Funding a Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree can be difficult for some students, particularly those who are not eligible to receive financial aid from the university itself. Fortunately, there are an impressive number of scholarship opportunities available each year from private and federal sources that can help eligible students fund programs all over the country.
Applications for federal aid are generally straightforward and funding can be used for programs in almost any subject area. Interested applicants are required to complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) for consideration, with successful application being dependent upon financial need. Additional information can be found on the Federal Student Aid section of the U.S. Department of Education website.
In addition to federal aid, there are a number of organizations that offer merit or need-based scholarships to students of public affairs. This article highlights some of the options available and the ways that students can find additional opportunities.
The Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation is devoted to assisting bright, talented individuals who want to pursue a career in public service. For 40 years, the Truman Foundation has awarded approximately 60 students each year with scholarships to study public affairs at the graduate level. Applicants must be current undergraduates and must be able to commit to working in public service for three of the seven years after finishing their graduate program.
Niche.com’s College Prowler was founded in 2002 to serve as a directory of thousands of American colleges. In addition to featuring analysis, reviews and a database of national scholarships, Niche also offers a $2,000 “No Essay” college scholarship for one recipient each month. Winners are chosen by a random drawing from registered website users who are planning to begin college or graduate school within 12 months.
The Educational Advancement Foundation (EAF) was founded in 1980 by the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority to promote lifelong learning through undergraduate and graduate scholarships. EAF graduate scholarships are offered on either a merit or financial-need basis. Openness to all applicants regardless of ethnic or cultural backgrounds is made evident. Both merit and financial-need scholarships are intended as one-year awards only.
The Beinecke Scholarship Program awards 20 need-based scholarships each year to exceptional students who are pursuing graduate-level education in the arts, humanities or social sciences. Successful applicants immediately receive $4,000 and an additional $30,000 after beginning graduate school, which must be used within five years of completing their bachelor’s degree. Since its foundation in 1971, the program has awarded over 500 scholarships to highly motivated students attending nearly 100 national universities.
The Herbert Roback Scholarship Fund is dedicated to providing opportunities to talented students who wish to pursue lifetime careers in public service. Each year, the fund awards one $7,500 scholarship to a current graduate student of public affairs, political science, international relations or public administration. Interested students must be enrolled in a full-time master’s degree program to be eligible for the scholarship application.
The Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) awards several annual scholarships to graduate students enrolled in programs relevant to careers in government finance: the Daniel B. Goldberg Scholarship, the Frank L. Greathouse Government Accounting Scholarship, the Minorities in Government Finance Scholarship and the Government Finance Professional Development Scholarship. Ranging from awards of $6,000 to $11,000 annually, GFOA scholarships are available to both full and part-time students who are currently enrolled in graduate programs in public affairs. Details about each of the four programs, as well as specific program requirements, can be found on the GFOA website.
The Mensa Foundation offers a number of scholarship opportunities to students who are enrolled in U.S. degree programs. The application, which is not exclusive to Mensa members, is based entirely on an essay that describes student goals and aims. Awards are not based on grades or financial need. On average, the Mensa Foundation reserves approximately $85,000 annually for scholarship programs, to be split among the number of successful recipients.
Each year, the Foundation for Community Association Research offers its Byron Hanke Fellowship to graduate students who are researching topics on community associations, or common-interest organizations like cooperatives, condominiums or housing developments. Stipends generally range from $3,000 to $5,000 a year and are open to all students who can demonstrate academic interest in community issues.
The Pittsburgh Foundation is one of the oldest and largest community foundations in the United States. While the organization does not currently offer scholarships, it does maintain an extensive list of national scholarships available to current or future graduate students of American universities.
The scholarships listed above are only a small selection of the many options available for students of public administration. For students interested in researching other options, websites like SchoolSoup.com can be a useful next step. SchoolSoup maintains a database of over $40 billion in scholarship opportunities for American university students. The website currently lists over 400 scholarship options for public administration students of amounts ranging from several hundred to thousands of dollars. While some scholarship options are limited to applicants from a particular region, the website also includes national scholarships that can be applied to any accredited university. With such a resource, interested students have a significant chance to find scholarship opportunities that may work for them.