According to the Institute for College Access and Success, more than 62% of 2019 college graduates held student debt, owing an average of $28,950. Student debt can create a financial burden for years, even with recent policies and programs intended to help lighten the load. For example, graduates can lower their monthly payments with income-driven repayment plans, but they may still take 20-25 years to pay off their debt.
Students should explore grants, scholarships, and work-study programs to help reduce or eliminate the size of their loans. Learners who fund their education through loans should prioritize federal opportunities, which typically offer better interest rates and more flexible repayment options than private loans.
Graduates with computer science degrees can pursue employment in this lucrative, high-growth field. Software developers, for example, earned a median annual salary of $110,140 as of 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS also projects software developer roles to increase by 22% between 2019 and 2029. Computer science professionals with high-paying jobs like this may repay their student loans more easily.
Our guide below lists computer science scholarships. These opportunities can help computer science students reduce the financial burden associated with earning a degree. This guide also explores the overall financial aid process to help prospective students confidently plan their education.
Scholarships can help computer science students finance their degree. This guide explains where to find the best computer science scholarships for 2021, including possible requirements and application strategies. We also discuss different types of computer science scholarships, including those for undergraduates, graduate students, and learners who identify with particular demographics.
Where to Look for Scholarships
Students may secure funding by applying for both specific computer science scholarships and general funding opportunities. Look for computer science scholarships by contacting professional organizations, tech businesses, and computer science departments at universities. For general scholarship research, consult high school counselors, college financial aid offices, and local libraries.
The U.S. Department of Labor maintains a free online scholarship search tool, and students can look for funding opportunities with their state grant agency. See below for more computer science scholarship resources:
Thousands of organizations offer or sponsor computer science scholarships. Knowing the different types of scholarship sponsorship categories can help students discover opportunities for applying.
Possible sponsors include professional associations, private companies, school departments, nonprofit foundations, and demographic-based organizations. Local groups and community organizations may also offer scholarships. Consider asking your or your family’s employers about scholarship opportunities.
Requirements for scholarships vary by sponsor. Computer science scholarships may limit applicants based on their academic performance, demographics, identity, financial need, career goals, and area of specialization. Expected application materials also vary. See below for potential eligibility and submission requirements.
U.S. citizen or permanent resident
Minimum 3.0 GPA
Demonstrated financial need
Full-time student pursuing an undergraduate or graduate degree in computer science or a related STEM field
Identify as a woman or member of a minority, ethnic, or religious group
CV or resume
Official college transcripts
Letters of recommendation
Applying for computer science scholarships takes time and work. Students should strategize how to choose the right balance of types and number of potential funding opportunities. Learners may prioritize scholarships for computer science devoted to their concentration or aspects of their identity, such as gender, ethnicity, or religion.
Available Scholarships for Computer Science
Our non-exhaustive list of computer science scholarships provides a helpful assortment of options. We include undergraduate and graduate scholarships, plus opportunities specifically for women and minority computer science majors.
Undergraduate Computer Science Scholarships
Upsilon Pi Epsilon Scholarship Award
This scholarship accepts undergraduate and graduate applicants who belong to a UPE chapter. Submit an application, UPE advisor recommendation, and a statement describing university and UPE chapter involvement. Each UPE chapter may submit one undergraduate and one graduate application.
UPE/Association for Computing Machinery Scholarship Award
Applicants must be full-time undergraduate or graduate students in computing and information disciplines and members of an ACM student chapter. Students should demonstrate excellent academic performance and strong faculty recommendations.
The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Computer Society offers this scholarship to recognize student leadership. Full-time undergraduate and graduate students in computer science can apply. Applicants need a minimum 2.5 GPA and must be active members of an IEEE student chapter.
National Society of High School Scholars STEAM Scholarship
Available to high school seniors planning to major in a STEAM discipline, this scholarship requires an academic resume, an educator recommendation, and a current transcript. Applicants must also submit a color headshot and an essay of 500-800 words.
This award recognizes an outstanding student project at the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair. The winning project demonstrates understanding of computer science, electrical engineering, or another IEEE field of interest. Only fair finalists are eligible for the award.
Award: $10,000 payable over four years and a complimentary IEEE student membership
Google offers this scholarship to veterans majoring in computer science or computer engineering in the United States. Applicants must be undergraduate or graduate students, maintain strong academic performance, and submit proof of veteran status with an honorable discharge or good standing with their branch of service.
Applicants must be declared computer science (or a related field) undergraduate majors with an overall and major GPA of at least 3.0. Students must also be U.S. residents or permanent residents attending school full time at an accredited U.S. institution.
Applicants must be U.S. citizens with demonstrated financial need enrolled in or planning to enroll in a computer science program full time at an accredited institution. Students must be high school seniors or college freshmen or sophomores with a minimum 2.5 GPA and an interest in a paid internship with Lockheed Martin.
Award: $10,000 (renewable for up to $40,000 total)
This scholarship encourages students underrepresented in STEM fields. Applicants must identify as a member of a racial or ethinc minority, be pursuing a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field from an accredited university, and complete a data structures course. The program requires participation in a six-week remote program that offers preparation for interviewing for software engineering roles at tech firms.
Applicants must be pursuing a graduate degree with a focus on information assurance or cybersecurity and hold a minimum 3.5 GPA. Application requirements include unofficial transcripts, one letter of recommendation, a resume or CV, and completed essay questions.
American Association for the Advancement of Science Mass Media Science & Engineering Fellowship
Fellows work as science journalists for ten weeks in the summer. The program accepts undergraduate and graduate students and postgraduates in computer science and other STEM fields. Applicants must be U.S. citizens or hold visas allowing them to complete paid summer work.
The Department of Energy awards this generous fellowship to full-time doctoral students pursuing computer science and other STEM fields. Application requirements include official transcripts, a green card or U.S. citizenship, references, and a completed program of study.
Award: Payment of full tuition and fees, $38,000 yearly stipend, annual professional development allowance, 12-week research practicum experience (renewable up to four years)
These scholarships support full-time undergraduate and graduate students who demonstrate the potential to contribute to the fields of control and automation. Applicants need a minimum 2.5 GPA. Submit letters of recommendation, transcripts, essay questions, and employment history.
Award: Varies. Supports tuition and related expenses and research initiatives.
The National Gem Consortium Ph.D. Science Fellowship
Applicants must be an undergraduate senior or graduate student in an accredited applied science or engineering program and belong to a group underrepresented in science and engineering. Students must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents and hold a minimum 3.0 GPA. The fellowship requires an internship with a GEM employer the summer after sponsorship.
Award: Covers full tuition and fees and a $16,000 stipend for the first year of the fellowship
This scholarship encourages women to pursue degrees in gaming. Applicants must intend to or be enrolled full time in a bachelor’s, master’s, or Ph.D. program and studying game programming, game design, or a similar technical field. Additional criteria include financial need, a strong academic record, and demonstrated leadership potential.
Scholarships for Women Studying Information Security
Applied Computer Security Associates and Computing Research Association Widening Participation jointly offer these scholarships for women pursuing a bachelor’s or master’s degree related to information security. Applicants must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents enrolled at a U.S. university.
The Society of Women Engineers offers this renewable scholarship to women studying computer science and several other related disciplines. Applicants must be U.S. citizens and members of the Society of Women Engineers. The award requires a minimum 3.5 GPA, gives preference to members of underrepresented groups or applicants with financial need.
Applicants must identify as female, major in computer science or a related field, and hold current enrollment status as an undergraduate or master’s student. The scholarship requires a strong academic record and proof of leadership and participation in school and community activities.
Award: $10,000, one-year Creative Cloud subscription membership, chance to interview for an internship at Adobe
Applicants must identify as female, be currently in an accredited undergraduate or graduate STEM program in the U.S. or Canada, and hold good academic standing at their institution. Students must submit an essay, transcripts, and a video supplement.
Computer Science Scholarships for Minority Students
Generation Google Scholarship (North America)
Computer science majors committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion who demonstrate financial need and a strong academic record can apply. Applicants should submit a resume or CV, transcripts, essay responses, and family and household information. Google encourages applications from members of groups underrepresented in the tech industry.
Women and minority STEM majors (including computer science) with a minimum 3.0 GPA can apply. Applicants must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents. The scholarship encourages applications from students at historically Black colleges and universities.
Applicants must be minority or women students enrolled full-time in their second semester of a STEM graduate program (including computer science). Application requirements include a minimum 3.5 GPA, official transcripts, two letters of recommendation, and a resume.
Members of an American Indian tribe or Alaska Native group pursuing a computer science degree can apply for this scholarship. Applicants need a minimum 3.25 GPA and must demonstrate character and commitment to the Native American community. Students must be entering an accredited university as a full-time freshman.
This scholarship invites applications from graduating high school seniors and undergraduate and graduate students of Hispanic heritage. Applicants must hold a minimum 3.0 GPA, submit FAFSA or state-based financial aid forms, and plan to enroll in a four-year, accredited U.S. university. Students must be U.S. citizens, permanent legal residents, or DACA recipients.
Award: $500-$5,000, access to scholar support and career services
Explore programs of your interests with the high-quality standards and flexibility you need to take your career to the next level.
Other Funding for Computer Science Degrees
In addition to scholarships, learners seeking computer science degrees can access other sources of funding, including computer science grants, work-study, and student loans. Keep reading to learn about these other types of financial aid.
Computer Science Grants
Like scholarships, grants do not need to be repaid. Grants help fund students’ tuition expenses and are based on financial need rather than merit.
Computer science students can also pursue research grants. Organizations offering research grants typically review students’ research proposals and fund projects that match their mission.
The National Science Foundation aggregates recently announced funding opportunities for computer and information science students and engineering students. Additionally, the IEEE Foundation invites grant applicants to submit projects related to certain themes each year.
Many schools offer part-time work-study jobs as funding for computer science degrees. Work-study programs encourage learners to take jobs related to their studies, gain relevant experience, and make money while in school. Work-study programs are funded by federal and state governments.
Look for work-study opportunities on your school’s career services or job postings website. Work-study may be ideal for students in traditional on-campus programs who do not already work a full-time job. Online learners or those who already work full time may find it difficult to pursue work-study.
Taking Out a Loan
Because scholarships and grants may not cover the entire cost of pursuing a degree, students should be sure to research and understand how to borrow money. Loans require repayment and their terms can be difficult to navigate.
To apply for federal aid, students must submit the Free Application for Federal Aid (FAFSA) each year. The government uses this form to determine each student’s eligibility for federal loans, including Direct Subsidized Loans, Direct Unsubsidized Loans, Direct PLUS Loans, and Direct Consolidation Loans.
Federal loans offer flexible repayment options. Students can submit their FAFSA form online to speed up the process.
The U.S. Department of Education (ED) requires that all schools participating in federal student aid programs hold accreditation from a recognized accrediting agency. Students who attend an unaccredited institution may miss out on many financial aid opportunities.
Prospective students should also look for computer science programs that hold accreditation from ABET. This nonprofit, nongovernmental organization accredits applied science, computing, engineering, and engineering technology programs at the associate, bachelor’s, and master’s levels.
If federal loans do not cover remaining tuition costs, students can take out private loans. However, learners should only consider private loans after exhausting scholarship, grant, work-study, and federal loan options.
Borrowers should pay close attention to the interest rates and repayment options for each private loan. ED provides a shopping sheet to help students understand the financial burden of additional loans.
Loan Comparison Chart
The following chart illustrates the differences between government and private loans. Interest rates for private loans can be significantly higher than government loans, and private loans often have more stringent repayment options.
No previous federal loan defaults; must attend school at least half time
Must attend school at least half time; acceptable credit
Based on credit
Up to $20,500/year; $138,500 for the entirety of a degree
Full cost of graduate study
Variable, but does not exceed 8.25%
Fixed yearly, 5.30% for 2021
Begins six months after leaving school
Deferred until six months after leaving school or after attendance drops below half time
Begins immediately (generally)
After 20-25 years; 10 years for public servants
After 10 years if employed at a nonprofit or government agency
Yes. Undergraduate and graduate students can find a variety of computer science scholarships from foundations, corporations, nonprofit groups, and universities.
When should I start applying to scholarships?
Start the search for scholarships for computer science programs early. Many organizations offer computer science scholarships for high school seniors.
What kind of scholarships are available for computer science?
A variety of scholarships support computer science majors. Many organizations offer scholarships based on criteria like academic merit, financial need, or identity. Students can find minority computer science scholarships and computer science scholarships for women.
How do you get a computer science scholarship?
Students can get computer science scholarships by applying for the ones that best match their strengths. Make sure to get the strongest letters of recommendation possible and spend time personalizing each application.
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