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Check Into These Hospitality Management Scholarships

Matt Konrad

For high school and college students, the long winter is finally turning into spring break. And for lots of them, spring break means forgetting school stress and letting hotels and restaurants handle room and board for a week.

Those hotels and restaurants employ a ton of people behind the scenes to keep everything running smoothly while guests have a good time with friends. They're large, complex businesses that require expert leadership. If you're interested in moving from being a guest to becoming a manager, hospitality management might just be the career path for you.

Hospitality management, or hospitality administration, is a large field with an array of majors. Depending on your interest and skills, you can pursue degrees centered on hotel management, travel and tourism, conference or event management, the restaurant industry and more. A course of study can cover everything from business to food science to botany, and internships and assistantships are typical components as well.

[Learn where to find scholarships in culinary services.]

There are a variety of scholarships out there in all of these fields, and a number are open for applications now. You may not be thinking about scholarships on spring break, but if you're considering a hospitality degree, this should be next on your to-do list after you return from the beach.

The American Hotel & Lodging Education Foundation should be the first scholarship stop for any student considering a hospitality management degree. The more than 60-year-old foundation is dedicated to funding research and academic study within the industry, and they currently provide 10 different scholarships for future hospitality leaders.

Availability and criteria vary by program. You can apply for them all with a single application, but note that some awards require a nomination from your current or prospective college. Applications for the awards are open from Jan. 1 through May 1 each year, so there is plenty of time left to apply for this year's awards.

[ Follow a scholarship application calendar in 2014.]

For another wide-ranging single application, check out the scholarships managed by Tourism Cares , the nonprofit foundation that supports the National Tour Association, American Society of Travel Agents and International Air Transport Association.

Tourism Cares also awards both academic and professional development scholarships, and their more than 50 awards, ranging from $1,000 to $4,000, serve high school seniors, undergraduates and graduate students in virtually every area of hospitality and travel studies. Applications opened a couple of weeks ago, and will be available through April 15. Awards aren't renewable, but past recipients are invited to reapply.

If you're pursuing a potential career in the food, beverage or restaurant industries, bookmark the James Beard Foundation's scholarship website now, and come back when applications open April 1. Given by the same foundation that awards the nation's most prestigious restaurant prizes, the Beard Foundation scholarships include programs for everyone from pastry chefs to food policy leaders. Awards vary by year, but there's generally something of interest to any hospitality major with a focus on food.

As always, you should explore scholarships specific to your school. Some nationally recognized hospitality colleges can be found in tourism hotbeds like Las Vegas and Miami .

Both the University of Nevada--Las Vegas' Harrah College of Hotel Administration and Florida International University 's Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management offer sizable scholarships and resources to enrolled students.

[Don't overlook valuable regional scholarship programs.]

Elsewhere, prestigious programs like Cornell University's School of Hotel Administration and the University of Houston's Conrad N. Hilton College also provide a variety of scholarship funds and internship opportunities for undergrads and graduate students alike.

These national and school-specific funds will go a long way toward supporting your hospitality education, whether you're looking to manage golf courses, fine dining restaurants or boutique bed-and-breakfasts. Even if you're not in college yet, take some time this spring to apply for what you can and research your future opportunities, and you'll be a few steps closer to a career at that hotel on the beach.

Matt Konrad has been with Scholarship America since 2005. He is an alumnus of the University of Minnesota and a former scholarship recipient.