When you are seeking funding for your college education, you may not think about your religious beliefs, or lack of them. You should take them into consideration, though. If you usually define yourself as a “free thinker”, atheist or secular humanist, you can apply for scholarships that will support your college schooling and your beliefs.
If you believe in no god, and reject supernatural beliefs, you probably believe that everyone should take responsibility for their lives, rather than looking to a deity for intervention. You may reject religious dogma and believe that opinions should be based on reason.
There are atheist scholarships available for you, if these are your beliefs. They are sponsored by groups and individuals who think the same way you do.
Below you will find scholarships for Atheist students. If you meet their requirements, you may be able to secure financial aid for college from one or more.
The Top Atheist Scholarships Available
Student Activist Scholarships
These awards are sponsored by American Atheists. They offer them to college students who also demonstrate the activism of atheists in their schools and communities.
The American Atheists group awards four President’s Scholarships annually to students who are atheist and who attend a university or college. They are given out at the group’s national convention.
The group also awards two Chinn Atheist Scholarships annually for Atheist, LGBT activism. They were founded to offer recognition of LGBT equality activism, and are worth $500 each. You need not be an LGBT community member to apply. If you are an ally of the LGBT community, they encourage you to apply.
To qualify for these scholarships, you:
- Must be a current student or incoming college freshman
- Can be a graduate or law school student
- Must be an atheist
- Must have a 2.5 or better GPA
- Do not have to be a member to apply
- Do have to be a member to accept a winner’s scholarship
- May accept a free membership to American Atheists for one year
As an applicant, you will be judged based upon your actions as an activist and an atheist. All sexual orientations, genders, ethnicities and races are welcome.
Freedom from Religion Foundation Atheist Scholarships
These scholarships are awarded to winners of the FFRF essay contests each year. They are intended for incoming college freshmen. First place is awarded a $3,000 scholarship. There are smaller prizes for second through fifth place, and for honorable mentions.
Your essay should be based on one of these topics:
- Nonbeliever /Atheist
Write your essay from your own memory about challenges or experiences in your life. These may arise from being a non-believer in a family that is religious. What obstacles discourage your diverse beliefs? What should be done, in your opinion, to make non-belief and free thought more accepted by communities in America? Will atheist scholarships help? Be sure to include one paragraph or more about why you are an atheist.
- Good without God
Write from your own perspective about the challenges you have faced due to the stereotype that you are not moral, simply because you are a non-believer. Explain in this essay how you can still be a good person, even if you don’t believe in god. Include comments on why morality does not require religion. What can you and other non-believers do to counter the negative stereotypes regarding non-believers? Tell them why you’re a non-believer yourself.
The length of these essays should be between 500 and 700 words.
Their official website is here.
Herb Silverman Secular Atheist Scholarships
These scholarships are possible due to Dr. Herb Silverman’s generosity. To win one of these awards, you must be a full-time student at College of Charleston.
To qualify, you:
- Must have a demonstrated interest in morality and ethics, based on humanism and rationalism, not religion
- Will compete against other students, judged by a committee of faculty members
- Will have this award annually renewed as long as you maintain a GPS of 3.0 or higher
- Must be a student on a full-time basis
- Must have a secular humanist outlook
Check for updates on the 2016-2017 scholarship at their official website.
Student Activist Award Scholarships
These $1,000 atheist scholarships are funded by the Freedom from Religion Foundation.
The winners are selected based on entrants’ activism in the areas of separation of church and state and free thought.
Contact the organization for more information.
Life Members’ Scholarships
These scholarships are awarded in the amount of $1,000 to $2,000. They are administered by American Atheists.
To qualify, you:
- Must be a college student or high school senior
- Must be an atheist
- Must have a 2.5 or better GPA
- Must be a student activist
These atheist scholarships are given based on activism levels. You will need to write an essay of 500 – 1000 words. If you win, you will receive not only the scholarship money, but also a (free) trip to the national convention of American Atheists.
More information is available at their website.
Michael Hakeem Memorial Scholarships – College Essay Contests
The Freedom from Religion Foundation administers these contests, and the amount awarded varies. Seven scholarships are awarded each year.
To enter, you need to write an essay of four to five pages on the topic provided at their website, listed below.
Some recent topics include:
- Rejecting religion
- Why I’m a non-believer
You will not have to submit any application for this contest, only your essay. In addition, you need to send along a biography about yourself of about one paragraph. Resumes are not requested nor wanted, for these atheist scholarships.
Check out their website for more information.
The American Atheists awards two (2) $1,000 scholarships under this category for each school year. This is an activist organization, so their scholarships are given out to those students who are avid activists.
To qualify, you must:
- Submit your entry form
- Send along evidence of your activism in the last year
Examples of activism include:
- Letters you have written to politicians and their replies
- Letters that you wrote that were printed in newspapers
- Testimonials from other activists, friends or teachers
- Evidence of your sponsorship of an atheist blog, podcast or TV show
All activism is considered for these atheist scholarships, but school activism, like starting atheist groups at school, is especially valued.
Summarize your work as an activist in an essay of 500 to 1,000 words. Go into detail about your motivations, activities and how important you feel activism is for atheists. Just submitting an essay isn’t the way to win these scholarships. Your essay must describe your activism for atheists’ civil liberties, presenting a positive view of atheists.
You can find more information at their website, here.