Finding Front-End Development Scholarships

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Geoff Graham on

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I’m often asked where to learn web development. The answer varies, of course, and we’ve published a few posts on the topic over the years, the most recent of which was Chris taking a stab at different learning paths in 2020.

The answer doesn’t have to be school. But sometimes it is, and if your goal is to earn a degree in front-end web development from a college or university, there are other questions you probably have. One of those is probably how the heck do I afford tuition? That’s the second most-asked question I get from the students I teach at my little city college. (Well, that and if they can get an extension on an assignment.)

Scholarships! That’s the golden ticket, right? Unlike a loan, a scholarship is money you don’t have to pay back. There are strings attached. You might need to write an essay with your application, demonstrate a certain level of academic success, or even complete the program before the any funds are dispersed.

Where to look for scholarships

Good gosh, there are practically hundreds of sites that turn up with a simple online search. The problem is that most of them are aggregate sites littered with ads and affiliate links, many of which busted years ago.

That makes finding a legit source of scholarships like finding a needle in the proverbial haystack. It’s a little easier if your goal is to sign up for some sort of coding bootcamp because those usually offer needs-based discounts up front. But that doesn’t help afford a college degree.

Besides an online search, your best bet for finding scholarships might be on major corporate websites, like Google and Microsoft, both of which offer annually recurring scholarships for a number of programs related to technology.

Finding front-end scholarships

As great as big companies can be for scholarships, you might find it tough to find a scholarship that’s explicitly for front-end development. That’s because many scholarships are only loosely tied to front-end development. Many of the scholarships I’ve found are more like:

  • Graphic communications
  • Media design
  • Digital media
  • Interactive design
  • Computer science
  • Information technology
  • Video game design

That’s a bummer because you’re essentially applying for a scholarship that’s open to other fields not directly related to front-end development.

And a certain scholarship offered this year might not be offered next year. It all depends on who is doling out the money and how much money they have to give. Often it’s going to be some private foundation, endowment, or small company that offers the most promising scholarships, and it could be a one-time deal. I found that many of the most enticing front-end scholarships ended years ago, but are still popping up all over those pesky aggregate sites that claim to have updated information for the current year.

Some scholarships worth looking at

I went down a few rabbit holes trying to find academic scholarships that specifically say “front-end development” or “web design” in their materials. Again, different scholarships have different strings attached to them and what I found today could be gone tomorrow.

That said, here’s a few (in no particular order) that passed my filters:

ScholarshipWho it’s forHow much it offers
BOWEN Web Design Scholarship Full or part-time students, with a declared major related to web design or development.$1,500
Chee Web Development ScholarshipStudents embarking on a web-related certificate or undergraduate degree.$1,000
The Web Development of Tomorrow ScholarshipLGBTQ individuals$1,000
Lounge Lizard Web Design Students at an accredited school, or accepted to begin school at an accredited school within 6 months of application.$1,000
Digital Excellence Awards ScholarshipStudents under 25 in an accredited school looking for an education in web design, digital marketing, SEO, or computer science.$1,000
Net Solutions Annual ScholarshipStudents enrolled in a four-year college or university in the U.S., U.K., Canada, or Australia.$2,500

There could be more! These were just the ones I found. Link me up to others you know of in the comments and I’ll check ’em out to add to the list.

Front-end adjacent scholarships

If you’re willing to apply for scholarships that are less directly tied to front-end development, there are more to consider:

Online programs that offer scholarships

Not attending a college or university? Coding bootcamps are all the rage, or so I hear, and many of them are offered online with discounts and scholarship opportunities. I can’t personlly vouch for each and every bootcamp out there. If you’re interested in taking one — like maybe Fullstack Academy, Udacity, Coding Dojo, or any of the learning paths at Frontend Masters — then it’s worth a quick check for financial help.

We need better scholarships for budding developers

Seriously! For all the college and university students I know who are enrolled in a front-end development program, there is scant resourcing available to make their education more affordable — at least ones without stipulations for which school you’re attending or that are directly related to the front-end field.

Part of me is tempted to go on some sort of rant, but instead what I’ll say is this is a ripe area for private individuals and companies to step in and make a difference. Sure, there are lots of ways to “give back” and it doesn’t have to be a scholarship.

But I see a big hole here and I imagine it’s relatively easy for any mid-sized company to hand out $500-$1,000 once a year to promote education. It’s not only good for students and good for the web, but most likely good for the company, too.

Different types of front-end scholarships

Every scholarship I found is either directly tied to front-end development (or web design), or groups front-end development with other loosely-related disciplines. How cool would it be to see scholarships that are specifically for front-end and geared toward front-end disciplines?!

There are so many areas we could support…

  • Accessibility
  • Content management systems
  • Design systems
  • Front-end curriculum design
  • Inclusive design
  • Interoperability
  • Specifications and documentation
  • Technical writing
  • Web performance

…just to name a few.