This guide is designed to help students and those interested in learning more about potential cybersecurity scholarships. The guide includes information related to the kinds of scholarships available to cybersecurity students, where to look for scholarships, and what is required to be eligible for scholarships.
While degrees are extremely beneficial to those looking to enter the cybersecurity field, college and universities can be expensive and may feel out of reach to certain students. Fortunately, there are plenty of scholarships that exist to bridge this gap. Scholarships are offered by colleges themselves, non-profit organizations, and even well-known companies. A scholarship is money that can be used towards your degree, but unlike a loan you do not have to pay it back.
Beginning your Scholarship Search
It’s important to note that all scholarships are not created equal. Some scholarships have very specific eligibility requirements. Some scholarships have clauses which require the scholarship recipients to work at the organization that offered them the scholarship after they graduate or during their summer breaks. Aside from that, the financial awards given out vary drastically. Some scholarships will cover everything from tuition, fees, and books while others are for a smaller fixed amount such as $1,000.
Applying to scholarships often require some thought. Many of them will require written proposals that are a lot of work to produce. Because of this, students should do their research and ensure that they are both eligible for the scholarship they are applying to and that it’s a good fit for them.
Having a higher GPA will certainly provide students with a greater chance of receiving a scholarship that they apply for.
Preparing a strong cover letter and resume is an important step before applying to scholarships. Since students may not have much work experience, they should add academic achievements, awards, and extracurricular activities to their resume.
It’s also worth noting that each state often offers their own scholarships to students studying in that state.
Scholarships are offered based upon a wide variety of requirements. Many scholarships are designed for minority groups based on things such as race, gender, and other similar factors. Before we dig into these types of scholarships, let’s have a look at some of the more generalized scholarships available for everyone. Let’s begin by looking at scholarships for undergraduates.
Central Intelligence Agency – Undergraduate Scholarship Program
For students interested in pursuing a government role after college, the CIA undergraduate scholarship program may be a good fit. Those attending college under the CIA’s scholarship must be enrolled full time at an accredited college or university. During the summers, these students work as at the CIA. After graduation, scholarship recipients are required to work at the CIA or a period equal to 1.5 times the length of the scholarship received.
Scholarship recipients who do not stay for the required period must reimburse the US government for the tuition they received. All positions require relocation to the Washington, DC metropolitan area during summer work tours. Find out more about the scholarship by visiting the CIA website: https://www.cia.gov/careers/student-opportunities
- Tuition assistance up to $18,000 per calendar year for tuition, mandatory fees and books
- Daily allowance for meals and incidentals during summer tours
- Reimbursement for transportation costs between school and Washington, DC
- Annual salary
The Stokes Educational Scholarship Program (NSA)
Similar to the scholarship offered by the CIA, the NSA has a scholarship program of its own. This is another “scholarship for service” meaning that the student agrees to work with the organization after graduation or else they have to pay back all of the scholarship money that they have received.
Recipients of the Stokes Program will receive $30,000 a year for tuition. During the summers, they will intern at the NSA for 3 months. Just like in the CIA’s program, students must work at the NSA for 1.5 times the length of their scholarship after graduation. At this time they are given a yearly salary and all the benefits that come along with a full time position at the NSA. Learn more this NSA scholarship by visiting their website: https://www.federaljobs.net/blog/the-stokes-educational-scholarship-program-nsa/
(ISC)2 Scholarship – Undergraduate
The Center for Cyber Safety and Education and (ISC)2offer both undergraduate and graduate scholarships ranging from $1000 to $5000 each. Anyone studying in the cybersecurity field is eligible to apply for these scholarships regardless of citizenship.
The main requirement for the scholarship focuses on GPA. Undergraduate applications must have at least a 3.3 GPA. Read more about the (ISC)2 scholarships at https://www.iamcybersafe.org/s/scholarships
- Up to 20 scholarships awarded to undergraduate applicants
- Scholarships range from $1000 – $5000
- If awarded the award will be sent to the school with instructions that it be applied to tuition, fees and books.
The Snort Scholarship
The Snort scholarship is offered by technology giant Cisco. Those awarded the Snort scholarship receive $10,000 to be used at an accredited college, university, or institution of their choice. The only requirements for this scholarship are that the applications can obtain a high school diploma by the year the scholarship would take effect or can provide reasonable evidence that they are seeking a degree in an applicable field.
In 2020, the Snort scholarship was awarded to two students. The scholarship typically runs between the months of April and May. More information about the Snort scholarship can be found here: https://snort.org/community/scholarship
- $10,000 awarded
- Can be used at any accredited college, university, or institution
- Both undergraduate and graduate students can apply to this scholarship
Many careers in the cybersecurity field require more advanced graduate degrees. Unfortunately, financial assistance for graduate degrees can be more difficult to come by than for undergraduate degrees. Below you will learn about some of the scholarships available for those pursing graduate degrees.
NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program Scholarship
Available to those pursuing their master or doctorate degree, the GRFP is a good choice for graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering, and mathematics majors. In order to be eligible for the scholarship students much attend accredited institutions within the United States. Students can learn more about the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program Scholarship and apply on their website: https://nsfgrfp.org/applicants
- Up to a three-year annual stipend of $34,000
- An additional $12,000 education allowance for tuition and fees (paid to the institution)
- Freedom to conduct their research at any accredited U.S. institution of graduate education
(ISC)2 Scholarship – Graduate
As mentioned in the undergraduate section of this guide, The Center for Cyber Safety and Educationand (ISC)2offer both undergraduate and graduate scholarships ranging from $1000 to $5000 each. The main difference between the undergraduate and graduate scholarships is that the GPA requirements are a bit higher for the graduate scholarship. Applications pursuing the graduate scholarship must have a 3.5 GPA or higher. Read more about this scholarship here: https://www.iamcybersafe.org/s/scholarships
- Up to 20 scholarships awarded to graduate applicants
- Scholarships range from $1000 – $5000
- If awarded the award will be sent to the school with instructions that it be applied to tuition, fees and books.
Scholarships for Women
While women make up roughly half of the workforce, only about 28% of the STEM fields are made up of female employees. More specifically, women make up about 20% of the cybersecurity workforce. However, as more women graduate with computer science degrees, this number is growing. Fortunately, organizations are happy to invest in bringing more female talent in by offering plenty of scholarships for women pursuing these careers.
KnowBe4 Women in Cybersecurity Scholarship and Internship
KnowBe4 specializes in security awareness training and simulated phishing campaigns. The KnowBe4 scholarships offers women pursuing cybersecurity careers $10,000 to be used for tuition, fees, and books. In addition, the scholarship is paired with a 3-month paid internship at KnowBe4 during the summer. More information can be found at the KnowBe4 scholarship here: https://iamcybersafe.org/s/knowbe4-womens-cyber-scholarships-
- $10,000 to be used for tuition, fees, and books
- 3-month paid internships (rate of pay varies based on education level)
- Scholarship recipient responsible for travel and lodging for internship
(ISC)2 Women in Information Security Scholarship
Applicants pursuing this scholarship must be female and currently pursuing a degree with a focus on cybersecurity. This scholarship can be applied towards undergraduate or graduate degrees. Women awarded this scholarship will receive a scholarship ranging from $1000 to $6000. Students wishing to apply for this scholarship should maintain at least a 3.3 GPA. Read more about this scholarship here: https://www.iamcybersafe.org/s/womens-scholarships
- $1,000 – $6,000
- Up to 10 women awarded this scholarship
- Applicable to both graduate and undergraduate students
SWSIS (Scholarships for Women Studying Information Security) Program Scholarship
The SWSIS scholarship is specifically for women pursuing their bachelor’s or master’s degree in a field related to cybersecurity. In order to be eligible for the SWSIS scholarship, applicants must either be enrolled or be accepted at an accredited U.S. institution. This scholarship is limited to U.S. citizens and permanent residents. As of 2019, SWSIS has provided scholarships to 90 women so far. Read more about this scholarship here: https://cra.org/cra-wp/scholarships-and-awards/scholarships/swsis/#overview
- Up to $10,000
- Women working towards Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in cybersecurity
Women Techmakers Scholars Program (Formerly Google Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship Program)
Google offers three scholarships in memory of Dr. Anita Borg including the Women Techmakers Scholarship for computer science. North American students are awarded $10,000 USD for students in the U.S. and $5,000 CAD for Canadian students. Women are eligible to apply for this scholarship if they have a high school diploma or equivalent, are currently enrolled at an accredited institution, and are pursuing a Bachelor’s, Master’s, or Doctorate degree.
- $10,000 USD for students in U.S.
- $5,000 CAD for students in Canada
- Women working towards Bachelor’s, Master’s, or Doctorate degree
VIP’s Women in Technology Scholarship
Visionary Integration Professional’s offers multiple $2,500 scholarships to women pursuing two- or four-year degrees in computer science, cybersecurity, information technology, and other related fields. Applicants must apply by April 1st to be eligible for that year’s scholarship. More information regarding this scholarship can be found at: https://www.trustvip.com/company/community-service-and-support/
- Multiple scholarships awarded
- $2,500 each
- Women pursuing two- or four- year degrees
Scholarships for Veterans
Military veterans looking to reenter the civilian workforce by entering cybersecurity careers are eligible for specialized scholarships.
Cisco Veteran Cyber Scholarship Program
Cisco partnered with Onward to Opportunity to offer the Cisco Veteran Cyber Scholarship Program. This scholarship is a little different from other scholarships we’ve discussed in the guide because rathe than provide financial support for a college or university, this scholarship is for free training and certification from Cisco itself. Veterans that receive this scholarship can take the Cisco CCNA course and certification. More information about this scholarship can be found here.
The Yellow Ribbon Program
The U.S Department of Veteran’s Affairs offers the Yellow Ribbon Program to veterans who are pursuing a higher out-of-state, private school, or graduate school tuition that the Post-9/11 GI Bill doesn’t cover. While this scholarship isn’t specific to cybersecurity careers, it can absolutely be used towards a cybersecurity degree. Learn more about the Yellow Ribbon Program here: va.gov/education/about-gibill-benefits/post-9-11/yellow-ribbon-program/
AFCEA War Veterans Scholarships
This scholarship is reserved for undergraduate only. The War Veteran offers merit-based scholarship of $2,500 to active duty members of the military or honorably discharged U.S. military veterans. Applicants
of this scholarship must be currently pursuing careers in an eligible STEM major at an accredited university. Find out more about this scholarship here: https://www.afcea.org/site/?q=foundation/scholarships/war-veterans
Google Student Veterans Award (SVA) Scholarship
Google offers eight scholarship awards in the amount of $10,000 each to student veterans pursuing a career in computer science. This scholarship can be used towards either an undergraduate degree or a graduate degree at an accredited four-year institution. To qualify for the scholarships, applicants must be a student veteran, a student on active duty, or a veteran who has received an honorable discharge and is currently in good standing with his/her branch of service. Recipients of the scholarship are also invited to attend Google’s Scholars Retreat. Read more about the Google SVA Scholarship here: https://studentveterans.org/programs-events/scholarships/
Scholarships and other forms of student aid
It’s important to note that most scholarships will not cover the entire amount of your tuition. In these cases students must rely on other forms of financial aid. Due to this, it’s important to let your school and financial aid advisor knows when you have been awarded a scholarship so that the financial aid advisor may subtract that amount from the financial aid you will receive.
The total cost of your student aid combined (scholarships, grants, etc) can’t exceed the cost of your attendance at the institution.
Where to begin the cybersecurity scholarship search
As a high school student, it can seem extremely overwhelming when looking for scholarships. Where do you even begin? The internet is such a vast and open resource that it can often provide too much information for what you are looking for.
Luckily, there are ways to make this burden lighter. For high school students, it’s beneficial to sit down and speak with your school counselor. They are often happy to help high school students locate scholarships opportunities and will have information regarding local and state scholarships available. If you have already found a college which you’d like to attend, speak with the financial aid advisor for that college. They may have scholarships specific to their school.
Another option is to check with the state grant office for the state in which you reside. You can find more information about your state grant office by visiting this website: https://www2.ed.gov/about/contacts/state/index.html
In addition to all of these resources, there are plenty of free online scholarship search tools. Let’s look at a few of these search options:
Fastweb – Fastweb provides a simple tool to search for scholarships, internships, universities, part-time jobs, and more. It’s a great resource for students as it allows them to search scholarships by categories.The site also allows students to create profiles that will then match them with applicable scholarships instantly. https://www.fastweb.com/
Scholarships.com – The scholarship search feature offered by scholarships.com is another great search resource for students. Students will be required to create an account and set up a profile. They will then be matches with scholarships that fit their profile. https://www.scholarships.com/scholarship-search
BigFuture – BigFuture scholarship search is very similar to those offered by FastWeb and Scholarhsips.com. Students will fill out a profile divulging information such as ethnicity, race, gender, and which major they are pursuing. They will be then matched with scholarships that fit their personal profile. https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/scholarship-search#!welcome
Sallie Mae – Sallie Mae, an organization which provides students with education loans, also has a scholarship search of their own.Their college planning platform requires students to create a profile, it will then provide access to a scholarship search and a college planning calculator. Find out more about the Sallie Mae planning resources here: https://www.salliemae.com/college-planning/registration/?mode=scholar&lnkid=SM-PlanToolsSS-hero-scholarships/
When to begin the search
Unfortunately, there is no golden rule to the deadlines of scholarships. However, it’s best to begin applying for scholarships early and often. It may seem as though you need to have a set plan and know exactly what college you will attend before you apply for scholarships, but this isn’t the case.
Most scholarships can be used at any accredited institution, so you can begin applying for scholarship well before you have made up your mind on the college you want to attend. Some scholarships have deadlines that are a year before they are awarded. This means that the earlier you begin your search and applications, the better your chances of being awarded one of these scholarships.
Scholarships are often offered throughout the year, so it’s best to continue searching all year long, even if you missed out on an opportunity for one scholarship there may be more. Do not limit yourself to applying to only one scholarship. Apply to as many as are applicable to you. It will better your chances of receiving the award.
It’s also important to note that once you are in college you may still apply for scholarships for the years that you are there. You should apply to scholarships each year to help with the financial burden of the full years you spend in school.
Last thoughts on cybersecurity scholarships
Whether you are still in high school and have just started looking at colleges, or you hold a bachelor’s degree and are considering going back for you master’s degree, there is a scholarship out there for you.
With the average cost of a private 4-year college sitting around $30,000 annually and the average cost of a public 4-year college at $10,000, scholarships can help make the financial burden a little bit lighter.
With an increased demand for cybersecurity professionals, there are new cybersecurity scholarships popping up every year. Students should apply for many scholarships, regardless of the award amount. In college, every bit helps. Receiving a $1,000 or $5,000 scholarship is all money that you don’t have to pay back later one.
Many scholarships will require essays or letters of recommendations. Don’t count a scholarship out just because it requires extra effort. These scholarships help prepare you for the world of college academics.
Be sure to apply to scholarships in various categories such as those specific to your major, those that are targeted to your hobbies, and those in special categories such as those for women and minorities. Apply to scholarships early and often and do not forget that scholarships are also available to students who are already enrolled in a college or university.
In this guide we discussed the purpose of applying for scholarships and how they can help lift some of the financial burden that comes along with attending college. We discussed when and where to start your scholarships search and went in depth on some of the scholarships available to undergraduates, graduates, women and veterans.