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Ask the Experts

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How do I find out about merit-based scholarships? What's the difference between an academic and a talent scholarship? How do I apply?

Merit scholarships are either based on academic merit, leadership or artistic ability. Check the websites of schools you are applying to or ask their admissions office about scholarships you can apply to. There is no limit to how many scholarships you can submit an application for. Just be sure to keep track of all deadlines and turn them in on time.

Dance scholarships, based on talent, are generally based on entrance auditions and can often be renewed annually. Some schools also offer performance awards, which are given later as students prove their skills in a program. Awards are often based on the school’s need for certain talents. For example, some schools give more scholarships to male applicants, since they are generally harder to come by.

Even if you are not a dance major, you should still contact the admissions office and the dance department chair at the school where you want to apply, and ask about the availability of talent scholarships. Sometimes faculty or administrators who run university performance groups award talent scholarships to non-majors who still want to dance in an extracurricular group.

Not all colleges offer merit-based scholarships, but there are many opportunities and scholarships available outside of your school. There are two kinds of local scholarships that you may be eligible for. First, students may be selected because of their religion, their ethnicity, or their parents' professional affiliations. Your parents may be a member of a club or fraternal organization that offers scholarships. Many corporations also provide scholarships to the children of employees. Applying for these scholarships generally requires only an application.

Academic scholarships are also available in which students compete locally. These merit scholarships usually require a paper, speech, or project. To find out about scholarship applications ask at your high school guidance or college counselor’s office regularly. Your local library’s bulletin board and resource section can also provide you with opportunities. The Internet is a great source for finding scholarships. Some good websites are Collegeboard.com, Fastweb.com, and SallieMae.com. You should never have to pay a fee for any online scholarship or financial aid searches.

Some foundations and private companies also offer college dance scholarships. These awards are often open to all dancers, not just those entering dance programs. Some are based on talent, and others are based on a combination of talent and financial need.

For a huge listing of available dance scholarships, check out Dance Magazine’s scholarship guide which is published every August. For the most recent DM Scholarship Guide, click here.