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10 scholarships for the budding computer scientist

You may want to pursue a STEM degree, but the cost of education stands in your way. Fortunately, several scholarships can make your career options more affordable.

College tuition fees are becoming harder on the wallet each year, with tuition at in-state public colleges and universities averaging $9,970 per year and private school tuition averaging an aching $14,530 per year. But add room and board to those numbers, and students shell out an average of $14,940 for public and $25,490 for private schools. Ouch.

And in what seems like a punishment for doing well on your SATs, top-tier schools can set you back $55,000 a year or more. Unless your Swiss bank account is pleasingly plump, you may want to consider selling a kidney obtaining a scholarship.

Scholarships are simple enough to acquire—in theory: Demonstrate financial need (see above statistics), fill out an application, get a few letters of recommendation, and write an essay. In practice, some requirements are more stringent than others (a nosebleed-high GPA, or residency in a county you’ve never heard of in a state you’ve never visited). You also have plenty of competition. There are frequently more applicants than you can shake a rapidly depleting Pell Grant at.

But you’ll never get that scholarship if you don’t apply. If you’re considering computer science or STEM education, we found 10 options for you or the college-bound person in your life.

Note: If you've missed any deadlines, most of these scholarships repeat annually. You may be able to reach for that scholarship next year.

Blacks at Microsoft Scholarships

Microsoft wants to promote diversity, and it’s putting its money where its digital mouth is. The technology company is offering $5,000 to qualified students who are African American, of African descent, or from one of Africa’s 54 countries.

High school seniors who plan to major in engineering, computer science, or computer information systems are welcome to apply—as long as they have a GPA of 3.3 or higher and can demonstrate “leadership."

What's the future of HPC? What are the challenges on the path to exascale?

It’s not a one-time deal, either. “The scholarships are renewable, so winners who continue to meet the criteria can receive an annual $5,000 award for up to four years,” according to Microsoft. In other words, you need to maintain your enthusiasm for technology, as well as that GPA.

In addition to transcripts, two letters of recommendation, a resume, and two essays, you also need to send in a picture of yourself. Don’t think of it as being worth a thousand words. Think of it as being worth $5,000.

Scholarship award: $5,000

Deadline: March 1

For more info: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/diversity/programs/blacks-scholarships.aspx

The Gladys Carol Scholarship Program

Gladys Carol, the mother of the scholarship creator, was a 1950s housewife, which means she had no real education under her belt (or in her case, apron). But her daughter is confident that her mother would have achieved great career success had she been able to attend college. Now her daughter is kindly offering underprivileged students the opportunity her mother never had.

Toward that end, the Gladys Carol Scholarship is giving $2,500 to STEM undergraduates and high school seniors who plan to major in STEM. Applicants must have a 3.75 GPA. But if they're working more than 16 hours per week, the GPA requirement softens to a mere 3.0. Nifty. Not only that, as long as you maintain your GPA, the scholarship automatically rolls over one more year, for a total of $5,000. Thanks, Gladys.

Requirements include demonstrating financial need and an essay that answers the question, “How will this scholarship help you meet your career and life's goals?” Best of all, the essay needs to be no more than 250 words. Thank you again, Gladys.

Scholarship award: $2,500-$5,000

Deadline: March 31

For more info: http://gcsp.vpweb.com/

Randy Pausch Scholarship

General technologists need not apply for the Randy Pausch Scholarship. Here, the focus is on video game development. But if you want to level up in video game programming, engineering, or game design, there may be $2,500 worth of lootz for you.

This scholarship is open only to college sophomores or grad students who have at least a 3.3 GPA. There's also a two-page essay for you to slay, plus letters of recommendation, which are very specific: They "must address your potential to make significant contribution to the game industry through character, service, or leadership abilities."

That means it's time for you to buff your programming or modding skills. Game on.

The Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences, which curates the scholarship, also offers a Women in Scholarship Fund. (Women and minorities also have another shot at video game-related scholarships, thanks to the Entertainment Software Association—30 of them at $3,000 each.)

Scholarship award: Up to $2,500

Deadline: April 30

For more info: http://www.interactive.org/foundation/scholarships.asp

Out to Innovate Scholarship for LGBTQ+ Students in STEM

The National Organization of Gay and Lesbian Scientists and Technical Professionals have two scholarships for gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual, or queer STEM students: one for undergrad and one for graduate. The winners each get $5,000. That's a lot to be proud of.

College juniors who have maintained a 3.0 GPA or higher can submit an application package with the usual requirements, including one personal essay and three letters of reference. But the scholarship is not just about good grades. Applicants, the site notes, must be "an active supporter of and participant in programs or organizations that promote LGBTQ inclusion and visibility." And if that means hosting some buzzworthy LGBTQ events, so be it.

Just make sure all of this inclusive visibility doesn't slice too deeply into your study time.

Scholarship award: $5,000

Deadline: First Saturday of June 2018

For more info: http://www.noglstp.org/programs-projects/scholarships/

Google SVA Scholarship for Student Veterans

Veterans and service people may be big on guts and glory, but they can also be short on cash. And yes, the GI Bill, and its offshoot, the Post-9/11 GI Bill, helps lighten that military-issue load. But the cap on cash for private school is $17,500, and it's up to the soldier, sailor, marine, or airman to shoulder the rest.

That's where the Google Scholarship for Student Veterans comes in. The technology company is offering eight computer science students who have served America a tidy $10,000 each. (You can also major in related fields, such as system administration or software engineering.)

Unlike many scholarships that require that applicants be a youthful high school senior, this one has no age cap. In fact, experience is very much welcome, as Google is trying to create "future leaders." You need only be enrolled as an undergrad or graduate student, plus verify either your current service or honorable discharge.

Google does not specify a GPA. It only requires that you're in good academic standing. Still, you need the brainpower: Google will smoke you with not one but three essays in the submission package.

Scholarship award: $10,000

Deadline: At ease, recruit. It was November 14. But there's always next year.

For more info: http://studentveterans.org/programs/scholarships?layout=edit&id=129

The Symantec Research Labs Graduate Fellowship

PhD students who are focusing on security and privacy, network and systems, machine learning and data mining, or human computer interaction, there's a scholarship just for you. And it's not just an opportunity to win $20,000 for tuition and related expenses: With it comes a paid internship with Symantec. (Sadly, there's no word on how much you'll earn.)

Applicants need two letters of recommendation plus a 500-word essay on "the value and novelty" of your research. If you succeed, that comes out to $40 for each word. No pressure.

Since Symantec notes that you'll bolster your chances considerably with "research excellence," "academic progress," and "publications," at least you'll have had experience writing.

Scholarship award: $20,000 and a paid internship

Deadline: December 1

For more info: https://www.symantec.com/about/careers/graduate-fellowship

Scholarships for Women Studying Information Security

Like Bitcoin, the value of information security specialists seems to double every few months. It’s no wonder: They’re on the front lines of the war to keep sensitive or proprietary information safe from the prying eyes and storage buckets of black hats. And only 10 percent of information security specialists are women. Hewlett Packard Enterprise wants to change that by giving women a leg up with a scholarship—so they can use the rest of their limbs to beat down crackers. 

SWSIS awards between $5,000 and $10,000 to either women in their junior or senior year of undergrad school (sophomores may apply) or graduate students studying network security, cryptography, forensics, or other information security fields that look great in a 21st century James Bond movie.

HPE wants to see a good academic record and an essay that describes your "interest and background in the information security field.” Make it a good one: Although 16 women received the award in 2017, 75 applied.

Scholarship award: $5,000-$10,000

Deadline: February 1

For more info: https://cra.org/cra-w/scholarships-and-awards/scholarships/swsis

CyberCorps Scholarship for Service

National security isn't just soldiers and guns. It's also cybersecurity—that is, protecting our computer infrastructure against intrusions both domestic and foreign. And the U.S. Office of Personnel Management wants YOU to "protect the government's critical information infrastructure," particularly after its very public hack.

You must be in a program that focuses on cybersecurity, and you must be a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident. Also, even at college age, you may have to pass a background check. Keep your credit—and your police record—squeaky clean.

Undergrad recipients can earn $22,500 per year, while grad students can earn $34,000. Of course, there's a flag attached: For each year of scholarship money you receive, you have to put in a year of cybersecurity work for a government agency after you graduate (most jobs will be found in Washington, D.C.). But you walk into the job with a G-7 rating and all the benefits a government job entails.

Sadly, you can't take this scholarship to every university, but there are more than 50 from which to choose.

Scholarship award: $22,500 (undergrads), $34,000 (graduate students)

Deadline: December 5

For more info: https://www.sfs.opm.gov/

Google Lime Scholarship for Students with Disabilities

Students with disabilities may have a few more options for funding college than the abled, but with specialized equipment, diets, and transportation costs, they may also have more expenses. However, sometimes-painful disabilities do not have to mean a pain in the bank account. Google and the disability network Lime Connect teamed up to help differently abled students with an eye on a computer science or related major by giving them $10,000.

Oh, did we say $10,000? It's only $5,000 for Canadians. Sorry, northern 49th parallelers.

As with Google's scholarship for veterans, you need to be an undergrad or graduate student, have a good academic record, demonstrate leadership and a passion for computer science, and write three essays. You must also have a disability, defined by Lime as "a long-term or recurring issue that impacts one or more activities that others may consider to be a daily function."

No, a disability of the wallet does not count.

Scholarship award: $10,000

Deadline: December 10

For more info: https://edu.google.com/scholarships/the-google-lime-scholarship/

Society of Women Engineers Scholarship Program

The Society of Women Engineers Scholarship Program isn't a single scholarship: It's a portal for multiple scholarships for women in engineering and technology degrees. But what really makes this program interesting? Nine of these scholarships are dedicated to re-entry, that is, returning to school after two or more years away.

These re-entry scholarships (search here under the "Class" category) offer women between $1,000 and $2,750, and they have varying qualifications, such as a GPA requirement and state residency. And while they're not the most lucrative of scholarships, it's nice to know that, after a time away from schooling, someone acknowledges that life happens, even if college does not.

In addition, the SWE has a list of smaller scholarships—more than 30 of them—on a state and local level. But while some states have more than one scholarship to call their own, not every state is represented.

Scholarship award: $1,000-$2,750

Deadline: Various

For more info: http://societyofwomenengineers.swe.org/scholarships/sections

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This article/content was written by the individual writer identified and does not necessarily reflect the view of Hewlett Packard Enterprise Company.