financial Aid & Scholarships

by R. Craig
Broadcasting School Financial Aid & Scholarships

While education is essential to a broadcasting career, training and instruction do not come cheap.

Still, students in all disciplines, including broadcasting, can tap into a vast array of available scholarships and grants.

"I would say students can be optimistic. There are quite a few scholarships out there. But sometimes you have to really look for them," says Kit Hunter Franke, executive director of the John Bayliss Broadcast Foundation, Pacific Grove, Calif. "There's money out there. You just have to keep digging."

Financial aid comes in many forms. The first step for prospective students is filling out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid form. The U.S. Department of Education Web site can help prospective students determine if their schools disburse federal student aid.

Students in broadcasting that opt for a trade school education can also apply for financial aid, says Mary Jo Conniff, Placement Director at the Academy of Radio and Television Broadcasting in Phoenix, Ariz. Many trade schools do distribute federal aid. But students should check this out carefully - not all trade schools participate in federal loan or grant programs.

Many organizations, schools, associations and businesses offer scholarships and grants. One advantage to these forms of financial aid is they don't have to be paid back, unlike student loans which are long-term, low-interest loans subsidized by the government.

Franke says the tough part about scholarships and grants is that many of them are not awarded until a student's junior or senior years in college, a requirement which helps award money to those students dedicated to careers in broadcasting. The Bayliss Foundation, for instance, awards scholarships to juniors, seniors and graduate level broadcast communications majors who maintain a 3.0 grade point average (on a 4.0 scale). Financial need is a consideration, but the selection committee also looks for students with extensive experience in radio-related activities, Franke says. The committee looks favorably on a student's experience in internships or at campus or local radio stations, she adds. Letters of recommendation also help (and in some cases are required).

With any scholarship application, students must be sure to follow the application instructions carefully and be thorough when completing the forms. "So often we get applications that are incomplete or not quite as accurate as they should be," Franke says.

Once students enter a university broadcasting school, they can compete for departmental scholarships that offset some costs. These scholarships and grants can range from a few hundred dollars to several thousand. For instance, the David Letterman Scholarship from the Ball State University Department of Telecommunications awards a total of more than $18,000 annually (another BSU T-com award totals $500).

Broadcast associations provide yet another source for scholarship money. The Broadcast Education Association administers a variety of scholarships for students. Some offerings are only for students at BEA-member colleges and universities. Many state broadcast associations provide scholarship opportunities as well.

Ethnic journalists' associations, such as the Asian American Journalists Association, also offer scholarships to broadcast journalism students. Many of these opportunities are open to all students, though minority students are especially encouraged to apply.

Often overlooked sources for scholarship money are the student's state senators and representatives, says Robert Mathers, admissions director at the Broadcasting Institute of Maryland in Baltimore. Some trade schools, such as BIM, are approved for veterans training and vocational rehabilitation, he adds.

"Broadcasting is a very rewarding profession but it also takes an intense amount of dedication," Mathers says. "If you have the dedication and you have the passion, you'll find a way to pursue it, and that includes getting funding."

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