Celebrity Scholarships for College

Last Updated Mar 2, 2011 6:20 PM EST

Michael Jordan, Jerry Seinfeld, David Letterman and Alicia Keys are among a long list of U.S. celebrities providing scholarships to help kids go to college with generous grants, according to the scholarship search site FastWeb.com.

These scholarships are among thousands of private scholarship awards that help students defray the cost of education, even when the student isn't academically or athletically gifted. Although most scholarships demand a certain level of academic achievement -- the Michael Jordan award, for instance, requires at least a B average -- they're thresholds that most college-bound students can clear.

Which celebrities are offering scholarships? Here's a list of 10 provided by Fastweb. Even if your child doesn't find an appropriate celebrity award, it's worth signing up for the service and filling out the FastWeb application. The more information you provide, the better the site can serve up details on scholarships that match your student. A caution: The site does require that students swim through a load of advertisements, but that's what keeps the search free. There's no need to buy or sign up for anything. FastWeb will continue delivering scholarship news to your student throughout their college career.

Back to the celebrity scholarships, ranked here by generosity. (The links take you to where you can get more detail about each individual celebrity scholarship or grant.):

Jerry Seinfeld provides a number of scholarships each year worth as much as $10,000 to New York residents, who have family incomes of less than $60,000.

David Letterman offers a series of awards to juniors and seniors studying telecommunications at Ball State University. The top award is $10,000, but there also are $5,000 and $3,333 grants.

will.i.am provides four years worth of assistance for financially needy students, and allows others to contribute to the i.am scholarship program.

Alicia Keys Open Door Scholarship provides up to $5,000 to members of Frum Tha Ground Up, a youth group promoting character, confidence and integrity.

Michael and Juanita Jordan Scholarship provides $5,000 for Chicago-area juniors, with at least a 3.0 GPA.

Michael Jackson, like Michael Jordan, gave scholarship money to the United Negro College fund, which administers Jackson's $5,000 posthumous annual gift. John Lennon, whose $5,000 annual award goes to students with at least a 3.0 grade point average studying communications, media or arts, did the same.

G-Unit, the record label founded by rapper 50 Cent, provides a $1,400 credit against tuition for students attending Queensborough or LaGuardia Community Colleges.

Christopher Reeve Award gives $1,000, for students showing "passion and caring in serving their community."

Alec Baldwin provides a scholarship to drama students attending his alma mater Tisch School of the Arts at NYU. Applicants for this award apply through the school.

Don't worry if these scholarships are too narrow for your student. There are thousands of private awards, given by companies, trade groups and individuals. Anyone who didn't get as much financial aid as they were hoping for, should go on a hunt to find them, says Mark Kantrowitz, founder of FastWeb and author of a new book called Secrets to Winning a Scholarship.
The easiest way to hunt is to sign up for an online scholarship search service, like FastWeb. But be sure that you're not paying a fee for the search. Most legitimate scholarship search companies provide the search for free. The Federal Trade Commission has warned consumers about scholarship scams that promise scholarships for money upfront. No one can guarantee an award. Most of these services provide only information that you could otherwise get for free.

Be sure you apply for every scholarship you can qualify for, even the ones that are small and you may think aren't worth your time, Kantrowitz advises. Why? Winning one scholarship helps you win others.

"The small scholarships are less competitive and easier to get," he says. "And every time you win a scholarship, it adds a line to your resume that makes it easier to get the next scholarship. It says that somebody thought highly enough of you to invest in your education."

For more tips on getting into college and financing education bills, check out Lynn O'Shaughnessy's blog, The College Solution.

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