This is your go-to guide containing all you need to know about eligibility, the application and portfolio requirements, selection and notification process, required financial documentation, and more for your AIGA Worldstudio Scholarship application.
The application for the 2023/2024 academic school year will officially open on February 14, 2023. The deadline to apply is April 21, 2023 at 11:59 p.m. PT. All deadlines are final. Exceptions will not be made. Please be sure to read the application instructions in full.
Students will be notified of award status in July/August. Awards will be publicly announced in October (subject to change).
Scholarships are typically awarded in amounts of $2,500–$3,750. One or two top awards may be given in an amount up to $5,000 at the jury’s discretion. Honorable mention prizes in the amount of $500–$750 cash may be awarded. A one-year AIGA membership is awarded to each recipient.
- NEW! Students must have at least a 3.0 GPA and be pursuing undergraduate or graduate degrees in the disciplines of graphic design, illustration, or photography. Note: Apply in the category that best matches your major.
- Applicants must be matriculated (or planning to matriculate) at accredited colleges and universities in the United States for the Fall 2023/Spring 2024 academic year and must maintain full-time status for the entire year. This includes incoming Freshman (current high school seniors) who meet the other eligibility requirements for this opportunity.
- Students must complete the FAFSA form with their guidance counselor or financial aid officer to demonstrate unmet financial need; completion of the FAFSA form signals that students understand the impact scholarships may have on other financial aid.
- For undergraduate students, including incoming Freshman, applicants must be citizens of the United States or be in possession of a Green Card (formally known as a Permanent Resident Card or Form I-551).
- For graduate students, jurors may consider international students if they meet the other eligibility requirements, are enrolled in a Graduate School program within the United States, and the impact of their work will have a significant impact in the United States.
- Creative talent and commitment to giving back to the community are primary factors in the review and selection process.
- Student portfolios (work samples) and written statements should demonstrate a clear career path and point of view along with a commitment to positive social change, environmental responsibility, and cultural awareness through the practice of communication design, including photography, illustration or graphic design.
- This scholarship aims to increase representation in the profession. While not a requirement for eligibility, jurors consider race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, ability and disability (e.g. neurodivergent or physical), age, and other factors (e.g. military service) that shape creative perspective and professional experience when reviewing applications.
*A.I. Generated or Assisted art is not eligible. We will not consider A.I. text-to-image generated work samples or self-portraits.
2023–2024 Application Cycle
February 2, 2023
April 21, 2023
- Student Aid
How does a scholarships affect other student aid?
Still have questions?
Scholarship Application Components
In order to complete an application, you must have an AIGA account. Setting up an account is free. You can request a password to see if you have an existing account, and you can create a new account when you click Apply. AIGA Membership is encouraged, but it is not a requirement. Juror decisions are not based on membership status.
To edit your application, you may log back in until the deadline of April 21, 2023. All deadlines are final
- School ID
- SSN (may be required for tax purposes only if you are selected for an award)
- Date and location of your birth
- Racial/ethnic identity
- Current address (during the academic year)
- Permanent address (in-between semesters)
- U.S. college or university enrolled/attending during the 2023/2024 academic year
- College grade level the student will be in for the 2023/2024 academic year (i.e. college freshman, college sophomore, etc.)
- Degree sought
- Expected graduation date
- Schools attended, years in attendance, graduation dates and degree(s)
- Official university transcript, including current GPA; your most recent college or high school transcript is required
*Note: If you have not received an acceptance letter from the school(s) to which you applied, put down your first choice. If you are awarded a scholarship, you will need to provide proof of acceptance from the school and financial aid officer contact information.
All students will need to complete this section, which documents a student’s official unmet need, as supplied by their college or university’s financial aid officer. This information must be accompanied by the officer’s contact information. A worksheet is available for download in the online portal when you begin your application form.
We must be able to verify your numbers should you be selected for an award.
Before filling out this section, please complete your online Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at studentaid.gov. Figures from your FAFSA application should be used as reference when completing this portion of the application. If current figures are not available, use last year’s figures or work with your financial aid officer to estimate to the best of your ability. See also How Aid is Calculated.)
*A note about taxes: For the most part, scholarship money is not considered income and is therefore not taxed. According to the IRS (specifically, IRS Publication 970) scholarships are tax-free under the following circumstances:
- The candidate is at an eligible educational institution.
- The scholarship money is used for qualified expenses, which include tuition and fees, books, and course or degree-related costs (like supplies required for specific classes).
Room and board, travel, or other expenses associated with a college education are not considered qualified expenses and are therefore taxable.
Award winners are responsible for spending scholarship money according to IRS regulations.
Financial Information Checklist
The online application will ask you for the following financial information. Use this to prepare your information prior to entering it into the online application.
- Cost of tuition
- Annual cost of living and/or other school expenses
- Total amount of family and personal contributions toward total expenses
- Financial aid in 2023/2024 in the form of scholarships, grants, etc.
- Financial aid in 2023/2024 in the form of loans
- Financial aid officer information
- Name of financial aid officer
- Institution of financial aid officer
- Financial aid officer email
You will need to write a statement of purpose to serve as a brief autobiography and personal mission statement, incorporate the following:
1. How have your experiences influenced your creative work and/or your career plans? (200 words max)
2. How do you see your future self as a creator contributing to the community at large? State your vision for how you will give back to society. (200 words max)
Examples of a commitment to a social agenda:
- Work that clearly demonstrates positive social change.
- Work that addresses identity politics (i.e., cultural, ethnic, sexual, or gender identity)
- Demonstration of a clear career path and point of view (not just “I hope...”), such as to teach, mentor, work with young people, serve your community, etc, and why.
With the word count in mind, we recommend that you prepare the statement in another document to check for length and spelling, then transfer it to the application form.*
*AIGA may publish your statement of purpose in-full or in-part if your work is selected.
Please keep in mind:
Scholarships are awarded to encourage social and environmental responsibility and cultural awareness in the next generation of artists and designers. Creativity holds an enormous power to impact change. It is important for the jurors to understand how you intend to do this through your design or artwork.
- All Applicants: Jurors want to know how you will give back to society. Jurors want to hear intentional thought about what you are doing and planning. It is particularly important for the jurors to understand how you intend to do this through your design, illustration, or photography.
- Graduate Students: Your application will not be considered unless your statement and work directly address these issues.
- Incoming college Freshman: If you do not have a body of work in the major you will be studying, please explain how this scholarship will help you develop your portfolio in the category you have selected. Your major area of study must be (Graphic Design, Illustration, or Photography).
Examples of a commitment to a social agenda:
- Work that clearly demonstrates positive social change.
- Work that addresses identity politics (i.e., cultural, ethnic, sexual or gender identity)
- Demonstration of a clear career path (not just “I hope...”), such as to teach, mentor, work with young people, serve your community, etc.
This portrait can be made with any medium and doesn’t have to be a literal representation or photograph—just what you perceive as the best representation of yourself. Need inspiration? Take a look at self portraits from previous winners in the recipient section on the AIGA Worldstudio Scholarships page.
The portrait can be anything that you want to submit as long as it is of good quality, and it portrays you. Creative portraits—in any medium—that are more expressive are fine as are photographs or selfies. The portraits are not used in the decision process—although the jurors like to put a face to the creative—but instead, they are used for archival and promotional purposes, including winner announcements online and/or publications.
Portfolio: 5–10 Examples of Your Work
A portfolio is required for scholarship consideration and must include explanatory captions. The jury prefers to see cohesion between multiple examples that indicates an overarching theme or thesis/point of view behind your work.
Completed tutorials do not qualify.
A.I. Generated or Assisted art is not eligible. We will not consider A.I. text-to-image generated work samples.
File size and format for static images:
- Images will be viewed on screen so save as RGB, not in CMYK colorspace.
- You will not be able to upload images that do not meet the specifications.
- Your image must be greater than or equal to 1200 pixels wide.
- Your file formats must be one of the following: JPG/JPEG GIF PNG
- The following file types will not be accepted: DCR, TIF, EPS, PDF
- Label each file with your last name followed by the number of the image. i.e., smith_01.jpeg
- Label each file with the proper extension (.jpg, .jpeg, .gif, .png).
- File names must not contain any blank spaces or odd characters such as brackets or apostrophes. Use underscores or hyphens.
Submitting Websites, Motion, Film and Animation Files:
- If you would like to submit movies, motion graphics, or interactive files for your portfolio you must submit electronically by including publicly accessible and working links (for example; YouTube and Vimeo) in your online application.
- For websites, we ask that you send screenshots. If you would like to also record yourself navigating through the website you may link the video to the application in the field where video is accepted. There should be no narration.
Tips for Presenting an Online Portfolio
Remember that your work will be viewed on a computer screen.
- Images should be an original digital file when possible.
- Otherwise, make sure photographs or scans or work are properly lit and in focus.
- Feature your work as simply and as clearly as possible.
- Single images read much better than multiples.
- Display boards (one slide with multiple images and text) do not work. For example, a 30x40 inch presentation board is not appropriate because when reduced the images and text are too small. Descriptive captions should not be visible on image uploads. A separate field is provided.
Watch recordings or read articles from the 2020 and 2021 virtual AIGA Portfolio Festival for additional tips.
Intellectual property remains with the creator.
- You must provide two letters of recommendation from individuals who know you and your work—teachers, employers, counselors, etc.
- Your references will be sent a link automatically from the online application system, via the email addresses you provide. They won't be able to complete their recommendations until after your application is finalized. You cannot upload your own letters of recommendation. Letters of recommendation should be received within one week of completing your application and must be received by April 30.
- Applicants must consent that all information supplied in the online application form is accurate and truthful.
- Applicants must recognize the owner of all rights in the work and/or possesses the right to authorize the reproduction and display of the accepted works and to grant the rights identified herein.
- All applicants must certify that the work submitted does not infringe on any copyrights or trademarks.
- Decisions of the jurors on all matters during judging, including qualifications and categories, are final.
- All applicants grant to AIGA the right to exhibit and reproduce the work as submitted in the application, in its entirety or in part, in any media now known or hereafter created, including but not limited to exhibitions, publications, and on AIGA’s websites and partner websites; as well as for promotion of AIGA scholarship-related editorial or events, each without limitation of any kind.
- All applicants understand that infringement always triggers disqualification, even if it’s discovered after the juror selections have been announced. AIGA reserves the right to disqualify work that it finds to be compromised as to originality, legitimacy, or eligibility after review and final decision by the jurors.
- All applicants expressly agree that AIGA shall not be liable and agree to release and indemnify AIGA for any expenses related to any disputes or errors concerning artistic conception, ownership, or any other matters relating to the ownership and rights granted herein as they relate to any of the entered works.
If you have additional questions after reading the AIGA Worldstudio Scholarships Application Guide, please find frequently asked questions below.
If you are unable to locate the answer you are looking for, or if you are having technical issues uploading your materials, contact us. Response time may be slow near deadlines, please be patient.
Can past AIGA Worldstudio Scholarship recipients reapply?
Absolutely! You are encouraged to apply as long as you meet the other eligibility requirements.
Note: If reapplying, jurors like to see growth from one year to the next and to hear about how the scholarship has helped with achieving academic goals and/or how your work has positively impacted your community. Growth can be demonstrated visually through portfolio samples and in the written statement of purpose.
Can I apply more than once per year?
No, you can only apply once per year.
Is my major eligible for a scholarship?
For the 2023/2024 academic school year we will offer scholarships in the following areas:
- Graphic design (includes: visual and communication design, UX/UI, game design)
- Illustration (includes: animation and computer animation)
Note: Majors that do not qualify are: industrial design, interior design, film, architecture, landscape design, theater design, fashion design, costume design, fine art, etc.
Please keep in mind that decisions are made on how your work compares to students in your category (graphic design, illustration, photography). If your major + your career goals can be clearly considered within one of these three categories, you may proceed with the application.
I have not yet declared my major (or thinking of changing my major). Do I list my current major or the one that I’ll be taking up next year?
You must select the major from our list that you are planning to pursue. For the purposes of the scholarship, Illustration is separate from Fine Art. If you are pursuing Illustration through a Fine Art program, please articulate this in your statement. Awards are NOT transferable to other majors outside the list.
Am I eligible if I am minoring in one of the selected disciplines but it is not my declared major?
You must major in—not minor in—the selected discipline.
Do certificate programs qualify?
No, applicants must be matriculated (or planning to matriculate) at accredited colleges and universities in the United States for the Fall 2023/Spring 2024 academic year and must maintain full-time status for the entire year.
I am an incoming student, and I do not yet have a portfolio in my intended major. Does all of the work I submit in my portfolio need to be of that one discipline?
The work does not need to be specifically in your intended major. We, of course, understand that work from beginning students may be rudimentary and we do not hold that against you. However, keep in mind that our decisions are based on how your work compares to other students in your category.
Can I submit Photoshop or Illustrator tutorials I’ve completed?
No, completed tutorials do not qualify.
Can I submit a tutorials?
No. Completed tutorials do not qualify.
Can I submit A.I. Generated or Assisted art?
No. A.I. Generated or Assisted art is not eligible. We will not consider A.I. text-to-image generated work samples.
See also Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA): studentaid.gov
Note: Per the IRS, health insurance is not a qualified education expense: https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p970.pdf (see also About Publication 970)
When is the deadline for Federal Student Aid?
To be able to complete the Financial Information section of the AIGA Worldstudio Scholarship application, you are encouraged to submit your FAFSA form as soon as possible. We recommend before January 15, 2023, but check deadlines in your state.
The 2023–2024 FAFSA form will be available on October 1, 2022. You should fill it out as soon as possible on or after October 1 at the official government site, studentaid.gov. Gather what you need ahead of time; see tips for parents (see also YouTube video).
If I haven’t filed for Financial Aid by the time the application is due, am I still able to apply for a scholarship?
No. It is required that you file for Financial Aid to be eligible for our scholarships. It is assumed that those who do not apply are not in need.
What if I do file for Financial Aid but do not receive my Financial Aid notification before the scholarship deadline?
If you apply for Financial Aid, but have not received notification, you must still provide information to the best of your ability and have it verified by your Financial Aid Officer. It is permitted to provide an estimate or use last year’s numbers if that is the only information you have. Make sure to mark on the application form whether the information you provide is an estimate or last year’s actual information.
Do I include the financial aid officer's contact for the college I plan to attend?
Yes. Please provide the financial aid officer’s contact information for the school you plan to attend during the 2023–2024 academic year. This information is often located under the Admissions section for the school you plan to attend.
AIGA will use this information to confirm enrollment and unmet need if an award is recommended.
If the school you will be attending does not assign caseloads and anyone in the department can speak to your enrollment and unmet need, then you can provide the department name and contact information.
Is it possible to submit an application and then submit my Financial Aid information and certification of enrollment at a later date?
No, you must show unmet need before your application is submitted to the jury. We require your financial aid information on your application at the time of your submission. If your financial aid package has not been awarded yet, you may 1) have a Financial Aid Officer estimate your need, marking “This is an estimate” or 2) fill in the section to the best of your ability and mark “Incoming Student.”
I am currently a high school senior or transfer student, but I’m planning to enroll in college next year. Am I eligible for the scholarships or are they only for current college students?
Yes. As a high school or transfer student, you are eligible for our scholarship program provided that you are enrolled in a college or university for the Fall 2023/Spring 2024 academic year.
If you have not received an acceptance letter from the school to which you applied, put down your first choice. If you are awarded a scholarship, you will need to provide proof of acceptance from the school and financial aid officer contact information.
Applicants must be matriculated (or planning to matriculate) at accredited colleges and universities in the United States for the Fall 2023/Spring 2024 academic year and must maintain full-time status for the entire year.
I will be graduating from college or graduate school in December 2023. Do I still qualify for AIGA Worldstudio Scholarships?
Unfortunately, no. If you are graduating in December 2023 or first entering school in January 2024 and are not enrolled in school for the entire Fall 2023/Spring 2024 academic year, you are not eligible for this year’s scholarships. Please try next year.
I am not a minority, but I am struggling financially and in need of a scholarship. Do I qualify?
Yes. While minority status is a significant factor in our decisions, it is not a requirement. However, financial need is a requirement. It will therefore be extremely important that you demonstrate and verify your financial need in your application.
I am planning to spend a semester abroad through my university. Am I still eligible for a scholarship?
You are still eligible for our scholarship program if you are taking a semester abroad provided that you are still enrolled through your school in the United States. In other words, our scholarship monies can only be paid directly to the U.S. school where you are matriculated.
I am studying full time at a United States university abroad (outside of the United States). Am I eligible for a scholarship?
You are only eligible for a scholarship if you are paying your tuition through a school in the United States.
Are international students eligible for AIGA Worldstudio Scholarships?
For undergraduate students, applicants must be citizens of the United States or be in possession of a Green Card (formally known as a Permanent Resident Card or Form I-551). Having a DACA certification and/or Social Security number does not make you eligible.
For graduate students, jurors may consider international students if they meet the other eligibility requirements, are enrolled in a Graduate School program within the United States, and the impact of their work will have a significant impact in the United States.
Can I submit a transcript from a previous school?
No, you must submit your most recent transcript, which reflects your current GPA. If you took a gap year, please submit your most recently completed transcript.
Can I submit an unofficial transcript?
Yes, although it is not preferred. It can only be sent electronically, not via U.S. mail.
Can I mail my official transcript?
No. We do not accept transcripts and letters of recommendation via U.S. mail—please follow the instructions within the application system to submit those documents. If for some reason transcripts and/or letters of recommendation cannot be uploaded, please contact email@example.com.
My program is pass/fail. What should I indicate as my GPA?
Simply indicate that it is pass/fall.
Must I finish and submit the application before my professors can upload their letters of recommendation?
Yes, your reference will be automatically sent an email requesting a letter of recommendation from our application system only after you complete and finalize your application. At that time, the email will include instructions for your reference on how to upload or type the letter into your application.
You can check the status of your requests for reference and send a reminder email by logging into the application system and clicking on your completed application or clicking “Pending Letter of Recommendation.” Applicants must follow up with references to ensure letters are received in application system no later than April 30. As a courtesy to your references, complete the application no later than one week before the deadline to ensure they have time to respond.
Can I use my scholarship to pay for specific projects, for example, films, thesis work, or exhibitions?
Scholarship monies are paid directly to your school and, thus, are to be applied directly to your tuition. They cannot be used as you choose unless your school is willing to disburse funds for other school-related projects.
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