Money is tight these days. Yet scholarships for culinary school can be found. It takes digging and perseverance. A scholarship or grant may be waiting for you right now. But no one is going to hand it to you. Unless you ask for it, you have virtually no hope of grabbing it.
“Concentrate on researching the organization that offers or administers the kind of scholarship you want,” advises Dan Traster, former academic director of culinary arts at The Art Institute of Washington in Arlington, VA. “For instance, the National Restaurant Association promotes the entire restaurant industry, and does so by considering applicants who want to be managers, dieticians and marketers as well as cooks and pastry chefs.”
I know this is true as I’ve written many, many reference letters for students seeking additional scholarships and grants while they were still in school. It may seem obvious but it bears repeating: when you apply for scholarships:
- Read the fine print. It is important to show you are really serious about continuing to stay or switching to the culinary field, won’t change your mind and drop out if you find the work too hard or if it fails to live up to your expectations. Don’t waste your time applying for a scholarship for high school grads when you already have a bachelor’s degree.
- Check the scholarship deadlines for applications and allow plenty of time to meet them.
- Look at more than one school and study their scholarships and grant programs carefully. Ask what kinds of scholarships they offer; how many are available, and what you have to do to get one.
- Follow the instructions on the application form carefully, and answer every question. Reviewers say many applicants are refused simply because the applicants left some questions blank.
- Be realistic. If you are asked to write an essay describing your goals, it is best to say that you are starting out and hope to find a job as a line cook in a restaurant rather than suggest that you want to start your career as a consultant Chef Thomas Keller or Emeril Lagasse.
“In other words,” says Traster, “focus on an achievable goal and explain how the scholarship will help you to meet the goal.”
You may want to go to Italy to study food of a specific region. That is a reasonable and understandable purpose and there are organizations that offer scholarships for just such a purpose. You may receive a grant that will give you enough funds to stay alive while working as an unpaid intern in a food television show or segment.
Scholarships are available but you have to work hard to get your hands on the big prize money. Grants and scholarships have recently been offered by these culinary organizations:
- Careers through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP) is a national school-to-career program with eight locations that links public high schools to the foodservice industry. Through its Cooking Competitions for Scholarships program, C-CAP has awarded $13 million in post-secondary school scholarships.
- The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) awards more than $1.1 million through 769 scholarships at its main campus in Hyde Park, NY and its two campuses in St. Helena, CA and San Antonio, TX. Recipients of the “Cream of the Crop” scholarships are selected based upon their leadership skills and academic record; earning $5,000 renewable for each year of study at the CIA, provided they maintain at least a 3.2 GPA.
- National Restaurant Association (NRA) awards scholarships totaling $5 million.
- Culinary School of the Rockies in Boulder, CO offers one $5,000 tuition-credit scholarship for a pre-enrolled student or career professional toward its 6-months Diploma of Culinary Arts in addition to suggesting scholarship information from a number of culinary associations.
- The Institute of Culinary Education (ICE) in New York City
- International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) awards 21 scholarships ranging from $4,000 in tuition credit to full tuition at culinary schools worldwide. The IACP Culinary Trust also assists food writers who need help covering travel and research expenses.
- Le Cordon Bleu offers scholarships at its 29 international locations across five continents.
- The French Culinary Institute in New York City.
- L’Academie de Cusine offers scholarships in its Gaithersburg, MD location.
- New England Culinary Institute in Montpelier, VT.
- Kendall College offers scholarships in its Chicago, IL location.
- American Culinary Federation’s American Academy of Chefs.
- Johnson & Wales University (JWU) offers a variety of scholarships at its four campuses in Providence, RI, North Miami, FL, Denver, CO and Charlotte, NC.
- American Dietetic Association offers scholarships.
- American Institute of Wine & Food.
- International Foodservice Editorial Council (IFEC) provides funds to students interested in culinary marketing, public relations and food writing.
- Sullivan University offers scholarships at its Louisville, KY location.
- International Food Service Executives Association.
- Women Chefs & Restaurateurs.
- Culinary Trusts’s Julia Child Endowment Scholarship.
- The eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters offers scholarships.
- The Charlie Trotter Culinary Education Foundation awards scholarships to individuals seeking careers in the culinary arts who otherwise would not have the means to pursue their dreams. Through his foundation, Chef Trotter (http://www.charlietrotters.com/about) has donated over 30 Guest Chef-for-a-Day certificates each month for the past 10 years and awarded over $150,000 in scholarships.