6 Sky-High Scholarships for Astronomy Majors

Keep an eye out for some of these opportunities for college funds.

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There's nothing more romantic than the night sky: Ripe Venus—the Goddess of Love—sitting close to the moon will put the most stoic of souls into a softer mood. April is Global Astronomy Month, so if you're scoping out a degree in astronomy, don't let the cost jolt you back to reality; consider applying for these high-dollar scholarships instead.

1. Universiteit Leiden, in the Netherlands, offers the J.H. Oort Scholarship in Astronomy for students who have a BSc degree or its equivalent in astronomy or physics and who wish to pursue their MSc degree in astronomy. The scholarship is available to international students, including those from the United States, for up to two years of study and is currently worth 11,000 euros (more than $14,000) plus tuition.

2. Established by Congress and implemented by NASA, the National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program contributes to the nation's science enterprise by funding research, education, and public service projects. Scholarships, grants, and internship opportunities exist in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and Washington, D.C., and are available in varying specialties and amounts. For one example, North Carolina students are eligible for a Space Grant/Lord Corporation internship worth up to $9,500.

[Learn more about paying for college.]

3. The Lucas Scholarships are awarded by the San Diego Astronomy Association (SDAA) to undergraduate students attending either the University of Arizona or San Diego State University who have maintained a GPA of at least 2.70. The deadline is May 11 for this year's $5,000 scholarship award. To apply, you'll need to submit an original essay, up to 750 words, discussing your career plans and interest in the subject of astronomy.

4. Graduate students studying astronomy at the University of Hawaii may be eligible for the $5,000 Helen Jones Farrar-ARCS Scholarship. Recipients must be U.S. citizens and have a minimum 3.5 GPA.

[Find other sources of graduate school scholarships.]

5. Up to $4,000 is available to freshman physics or astronomy students ($1,000 annually renewable for four years) through the Strayer-Rairden Scholarship in Physics. To be eligible, you must be an Iowa resident attending the University of Iowa, and maintain a 3.2 or higher GPA for award renewals.

6. The National Society of Black Physicists offers three one-time $1,000 scholarships honoring African-American pioneers in the fields of astronomy, astrophysics, and space science. Physics majors should apply as sophomores or juniors; students in their junior or senior year are eligible for these nonrenewable scholarships.

If the resources listed above don't meet your needs, we suggest putting your stargazing on hold for a few minutes and turn your view toward search results for further astronomy scholarship opportunities. Additional searching (no telescope required) yields dozens more scholarship opportunities for students studying the skies at a variety of colleges and universities.

Janine Fugate joined Scholarship America in 2002. She is an alumna of the College of Saint Benedict, Saint Joseph, Minn., and is currently pursuing a Master of Public Affairs at the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota. Fugate is the recipient of numerous scholarships at both the undergraduate and graduate level.