Since start-ups are vital parts of a healthy economy that provide new jobs, consume goods, and generate more revenue, many organizations are now offering entrepreneurship scholarships to help new innovators keep America out of recession.
No matter how far along you are in starting your own business, there are several scholarship options available to reward your creativity, ambition, and entrepreneurial spirit with free money for college.
If you're looking to lower the financial burden of your degree, below we've highlighted 20 of the most lucrative scholarships for future entrepreneurs that you should pitch to yourself.
1. AFCEA Young Entrepreneur Scholarship
Deadline: May 1st
Through the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA), a Young Entrepreneur Scholarship program was created to provide $2,000 to students aged 40 or under who are pursuing an undergraduate or graduate degree while employed by a small business. All applicants must be at least second-year students, be enrolled in an accredited U.S. institution, carry a minimum overall GPA of 3.0, and exhibit entrepreneurial talents. With the application, candidates should attach an official transcript, a letter from their current small business employer, and a letter from a faculty member displaying their potential as an entrepreneur.
AFCEA Young Entrepreneur Scholarship
4400 Fair Lakes Court
Fairfax, VA 22033
2. Al Schuman Ecolab Entrepreneurial Scholarship
Deadline: March 14th
Ranging in value from $3,000 to $5,500 annually, the Al Schuman Ecolab Entrepreneurial Scholarship is granted through the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF) to highly ambitious, dedicated, innovative, and creative undergraduate students who clearly demonstrate an entrepreneurial spirit. Eligible candidates must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents, be enrolled in a partnering accredited university in a food service management-related program, carry at least nine credits per term, and have a minimum GPA of 3.0. Students will present a 750-word describing their future innovative entrepreneurial goals and how they'll impact the restaurant or food service industry.
3. Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation Scholarship
Deadline: January 15th
Each year, the Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation awards over 40 undergraduate scholarships to provide $20,000 in tuition assistance to outstanding social entrepreneurship students who have or are planning to develop an innovative idea that addresses a specific societal problem in a sustainable way. Qualified applicants must be enrolled full-time at NYU, be completing their sophomore year, have a minimum overall GPA of 3.5, and wish to participate in a summer internship with other social entrepreneurial leaders after their junior year. For consideration, all students must submit a current resume, official transcript, biographical sketch, and 500-word essay detailing how they plan to bring their social entrepreneurial ideas to fruition.
4. CEO of Tomorrow Scholarship
Deadline: June 1st
With the intent of being a source of inspiration for future chief executives, the CEO of Tomorrow Scholarship is awarded each year for $2,500 for outstanding college students interested in entrepreneurship and/or business leadership. Eligible applicants must be legal residents of the United States, be at least 18 years old, have current full-time enrollment in an accredited university, and compose a 600-word original essay describing their entrepreneurial talents. All potential winners will be required to submit an affidavit of eligibility, publicity release form, headshot photograph, IRS Form W-9, and copy of their driver's license digitally.
CEO of Tomorrow Scholarship
772 East Utah Valley Drive
American Fork, UT 84003
5. Don DeBolt Franchising Scholarship Program
Deadline: January 16th
In collaboration with the International Franchise Association (IFA) Educational Foundation, the Don DeBolt Franchising Scholarship Program is offered annually through DECA for $2,000 to two members who have a clear interest in pursuing an entrepreneurship and/or franchising course of study in higher education. Applicants must be enrolling in an accredited U.S. institution, have a major or primary focus in business, and remain in good academic standing. Along with the tuition support, recipients will receive a travel stipend for attending the DECA and Delta Epsilon Chi International Career Development Conference that year.
6. Dr. Denny Ko Future Entrepreneurs Scholarship
Deadline: March 21st
In honor of his contributions in promoting venture capital investments and management consulting services to many Pacific Rim communities, the Dr. Denny Ko Future Entrepreneurs Scholarship was created in 2003 by the Southern California Monte Jade Science & Technology Association (SCMJ) to award up to $3,000 annually. The scholarship is open to all Asian American and Pacific Islander entrepreneurs who are graduating high school seniors, full-time undergraduates, graduate students, or young professionals. Along with the application, applicants must create a four-page essay or business plan describing how their innovative products/services can help better the economy.
7. Frank J. and Jean Raymond Foundation Scholarship
Deadline: February 1st
Annually, the Frank J. and Jean Raymond Foundation provides a $5,000 scholarship for current undergraduate students who have demonstrated an interest in entrepreneurship and/or participated in the entrepreneurship program at Mays Business School in Texas A&M University. Applicants must have two years remaining before graduation, carry a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0, and be involved in activities offered through the Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship (CNVE). All applications must be accompanied by at least one letter of recommendation, a current resume, and a 1,000-word personal statement of entrepreneurial interests.
8. Global Student Entrepreneur Awards
Deadline: February 15th
Sponsored by the Entrepreneurs' Organization (EO), the Global Student Entrepreneur Awards are granted for $5,000, $10,000, and $20,000 to innovative students who are the owners, founders, or controlling shareholders of a company and principally responsible for its operation. To apply, candidates must be enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate program at an accredited university, be leading a for-profit business, have been in business for at least the past six consecutive months, and answer tough essay questions. Selection will be based on applicants' determination to succeed as an entrepreneur, ability to overcome business obstacles, communication skills, ethical standards, and future growth plans.
9. Grasshopper Entrepreneur Scholarship
Deadline: April 30th
Since its inception in 2003, the Grasshopper Entrepreneur Scholarship has granted $5,000 annually to make it easier for young entrepreneurs to afford rising costs of college education and trek down the road to entrepreneurship. All current college students or incoming freshman who are enrolling full-time in an undergraduate or graduate degree program at an accredited American college are welcome to apply. Candidates must submit a 500-word original essay free of typos discussing what the greatest barriers are for entrepreneurs starting businesses today and their plans for overcoming these to become successful.
10. GreenPal Scholarship for Tomorrow's Entrepreneur
Deadline: May 30th
As an evergreen scholarship funded each year for $2,000, the GreenPal Scholarship for Tomorrow's Entrepreneur is designed to assist motivated, driven college students who will utilize their entrepreneurial spirit to become future CEOs and leaders. Applicants must be currently enrolled or accepted into an accredited college of business, maintain a minimum overall GPA of 3.0, have full-time enrollment, and demonstrate a clear desire to be an entrepreneur. With the application, students must attach an official transcript, a letter of support, and a 1,000-word essay describing their current or future plans for starting a business.
GreenPal Scholarship for Tomorrow's Entrepreneur
1312 5th Avenue N Suite 108
Nashville, TN 37208
11. James W. Dye Entrepreneurship Scholarship Fund
Deadline: April 17th
First founded in 1985, the James W. Dye Entrepreneurship Scholarship Fund creates merit-based awards annually for academically talented students who are pursuing a major in entrepreneurship from the Kelley School of Business at any Indiana University campus. Qualified candidates must be enrolled full-time, have U.S. citizenship, have graduated from an Indiana high school, have at least junior-level status, and possess a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher in their undergraduate entrepreneurship major. Preference will be given to applicants who have demonstrated through school and community leadership that they have the potential to succeed as an entrepreneur in Indiana.
12. Marriott Minority Entrepreneurs Scholarship
Deadline: June 15th
Sponsored by the International Franchise Association (IFA) Educational Foundation and Marriott International, the Marriott Minority Entrepreneurs Scholarship is awarded for $3,000 each year to five minority adult entrepreneurs of African American, American Indiana, Hispanic, or Asian American ethnicity who are enrolled in a business program concentrated in franchising and/or entrepreneurial studies. Eligible applicants must be attending an accredited institution, be U.S. citizens, and have at least five years of business ownership experience. Along with the application, individuals should attach a certified academic transcript, current resume, and typed 500-word essay addressing how the scholarship will help meet their entrepreneurial goals.
13. McKelvey Foundation Entrepreneurial Scholarship
Deadline: January 15th
After finding his own entrepreneurial success by building the acclaimed job search engine Monster.com, Andy McKelvey decided to lay the foundation for a lifetime of entrepreneurial success by awarding $40,000 scholarships to young entrepreneurs nationwide who have started their own businesses. Each scholar is awarded up to $10,000 each year to pursue a bachelor's degree at any accredited four-year college in the United States. In addition to the funding, highly motivated recipients will join a large entrepreneurial networking community and be granted the unique opportunity to attend the foundation's summer e-Venture program.
14. NASE Future Entrepreneur Scholarship
Deadline: April 1st
Annually, the National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE) hosts the prestigious Future Entrepreneur Scholarship program to award up to $10,000 to ambitious individuals who promote the entrepreneurial philosophy and demonstrate the attributes of a future micro-business owner. Entrepreneurs can utilize the funding to pay for continuing education through university coursework, attend training courses for business licensing, pursuing professional certification, or participating in conferences that will help grow their small business. Recipients will be chosen based on their leadership abilities, academic performance, career background, community participation, financial need, and recommendations.
15. National NANBPWC Scholarship Program
Deadline: March 1st
Through the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women's Clubs (NANBPWC), there are several scholarships available for up to $2,500 apiece to African American graduating high school seniors or current undergraduate students who are enrolled in a business degree program to pursue their entrepreneurial talents. Female applicants must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0, be U.S. citizens, and be enrolled in accredited universities. For consideration, candidates must submit a 300-word essay describing how the contributions of two trailblazers of African descent have benefited their future business goals.
16. NFIB Young Entrepreneur Awards
Deadline: January 1st
Established with the mission of raising awareness among the nation's youth of the vital role that private enterprise plays in the building of America, the Young Entrepreneur Awards are granted annually for between $1,000 and $15,000 each through the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB). Qualified applicants must be enrolled full-time at an accredited non-profit university in the United States, be pursuing an undergraduate degree, operate their own small business, demonstrate clear initiative for success, and show promise in using their entrepreneurial skills to promote the free enterprise system. Selection will be based on applicants' academic records, extra-curricular activities, entrepreneurial spirit, and leadership.
17. Richard and Carolyn Riley Scholarship in Entrepreneurship
Deadline: April 11th
At Wake Forest University, the Richard and Carolyn Riley Scholarship in Entrepreneurship is awarded annually for $2,500 to an outstanding undergraduate business student who is showing their true entrepreneurial spirit by declaring a minor in entrepreneurship and/or social enterprise. Applicants should exhibit strong moral character, have strong career interests in entrepreneurship, have great concern for business ethics, and submit a letter of reference. In addition to funding, recipients are welcome to participate in the university's Program in Innovation, Creativity, and Entrepreneurship for real-life learning experiences in the for-profit and non-profit sectors.
Richard and Carolyn Riley Scholarship in Entrepreneurship
230 Reynolda Hall
Winston-Salem, NC 27106
18. Scholarships to Success Young Entrepreneur Awards
Dedicated to empowering young people with the business and life skills to support their innovative visions, the Scholarships to Success Young Entrepreneur Awards are granted for $1,000 to cut tuition costs for attending an accredited post-secondary institution. To qualify, applicants must be graduating high school seniors, reside in northeastern Oklahoma, possess a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.0 or better, and have an existing business or well-developed business plan. From tutoring and jewelry making to lawn care and babysitting, the application requires candidates to write an 800-word essay describing their entrepreneurial endeavors.
19. WSI Global Young Entrepreneur Scholarship Program
As a global organization expanded across over 80 countries, the WSI Global Young Entrepreneur Scholarship Program is focused on celebrating open-mindedness, innovation, outside-the-box thinking, and entrepreneurship among motivated youth. Eligible applicants must be between the ages of 21 and 28 years old, possess good business acumen, display academic excellence, be involved in their community, have a "can do" attitude, be a member of a visible minority group, and demonstrate financial need. Candidates will need to show their keen entrepreneurial spirit through key references, one of which must come from a WSI Internet Franchise Consultant.
20. Yoshiyama Young Entrepreneur Scholarships
Deadline: March 30th
Launched in 2010 by the Hitachi Foundation, the Yoshiyama Young Entrepreneur Scholarships are presented annually for $40,000 to young entrepreneurs from low-income backgrounds who are alleviating their poverty through building a successful business and creating economic opportunities for other members of their community. Applicants must be enrolled in an accredited business or entrepreneurship degree program, have started their own business before reaching the age of 30, and have been generating revenue for at least 12 months. Along with the money, awardees receive leadership development, business mentoring, technical assistance, and access to a vast peer network.
Successfully starting your own business requires money, which may be in short supply following graduation if you've been strapped with mountains of student loan debt. That's why it's important for aspiring entrepreneurs to fund their college education through money-saving scholarships and other financial aid resources that won't need to be repaid. Consider applying to one or more of these great entrepreneurship scholarships to receive the support you need to build your business expertise and make your new innovative ideas become a profitable reality.