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Scholarship Information for New BFA Students

CalArts Institutional Scholarship Methodology 

CalArts offers a range of financial aid options including institutional, federal, state and private funding sources. CalArts’ institutionally-funded scholarships and grants are aimed at increasing equity in CalArts classrooms and ensuring a diversity of voices have access to a CalArts education. Below is a brief description of how we award financial aid.

Step 1: Merit Scholarships

Merit Scholarships are the first component of the CalArts financial aid package.

All admitted students are considered for Merit Scholarships based on the admissions portfolio or audition. These scholarships are limited and very competitive, going only to the top 30% of the incoming class.  

Faculty identify merit recipients through a holistic approach, taking into consideration the following criteria:

  • The student demonstrates outstanding academic and artistic potential.
  • The work is imbued with a strong personal aesthetic and sense of originality.
  • The award supports a diversity of voices and a diversity of practices, in alignment with CalArts’ focus on experimentation, diversity, and interdisciplinarity.
  • The award ensures balance and representation within each program and throughout the school.
  • The student’s prior academic and artistic achievement, and evaluation of each student’s placement within their group of peers.

CalArts Merit Scholarships are awarded in the amount of $10,000 per year. Students who receive Merit Scholarships in their first year of enrollment retain the annual scholarship each year of their degree program.

Step 2: Need-Based Aid

Additional federal, state, and institutional financial aid may be available to all students who submit a FAFSA.

State and Federal Financial Aid Programs

For domestic students, eligibility for state and federal grants, federal work study, and federal loans is all determined by your FAFSA.  FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. To apply, go to and use CalArts’ School Code 001132.

The California Dream Act

The California Dream Act allows undocumented and nonresident students (U.S. Citizens and eligible non-citizens) who qualify for a non-resident exemption under Assembly Bill 540 (AB 540) to receive certain types of financial aid. AB 540 students are not eligible to submit the FAFSA, but are eligible to complete the Dream Act Application for student financial aid. To submit a Dream Act application, go to

CalArts Equity and Access Grants

Information from your FAFSA or California Dream Act Application will also be used to determine your eligibility for CalArts Equity and Access grants.  These are scholarships intended to reduce the total out-of-pocket cost of attending CalArts.

Equity Grants

Domestic students with financial need who submit the FAFSA by the priority deadline will be reviewed for eligibility to receive Equity Grants. These awards are intended to reduce the size of the gap between each student’s available resources and the total cost of attendance.

Please note: There are some scenarios through which your Equity Grant may be adjusted after you receive your initial award letter, such as the addition of a CalGrant award, a private scholarship, or a change in your Estimated Family Contribution.

Access Grants

CalArts will award a limited number of Access Grants to ensure a diversity of voices throughout the incoming class. All domestic and international students may be considered for Access Grants, which vary in amounts and eligibility, and are awarded at the discretion of each school. A FAFSA or Dream Act Application is not required to be considered for Access Grants, but is strongly recommended for domestic students.

Access Grants are determined using the following criteria:

  • Demonstrated financial need not adequately addressed through the Equity Grants.
  • Exceptional merit demonstrated by students in highly competitive fields of study.
  • Further support of diverse voices and artistic practices within specific student cohorts.
  • Ensure balance across programs in each school and support yield of admitted students.

Step 3: Your Award Letter

The CalArts Financial Aid Office may reach out to you by email if we need additional documentation or information in order to accurately process your Need-Based Aid. Check your email regularly and respond promptly to ensure we finalize your complete award package in a timely manner.

Once your financial aid package has been finalized, we will send you notification by email that your award is ready to view. At that time you will be able to log into your self-service page to see all of the components of your educational funding options. Please do not hesitate to reach out to the Financial Aid Office if you have any questions about your financial aid package, or would like to discuss other possible options for funding your education. The best way to reach the office is by email, at

Step 4: CalArts Scholarship Appeals

After you have received your award letter, if you would like to be considered for additional need-based scholarships from CalArts, please complete our New Student Scholarship Appeal Form. Because this is a need-based appeal, only students who have completed the FAFSA ( domestic students) or the CSS Profile (international students) will be considered.

Click Here to learn more about Financial Aid at CalArts