At the end of July, many of you may have heard about a 16 year old named Kyle Giersdorf 1. Kyle was the winner of the first ever Fortnite World Cup which awarded him 3 million dollars in prize money. Yes, 3 million dollars!! While I grew up playing the occasional video game with my twin brother, I’ve been admittedly naïve to how massive the gaming industry has become. In 2019, the video game industry generated 138B in revenue and that growth is projected to grow almost 10% to 152B next year 2.
With thousands of students going back to school in the coming weeks, this got me thinking. For any parents out there with teenagers passionate about gaming, is there a way this can translate to scholarships or even a career in gaming? The short answer is yes.
After only a brief internet search for “Video Game Design Scholarships”, I found a link directing me to 20 different scholarship awards. While the 2019 deadlines for applications are behind us, the scholarships ranged anywhere from 1k up to 25k 3. Further, I was able to find over 77 schools touting their video game design programs. Here in Ohio, Kent State, Ohio State and Case Western all offering gaming degree programs (whether design or programming). As with all college or university decisions, we advise ignoring rankings and doing your own research on student graduation rates, job placements and post-graduation salaries, but it is incredible how many potential options are out there.
In terms of placement and expected salaries, recent data from Recruiter.com estimates Video Game Designer salaries between 40-60k with potential to earn up to 90k/year in the industry. ⁴
So let’s talk a little more about Scholarship considerations. With the growth of the industry, keep in mind that competition for these scholarships is likely on the rise. No matter how gifted & talented your child is, we never recommend banking on a scholarship or full ride. The reality is most of these awards are smaller in nature and would be a nice supplement to any savings you have set aside.
If you’re leveraging a tax-advantaged 529 to save for college, there is a bit of good news. In the event of a Scholarship, 529 rules permit you to take a Non-Qualified Withdrawal in the amount of the scholarship without the 10% penalty. You would still pay taxes on the earnings portion that is not used for college. Traditionally this 10% penalty would be assessed for any withdrawals that were not used for qualified higher education expenses, however, you couldn’t have foreseen the scholarship award – therefore, you are not penalized for saving.5
For any students with interests outside of gaming, there are hundreds of thousands of dollars available in scholarship awards each year. If you know what area(s) you’d like to study, the scholarship search tools from Mycollegecorner.com & Collegeboard.com/Big Future are wonderful in narrowing these down to areas your student may be passionate about:
Collegeboard.com – Big Future Scholarship Search
As always, if you have friends or family who could use our assistance with this process, please let us know how we can help!
Courtney Walls is a registered representative of LPL Financial.
Securities and advisory services offered through LPL Financial., a broker/dealer (member SIPC) and registered investment advisor. Insurance offered through LPL Financial affiliates and other fine companies.
LPL Financial does not provide legal or tax advice.
1https://www.nbcnews.com/business/business-news/pennsylvania-teenager-wins-3m-fortnite-world-cup-n1035641 (Fortnite World Champion)
2https://www.forbes.com/sites/kevinanderton/2019/06/26/the-business-of-video-games-market-share-for-gaming-platforms-in-2019-infographic/#3d5e9e9c7b25) (video game industry revenue numbers)
3https://www.bestvalueschools.com/game-design-scholarships/ (Game Design Scholarships)
⁴ https://www.recruiter.com/salaries/video-game-designers-salary/ (video game salaries)
5 529 Scholarship Rules: https://www.kiplinger.com/article/college/T002-C001-S001-the-529-plan-scholarship-exception.html