Financial Aid for Minority Students

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Finding Scholarships, Grants and other Assistance

Minority students have an expansive selection of financial aid available to them, but finding and applying for those opportunities isn’t always easy. Read on to learn how to begin creating your financial aid strategy.

Students of color and other minority groups have long been underrepresented in higher education. In an effort to change that and to increase overall access to postsecondary education, numerous organizations, associations, and companies are dedicated to supporting the academic endeavors of all minority students. Navigating this financial aid landscape, however, can sometimes be overwhelming, particularly for those who may be the first in their family to attend college. To help minority students achieve their goals, AC Online created the following guide on financial aid. Students and their families can explore the different types of financial assistance available; learn where to find and access scholarship money; get tips and recommendations from a financial aid expert; and find a list of various resources for support and additional information on paying for higher education.

Meet the Expert

Echo Echo Lynch Financial Aid Program Officer

Echo Lynch is a Program Officer in the Financial Aid Office at Truckee Meadows Community College in Reno, Nevada. She has 18 years of experience in student services and financial aid and is dedicated to helping first generation, low-income and minority families.

Scholarships for Minority Students

In order to take advantage of the different financial opportunities available to minority students, it is important to first understand the different ways in which these opportunities may be presented. For example, some awards may target specific ethnic or racial groups that, in general, are underrepresented on college campuses, while others may focus on a demographic such women in science or students with disabilities. Below is a breakdown of the most common groups:

In 2012, 71 percent of women high school graduates enrolled in college immediately after graduating. That same year, women undergraduate students accounted for 56 percent of total enrollment in the US. Despite these numbers, however, women remain underrepresented in certain fields, particularly science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. According to a 2015 National Science Foundation report, women earned the fewest degrees in engineering, computer science, and physics. Additionally, about one-third of doctorate degrees in economics and slightly more than a quarter of doctorates in math and statistics were earned by women.

AASA Educational Administration Scholarship

Sponsoring organization:The School Superintendents Association

Amount: $2,500

Application due date: September 30

Awards are made to female students at the graduate level who are planning to become a school superintendent.

Ada I. Pressman Memorial Scholarship

Sponsoring organization:Society of Women Engineers

Amount: $5,000 and renewable for five years.

Application due date: May 15

Open to female students pursuing engineering or engineering-related subjects at an ABET-accredited institution. Students in their second, third or final years of an undergraduate program may apply, as well as graduate students.

Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship

Sponsoring organization:Google

Amount:Varies

Application due date: May 1

Undergraduate and graduate women who aspire to be leaders within technology and computing sectors are eligible for this scholarship.

Community Action Grant

Sponsoring organization:American Association of University Women

Amount:$2,000-$10,000

Application due date: January 15

Applicants who show a commitment to furthering education and equality for females are able to apply for this award, which gives special consideration to those focused on K-12 and community college education.

Future Care Scholarship

Sponsoring organization:Tylenol

Amount:$500-$5,000

Application due date: June 30

Female undergraduate and graduate students are able to apply. Preferred programs include public health, health education, med school, nursing, or pharmacy.

Gertrude M. Cox Scholarship

Sponsoring organization:American Statistical Association

Amount:$2,000

Application due date: February 23

Open to female students currently enrolled or starting graduate training in statistics.

Graduate Nursing Scholarships

Sponsoring organization:March of Dimes

Amount:$5,000

Application due date: January 14

Female registered nurses who are currently enrolled in a graduate level degree program are eligible to apply for this scholarship, provided they are members of one of the approved professional organizations. Students must also be focused on maternal-child nursing within their degree program.

HP Helion Openstack Scholarship for Women

Sponsoring organization:Hewlett-Packard

Amount:$10,000

Application due date: September 30

Awards are made to women studying information systems or computer science at the undergraduate or graduate levels. Applicants develop an app using Openstack technology or Cloud Foundry as part of their application.The HP Helion Openstack scholarship is available to women pursuing

Jane M. Klausman Women in Business Scholarship

Sponsoring organization:Zonta International

Amount:$1,000-$7,000

Application due date: July 1

Female students currently enrolled in business, or a business-related degree program, may apply for this scholarship. All applicants are required to live in or study in district or region with a Zonta chapter.

KSTF Fellowship

Sponsoring organization:Knowles Science Teaching Foundation

Amount:Up to $4,000

Application due date: November 1

Women who plan on teaching science or mathematics at the high school level are eligible for this award.

Laurels Fund Scholarship

Sponsoring organization: Educational Foundation for Women in Accounting

Amount:$5,000

Application due date: May 15

Women studying accounting at the doctoral level are eligible for this scholarship.

Microsoft Research Graduate Women’s Scholarship

Sponsoring organization:Microsoft Research

Amount:$15,000 for one year

Application due date: May 1

Women who are enrolled in graduate programs, including engineering, mathematics, computer science, or bioinformatics are eligible, though their institution must nominate them.

STAR Scholarship

Sponsoring organization:Philanthropic Education Organization

Amount:$2,500

Application due date: 30 days after application is published

College bound high school seniors are eligible for this award. Applicants must demonstrate leadership, academic excellence, extracurricular activities, and community service.

The WIIT Scholarship Program

Sponsoring organization:Women in International Trade

Amount: $1,500

Application due date: March 15 and July 15

Female students who demonstrate for international business and related activities can apply for this award, which is given to both undergraduate and graduate students.

WIFLE Annual Scholarship Program

Sponsoring organization:Women in Federal Law Enforcement

Amount:Varies

Application due date: June 1

Awards are made to females studying chemistry, physics, public administration, computer science, finance or the social sciences who intent to work in law enforcement.

Women in Technology Scholarship

Sponsoring organization:Palantir

Amount:$1,500-$10,000

Application due date: August 31

Women who are enrolled in a computer science or STEM field are eligible for this award, provided they have completed at least one year of study.

Women’s Environmental Council Scholarships

Sponsoring organization:Women’s Environmental Council

Amount:Minimum of $1,000

Application due date: February 1

Female students pursuing an undergraduate degree in areas of architecture, biology, chemistry, environmental science, ecology, engineering, forestry, geology, or urban planning. Recipients must be attending a school based in Los Angeles, Orange or San Diego counties.

Data from the US Census Bureau shows African American college students account for just 14 percent of students between the ages of 18 and 24. On top of that, black students account for only nine percent of bachelor’s degree holders.

Microsoft
Blacks at Microsoft Scholarships

Sponsoring organization:Microsoft

Amount:$5,000 each academic year, up to four years

Application due date: March 1

High school seniors of African descent can apply for this degree, so long as they are pursuing a degree in engineering, computer science, computer information systems, or business programs related to these topics.

Nationa_Association_of_Black_Journalists
Carole Simpson Scholarship

Sponsoring organization:National Association of Black Journalists

Amount:$2,500

Application due date: February 13

African American undergraduate or graduate students pursuing a degree in journalism are able to apply for this degree, which includes a 1,000-2,000 word essay component.

Institute_for_the_International_Education_of_Students
David Porter Diversity Scholarship

Sponsoring organization:Institute for the International Education of Students

Amount:$5,000

Application due date: October 24

Made available to LGBTQ students attending a postsecondary institution with an IIES-approved study abroad program. Funds are to be used to learn in a foreign country.

The_National_Oceanic_and_Atmospheric
Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarship Program

Sponsoring organization:The National Oceanic and Atmospheric

Amount:Up to $42,000 annually

Application due date: April 1

Supports graduate level study and research for minorities, including those of African American descent, enrolled in programs such as oceanography, marine biology, or maritime archaeology. Selection is made after considering academic history, letters or recommendation, previous research, and level of need.

Entertainment_Software_Association
ESA Foundation Scholarship Program

Sponsoring organization:Entertainment Software Association

Amount:$3,000

Application due date: May 29

Awarded to minority students, including those of African American descent, pursuing careers in video game development. Students must be full-time undergraduates in the United States.

The_George_Washington_Carver_Scholarship_Fund
George Washington Carver Scholarship

Sponsoring organization:The George Washington Carver Scholarship Fund

Amount:Up to $10,000

Application due date: Spring

This scholarship is open to students attending a historically black institution studying accounting, agri-business, aquaculture science, biology, business chemistry, communication, computer science, economics, education, engineering, nursing, physics, pre-law, pre-med, or public administration.

National_Association_of_Colored_Women_Clubs
Hallie Q. Brown Scholarship

Sponsoring organization:National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs

Amount:Varies

Application due date: March 31

Students of African American descent who are recommended by an active member of NACWC are eligible for this scholarship, provided they have completed at least one semester at a postsecondary institution.

The_Tom_Joyner_Foundation-
Hercules Scholarship

Sponsoring organization:The Tom Joyner Foundation

Amount:Full ride

Application due date: Spring

This scholarship is available to incoming undergraduates who plan to attend a historically black college.

Thurgood_Marshall_College_Fund
Lowe’s Gap Scholarship

Sponsoring organization:Thurgood Marshall College Fund

Amount:$500-$3,100

Application due date: July 31

Awarded to African American graduating college seniors attending one of TMCF’s member schools. Students must demonstrate both leadership and financial need.

Central_Michigan_University
Multicultural Advancement Award of Distinction

Sponsoring organization:Central Michigan University

Amount:$10,500

Application due date: February

Awarded to minority students, including those of African American descent, who are graduating seniors entering CMU, regardless of intended major.

National_Association_of_Black_Accountants
NABA National Scholarship

Sponsoring organization:National Association of Black Accountants

Amount:$1,500

Application due date: January 31

Available to African American students enrolled full-time at the undergraduate or graduate level in studies relating to accounting, finance or business.

National_Black_MBA_Association
NBMBAA Undergraduate Scholarship

Sponsoring organization:National Black MBA Association

Amount:$5,000

Application due date: July 17

Students who are active members of the NBMBAA and are actively involved in their communities via service and leadership may apply for this scholarship.

St_Lawrence_University
Presidential Diversity Scholarship

Sponsoring organization:St. Lawrence University

Amount:$32,000 per academic year for four years

Application due date: February 1

This award is made available to first year and transfer students who are enrolled at St. Lawrence and show demonstrable commitment to supporting racial and ethnic diversity.

The_Poise_Foundation
The Agnes Jones Scholarship

Sponsoring organization:The Poise Foundation

Amount:$2,000

Application due date: March 31

Open to African American students who are members of the NAACP and are full time students at the undergraduate or graduate level.

The_Poise_Foundation
The Hubertus W.V. Willems Scholarship for Male Students

Sponsoring organization:The Poise Foundation

Amount:$3,000

Application due date: March 31

Open to male African American students enrolled in a college program studying engineering, chemistry, physics, or mathematical sciences.

Asian Americans account for only seven percent of all college-aged students in the US and just 11 percent of all bachelor’s degrees earned, according to the US Census Bureau.

State_of_Wisconsin_Higher_Educational_Aids_Board
AANAPISI Scholarship

Sponsoring organization:State of Wisconsin Higher Educational Aids Board

Amount:$2,500-$5,000

Application due date: October 15

Eligible applicants must be of Asian or Pacific Islander ethnicity and be attending one of the approved institutions.

National_Asian_Pacific_American_Bar_Association
Anheuser-Busch/NFL Presidential Scholarships

Sponsoring organization:National Asian Pacific American Bar Association

Amount:$7,500

Application due date: Fall

Awarded to law students who demonstrate ability and interest in serving the Asian Pacific American community.

Asian_American_Journalists_Association
Anna Chennault Scholarship

Sponsoring organization:Asian American Journalists Association

Amount:$5,000

Application due date: May 3

Awardees are required to be Asian American high school seniors who have been accepted to an accredited college and show a passion for journalism.

Asian_Women_in_Business
Asian Women in Business Scholarship

Sponsoring organization:Asian Women in Business

Amount:$2,500-$5,000

Application due date: October 1

Recipients of this award must be female and of Asian descent. They must be able to demonstrate previous leadership experience or a prior entrepreneurial endeavor. All applicants should have completed at least one semester of postsecondary work at the time of their application.

Asian_Pacific_Fund
Banatao Family Filipino American Education Fund

Sponsoring organization:Asian Pacific Fund

Amount:$20,000 over 4 years

Application due date: February 20

Must be at least 50 percent Filipino, and majoring in engineering, mathematics, computer science, or environmental/physical science. Incoming freshmen residing in SF Bay, Orange County, Los Angeles, or San Diego may apply.

CANFIT
CANFIT Scholarships

Sponsoring organization:CANFIT

Amount:Varies

Application due date: March 31

Open to students of minority descent, including those of Asian or Pacific Islander ethnicity,

Central_California_Asian_Pacific_Women
CCAPW Scholarships

Sponsoring organization:Central California Asian Pacific Women

Amount:Varies

Application due date: March

CCAPW offers numerous scholarships to women of Asian Pacific women who are residents of central California. Awards are available for all levels of postsecondary education.

Chi_Am_Circle_Club
Chi Am Circle Scholarship

Sponsoring organization:Chi Am Circle Club

Amount:$1,000

Application due date: March

Open to high school senior females of Asian descent; awards are based on merit, community service, and extracurricular activities.

US_ Pan_Asian_American_Chamber_of_Commerce
Denny’s Hungry for Education Scholarship

Sponsoring organization:U.S. Pan Asian American Chamber of Commerce

Amount:$2,500

Application due date: April 5

Open to high-school seniors who represent minority races, including Asian and Pacific Islander heritage. Students must also write a 300-word essay as part of their application.

APIASF
Frances Sonn Nam Memorial Scholarship

Sponsoring organization: APIASF

Amount:$4,000 yearly

Application due date: Varies

Open to undergraduates of Asian or Pacific Islander descent who plan to pursue a degree in law, public service, or government affairs. Must be a junior in the upcoming academic year.

Asian_Pacific_Fund
Frederick & Demi Seguritan Scholarship

Sponsoring organization:Asian Pacific Fund

Amount:$5,000

Application due date: February 20

Students who have a passion for business and are first generation Asians may apply for this award. They must participate in community service, be a San Francisco bay resident, and be an incoming freshman.

Asian_Pacific_Fund
Lapiz Family Scholarship

Sponsoring organization:Asian Pacific Fund

Amount:$4,000

Application due date: February 20

Open to past or present farm or migrant workers, or their children. Students who are incoming freshmen or current undergraduates may apply.

Ronald_McDonald_House_Charities
RMHC/Asia Scholarship

Sponsoring organization:Ronald McDonald House Charities

Amount:Varies

Application due date: Fall

Open to students of all postsecondary education levels. Applicants must have at least one parent of Asian-Pacific heritage.

The_Bill_Melinda_Gates_Foundation
The Gates Millennium Scholarship

Sponsoring organization:The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Amount:Varies

Application due date: January 14

Open to minority students, including those of Asian or Pacific Islander ethnicity who will be a first-year student in the upcoming academic year.

Silicon_Valley_Community_Foundation
The Tang Scholarship

Sponsoring organization:Silicon Valley Community Foundation

Amount:Up to $60,000 over four years

Application due date: April 30

This scholarship supports LGBTQ Asian and Pacific Islander students during their postsecondary education, regardless of their area of study.

CelebrAsian
USPAACC Scholarship

Sponsoring organization:CelebrAsian

Amount:$2,500-$5,000

Application due date: March

High-school seniors of Asian or Pacific Islander descent are eligible to apply for this scholarship, regardless of their intended area of study.

Approximately 30 percent of American Indians live on reservations, according to data from the US Census Bureau. Because they live in remote areas, many struggle with gaining access to higher education, notes the American Indian College Fund. Additionally, poverty rates are higher in Native American populations than any other group, reaching 29.1 percent in 2012, according to the US Census Bureau. American Indian/Alaska Natives are also less likely to complete a college degree (less than 1 percent), compared to 71.8 percent of whites.

The_School_Superintendents_Association.jpg
AIEF Scholarship

Sponsoring organization:The School Superintendents Association

Amount:Varies

Application due date: May 15

Open to both undergraduate and graduate Native American students pursuing postsecondary education, regardless of their area of study.

Society_of_Women_Engineers
AIS Scholarship

Sponsoring organization:Society of Women Engineers

Amount: Varies

Application due date: February 15, May 15, August 15, November 15

Open to students who are at least one-quarter Northern-Native American Indian and enrolled in a postsecondary institution.

Ford_Motor_Company_Tribal_Scholars_Program
American Indian College Fund

Sponsoring organization:Ford Motor Company Tribal Scholars Program

Amount:Varies

Application due date: May 31

Available to Native Americans studying math, science, engineering, business, teacher training, or environmental science at the undergraduate or graduate level.

American_Indian_Education_Foundation
CSDIA Scholarship

Sponsoring organization:American Indian Education Foundation

Amount:$5,000

Application due date: June 15

This scholarship awards funds to undergraduate Native Americans who aspire to work with a tribe or nation in an educational or social service capacity.

American_Indian_College_Fund
Full Circle Scholarship Program

Sponsoring organization:American Indian College Fund

Amount:Varies

Application due date: May 31

The AICF administers a variety of scholarships for Native Americans attending tribal and non-tribal universities at the graduate or undergraduate levels. There are no requirements for location or area of study.

Indian_Health_Service
Health Professions Scholarship

Sponsoring organization:Indian Health Service

Amount:Varies

Application due date: May 15

Open to Native American students enrolled in a health professions related program who aspire to work in the field after graduation.

The_Bureau_of_Indian_Education
Higher Education Grant Program

Sponsoring organization:The Bureau of Indian Education

Amount:Varies

Application due date: November

Open to all Native American students seeking an associate or baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution.

State_of_Wisconsin_Higher_Educational_Aids_Board
Indian Student Assistance Grant

Sponsoring organization:State of Wisconsin Higher Educational Aids Board

Amount: $250-$1,100

Application due date: May 15

Applicants must be Wisconsin residents who are at least 25 percent Native American and enrolled in a Wisconsin-based educational institution.

Society_for_American_Archaeology
Native American Scholarship Fund

Sponsoring organization:Society for American Archaeology

Amount:$4,000-$10,000

Application due date: December 15

SAA offers numerous scholarships for Native American students or those enrolled in Native American studies at various academic levels.

Salt_River_Project
Navajo Generating Station Scholarship

Sponsoring organization:Salt River Project

Amount:Varies

Application due date: May 31

Awarded to Navajo Native Americans who are enrolled full-time at an accredited university. The Scholarship Committee determines scholarship amounts.

North_Dakota_University_System
North Dakota Indian Scholarship

Sponsoring organization:North Dakota University System

Amount: $800-$2,000 per academic year

Application due date: July 15

Available to North Dakota students who are members of a federally recognized Native American tribe. They must be accepted into a North Dakota postsecondary institution.

Navajo_Tribal_Utility_Authority
NTUA Scholarship

Sponsoring organization:Navajo Tribal Utility Authority

Amount:Varies

Application due date: April 24

The organization offers a variety of scholarships to Native American students, some connected with an additional internship component.

Cheyenne_Arapaho_Tribes
R.E.Sp.E.C.T. Student Athlete Scholarship

Sponsoring organization:Cheyenne & Arapaho Tribes

Amount:Up to $500 per academic year

Application due date: May 15

Open to Cheyenne and Arapaho tribal students who are currently attending college and are involved in school athletics.

Goldman_Sachs
Scholarship for Excellence

Sponsoring organization:Goldman Sachs

Amount:$5,000-$10,000

Application due date: January 20

Open to minority undergraduates, including Native Americans, who are in their sophomore or junior year. Recipients will be part of the recruiting pool of applicants when they graduate.

Tyonek_Native_Corporation
Tebughna Foundation Scholarship

Sponsoring organization:Tyonek Native Corporation

Amount:Varies

These scholarships are awarded to students seeking vocational or technical training in a variety of subjects.

The Hispanic and Latino population has been making significant gains in college enrollment, according to figures from the US Census Bureau, but still remain underrepresented. Between 1996 and 2012, college enrollment among Hispanics increased by 240 percent nationally for students between the ages of 18 and 24. Although enrollment rates are improving, only 20 percent of Hispanic/Latino adults nationally possess a postsecondary degree, compared to 36 percent for all adults in the US.

For more information on scholarships and other helpful financial aid resources specifically for Hispanic and Latino students, check out the guide below:

Steps to Finding Scholarships and Grants

Locating, applying for, and securing scholarship money can be the difference between defraying the total cost of college and thousands of dollars in student debt. There are scholarships available specifically for minority students, but many do not apply because they are not aware of what is available to them. Below is a step-by-step guide that provides information on how minority students can find, apply, and maintain scholarships.

1

Get Organized

Finding and applying for scholarships is a lengthy process that has several working parts. Being organized is the first step of that process and the steps below outline how to prepare for the scholarship search.

Conduct a personal inventory

Students should create a personal inventory that outlines information about their race and ethnic background, academic interests, extracurricular activities, career interests, disabilities, parent(s) employers, area of academic study, and religion. This personal profile can help guide the search process as students can align categories from this profile with potential scholarship opportunities.

Create an organizational file

Financial aid officers recommend students maintain a binder or digital folder to keep track of all of their scholarship and application files in a single location. Example information includes a scholarship calendar of deadlines, test scores, FAFSA® information, letters of recommendations, scholarship essays, and award letters.

Create an email account specifically for scholarship applications

Because students may apply for multiple scholarships, having a single email account to manage correspondence can help keep everything organized and in one easy to find location.

Gather test scores and transcripts

Award granting organizations may ask for scores from tests such as the PSAT, SAT, or ACT. Transcripts are also typically required with each application. Students can download unofficial transcripts that can then be uploaded when they apply for a scholarship. Official transcripts are generally not requested until a student is officially selected for an award.

Make a list of reliable contacts for letters of recommendation

Letters of recommendation are a vital part of scholarship applications, but the process of asking for and receiving them can take a long time. Contact potential targets (e.g. teachers, coaches, community leaders, and clergy) before applying for scholarships to secure their participation. Some scholarships allow for general letters of recommendation, while others may require an individualized recommendation. In turn, students may need to ask their referrers for multiple letters throughout the scholarship application process.

2

Develop a List of Targeted Scholarships

Once a student is organized, has collected their basic information, and has an understanding of the types of scholarships to pursue, they can start the search process.

Start local

Students should start their search in the local area, beginning with their high school. High school counselors and advisors know the community scholarships to apply for and can help guide your choices in the ones that are a good fit.

Research professional organizations

Students should look into organizations in their field of academic or professional interest. Often, students can join these associations for free and then apply for their scholarships

Contact the college

Students and their parents can consult with the financial aid office of their selected institution and ask for scholarship recommendations offered by the college, as well as locally-, state-, and nationally-based opportunities.

Use the Student Search Service

Students who take the SAT, PSAT, NMSQT, AP, SAT Subject Tests, or PSSS can opt-in to the Student Search Service. Through this service, students can learn about financial aid and postsecondary opportunities directly from colleges and scholarship granting organizations.

Search online

There are numerous online sources where students can locate potential scholarships. Students should complete their local searches before moving into a broader, national search via the Internet. Example scholarship websites include Finaid.org, Collegeboard.com, Fastweb.com, and Scholarships.com.

Search by characteristics

Using their personal inventory, students should also conduct individual searches on their characteristics. For example, some scholarship providers, such as the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, offer scholarships specifically to students of Hispanic/Latino heritage.

Create an application list

As students search, they should develop a list of target scholarships. A spreadsheet or binder can be used to track information. This information will be reused each year, so there is no sense starting over when the process starts again. For each scholarship, students should detail the scholarship name, provider, the provider’s website, all website login information and passwords, deadline(s), scholarship award amount, eligibility requirements (e.g. age, race, ethnicity, income), and application requirements (e.g. essay, transcripts, required letters of recommendation, financial statements).

Create a timeline

After developing a scholarship calendar, students should create an application timeline that outlines when students should start the application process for each scholarship. Remember, the peak season for scholarships is between October and March of the following year.

3

Prepare Scholarship Application Packets

After the research is finished and a list of scholarship targets is created, students can begin the application process.

Start applications early

Students should start the application process at least two to three weeks before the deadline to make sure they have enough time to gather and prepare all required documentation.

Double check the eligibility requirements

Before applying, students should ensure they meet all scholarship criteria. For example, does the student meet the minimum grade point average? Does the student meet minimum test score requirements? Does the student meet racial or ethnic requirements? Does the student meet income requirements? Is the student pursuing a field for which the scholarship is intended?

Request letters of recommendation

When requesting a letter of recommendation, discuss the application with those who will be submitting information on your behalf. Make sure they understand the submission process, the accepted letter format, application deadlines, and the purpose of the scholarship program. Make copies of each letter of recommendation, unless your recommender is required to send the letter directly to the scholarship provider.

Write personal essay or statement of interest

Most scholarship applications require students to write an essay or statement of interest. This is the candidate’s opportunity to showcase their personality and why they deserve the scholarship. Essay length and requirements vary by scholarship provider and students should confirm those requirements prior to starting the essay. Always save copies of each essay for future reference.

Assemble requested information

Review the requested information listed in the application requirements, such as financial statements, transcripts, essays, etc. Assemble documents in order (if a paper submission) and save required documents in the proper format (e.g. .pdf, .doc, .txt) for online submission.

Review application information

Before mailing, submitting or uploading, students should carefully review each element of the application. This includes proofreading the submission–especially the essay–for spelling or grammatical errors, ensuring the required number of recommendations is included, documents are signed properly, and that every required component of the application is included.

4

Submit Your Application

Once all information has been prepared and carefully reviewed, the student is finally ready to submit the application packet. Today, most scholarship providers either recommend or require that applications be submitted online.

Submit the application

It is a smart move to submit online applications at least 24 hours before the due date to protect against any technological issues.

Make copies of applications

Make a copy of each finished application and keep them in your folder. This can be especially beneficial for local foundations that invite scholarship winners to award dinners and want to discuss the student’s application.

Be patient

The scholarship process is lengthy and students may have to wait a month or longer to hear if they were an award recipient. Once applications are submitted, students should be patient during the review period.

5

What to Do After Receiving a Scholarship

Accept and celebrate

When a scholarship is awarded, students typically need to file an acceptance letter or notification with the granting organization. In the scholarship spreadsheet or binder, keep track of all scholarship awards received. Then, most importantly, celebrate.

Write a letter of appreciation

After receiving an award, students should submit a thank you letter or card that states how important the funding is to their future and how much they appreciate the organization’s kindness and support. Remember, you will be applying each year for these awards and a thank you letter can set the stage for a scholarship renewal.

Maintain good grades

Scholarships are awarded on different types of selection criteria and maintaining a good GPA can help students remain competitive. Also, once awarded the scholarship, students should know the required GPA and enrollment status (e.g. full- or part-time) required to keep the reward. Students are recommended to get a solid understanding of the scholarship after getting all of their awards.

Types of Financial Aid for Minorities

College is expensive, especially for low-income, minority households. In an effort to help minority students enroll in college and graduate, numerous corporate, nonprofit, civic, and government organizations have developed a range of financial aid and scholarship programs. By following the steps listed above, minority students can gain access to a diverse collection of college funding sources — whether they plan on pursuing online degrees or traditional campus programs.

Outside Scholarships, Grants, and Awards

Outside scholarships are scholarships awarded by non-government institutions, such as foundations/charities, private sector businesses, or philanthropists. Although these scholarships can be used for tuition, books and other educational expenses, colleges and universities are required by federal regulations to reduce financial aid packages to students with outside scholarships. Each postsecondary institution has its own rules as to how outside scholarships are applied to a student’s financial package. Below are some examples of opportunities provided by outside sources.

Corporations

Corporations and businesses are major providers of scholarships to minority students. In many cases, corporations are dedicated to advancing education and career opportunity for students considering a career in the company’s business sector. For example, Google has a dedicated scholarship program that paves the way for students to complete an education in computer science, engineering, or related field. Students seeking scholarships may want to review Fortune 500 companies as many have launched nonprofits or foundations that provide funding to college students.

  • Xerox

    Xerox sponsors a Minority Scholarship Program that awards scholarships between $1,000 and $10,000 to minority students pursuing a bachelor’s degree or above in a technical field of study.

  • Microsoft

    The Microsoft Scholarship Program awards a majority of its scholarships to students of color, women, and students with disabilities. These scholarships cover either part- or full-tuition for one year of academic study for students enrolled in a bachelor’s degree program in computer science, computer engineering, or related technical fields.

  • Google

    Through its Generation Google Scholarship Program, Google supports underrepresented high school and college students that are planning to or currently enrolled in computer science, engineering, or related technical fields of study. Students receive a $10,000 scholarship and high school students have the opportunity to attend Google’s Computer Science Summer Institute.

  • Oracle

    Oracle supports technology education for minority students through a selection of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) scholarships. By partnering with organizations throughout the United States (e.g. The Hispanic Scholarship Fund), Oracle awards numerous scholarships to minority students each year.

Professional Associations

Professional associations (also known as professional societies) are organizations that advocate for the growth and advancement of the individuals within that profession. Areas of interests span just about every field. Professional associations are a great avenue for minority students to explore as they can pursue scholarships from groups aligned with their current or future academic and career goals.

  • Government Finance Officers Association

    Through its Minorities in Government Finance Scholarship Program, the Government Finance Officers Association provides funding support to students enrolled in a program of study (e.g. public administration, economics, accounting) to prepare for a career in local, state, or government finance.

  • American Bar Association

    The American Bar Association sponsors the Legal Opportunity Scholarship Fund, a fund that provides 20 scholarships of $15,000 each to diverse law students to support their legal education for three years of law school.

  • American Physical Therapy Association

    The American Physical Therapy Association offers three scholarships through its Minority Scholarship Fund. These scholarships are designed for students who are in their final year of study as well as faculty members completing a doctoral degree.

  • National Society of Professional Engineers

    The Maureen L. & Howard Blitman Scholarship to Promote Diversity in Engineering is awarded annually to African American, Hispanic American, or Native American students who have been accepted to an ABET-accredited four-year institution.

Private Organizations, Foundations, and Nonprofits

At the grassroots, local level, foundations, charities, and other nonprofits support all minority groups through myriad programs, such as social services, counseling, and college education scholarships. Organizations are both national and local in scope, ranging from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to Teach for America, Quality Education for Minorities Network to the RGK Foundation. These groups have long made differences in the lives of minority students. For example, the Gates Millennium Scholars Program has awarded nearly $850 million in scholarships between 2000 and 2014, while the Hispanic Scholarship Fund has granted more than $470 million to minority students.

  • Ronald McDonald House Charities

    The Ronald McDonald House Charities Scholarship Program offers a series of scholarships to students who are actively involved in their communities and are high academic achievers. Programs include the RMCH Asia Scholarship, the African American Future Achievers Scholarship, and the HACER scholarship for students with at least one parent of Latino or Hispanic heritage.

  • The Lagrant Foundation

    Established in 1998, the Lagrant Foundation has awarded nearly $2 million in scholarship funding to ethic minority students, including an annual $2,500 scholarship to African American, Asian American/Pacific Island, Hispanic/Latino, or Native American/Alaska Native students majoring in marketing, public relations, or advertising.

  • American Hotel & Lodging Educational Foundation

    The American Hotel & Lodging Educational Foundation sponsors the Hyatt Hotels Fund for Minority Lodging Management Students. This scholarship provides $2,000 to students with junior standing, who are enrolled in a bachelor’s degree program in hospitality management. The scholarship application is open to minority students, including: Hispanic, Asian/Pacific Islander, African American, or Native American/Alaskan.

  • Hispanic Scholarship Fund

    The Hispanic Scholarship Fund sponsors an extensive array of scholarship programs for students of Hispanic heritage. Examples include a scholarship for graduating high school seniors. This program is designed for students that meet GPA requirements and plan to enroll full-time at an accredited four-year institution. Awards vary from $500 to $5,000.

Career- or Industry-Specific Scholarships

The final funding group deals with career- and industry-specific scholarships. These opportunities are usually offered by companies and organizations for very specific purposes, such as increasing the number of women engineers or increasing racial diversity in STEM careers.

  • Intertek

    With over 38,000 employees in 100 countries, Intertek is one of the country’s largest businesses that provides quality, certification, and safety inspection services. It supports women pursuing engineering careers through a scholarship program that awards five scholarships worth up to $10,000 each to undergraduate female students.

  • National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering

    The National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (NACME) has provided more than $124 million in scholarship funding to minority students. It distributes more than $4 million in grants per year to partner institutions to advance minority student academic success in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) professions.

  • National Association of Black Journalists

    The $2,500 NABJ Scholarship is awarded to either undergraduate or graduate African American students majoring in a communications-related field, meets minimum GPA requirements, and has a record of community service.

  • Society of Women Engineers

    The SWE Scholarship Program awards hundreds of scholarships to female undergraduate and graduate students preparing for careers in computer science, engineering technology and engineering. Awards, including fellowships, range from $1,000 to $20,000.

Federal Financial Aid

All eligible students, including minorities, can take advantage of federal financial assistance for their college education. According to the US Department of Education, financial aid from the federal government can be used to pay a range of college expenses, including tuition, room and board, fees, and books and supplies. Some forms of aid can also be used to defray the costs of education-related expenses such as computer equipment or child/dependent care.

Understanding Your Options

According to the College Board, college students received approximately $164 billion in total federal student aid in 2013-2014. Federal student aid falls into three different categories of funding:

Grants

This type of financial aid does not need to be repaid. Typically, grant programs are based on the student’s financial need and can be used to pay educational costs such as tuition, books, room and board, and other academic fees. Below is an at-a-glance comparison of the different types of federal grants available to all students, including minorities.

Grant Type Availability Basic Eligibility Funding Amount

Federal Pell Grant

Provided to every eligible student

Undergraduate students who have not earned a degree

Based on financial need and cost of attendance

Federal Supplemental Opportunity Grants

Limited number of grants distributed directly by college institution

Low-income undergraduate students that demonstrate exceptional financial need and qualifies for a Pell Grant

Between $100 and $4,000. Based on financial need and availability of school funding

Teacher Education Assistance for College Education and Higher Education Grant

Students must sign a TEACH Grant Agreement, committing to teaching in a high-demand field, at a school or educational agency that serves low-income students.

Must teach for 4 years within an 8-year period of completing a program of study.

In addition to basic federal financial aid criteria, must be enrolled at a school that participates in the TEACH Grant program, meet minimum academic requirements, participate in TEACH Grant counseling, and sign a TEACH Grant Agreement.

$4,000 per year

Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant

Dependents of U.S. Armed Forces service members

Must have a parent or guardian who died during service in the U.S. Armed Forces in Iraq or Afghanistan after 9/11, and was enrolled in an accredited college at least part-time and under the age of 24 when the parent or guardian died.

Equal to Federal Pell Grant maximum for the award year.

Loans

Issued through the Department of Education, federal student loans must be repaid with interest. There are two federal loan programs:

William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan
Federal Perkins Loan Program

Under the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program, students may be eligible for either a direct subsidized or direct unsubsidized loan. These loans can be used to pay for the cost of a college education at community colleges, four-year universities, and trade and career schools.

Direct Subsidized Loan Direst Unsubsidized Loan Direct Plus Loan Federal Perkins Loan

Loan Eligibility

Available to undergraduate students enrolled at least half-time and demonstrate financial need

Available to undergraduate, graduate, and professional degree students who are enrolled at least half-time

Available to graduate and professional degree students enrolled at least half time and parents with a dependent enrolled as an undergraduate

All students that demonstrate significant financial need, are enrolled part- or full-time, and attend an institution that is a participant in the Federal Perkins Loan Program

Interest Rate

Varies – Loans issued between July 1, 2015 and before July 1, 2016 will have a 4.29% interest rate.

Varies – Loans issued between July 1, 2015 and before July 1, 2016 will have a 4.29% interest rate for undergraduate students and 5.84% for graduate students.

Varies – Loans issued between July 1, 2015 and before July 1, 2016 will have a 6.84% interest rate.

5%

Loan Fees

Loans issued between October 1, 2015 and before October 1, 2016 will have a 1.068% loan fee.

Loans issued between October 1, 2015 and before October 1, 2016 will have a 1.068% loan fee.

Loans issued between October 1, 2015 and before October 1, 2016 will have a 4.27% loan fee.

No fees or charges

Amount

Between $3,500 and $5,550 annually

Between $3,500 and $12,500 annually, depending on dependent’s status and parents’ eligibility for Direct PLUS Loans

Loan amounts are capped at the max cost of attendance as determined by the school after other financial assistance is subtracted.

Undergraduate students may borrow up to $5,500 annually (total cap at $27,500). Graduate and professional degree students can borrow up to $8,000 per year (total cap of $60,000).

Repayment

6 months after graduation or when enrollment is less than half-time

6 months after graduation or when enrollment is less than half-time

Starts when loan is fully disbursed. Students can defer loans for an additional 6 months when enrolled at least half-time. Parent borrowers can request for another 6 months after the dependent is no longer enrolled in school.

9 months after leaving school or when enrolled less than half-time. Students enrolled less than half-time should contact their institution to determine the grace period.

Work-Study

The Federal Work Study (FWS) program provides funds to approximately 3,400 postsecondary institutions, allowing them to offer part-time employment to students to offset the costs of a college education. Jobs vary from office, laboratory, and clerical support to tutoring. The program is administered by postsecondary institutions that participate in the Federal Work-Study Program.

Eligibility
Undergraduate, graduate, and professional degree students enrolled either part- or full-time who demonstrate financial need
Types of Jobs
Varies, but the program favors jobs in civic education or ones that are related to a student’s program of study. Work hours are based on total amount of award, as well as the student’s academic schedule and progress.
Job Location
Both on- and off-campus
Award Amounts
Students will earn at least the current federal minimum wage, but may earn more depending on the specific position. Total Work-Study Awards depend on the student’s financial need, school’s funding levels, and the time when the student applies.
Payment Cycles
Schools must pay students at least once per month. Undergraduate students are paid by the hour, while graduate or professional degree students may be paid by hour or salary, depending on their position.

Overview of FAFSA®

FAFSA® stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. It is a form the US Department of Education uses to determine a student’s Expected Family Contribution. All college students are expected by the US Department of Education to contribute to the overall cost of their college education. This amount is based upon each family and individual’s financial situation.

The form is processed by the US Department of Education and results are sent to financial aid offices of the universities, colleges or institutions listed on the student’s application. Nearly every postsecondary institution’s financial aid office uses the FAFSA® form to determine a student’s eligibility for federal, state, and institutional financial aid.

Students must file a FAFSA® each year they are in school to ensure they remain eligible to receive federal student aid. There is no cost to submit the FAFSA® and it can be submitted either online via www.fafsa.gov or by mail. Students should also be mindful of submission deadlines to qualify for federal, state, and college-based aid.

Basic Eligibility Requirements

Eligibility for federal funding varies by program. It is important to note that race, age, or program of study do not impact eligibility for federal student aid, but income is considered an eligibility criterion. Students must agree to apply federal student aid only for educational use and certify they are not in default on a previous federal student loan and do not have an outstanding refund due on a federal grant. The checklist below can be used to confirm a student’s basic eligibility for federal financial aid.

Earn a high school diploma, complete a General Educational Development (GED) certificate program, or finish high school in a state law-approved homeschool setting

Be approved for enrollment in an accredited college degree or certificate program

Possess a valid Social Security number

Be a US citizen, US National, or have a Green Card (Form I-551, I-151 or I551C), Immigration Arrival Departure Record (I-94), Battered Immigrant Status, or T-Visa

Maintain satisfactory academic progress in a postsecondary program of study

Important Financial Aid Dates to Remember Federal student aid

For the 2015-2016 school year, students can apply between January 1, 2015 and June 30, 2016.

State student aid

Application deadlines vary but can be found on www.fafsa.gov.

College-based aid

Deadlines vary by institution, so students should contact their school’s financial aid office to get an understanding of specific deadlines (typically February and March of each year).

Quick Facts

Percent of individuals between the ages of 25 and 29 with a bachelor’s degree or higher, by race, in 2013:
40% White/Caucasian
58% Asian
20% African American
15% Hispanic/Latino
Source: US Census Bureau, Current Population Survey

The Gates Millennium Scholars program for minorities has funded more than 17,000 scholarships and awarded more than $845 million between the 2000 and 2014 academic years.

Source: Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

In 2013-14, undergraduate students, including minorities, received an average of $14,180 in student financial aid:

Source: CollegeBoard, Trends in Student Aid, 2014

Q&A: Advice From a Financial Aid Program Officer

Financial aid expert Echo Lynch offers the following insight and recommendations for minority students:

What are the biggest mistakes minority students make when it comes to financial aid and scholarships?

They do not apply for the various types of aid (grants, loans, work study and scholarships) and often their decisions are based on misinformation. It is often a challenge for students to make a contact in the financial aid office, so attending all community workshops to obtain information is worth the time spent. Knowledge is power when it comes to selecting the best financial aid package. Remember big schools can offer a lot of free funding to help you and your family.

Are more financial aid dollars available for minority students? Are there trends into which groups are receiving the most funds?

I would say that yes, there are more scholarship dollars for minority students because they can apply for all general scholarships, as well as, specific scholarships that only minority students fit the qualifications. I wouldn’t say there are trends for any one minority group; there are always donors who want to donate to students who are like them. I think that too few minorities actually apply for all the scholarship opportunities that are available to them, due to lack of knowledge to find them all.

Are there unknown resources or underutilized funding sources for minority students?

I wouldn’t say there are really unknown resources, as much as, underutilized funding sources. When I work with students, I teach them to apply for every resource that is available. I encourage them to start with the FAFSA® on January 1st EVERY year, their local scholarships (high school or college), the community scholarships and then national scholarships. It is hard for students to understand that they need to be looking for scholarships starting in November and going nonstop until about March 1st. It is overwhelming to families and students and I understand that, that is why I help them break it down.

Are there tax breaks or incentives for minority students or their parents/family members?

All families who have students in college need to research the American Opportunity Tax Credit, the Lifetime Learning Tax Credit and understand the importance of their 1098-T from their college. Often times low income, minority families and first generation students underutilize the IRS tax benefits. I encourage families to understand this benefit by reviewing the IRS’ Tax Benefits for Education Information Center.

What advice do you have for prospective minority students starting the financial aid process?

I work really close with families and the first thing I tell them is that it is okay that this process is overwhelming. Please don’t feel like you were somehow supposed to know all this information and use the resources in your community. Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Find someone you feel safe with and share your information with them so they can help you best. I know in our community one of the biggest challenges currently is for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival students and they are afraid to ask for help and share their story. Remember everyone has the right to education and choose a school and financial aid package that fits your family’s needs. Don’t be afraid of the big price tag schools; there is always a way to find a financial aid package that will help you reach your educational goals and dreams!

How can financial aid specialists/offices of financial aid support, assist and help minority students?

I tell my families to start the conversation on the phone with the financial aid office with the statement “I am new to this process, can you please help me understand the next step.” Financial aid offices are here to help families and we tend to be in this field because we love helping students and we understand it is a lot to learn. If you don’t tell them your situation, they can’t help you. If you want to attend an expensive school, turn in your FAFSA® and see what they can offer to help you. You and your family deserve all the help to reach your dreams and when you walk across the graduation stage, your financial aid officer will feel a sense a pride, having helped you reach your goals.

Top 3 reminders:
  1. Never pay for free money!
  2. Don’t put off applying for aid because you are overwhelmed. Early bird gets the worm!
  3. Ask for help because there are people out there, who want to help students reach their full potential.

Financial Aid Resources

There are numerous resources available to minority students navigating the higher education experience. These organizations are committed to the success of minority students, providing a range of support – directly through financial aid support, as well as other student-focused services. Those efforts are dedicated to one goal-ensuring students achieve their personal, academic, and career goals.

American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education

Founded in 2004, the American Association of Hispanics in Education works to prepare Hispanics for careers in higher education, fosters public discourse about societal issues pertaining to the growing Hispanic population, and has developed a series of programs and awards, such as an Outstanding Thesis and Outstanding Dissertation programs, designed to support and recognize the scholarship of doctoral Hispanic students.

American Association of University Women

Founded in 1881, the American Association of University Women is a national organization that is one of the country’s largest provider of financial assistance to women in graduate degree programs. For the 2014-2015 academic year, the AAUW is funding more than 244 grants and fellowships that totals more than $3.7 million dollars.

American Indian College Fund

Launched in 1989, the American Indian College Fund provides financial and programmatic support to students attending one of the nation’s 34 accredited tribal universities and colleges. In 2013-2014, the fund distributed more than $6.4 million in financial support.

Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund

A nonprofit organization located in Washington, DC, the Asian & Pacific Islanders American Scholarship Fund provides supports the postsecondary education of Asian American and Pacific Islanders through scholarships, mentorship programs, and community partnerships.

Hispanic Scholarship Fund

Established in 1975, the Hispanic Scholarship Fund has awarded more than $470 million in scholarships to Hispanic Americans pursuing a college education.

Human Rights Campaign

The Human Rights Campaign was founded in 1980 and is the largest civil rights organization dedicated to furthering the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans. It maintains a database of grants, fellowships, and scholarships available to both undergraduate and graduate LGBT and allied students.

Minority Student Achievement Network

A national coalition of multiracial school districts, the Minority Student Achievement Network addresses policy issues regarding academic achievement gaps in districts throughout the country and connects students to financial aid resources, including scholarship opportunities.

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People endeavors to eliminate race-based discrimination and advocates for the success of minority students through its annual scholarship program.

The Jackie Robinson Foundation

Established in 1973, the Jackie Robinson Foundation is a national nonprofit organization that supports underserved student populations through higher education scholarships, leadership and mentoring programs, community service, internship placement, networking, and international travel opportunities.

Native American Rights Fund

Established in 1971, the Native American Rights Fund is a nonprofit organization that provides legal assistance to Indian tribes and organizations in areas such as tribal sovereignty, natural resource protection, education, and treaty rights.

Point Foundation Scholarships

The Point Foundation is a scholarship-granting organization that supports gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer students through 28 named scholarship programs.

Pride Foundation

Launched in 1985, the Pride Foundation is a regional community foundation that supports equality efforts for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) in the Northwest US. Since 1993, the foundation has awarded more than $3.5 million in scholarships to nearly 1,400 students.

United Negro College Fund

The United Negro College Fund is dedicated to supporting the educational efforts of minority students through a variety of programs, including scholarship programs. Since 1944, the UNCF has awarded more than $3 billion in funding to students and has helped more than 400,000 students earn their degrees.