Esports scholarships could help the best ‘Fortnite’ players pay for college

Ohio’s Ashland University is expanding its esports scholarship program to include the popular battle royale shooter, Fortnite, offering top gamers several thousand dollars off of the school’s undergraduate program. The college hopes to foster high-level gaming ability within its program, while providing those chosen a solid education to back up their potential professional gaming careers.

While sports scholarships are a longstanding tradition at many universities around the country, esports scholarships are a much more recent phenomenon — although they are growing in number. Ashland University opened up its esports program earlier this year, planning for it to begin in earnest this fall. It focuses on games like League of Legends, Overwatch, Counter Strike: Global Offensive, and Rocket League. The new program for battle royale-loving Fortnite players is just the latest to join that list.

Fortnite appeals to both the core and casual gaming audience,” the school’s esports head coach Josh Buchanan said in a release, as per TechCrunch. “We’re excited to provide this platform for gamers who want to showcase their skills in a more competitive space. Fortnite facilitates an environment that allows players to get creative, innovate, and show off their mastery of their skills.”

Buchannan is a competitive esport gamer himself, ranked as one of the top Starcraft 2 players in the country. He also manages the Sloth E-Sports Club LLC and acts as a commentator for various competitive events. As well as coaching the Ashland Eagles esports teams, he will also be involved in the vetting process, interviewing each applicant to judge their acceptability for the scholarship program.

Like the other scholarships the school offers, the one for top Fortnite players offers a discount on tuition fees, as well as room and board. In total gamers can earn up to $4,000 off the top-line $31,000 tuition charge for the 2018-19 academic year for full-time students.

If you’re interested in applying for the program yourself, the form is available on the Ashland Eagles website. It asks for general contact information, as well as details on school and other academic and sporting achievements. Where it stands out from more traditional programs though, is the section on gaming. The university wants to know what you play, what you’re good at, what tournaments you’ve competed in, and whether you have any professional team experience.

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