Turning your sweat into cash for college is possible with scholarships for fitness enthusiasts. Whether you run marathons, play competitive sports, lead aerobics classes, or simply pump iron in the gym daily, several scholarship organizations can reward your dedication. That’s excellent news because statistics show only 480,000 of the nearly 8 million high school athletes actually land full NCAA scholarships. Community, collegiate, and professional foundations can help fill funding gaps by recognizing scholars for their healthy, active lifestyles.
America’s obesity epidemic is reaching astronomical weights, so anyone seeking careers promoting exercise will receive extra kudos. Show off your strength and championship mindset to win the following fitness-related scholarships.
1. Barbara A. Cooley Masters Scholarship
Deadline: October 15th
Fitness enthusiasts who wish to inspire healthy lifestyles in children, teens, and adults could qualify for the $1,000 Barbara A. Cooley Masters Scholarship from SHAPE America. Each October, the association selects outstanding graduate students who are pursuing health or physical education programs at accredited U.S. schools with a cumulative GPA above 3.0. Scholars are picked based on academic talent, leadership in health-related activities, and promise as certified health education specialists.
Barbara A. Cooley Masters Scholarship
1900 Association Drive
Reston, VA 20191
2. Carl V. Gisolfi Memorial Scholarship
Deadline: January 20th
Partnering with Gatorade, the American College of Sports Medicine administers the Carl V. Gisolfi Memorial Fund to provide $5,000 scholarships for fitness enthusiasts who have devoted doctoral dissertation research to thermoregulation, conditioning, hydration, exercise, or another aspect of physical activity. Qualified Ph.D. applicants must be active ACSM members, affiliate with accredited U.S. universities, and have unmet financial need. Special preference is given to research proposals addressing minority health.
Carl V. Gisolfi Memorial Scholarship
401 West Michigan Street
Indianapolis, IN 46202
3. Carolyn D. Vanacore Scholarship
Deadline: June 15th
Valued at $1,000, the Carolyn D. Vanacore Scholarship is presented yearly by the Connecticut Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance to female members who have declared relevant majors to the CTAHPERD mission, including sports management. Interested fitness enthusiasts must attain a minimum 2.7, hold junior or senior status, attend an accredited bachelor’s program, reside in Connecticut, participate in varsity sports, and demonstrate financial need beyond athletic scholarships.
Carolyn D. Vanacore Scholarship
563 Miller Road South
Windsor, CT 06074
4. Derek Jeter Scholarship Program
Deadline: March 1st
The Kalamazoo Community Foundation funds the Derek Jeter Scholarship Program to award $1,000 annually to one male and one female high school senior who’s advocated physical fitness while abstaining from drug and alcohol use. Eligibility criteria includes living in Michigan’s Kalamazoo County, enrolling at an accredited two or four-year college, demonstrating community leadership, possessing a minimum 3.0 GPA, and scoring at least 1070 on the SAT or 21 on the ACT.
Derek Jeter Scholarship Program
402 East Michigan Avenue
Kalamazoo, MI 49007
5. Edward and Marion Petzko Scholarship
Deadline: February 15th
Named for an active couple who devoted 55 years combined to teaching, the Edward and Marion Petzko Scholarship is granted for $1,000 by the Saginaw Community Foundation to support fitness enthusiasts who have participated in golf, track, or cross country for 2+ years. Suitable applicants must reside in Michigan’s Saginaw County, be accepted at four-year Michigan colleges full-time, hold a varsity letter, and demonstrate a minimum “B” average.
Edward and Marion Petzko Scholarship
1 Tuscola Street Suite 100B
Saginaw, MI 48607
6. Exercise for Life Athletic Scholarship
Deadline: June 10th
As one of the most profitable scholarships for fitness enthusiasts, the Exercise for Life Athletic Scholarship awards $10,000 each year through the Boomer Esiason Foundation to four high school and undergraduate students who’ve been diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. Eligible student-athletes must jog regularly, participate in CF therapy, be training for the qualifying 1.5-mile run, show evidence of academic achievement, need funding for accredited U.S. colleges, and be actively involved in community service.
Exercise for Life Athletic Scholarship
483 10th Avenue Suite 300
New York, NY 10018
7. Foot Locker Scholar Athlete Scholarship
Deadline: December 16th
Sponsored by the sportswear retail giant, the Foot Locker Scholar Athlete Scholarship bestows $20,000 to college-bound high school seniors who embody good sportsmanship, maintain physically fit lifestyles, and exhibit enthusiastic community leadership. Selection criteria requires being a U.S. citizen or legal resident, playing a varsity or intramural sport, carrying an unweighted GPA of 3.0 or better, and enrolling at an accredited four-year university this Fall.
Foot Locker Scholar Athlete Scholarship
330 West 34th Street
New York, NY 10001
8. Hood Milk Sportsmanship Scholarship
Deadline: April 22nd
HP Hood Milk LLC established a Sportsmanship Scholarship program that distributes $5,000 annually to student-athletes across New England, including Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Vermont, and Maine, who write stellar 250-word entries about how they’ve demonstrated good sportsmanship on and off the field. Fitness enthusiasts must have participated in a varsity sport, be accepted into an accredited U.S. college, volunteer regularly in their community, and sustain a 3.0 GPA.
Hood Milk Sportsmanship Scholarship
75 Washington Avenue Suite 201
Portland, ME 04101
(207) 772-3119 ext. 21
9. Jerry Martin Scholarship Fund
Deadline: March 15th
Since 2014, the National Strength and Conditioning Association has honored the long-time coach and Boyd Epley Award winner by managing the Jerry Martin Scholarship Fund. For these $1,500 scholarships, qualified candidates must have NSCA membership, be enrolling full-time at accredited U.S. institutions, major in a strength and conditioning-related field, accomplish an overall GPA of 3.0 or higher, prioritize physical fitness, and intend to become strength coaches.
Jerry Martin Scholarship Fund
1885 Bob Johnson Drive
Colorado Springs, CO 80906
10. John A. Mayes EDAC Scholarship
Deadline: February 10th
Each spring, the National Athletic Trainers’ Association promotes the John A. Mayes EDAC Scholarship to award $2,300 to ethnically diverse students of African American, Hispanic, Asian/Pacific Islander, or Native American descent who are pursuing CAATE-accredited athletic training programs. Master’s or doctoral candidates must finish baccalaureate education, possess a cumulative GPA of 3.2 or better, have two years of NATA membership, and be nominated by certified athletic trainers.
John A. Mayes EDAC Scholarship
1620 Valwood Parkway Suite 115
Carrollton, TX 75006
11. Mary McMillan Scholarship Award
Deadline: December 1st
Honoring the World War II veteran who founded the U.S. Army’s first physical therapy department, the Mary McMillan Scholarship Award grants $3,000 to $5,000 annually for fitness enthusiasts who are within 12 months of finishing a CAPTE-accredited physical therapy or assistant program. The American Physical Therapy Association judges applicants on scholastic ability, professional productivity, community service, healthcare goals, and nomination letters. Qualified candidates might also consider the $5,000 Minority Scholarship Fund.
Mary McMillan Scholarship Award
1111 North Fairfax Street
Alexandria, VA 22314
12. Notah Begay III Scholarship Program
Deadline: March 16th
Named for the New Mexican who became the PGA Tour’s sole full-blood American Indian golfer, the Notah Begay III Scholarship Program bestows $1,400 each year to tribal members who excel as scholar-athletes in any varsity team sport. The Albuquerque Community Foundation seeks fitness enthusiasts who are graduating from New Mexico high schools, accepted at nonprofit U.S. institutions full-time, at least 25 percent Indian blood, and carrying a minimum “B” average.
Notah Begay III Scholarship Program
624 Tijeras Ave NW
Albuquerque, NM 87102
13. NSCA High School Scholarships
Deadline: March 15th
Another of the scholarships for fitness enthusiasts from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) grants $1,500 to college-bound high school seniors who intend to work within the exercise science, athletic conditioning, or personal fitness industry. Graduating this spring with a minimum 3.0 GPA and enrolling full-time at an accredited U.S. college is required. The application process involves submitting official transcripts, letters of recommendation, proof of financial need, and a well-written essay.
NSCA High School Scholarships
1885 Bob Johnson Drive
Colorado Springs, CO 80906
14. Robert Hampton Student Scholarship
Deadline: May 22nd
Ranging from $1,000 to $2,000, the Robert Hampton Student Scholarship is offered by the South Carolina Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance to reward fitness enthusiasts who’ve chosen these majors at accredited universities. Eligible full-time undergraduates must be at least second-semester juniors, hold 75+ credits, have financial need, obtain a minimum 3.0 GPA, be active SCAHPERD members, and serve as positive role models for healthy lifestyles.
Robert Hampton Student Scholarship
4810 Colonial Drive
Columbia, SC 29203
15. Salute You Scholarship Program
The American Council on Exercise (ACE) created the Salute You Scholarship Program to assist honorably discharged service members from the U.S. Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard transition into leading the fitness industry. Scholarship funding covers the $699 Premium Plus study program, ACE Personal Trainer Certification study guides, and free testing. Eligible candidates must submit a DD Form 214, complete the first 15 Academy lessons, and register for the exam within six months.
Salute You Scholarship Program
4851 Paramount Drive
San Diego, CA 92123
(888) 825-3636 ext. 194
16. Steve’s Club CrossFit Scholarship
Funded by Carlos Gibson and Redemption LLC, the Steve’s Club CrossFit Scholarship presents $1,000 annually to at-risk youth who exhibit exceptional determination to overcome by pursuing Level 1 CrossFit Certification. Interested athletes must be at least 17 years old, participate in any Steve’s Club program for six months, show commitment to a drug prevention program, and intend to practice as fitness trainers. Applicants must include a two-paragraph short essay describing their most valuable life lessons.
Steve’s Club CrossFit Scholarship
7800 Airport Highway
Pennsauken, NJ 08109
17. Susan Johnson Sterling Scholarship
Deadline: January 15th, May 15, or September 15th
The Susan Johnson Sterling Scholarship offers $500 from the Cooper Institute three times annually to honor the former Vice President of Education from 1988 to 2005. Fitness enthusiasts who wish to take the Institute’s courses in nutrition, personal training, weight management, aerobics, and interval training for CI-CPT certification may apply. Applications are incomplete without two recommendations, a resume of achievement, and a personal statement highlighting the values of teamwork and leadership.
Susan Johnson Sterling Scholarship
12330 Preston Road
Dallas, TX 75230
18. Twin Cities in Motion Scholarship
Deadline: March 1st
The Twin Cities in Motion Scholarship program distributes $5,000 each year to one female and one male high school senior who maintain their fitness goals by participating in cross country or track running events longer than 800 meters. Runners must live within Anoka, Carver, Chisago, Dakota, Goodhue, Hennepin, Isanti, Ramsey, Scott, Sherburne, Washington, and Wright counties. Scholarship recipients must display scholastic ability with a minimum 3.0 GPA for attending any U.S. university.
Twin Cities in Motion Scholarship
2635 University Avenue West Suite 190
St. Paul, MN 55114
19. U.S.A. Powerlifting Collegiate Scholarships
Deadline: February 15th
The U.S.A. Powerlifting Collegiate Committee proudly delivers $500 scholarships for fitness enthusiasts and bodybuilders who intend to compete at this year’s High School Nationals. College-bound seniors who hold USAPL membership and a cumulative GPA of 2.5 or better may apply. Before February 15th, applications need to provide a coach’s nomination letter, one teacher recommendation, official school transcripts, and a minimum 100-word personal essay.
U.S.A. Powerlifting Collegiate Scholarships
1120 Huffman Road Suite 24
Anchorage, AK 99515
20. Yoga Alliance Foundation Scholarships
Deadline: September 30th
Annually, the Yoga Alliance Foundation awards at least $10,000 in scholarships to six inspirational fitness enthusiasts who have consistently practiced yoga for at least three years. Eligibility criteria requires registering for RYS 200 or 300 training, demonstrate need for financial assistance with income no more than 2.5 times federal poverty level, be U.S. citizens or legal residents, demonstrate community leadership, and intend to teach yoga classes to underserved populations.
Yoga Alliance Foundation Scholarships
1560 Wilson Blvd. Suite 700
Arlington, VA 22209
College tuition can leave you counting cents rather than calories and crunches. Around 85 percent of full-time undergraduates rely on financial aid to afford post-secondary courses. That’s because higher education tips the scales with an average cost of $15,022 at public and $39,173 at private colleges! Fortunately, several organizations have raised funds to support athletes, young trainers, and other exercise fanatics with schooling costs. Check out these 20 great scholarships for fitness enthusiasts to shed some dollar signs off your overweight tuition bills.
See also: 50 Fittest College Towns in America 2016 – 2017
Sample Scholarship Essays
If you’re applying for a scholarship, chances are you are going to need to write an essay. Very few scholarship programs are based solely on an application form or transcript. The essay is often the most important part of your application; it gives the scholarship committee a sense of who you are and your dedication to your goals. You’ll want to make sure that your scholarship essay is the best it can possibly be.
Unless specified otherwise, scholarship essays should always use the following formatting:
- Double spaced
- Times New Roman font
- 12 point font
- One-inch top, bottom, and side margins
Other useful tips to keep in mind include:
- Read the instructions thoroughly and make sure you completely understand them before you start writing.
- Think about what you are going to write and organize your thoughts into an outline.
- Write your essay by elaborating on each point you included in your outline.
- Use clear, concise, and simple language throughout your essay.
- When you are finished, read the question again and then read your essay to make sure that the essay addresses every point.
For more tips on writing a scholarship essay, check out our Eight Steps Towards a Better Scholarship Essay .
The Book that Made Me a Journalist
Prompt: Describe a book that made a lasting impression on you and your life and why.It is 6 am on a hot day in July and I’ve already showered and eaten breakfast. I know that my classmates are all sleeping in and enjoying their summer break, but I don’t envy them; I’m excited to start my day interning with a local newspaper doing investigative journalism. I work a typical 8-5 day during my summer vacation and despite the early mornings, nothing has made me happier. Although it wasn't clear to me then, looking back on my high school experiences and everything that led to me to this internship, I believe this path began with a particularly savvy teacher and a little book she gave me to read outside of class.
I was taking a composition class, and we were learning how to write persuasive essays. Up until that point, I had had average grades, but I was always a good writer and my teacher immediately recognized this. The first paper I wrote for the class was about my experience going to an Indian reservation located near my uncle's ranch in southwest Colorado. I wrote of the severe poverty experienced by the people on the reservation, and the lack of access to voting booths during the most recent election. After reading this short story, my teacher approached me and asked about my future plans. No one had ever asked me this, and I wasn't sure how to answer. I said I liked writing and I liked thinking about people who are different from myself. She gave me a book and told me that if I had time to read it, she thought it would be something I would enjoy. I was actually quite surprised that a high school teacher was giving me a book titled Lies My Teacher Told Me. It had never occurred to me that teachers would lie to students. The title intrigued me so much that on Friday night I found myself staying up almost all night reading, instead of going out with friends.
In short, the book discusses several instances in which typical American history classes do not tell the whole story. For example, the author addresses the way that American history classes do not usually address about the Vietnam War, even though it happened only a short time ago. This made me realize that we hadn't discussed the Vietnam War in my own history class! The book taught me that, like my story of the Indian reservation, there are always more stories beyond what we see on the surface and what we’re taught in school. I was inspired to continue to tell these stories and to make that my career.
For my next article for the class, I wrote about the practice of my own high school suspending students, sometimes indefinitely, for seemingly minor offenses such as tardiness and smoking. I found that the number of suspensions had increased by 200% at my school in just three years, and also discovered that students who are suspended after only one offense often drop out and some later end up in prison. The article caused quite a stir. The administration of my school dismissed it, but it caught the attention of my local newspaper. A local journalist worked with me to publish an updated and more thoroughly researched version of my article in the local newspaper. The article forced the school board to revisit their “zero tolerance” policy as well as reinstate some indefinitely suspended students.I won no favors with the administration and it was a difficult time for me, but it was also thrilling to see how one article can have such a direct effect on people’s lives. It reaffirmed my commitment to a career in journalism.
This is why I’m applying for this scholarship. Your organization has been providing young aspiring journalists with funds to further their skills and work to uncover the untold stories in our communities that need to be reported. I share your organization’s vision of working towards a more just and equitable world by uncovering stories of abuse of power. I have already demonstrated this commitment through my writing in high school and I look forward to pursuing a BA in this field at the University of Michigan Ann Arbor. With your help, I will hone my natural instincts and inherent writing skills. I will become a better and more persuasive writer and I will learn the ethics of professional journalism.
I sincerely appreciate the committee’s time in evaluating my application and giving me the opportunity to tell my story. I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Scholarship Essay Do's and Don'ts
|Do:||Follow the prompt and other instructions exactly. You might write a great essay but it may get your application rejected if you don’t follow the word count guidelines or other formatting requirements.|
|DON'T:||Open your essay with a quote. This is a well-worn strategy that is mostly used ineffectively. Instead of using someone else’s words, use your own.|
|DON'T:||Use perfunctory sentences such as, “In this essay, I will…”|
|DO:||Be clear and concise. Make sure each paragraph discusses only one central thought or argument.|
|DON'T:||Use words from a thesaurus that are new to you. You may end up using the word incorrectly and that will make your writing awkward. Keep it simple and straightforward. The point of the essay is to tell your story, not to demonstrate how many words you know.|
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Planners and Searchers
Prompt: In 600 words or less, please tell us about yourself and why you are applying for this scholarship. Please be clear about how this scholarship will help you achieve your personal and professional goals.
Being African, I recognize Africa’s need for home- grown talent in the form of “planners” (assistants with possible solutions) and “searchers” (those with desperate need) working towards international development. I represent both. Coming from Zimbabwe my greatest challenge is in helping to improve the livelihoods of developing nations through sustainable development and good governance principles. The need for policy-makers capable of employing cross-jurisdictional, and cross- disciplinary strategies to solve complex challenges cannot be under-emphasized; hence my application to this scholarship program.
After graduating from Africa University with an Honors degree in Sociology and Psychology, I am now seeking scholarship support to study in the United States at the Master’s level. My interest in democracy, elections, constitutionalism and development stems from my lasting interest in public policy issues. Accordingly, my current research interests in democracy and ethnic diversity require a deeper understanding of legal processes of constitutionalism and governance. As a Master’s student in the US, I intend to write articles on these subjects from the perspective of someone born, raised, and educated in Africa. I will bring a unique and much-needed perspective to my graduate program in the United States, and I will take the technical and theoretical knowledge from my graduate program back with me to Africa to further my career goals as a practitioner of good governance and community development.
To augment my theoretical understanding of governance and democratic practices, I worked with the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) as a Programs Assistant in the Monitoring and Observation department. This not only enhanced my project management skills, but also developed my skills in research and producing communication materials. ZESN is Zimbabwe’s biggest election observation organization, and I had the responsibility of monitoring the political environment and producing monthly publications on human rights issues and electoral processes. These publications were disseminated to various civil society organizations, donors and other stakeholders. Now I intend to develop my career in order to enhance Africa’s capacity to advocate, write and vote for representative constitutions.
I also participated in a fellowship program at Africa University, where I gained greater insight into social development by teaching courses on entrepreneurship, free market economics, and development in needy communities. I worked with women in rural areas of Zimbabwe to setup income-generating projects such as the jatropha soap-making project. Managing such a project gave me great insight into how many simple initiatives can transform lives.
Your organization has a history of awarding scholarships to promising young students from the developing world in order to bring knowledge, skills and leadership abilities to their home communities. I have already done some of this work but I want to continue, and with your assistance, I can. The multidisciplinary focus of the development programs I am applying to in the US will provide me with the necessary skills to creatively address the economic and social development challenges and develop sound public policies for Third World countries. I thank you for your time and consideration for this prestigious award.
Scholarship Essay Do's and Don'ts
|DO:||Research the organization and make sure you understand their mission and values and incorporate them into your essay.|
|DO:||Focus on your strengths and turn in any problems or weaknesses into a success story.|
|DO:||Use actual, detailed examples from your own life to backup your claims and arguments as to why you should receive the scholarship.|
|DO:||Proofread several times before finally submitting your essay.|
|DON'T:||Rehash what is already stated on your resume. Choose additional, unique stories to tell sell yourself to the scholarship committee.|
|DON'T:||Simply state that you need the money. Even if you have severe financial need, it won’t help to simply ask for the money and it may come off as tacky.|
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Saving the Manatees
Prompt: Please give the committee an idea of who you are and why you are the perfect candidate for the scholarship.
It is a cliché to say that I’ve always known what I want to do with my life, but in my case it happens to be true. When I first visited Sea World as a young child, I fell in love with marine animals in general. Specifically, I felt drawn to manatees. I was compelled by their placid and friendly nature. I knew then and there that I wanted to dedicate my life to protecting these beautiful creatures.
Since that day in Orlando, I have spent much of my spare time learning everything there is to know about manatees. As a junior high and high school student, I attempted to read scholarly articles on manatees from scientific journals. I annoyed my friends and family with scientific facts about manatees-- such as that they are close relatives of elephants--at the dinner table. I watched documentaries, and even mapped their migration pattern on a wall map my sister gave me for my birthday.
When I was chosen from hundreds of applicants to take part in a summer internship with Sea World, I fell even more in love with these gentle giants. I also learned a very important and valuable lesson: prior to this internship, I had imagined becoming a marine biologist, working directly with the animals in their care both in captivity and in the wild. However, during the internship, I discovered that this is not where my strengths lie. Unfortunately, I am not a strong student in science or math, which are required skills to become a marine biologist. Although this was a disheartening realization, I found that I possess other strengths can still be of great value to manatees and other endangered marine mammals: my skills as a public relations manager and communicator. During the internship, I helped write new lessons and presentations for elementary school groups visiting the park and developed a series of fun activities for children to help them learn more about manatees as well as conservation of endangered species in general. I also worked directly with the park’s conservation and communication director, and helped develop a new local outreach program designed to educate Floridians on how to avoid hitting a manatee when boating. My supervisor recommended me to the Save the Manatee Foundation so in addition to my full-time internship at Sea World, I interned with the Save the Manatee Foundation part-time. It was there that I witnessed the manatee rescue and conservation effort first hand, and worked directly with the marine biologists in developing fund-raising and awareness-raising campaigns. I found that the foundation’s social media presence was lacking, and, using skills I learned from Sea World, I helped them raise over $5,000 through a Twitter challenge, which we linked to the various social media outlets of the World Wildlife Federation.
While I know that your organization typically awards scholarships to students planning to major in disciplines directly related to conservation such as environmental studies or zoology, I feel that the public relations side of conservation is just as important as the actual work done on the ground. Whether it is reducing one’s carbon footprint, or saving the manatees, these are efforts that, in order to be successful, must involve the larger public. In fact, the relative success of the environmental movement today is largely due to a massive global public relations campaign that turned environmentalism from something scientific and obscure into something that is both fashionable and accessible to just about anyone. However, that success is being challenged more than ever before--especially here in the US, where an equally strong anti-environmental public relations campaign has taken hold. Therefore, conservationists need to start getting more creative.
I want to be a part of this renewed effort and use my natural abilities as a communicator to push back against the rather formidable forces behind the anti-environmentalist movement. I sincerely hope you will consider supporting this non-traditional avenue towards global sustainability and conservation. I have already been accepted to one of the most prestigious communications undergraduate programs in the country and I plan to minor in environmental studies. In addition, I maintain a relationship with my former supervisors at Save the Manatee and Sea World, who will be invaluable resources for finding employment upon graduation. I thank the committee for thinking outside the box in considering my application.
Scholarship Essay Do's and Don'ts
|DO:||Tell a story. Discuss your personal history and why those experiences have led you to apply for these scholarships.|
|DO:||Write an outline. If you’ve already started writing or have a first draft, make an outline based on what you’ve written so far. This will help you see whether your paragraphs flow and connect with one another.|
|DON'T:||Write a generic essay for every application. Adapt your personal statement for each individual scholarship application.|
|DO:||Run spellcheck and grammar check on your computer but also do your own personal check. Spellcheck isn’t perfect and you shouldn't rely on technology to make your essay perfect.|
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