Margarita Barresi was born and raised in Puerto Rico and studied at Boston University, where she was fortunate to be awarded financial aid. She writes frequently about higher education and financial aid topics, and has one daughter in college and another on the way.
For the first time in our country’s history, the majority of U.S. high school students headed to college are Hispanic. Latinos now represent about 17 percent of all college students, up from 11 percent in 2006, and according to the Pew Hispanic Center, more females than males are earning degrees.
This shift in demographics presents a few unique challenges for students. Finding ways to make college affordable, such as finding scholarships and other educational resources is often a deciding factor in pursuing a degree. From tuition costs and room and board to lab fees and textbook costs, calculating the total cost of college is quite an undertaking for any student, regardless of ethnicity. Here, we address these concerns and guide students to solutions to finding the most affordable college options possible.
Scholarships and grants are an ideal way to help pay for tuition. They are essentially gifted funds based on financial need, cultural background, educational and civic achievements, athletic ability, hobbies, intended major, etc. Funds received do not have to be repaid, although some sources require students to give back to a community or organization as a condition of the scholarship or grant.
There are many opportunities for Hispanic students, but the trick is knowing where to look for the right scholarship or grant. Though high school guidance counselors and college financial aid offices are a good place to start, it helps for students to do research outside as well:
Sponsoring organization:The American Institute of CPAs
Application due date: June 19
In order to encourage minorities to become accounting professors, this scholarship is designed for students who are pursuing a doctorate in accounting. Applicants must have a master’s degree in accounting or three years of work experience in the field.
Sponsoring organization:Association of Latino Professionals for America
Application due date: June 8
This scholarship is for ALPFA members enrolled in a business-related degree program, such as economics, finance, business administration, marketing or accounting. Students must have a minimum grade point average of 3.0 to qualify.
Sponsoring organization:League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) and the GE Foundation
Application due date: August 10
Students must be at least in their sophomore year of college and enrolled in an accredited business degree program. Applicants must have at least a 3.25 grade point average. This scholarship is also available to students enrolled in engineering programs.
Sponsoring organization:Golden State Minority Foundation
Application due date: April 1
This scholarship is for students enrolled in a business degree program in southern California. Students must have a minimum grade point average of 3.0, and those who work more than 25 hours per week are not eligible to receive this award.
Sponsoring organization:Hispanic College Fund (HCF)
Amount:$500 to $5,000
Application due date: February 16
This scholarship is for students enrolled in business, science or engineering degrees. To qualify, students must have a minimum grade point average of 3.0, maintain full-time student status, and demonstrate financial need.
Sponsoring organization:Adelante Fund
Amount: $3,000, renewable
Application due date: July 3
College juniors and seniors who are majoring in business disciplines such as general or international business, public relations, marketing, economics, finance, or sales may apply for this scholarship. In order to apply, candidates must have at least a 3.0 grade point average and be enrolled at a participating university on a full-time basis.
Sponsoring organization:National Society of Hispanic MBAs (NSHMBA)
Amount: $2,500 to $10,000
Application due date:
In order to promote Hispanics in business, this scholarship is designed for MBA students enrolled in an accredited business school on a full- or part-time basis. Eligibility requirements include maintaining at least a 3.0 grade point average and participation in an NSHMBA chapter.
Sponsoring organization:National Alliance for Hispanic Health
Application due date: Spring, check site for details
This award is for students enrolled in a technology-related bachelor’s degree program. In order to qualify, applicants must be full-time students with a minimum 2.75 grade point average.
Sponsoring organization:Entertainment Software Association Foundation
Application due date: March 1-May 15
Up to 30 scholarships are available to students who are interested in using their computer skills to create video games. Applicants must have a minimum 2.75 grade point average and plan on undertaking a career in computer and video game arts.
Sponsoring organization:Great Minds in STEM
Amount:$1,000 to $10,000
Application due date: April 30
Awarding over $2.3 million in scholarship money to date, the HENAAC Scholarship Program is designed to encourage Hispanic students to earn STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) degrees, including those in computer science.
Amount:$1,000 to $10,000
Application due date: September 30
Minority students studying a technical discipline on a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral level can apply for this scholarship. Applicants must have at least a 3.0 grade point average.
Sponsoring organization:The Design Automation Conference (DAC)
Application due date: Spring
This scholarship is for students obtaining a degree in computer engineering or computer science. Eligibility requirements include a minimum grade point average of 3.0 and achievements in math and science courses.
Sponsoring organization:Kazmierczak Scholarship Committee
Application due date: February 1
Named in honor of migrant educator Frank Kazmierczak, this scholarship is for education majors who are either migrant workers or the children of migrant workers. Applicants must submit a personal essay detailing why they want to become a teacher, as well as two letters of recommendation.
Sponsoring organization:Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Application due date: January 14
This scholarship is for students earning education, STEM, or public health degrees. Students must have a grade point average of at least 3.3 to be eligible for this award.
Sponsoring organization:Florida Fund for Minority Teachers (FFMT)
Application due date: July 1 and November 1
The Minority Teacher Education Scholarship is for students enrolled in education degree programs in an FFMT-approved school in Florida. Students must have completed an associate’s degree or 60 credit hours in order to qualify.
Sponsoring organization:Illinois Student Assistance Commission
Amount:Up to $5,000 per year
Application due date: March 1
Students in Illinois who plan to teach in the state may be able to receive funding from this program. Applicants must prove residency, maintain a 2.5 grade point average, and sign an agreement promising to teach at a public, private, or parochial school in Illinois.
Sponsoring organization:Indiana Commission for Higher Education
Application due date: September 4
Minority students attending an Indiana college or university to train for a teaching career may apply for this scholarship. Award criteria include state residency and a 2.0 minimum grade point average, and students must commit to working in the state upon graduation.
Sponsoring organization:Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation
Application due date: April 15
This scholarship is for students in Tennessee enrolled in an education degree program. In order to receive this award, students must attend school full-time and maintain a 2.5 grade point average. In addition, award recipients must commit to teaching at a Tennessee public school after graduation.
Sponsoring organization:The Airport Minority Advisory Council (AMAC)
Application due date: Fall
AMAC awards scholarships to minority students enrolled in aviation-related degree programs, including engineering. Students must show activity in community and extracurricular activities and be citizens of the United States.
Sponsoring organization:Hispanic Scholarship Fund
Amount:$500 to $5,000
Application due date: April
This award is for students enrolled in STEM-related majors, such as engineering. High school applicants must have at least a 3.0 grade point average in order to be eligible for the scholarship, while current college students must earn at least a 2.5.
Sponsoring organization:National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (NACME)
Application due date: March 15
NACME awards this scholarship to high school seniors who will be majoring in engineering. Applicants must have at least a 3.0 grade point average and 1650 SAT score.
Sponsoring organization:American Society of Safety Engineers
Application due date: March
This scholarship is awarded to engineering students who are bilingual, and pursuing an undergraduate or graduate degree in occupational safety. Students attending an ASAC/ABET accredited safety program are preferred.
Sponsoring organization:Society of Professional Engineers (SHPE)
Amount: $1,000 to $5,000
Application due date: June 15
SHPE provides scholarships for students enrolled in STEM majors based on financial need and merit.
Sponsoring organization:Institute of Industrial Engineers (IIE)
Application due date: November 15
This award is for students enrolled in an industrial engineering program recognized by IIE.
Sponsoring organization:The Actuarial Foundation
Amount:$1,000 to $4,000
Application due date: May 1
This award is given to students who are studying mathematics in order to pursue an actuarial career.
Sponsoring organization:Hispanic College Fund
Application due date: February 23
Northern California students can apply for the Kaiser Permanente Scholarship, which is awarded to nursing students at the college junior and senior level. The award is based on financial need and applicants must have a minimum 3.0 grade point average to qualify.
Sponsoring organization:American Association of Critical-Care Nurses
Application due date: May 1
Students earning a doctoral nursing degree with the intention of becoming a teacher may apply for this scholarship. Students must commit to teach post-graduation, and must be enrolled full-time in a program.
Sponsoring organization:Minority Nurse Magazine
Amount: $1,000 to $3,000
Application due date: May 1
This award provides funding for students enrolled in a BSN or accelerated master’s nursing program. Applicants must provide transcripts to prove they have at least a 3.0 grade point average, as well as letters of recommendation and a written statement summarizing goals and accomplishments.
Sponsoring organization:National Association of Hispanic Nurses (NAHN)
Application due date: April 3
The association provides scholarships to members enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate level nursing program. Applicants must be full-time students with a minimum 3.0 grade point average.
Sponsoring organization:American Meteorological Society
Application due date: February 7
In order to encourage minorities to enroll in atmospheric, oceanic and hydrologic sciences, the AMS offers a scholarship for undergraduate students.
Application due date: Varies
This scholarship is awarded to science majors living in Cuyahoga and Lorain counties in Ohio. In addition, this award is available for students enrolled in math, computer science, business, or engineering degree programs.
Sponsoring organization:American Political Science Association
Application due date: June
APSA awards scholarships to students enrolled in political science doctoral programs. The association grants awards based on grade point average, GRE scores, recommendations and extracurricular activities.
Sponsoring organization:American Sociological Association
Application due date: January 31
This award is for students enrolled in a sociology PhD program who plan to become researchers.
Sponsoring organization:Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute
Application due date: Opens September 2015 for 2016 school year applications
CHCI provides scholarships to students enrolled in degree programs on the graduate and undergraduate levels. Eligibility is based on financial need, involvement in community service and writing skills.
Sponsoring organization:The LAGRANT Foundation
Application due date: February 28
This award is for master’s degree students who plan to enter an advertising, marketing or public relations field. Eligibility requirements include a 3.2 grade point average.
Application due date: July 1-November 15
These awards are given to students entering an engineering doctoral program. In addition, GEM offers awards to students working on a science PhD.
Scholarships and grants can make college a reality for many Hispanic students, but following basic affordability principles will make the experience even better. Finding a college where tuition dollars go the farthest is key, so utilize our list of affordable colleges for Hispanics below.
As you choose a college, location is a key factor to take into consideration. First-year students often adjust better when they can travel home from time to time. Attending a college in another state can make this financially challenging. Keep in mind that online colleges can make a degree more affordable by taking housing and traveling costs out of the equation.
We also have information about lowering your technology costs and the financial benefits of earning an online degree as well as a page dedicated to affordability tips.
Some Hispanic students face unique challenges that can put a damper on their plans for post-secondary education. For example, their parents may have inconsistent seasonal work, or lack the documentation needed to help secure a student loan easily. While these issues may seem difficult to overcome, they are not insurmountable. Below, we’ve outlined several higher education hurdles that Hispanic students encounter each school year, and provide key resources and advice to help them get started, get funding and earn a degree.
For migrants, the temporal nature of their work often results in exclusion from the college preparatory process available to individuals settled in a particular community and school system. Completing necessary steps, such as filling out FAFSA forms and meeting school application deadlines, becomes especially difficult. Fortunately, there are numerous resources – local and national – that can help.
College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP). Through the U.S. Department of Education, CAMP offers assistance to students who are children of migrant or seasonal farm workers in the United States and helps to fund their first year of studies in an approved post-secondary institution.
Migrant Education Programs (MEPs). The DOE funds state programs aimed at ensuring that migrant students reach challenging academic goals and graduate with a high school diploma or complete a GED. California’s MEP is a good example of such a program. Students should check the availability of an MEP in their state.
Migrant Students Foundation (MSF). The MSF is a non-profit organization helping migrant students gain access to higher education by connecting them with scholarships, internships and service learning opportunities.
The controversy continuing to swirl around the fates of immigrants without legal status in the United States has created a great deal of confusion regarding issues of undocumented students and college opportunities. Many students today continue to believe that the doors to a higher education remain shut and locked due to their undocumented status. Options for these students are available, however, including the following:
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). DACA provides certain undocumented immigrants who entered the United States before their 16th birthdays a number of benefits and protections including work permits and exemption from deportation, thus easing financial and other related pressures.
DREAM Act. The DREAM Act is a piece of legislation whose aim is to create a pathway to citizenship for undocumented children growing up in the United States. It was first introduced in Congress in 2001 and reintroduced several times since, but currently remains unpassed. State-level versions have passed in many states, however, that allow undocumented students to apply for and receive scholarships. California again provides a good example of the types of state DREAM Act benefits available.
There are literally millions of Hispanic students today facing the exciting prospect of becoming the first in their families to turn the dream of earning a college degree into a reality. Most colleges want to help by offering special programs for first-generation students enrolled or considering enrollment at their institutions. Here are a few other resources for this first-generation:
ACT. ACT is a nonprofit organization whose mission is “helping people achieve education and workplace success. ACT offers many resources including this guide entitled Helping Your Child Become a First-Generation College Student.
First in the Family. Part of a larger nonprofit aimed at helping high school students reach their college goals, First in the Family provides this resource page with numerous useful links, including this one entitled Advice About College from Low-Income and First-Generation Students.
LOFT Institute. A great resource for all Latino students, the Latinos on Fast Track (LOFT) Institute helps first-generation students through education events and mentoring programs.
Along with these and other great resources that can be found online, students are well advised to make use of the college and career counseling services offered at their own high schools.
Paying for college starts well before classes begin and continues on through graduation fees. The key is to know what the costs are, and where to find assistance in paying for them. Costs associated with college start well before students’ first class include:
Most four-year colleges require students to submit their SAT scores with their application. At $51 for this test, plus additional fees for individual subject-area tests, these costs can add up. To help with these costs, students may take advantage of fee waivers, based on income, or a recommendation from their high school counselor. Waivers cover the cost of sending score reports to up to four colleges of the students’ choice, after the four free reports that all applicants receive.
Many colleges also charge fees, ranging from $35 to $50 per school, to process student applications. The College Board has a comprehensive list of colleges that do not have application fees or that may waive the fee, upon request, for in-state applicants.
Though these costs can add up, there are many avenues Hispanic students can take to make college more affordable. Grants and work-study programs are just two of the ways that students can lower their out-of-pocket cost of college. College financial aid offices are designed to get students on the right path.
Resources abound for Hispanic students seeking a college degree. College admissions offices can guide students to campus-specific assistance, but other help is available too. Below you’ll find additional resources for the Hispanic student who is looking to make the most of their college experience.
Hispanic Association of Colleges & Universities National Internship program is “opening the doors of opportunity” for Hispanic students.
Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, Inc. provides resources for Hispanic students and their parents, including a college preparatory kit, a middle school checklist, and financial aid and scholarship information. Most information is available in both English and Spanish.
The U.S. Department of Education has a specialized tool kit for Hispanic families, designed to help students succeed in school.
ASPIRA is a group of organizations that provides educational support and enrichment to Latino youth and their families in schools, community centers, and ASPIRA clubs.
Latinos in College is a website dedicated to helping Hispanic students succeed in college and beyond. Overcoming homesickness, being the first generation college student, and tools for parents are just a few of the topics students will find here.
New Futuro is a comprehensive website that helps to guide Hispanic students and their families through the college application process.
If social media is your thing, College Action Plan has an E-Mentoring group on Facebook. Families will find information about planning for college from middle school through the college application process.
Excelencia in Education provides an analysis of Latino students and helps to promote education policies to support them.
MyCollegeOptions has a list of resources for all students, whether they’re trying to decide which college to attend, preparing for standardized tests, or looking to save for college.
Student Now offers a list of resources for Latino students looking into college, including scholarship information, sorority and fraternity options, as well as general information for Latino students.
About 75 percent of the Hispanic population is concentrated in California, Florida, Texas and a few other states, and many want to stay close to home when attending college. In fact, over half of all Latino undergraduate students in higher education are enrolled in just 11 percent of the institutions in the U.S. Many of these degree-granting institutions, those with at least 25 percent Hispanic undergraduate full-time enrollment, are classified by the U.S. Department of Education as Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs). HSIs can be two- or four -year institutions, and many offer online programs. In the 2011-12 academic year, more than 350 institutions were identified as HSIs.
The defining characteristic of HSIs is Hispanic enrollment, not an institutional mission. So it’s important for students to take a look at all the services provided by the school, rather than simply the number of Hispanic students enrolled, says Dr. Shirley Reed, president of South Texas College, whose student population is 96 percent Hispanic.
For one, Hispanic students should research how the college will support them academically, especially if they struggled in high school. Some Hispanic students may feel unprepared for college or have difficulty acclimating to campus life, and some can face cultural pressures from home that conflict with their educational goals.
Online students also have unique needs. STC, for example, has five physical campuses, and a sixth virtual campus with 6,000 students taking online classes. “These students need support as well,” says Reed. “We see many online students coming to campus to take their classes in the computer lab or the library. They may not have good computers at home, or live in communities with low Internet bandwidth.”
“Universities need to be affordable, welcoming, and sensitive to the cultural needs of Hispanic students, or these students will leave,” continues Reed. “Hispanic students want to be valued, respected, and nurtured. I often get asked, ‘How do you serve Hispanic students?’ My answer is that you serve them like any other student. You treat them with respect, have the same expectations, and are optimistic that they will succeed. You need to understand the challenging life circumstances they come from, but they are not very different from any other group with socio-economic challenges.”