Scholarships for Criminal Justice Majors and Grad Students
Going to college can be expensive. Getting financial aid can help relieve the financial burden of a criminal justice degree. With financial help, many people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to go to college get a chance to do so.
Many students rely only on student loans to pay for college. But don’t overlook scholarships, grants, and fellowships, which are especially attractive because they don’t have to be repaid. Finding financial assistance can be challenging and time consuming. It’s smart to begin your efforts early. Look for potential resources and, when you find one, mark the due date on a calendar. Then figure out when you need to begin work on each item. Read on to learn about strategies for securing scholarships, grants, and fellowships to help pay for your criminal justice degree.
Scholarships for Criminal Justice Students
Search by category and/or location to find the scholarship that syncs with your education goals. Here, we reveal over 80 scholarships within the criminal justice field!
Location SpecificScholarship Deadline
Where to Find Scholarships, Grants, and Fellowships
Scholarships, fellowships, and grants can come from government agencies, private organizations, or the colleges themselves. These types of financial assistance don’t have to be repaid. They’re awarded based on set criteria.
Grants are typically awarded based on need. Fellowships are merit based and are typically awarded in exchange for work of some type, such as teaching classes or conducting research. Scholarships may awarded based on need or merit, or both.
You can search for scholarships, grants, and fellowships online. Try searching based on your demographic or geographic area. For example, if you live in Illinois and plan to attend a college in state, you might search for “scholarships for students in Illinois.”
Criminal justice organizations are also a good potential resource for students who choose to pursue a career in this field. For example, the American Criminal Justice Association (ACJA) offers a competitive scholarship program for students studying in the field.
It’s also a good idea to contact the admissions office at the college you want to attend. A student financial services advisor can explain the school’s financial aid policies and guidelines. They can help you determine what type of aid is available and what assistance you may qualify for. While you’re at it, contact the school’s criminal justice program directly to inquire about any department-specific financial assistance they might offer.
How to Win Scholarships
Searching and applying for college scholarships takes time and thought. Here are a few tips for increasing your chances of getting assistance.
- Improve Your Odds
- Try starting in your hometown. Many local associations and organizations offer scholarships to residents and your odds of winning one of these is much better than your chance of winning a national award.
- Apply for small scholarships. There’s less competition for them, but they can help you pay for books, supplies, lab fees, or other expenses.
- Stand out. Scholarships that take significant effort, such as those that require an essay, video, or portfolio, typically have fewer applicants. That gives you a greater chance of being selected, especially if you create a good product.
- Meet Every Requirement
- Don’t let your application be disqualified because of a careless error or oversight. Make sure you provide all the information requested.
- More is not always better. If the essay has a word limit, be sure to stick to it. Providing too much information can be enough to eliminate your application from consideration.
- Write Winning Essays and Resumes
- Be original and let your personality show through your essay and resume. Frame your knowledge and experiences in a way that presents the impression you want to make. Set yourself apart by highlighting aspects that are uniquely you.
- Don’t turn in an essay that has spelling or grammar mistakes. Because it’s very hard to proof your own work, ask someone to proofread it for you.
- Give Yourself More Chances
- Apply for as many scholarships as you can. Set aside time every week to search and apply for scholarships. Think of it as a part-time job.
- Don’t wait until the last minute. It would be awful to do all that work on an application and then not be able to submit it because of an unexpected technical problem.
Grants and Fellowships for Criminal Justice Students
Grants and fellowships provide money that can be used to help pay for tuition, textbooks, fees, and other college expenses. Each has its own guidelines and eligibility requirements. Pay attention to dates for each school you’re interested in applying to because they vary and it’s critical that you file your application before the deadline.
Potential sources of grant money include the government (federal, state, or local), colleges you’re interested in attending, nonprofits, and private organizations.
Grants typically have needs-based criteria such as family income. Most of them, like the federal Pell Grant program, are administered through the government. You can apply for a government grant using the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form.
State-funded grants typically go to students attending college in that state. Be aware that some states have early deadlines for grant eligibility and if an application is late they may not have the funds available to award a financial aid package.
Grants may be also be awarded based on a variety of criteria including ethnicity, religion, geographic region, career field, or specific talents. Ask about how award decisions are made. Understanding the methodology can help you prepare a better application.
A fellowship also provides funds that don’t have to be paid back, but they typically come with some type of defined research, work, or service commitment. While some fellowships are available for undergraduate students, most of them go to graduate students and are usually very competitive. If you are an exceptional student with an idea for original research in the criminal justice field, you will have a better chance of winning a fellowship.
Often the best place to start looking for a fellowship is within the criminal justice department at your school. Your professors and advisors may have connections and insights into fellowship opportunities that are not broadly advertised. The financial aid office should also be able to guide you in your search.
Finding and applying for grants and fellowships takes time and effort, but it’s worth it, especially if it means the difference between being able to attend college or not.
How to Win Grants and Fellowships
There’s a lot of competition for grants and fellowships, but you may be able to improve your chances of getting one by following some simple suggestions.
- Control the Things You Can
- Many aspects of the process are out of your control so it’s important that you control the things you can, such as submitting applications as early as possible and making sure you follow instructions carefully.
- Do Community Service
- Colleges want well-rounded individuals so extracurricular activities, particularly service-oriented projects, may increase your chance of being selected.
- Write an Effective Essay
- Organize your thoughts before you begin and create an outline that covers every item required in the instructions. Use clear, concise language, but let your personality come through. Explain your strengths and accomplishments without bragging. Highlight those aspects that are unique to you. Make sure there are no spelling, grammar, or punctuation errors and have someone with good editing skills proofread for you.
- Do Your Research
- Search the web for grants and fellowships in your field of study and look for any opportunities specific to your geographic area. Talk to financial aid advisors at colleges you’re interested in attending.
- Understand that the people who read applications probably review dozens of them in one sitting so make it easy for them to choose yours.
- It’s All About You
- Your primary task is to demonstrate why the selection committee should choose you. Your application package should clearly show them how you’re qualified and why you deserve the award. Let them know how you’ll use the skills you develop during your college education.
You aren’t going to get every scholarship, grant, or fellowship you apply for, so don’t get discouraged or give up. As in most things in life, persistence pays. Good luck!