Formerly known as the Writers’ Program Scholarship, the Phyllis Gebauer Scholarship in Writing was designed to foster the talent of promising writers from diverse backgrounds and cultures who lack the financial resources to study their craft in a supportive educational environment. The scholarship is awarded to 10 students a year, and each recipient is given the opportunity to enroll in three full-length Writers’ Program courses (online or onsite) during a one-year period (fall-summer quarters).

What does it take to be selected as one of the 10? First and foremost, applicants must demonstrate financial need, which means a gross income not to exceed $2500 a month per individual. For households with more than one individual, add 10% for each additional person. Applicants must be a US citizen or eligible non-citizen with a green card.

If you meet this criteria, the next step is to show us, via your essay responses, why you are a good candidate for the scholarship. Why are you passionate about writing? What role does writing play in your life? Perhaps most importantly, what are your goals and how do you plan to achieve them? How will Writers’ Program courses help bring you closer to achieving your dreams? You’ll also need two letters of recommendation, a copy of your 2015 Federal Income Tax Return, and a copy of your FAFSA Student Aid Report (SAR)*, along with the application page and $10 application fee.

Unsure of what three writing classes can do for your life? Several former recipients have shown us just how transformative the program can be. James Rogers III, a 2014-15 scholarship recipient, was recently admitted to the Peter Stark Producing Program at the USC School of Cinematic Arts. “The Writers’ Program removed much of the mystery about becoming a storyteller for film, television, and novels,” says James. “I took my first ‘writing for film and television’ course through Extension, and would’ve never been able to without the scholarship. It changed how I thought about writing as a long-term career — it changed how I thought about myself.” Leo Ríos, a 2013-2014 scholarship recipient, was one of four students accepted into the MFA program at Cornell University in 2015 and says that his Writers’ Program classes “helped me shape the manuscript that I eventually submitted for my MFA applications.”

The successes aren’t just limited to graduate programs. Emma Needell, another 2013-14 recipient, landed on the highly prestigious Black List with her script The Water Man in 2015. 2014-15 recipient and poet Ha Kiet Chau has since published in The Riding Light Review, Toad Suck Review, The Lincoln Underground Literary Magazine, Reunion: The Dallas Review, Clarion, The Literary Nest, Tule Review, and Up the Staircase Quarterly. And 2015 recipient Lisa Gomez recently won the 2016 Writers Guild Foundation Festival Pitch Competition for which she received a script read and meeting with Christopher Lockhart (Story Editor at William Morris Endeavor), and two script evaluations from The Black List website.

We’re so inspired by our scholarship students, and can’t wait to pick the next batch. So what are you waiting for? Applications are due June 27th, and must be received in our office by that date (not a postmark deadline). If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch with me at or 310-206-0951.

*NOTE: A FAFSA Student Aid Report is required along with your application. It can take anywhere from 3 days to 2 weeks to get your SAR, so fill out your FAFSA early. SARs will not be accepted after the deadline.

Katy Flaherty is the Program Representative for Creative Writing (Onsite). Write to her at

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