Higher education requires a significant investment of time and money, particularly for accountants. Future CPAs must meet rigorous education, experience and examination requirements in order to gain state licensure. According to the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA), “a traditional four-year undergraduate program is no longer adequate for obtaining the requisite knowledge and skills to become a CPA.” Now, accounting professionals must plan to take 150 semesters hours to meet their education requirements, usually consisting of a blend of undergraduate and graduate courses.

While prospective accountants must spend a significant amount of time on their education, they can look forward to reaping the benefits of this career track. On average, accountants make $63,550 annually, according the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The job outlook is steady, with a projected employment increase of 13% between the years of 2012 and 2022. In addition, the sought-after skills of accounting professionals provide the advantage of career flexibility, allowing professionals to work in the private, nonprofit or public arenas.

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Accounting Scholarships

  • Editor's
    Picks
  • Scholarship
    Directory

Listed here are 20 national scholarships created specifically for accounting majors. Scholarships are an ideal way to fund your education, since, unlike loans, they do not require repayment. These scholarships are provided on an annual basis, so even if you miss a deadline this year, keep an eye on these organizations for upcoming funding opportunities. Also check with local chapters of professional accounting societies for state-based scholarships not detailed here.

  • John L. Carey Scholarship
  • Amount: $5,000
  • Deadline: 04/01/2015

Future accounting graduate students who plan to earn their CPA credentials are eligible to apply for funding from the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA). Applicants do not need to have previous accounting experience; the award is designed for those who want to get started in the professional accounting field.

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  • Accountemps Student Scholarship
  • Amount: $10,000
  • Deadline: 04/01/2015

This is a merit-based scholarship for students who are currently enrolled in an accounting program. Each year, the AICPA selects four students who demonstrate the ability and drive to become a leader within the accounting field.

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  • Scholarship for Minority Accounting Students
  • Amount: $5,000
  • Deadline: 04/01/2015

The AICPA strives to assist accounting students from underrepresented communities by providing over $270,000 in funding to minority students each year. Applicants must be enrolled on a full-time basis in an undergraduate or graduate program, maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 and plan to take the CPA exam.

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  • Newton B. Becker Scholarship
  • Amount: See Details
  • Deadline: 02/02/2016

Amount: $1,697 and fee coverage for CPA Exam Review courses

Becker Professional Education, a company that hosts CPA exam preparation courses, provides accounting students with academic funding and free course opportunities. Applicants must be qualified to sit for the CPA exam and demonstrate financial need to receive this award.

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  • Fellowship for Minority Doctoral Students
  • Amount: $12,000
  • Deadline: 05/15/2016

The AICPA has created a funding opportunity for minority students pursuing a doctoral degree on a full-time basis. Applicants must be of Hispanic/Latino, Black or Native American ethnicity and have already applied to a doctoral program to be considered for this award.

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  • CMA Scholarship
  • Amount: $500
  • Deadline: 12/15/2015

The CMA Academy, founded by exam coach Nathan Liao, provides accounting students with funding that can be used toward tuition and other study expenses. Applicants must submit an essay of 1000-words or longer detailing their professional and academic goals.

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  • National Association of Black Accountants (NABA) Scholarships
  • Amount: See Details
  • Deadline: 01/31/2016

Amount: Varies

Undergraduate and graduate students of Black/African descent can apply for four different scholarship opportunities by submitting a single form to the NABA professional organization. To qualify, applicants must be current NABA student members, hold a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.3 and be enrolled as a full-time student within a business- or finance-related major.

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  • Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) Scholarship Program
  • Amount: $10,000
  • Deadline: Ongoing

Congress appointed this nonprofit board to administer public company audits and issue fines when organizations do not comply with regulatory standards. The money collected from these fines is used for scholarship opportunities. Applicants must be enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate accounting program. Winners are selected on the basis of merit.

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  • National Society of Accountants Scholarship Foundation
  • Amount: $500 - $2,000
  • Deadline: 03/31/2016

This professional association has awarded up to $34,450 a year to prospective accountants enrolled in undergraduate accounting programs. Applicants must be a citizen of the United States or Canada, enrolled on a part-time or full-time basis and hold a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0. The scholarship board assesses the following factors when selecting winners: work experience, academic honors and community participation.

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  • Daniel B. Goldberg Scholarship
  • Amount: $12,000
  • Deadline: 02/20/2016

This is a graduate scholarship opportunity provided by the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA), a professional advocacy and networking organization with a membership body spanning the United States and Canada. Applicants must intend to work within the fields of state or local government finance, hold a recommendation from their graduate advisor or dean and be currently enrolled on a full-time basis.

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  • Frank L. Greathouse Government Accounting Scholarship
  • Amount: $7,000
  • Deadline: 02/20/2016

Undergraduate and graduate students who intend to work in government finance at the state and local levels can receive funding from this Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) scholarship. Applicants must be citizens or permanent residents of the U.S. or Canada, hold a recommendation from an advisor or program chair, and be enrolled full-time within an accounting program. Supplementary materials used in the selection process include a resume, professional statement and academic transcripts.

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  • Government Finance Professional Development Scholarship
  • Amount: $7,000
  • Deadline: 02/20/2016

Local and state government professionals who are also currently earning their graduate degree on a part-time basis may be eligible to win this academic scholarship from the GFOA. Applicants must be recommended by an employer, along with an academic advisor or program dean. Additionally, applicants must be U.S. or Canadian citizens or permanent residents with at least two years of professional experience.

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  • Minorities in Government Finance Scholarship
  • Amount: $7,000
  • Deadline: 02/20/2016

This academic award is designed for students from underrepresented ethnic backgrounds who are enrolled in undergraduate or graduate programs in government accounting, public administration, economics or businesses-related majors. Applicants must be enrolled on a part-time or full-time basis and be citizens or permanent residents in the U.S. or Canada.

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  • CMA Scholarship Program
  • Amount: See Details
  • Deadline: 06/01/2015

Amount: Fee coverage for the CMA exam, Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) membership for three years and exam study materials

The IMA provides academic funding to students worldwide who are pursuing undergraduate or master’s degrees in accounting or business. Applicants must be nominated by a program faculty member to be considered for this scholarship.

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  • CMA Doctoral Scholarship Program
  • Amount: See Details
  • Deadline: Ongoing

Amount: Fee coverage for the CMA exam, study materials and a three-year IMA membership

The IMA offers this award to support doctoral accounting students whose studies focus on financial management or management accounting. Eligible applicants can reside or study in any country. Upon receiving the scholarship, students have a year to enroll in a CMA exam section.

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  • IMA Memorial Education Fund Scholarship
  • Amount: $1,000 - $2,500
  • Deadline: 02/15/2016

Undergraduate and graduate accounting students focusing on careers in IT, management accounting or financial management can be considered for several IMA memorial scholarships by filling out a single application form. Some funds, including the Stuart Cameron and Margaret McLeod awards, include complimentary tickets to the Student Leadership Conference and the IMA Annual Conference in addition to scholarship funding. Applicants must be enrolled on a full-time basis, be an IMA Student member and hold a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0.

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  • Educational Foundation for Women in Accounting (EFWA) Undergraduate Scholarship
  • Amount: $1,000 - $2,000
  • Deadline: 04/30/2016

Women studying accounting at the undergraduate level can fill out one application to apply for several scholarships at once. This IMA undergraduate award also covers CMA examination fees in addition to scholarship funds. Applicants must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 to qualify for some of these funding opportunities. Additional materials that will be considered during the awards process include the student’s statements of personal and professional goals, a financial need budget and employment history.

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  • Educational Foundation for Women in Accounting Graduate Scholarships
  • Amount: $1,000 - $2,000
  • Deadline: 04/30/2016

EFWA also provides three funding opportunities with a single, centralized application form for prospective, female accounting graduate students. In addition to the cash scholarship, winners of the IMA award also gain free IMA membership for a single year and CMA exam registration.

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  • American Woman's Society of Certified Public Accountants (AWSCPA) and Wiley CPAexcel
  • Amount: See Details
  • Deadline: 04/30/2016

Amount: Free enrollment in a 4-part Wiley CPAexcel CPA Review course

AWSCPA has partnered with a CPA exam preparation education company, WileyCPA, to provide future accountants with testing success resources. Students must hold a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 and meet the academic requirements for the CPA exam within a year of receiving this award.

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  • Ritchie-Jennings Memorial Scholarship Program
  • Amount: See Details
  • Deadline: 02/05/2016

Amount: $1,000 - $10,000 and a one-year Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) student membership

This ACFE Foundation scholarship is designed for undergraduate and graduate students who are interested in pursuing careers in fraud prevention. Applicants must submit their official transcripts along with three letters of recommendation (at least one letter from a Certified Fraud Examiner is recommended).

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Below you’ll find a custom-build directory of the scholarships most pertinent to accounting students. Taking you well beyond the major awards introduced in the previous section, the directory identifies all the qualifications, sponsors, deadlines and expectations driving each award. And while the database is sorted with accounting students in mind ― with awards for accountants found at the top of all searches ― the database also features over 10,000 national awards given to students every year based on academic merit or other non-accounting qualifications.

To learn more, click on any award, expanding it to reveal everything you need to know to apply. From there, you can either email the contact person for a given scholarship or go directly to their site and begin your application.

Student Loans

Many lenders in the U.S. are willing to let students borrow funds for their studies, such as the U.S. Department of Education, banks, academic institutions and other private organizations. However, it is important to carefully weigh loan options, as the terms and interest rates can vary significantly.

Federal loans, offered once you file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), are generally ideal due to their low interest rates, eligibility requirements, deferment periods and payback options tailored specifically to students. Private loans can provide additional academic assistance; however, students should be wary of these funding sources as they typically include higher interest rates and little to no deferment during college enrollment.

General Student Loan Eligibility Requirements

  • Attend an accredited academic institution that qualifies for Federal Financial Aid by the Department of Education
  • File a FAFSA for the applicable school year
  • Be recognized as a U.S. citizen, U.S. National, U.S. permanent resident, a T-1 visa holder or a battered immigrant under the Violence Against Women Act
  • Hold a GED or high school diploma
  • Gain acceptance from an institution of higher education
  • Maintain a good credit history (for private loans)
  • Have a cosigner available (for private loans)

The following table provides a comparison of various federal and private loan requirements and interest rates.

Federal Loans

Name Direct Subsidized Loan
Eligibility

Undergraduate students with demonstrated financial need, half-time or full-time enrollment

Lender U.S. Department of Education
Amount $3,500 - $5,500
Interest Rate

4.29% (on loans granted until July 1, 2016)

Name Direct Unsubsidized Loan
Eligibility

Undergraduate and graduate students, half-time or full-time enrollment

Lender U.S. Department of Education
Amount $5,500 - $20,500
Interest Rate

4.29% for undergraduate students, 5.84% for graduate students (on loans granted until July 1, 2016)

Name Direct PLUS Loan
Eligibility

Graduate students or parents of undergraduate dependents, half-time or full-time enrollment

Lender U.S. Department of Education
Amount Cost of attendance after other financial assistance is applied
Interest Rate

6.84% (on loans granted until July 1, 2016)

Name Federal Perkins Loan
Eligibility

Undergraduate and graduate students

Lender The academic institution
Amount Maximums of $5,500 for undergraduates, $8,000 for graduate students
Interest Rate

5%

Private Loans

Name Smart Option Student Loan
Eligibility

Undergraduate students

Lender SallieMae
Amount The full cost of attendance up to $99,999
Interest Rate

Variable rates between 2.25% and 9.37% APR and fixed rates between 5.74% and 11.85% APR

Name Wells Fargo Student Loans
Eligibility

Undergraduate and graduate students

Lender Wells Fargo
Amount The full cost of attendance after other financial aid is applied
Interest Rate

Variable rates between 3.4% and 8.6% APR and fixed rates between 6.62% and 10.93% APR.

Name Discover Student Loans
Eligibility

Undergraduate and graduate students

Lender Discover
Amount 100% of tuition, housing and supplies
Interest Rate

Fixed rates with a minimum of 5.99%, differing variable rates based on loan type

Financial Aid by Degree Type

The following list, sourced from The National Center for Education Statistics, will help you quickly identify the tuition averages and applicable sources of aid available for specific degree types.

Note for prospective online students: Students considering online degree programs and courses should note that surveys conducted by The Learning House show most public and private institutions charge the same tuition rates for residential and online students, with 5% of public institutions and 31% of private institutions charging online students less.

Degree Type Associate
Average Public Tuition $8,561
Average Private Tuition $23,447
Federal Financial Aid Options

Federal Pell Grant, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, Direct Subsidized Loan, Direct Unsubsidized Loan, Direct PLUS Loan, Federal Perkins Loan

Degree Type Bachelor's
Average Public Tuition $16,789
Average Private Tuition $33,716
Federal Financial Aid Options

Federal Pell Grant, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, TEACH grants (participating programs only), Direct Subsidized Loan, Direct Unsubsidized Loan, Direct PLUS Loan, Federal Perkins Loan

Degree Type Master's
Average Public Tuition $9,900
Average Private Tuition $21,955
Federal Financial Aid Options

Direct Unsubsidized Loan, Direct PLUS Loan, Federal Perkins Loan, TEACH grants (participating programs only)

Additional Sources

Employer Reimbursement Programs ― many companies pay for employees to attend a master’s program part-time while working, so that students can later use their education and new skills to further their career within the sponsoring organization. Check with your HR department to see if this is a benefit available through your workplace.

Degree Type PhD
Average Public Tuition $9,900
Average Private Tuition $21,955
Federal Financial Aid Options

Direct Unsubsidized Loan, Direct PLUS Loan, Federal Perkins Loan, TEACH grants (participating programs only)

Additional Sources

Research or teaching fellowships; doctoral students are often presented with an opportunity to apply for a fellowship within their selected accounting program. Accepted students are often presented with partial or full tuition waivers if they dedicate a certain number of hours each week to research projects, departmental work or teaching duties.