In the first year of attendance at Cornish, most students receive a Cornish Scholarship. There is no separate scholarship application to participate in the process. Multiple factors are assessed by faculty in the audition or portfolio review and the Office of Financial Aid captures the outcome in the scholarship offer communicated to the student in the Award Letter.

In subsequent years of attendance, Cornish students enrolled full-time, who maintain end of semester 2.00 cumulative grade point average and 67% (earned over attempted hours) cumulative pace of progression, qualify for the renewal of their Cornish Scholarship. Renewal for meeting standards is available for up to three consecutive years. The Office of Financial Aid provides notification of awards in the student financial aid package and Award Letter around February and March.

In subsequent years of attendance, academic departments select current student recipients for the college endowed and restricted awards also called named scholarships. Named scholarships are merit-based for demonstrated artistic and academic excellence and recipients must meet additional donor-specific criteria for eligibility. Applicants have a chance to distinguish themselves and be honored in the reception of a donor endowed award. Academic departments provide guidelines and the annual deadline for application in their respective departments.