College Scholarships for Black African American Students

By Reese Lopez

Published on September 20, 2021

College Scholarships for Black African American Students

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Scholarships and Resources for Black Students

The cost of college has increased dramatically over the past several decades. In 2000, tuition at public colleges cost about $18,300 per year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. In 2017, tuition rose to more than $27,300. 

Increased tuition costs commonly lead students to seek scholarships. Since scholarships do not require repayment, they can dramatically offset the cost of college tuition.

Undergraduate enrollment among Black students increased significantly from 2000-2010, according to the Postsecondary Policy Institute. But enrollment rates decreased by about 21% between 2010-2018. Black students also take out federal student loans at a higher rate than white students and typically borrow more than most other ethnic groups, including Latinos, Asian Americans, and Native Americans. Fortunately, there are many scholarships for Black college students to help fill financial gaps.

This guide offers an overview of scholarships for Black students, including strategies for applying and resources for students.

Steps to Finding and Winning Scholarships

This section highlights key strategies to research, identify, and apply for minority scholarships. In general, students should stay organized when pursuing scholarships. Keeping track of deadlines, application requirements, and records of achievements often makes the scholarship process much less stressful.

The first step in applying to scholarships is conducting research. Given the sheer number of available scholarships for Black college students, it helps to compile a targeted list. Students may want to explore both need-based and merit-based scholarships, considering each award's application requirements and how they correspond to students' own academic and personal backgrounds.

While online research can help identify many scholarships, learners can also contact their high school or college advisors, who may know about local awards.

Most scholarships maintain strict application deadlines, enabling them to award funds before the start of each school year. When pursuing various Black scholarships, students should allow plenty of time to gather application materials and submit necessary requests, such as transcripts and recommendation letters.

Creating a scholarship calendar can help applicants stay organized and abreast of application deadlines. Spreadsheets, scholarship apps, and even traditional paper planners can all help learners maintain a functional scholarship calendar. A calendar can also help students determine whether an award is worth the effort based on its deadline and award amount.

With thousands of students applying for Black scholarships each year, most awards become quite competitive. To help stand out, applicants can consider what scholarship committees look for and tailor each application accordingly. Students can strengthen their applications by researching individual scholarships and determining their values and selection criteria.

Applicants can also contact colleges and individual academic programs for more information on potential scholarships. Institutions and their academic departments can sometimes provide useful information on additional scholarships relevant to students' academic interests.

Scholarships often include a personal statement component, which allows applicants to discuss their background, academic and professional aspirations, and reasons for pursuing a particular scholarship.

The personal statement enables students to tell their own unique story, demonstrating their connection to an academic discipline, career path, or set of values. Applicants can use a personal statement to showcase their familiarity with the organization awarding the scholarship.

In general, scholarship committees look for applicants with exemplary academic and personal backgrounds, which often includes community service or other forms of engagement. They also want to see how well applicants understand the awarding organization's principles.

After compiling application components and meeting all requirements, students should make sure to review their applications thoroughly. A single typo typically will not exclude a strong student from consideration, but a sloppy personal statement or a pattern of errors can certainly hurt an applicant's chances.

When possible, applicants should ask someone else to review their scholarship applications. Teachers, employers, and volunteer supervisors can often help learners perfect their scholarship applications.

While it may seem like a formality, students should also ensure they submit their applications either before or on the application deadline date. Most scholarship committees will not consider applications submitted after their deadline.

Scholarships for Black Students

This list highlights several popular scholarships for Black students, along with their award amounts, application requirements, and application deadlines. Keep in mind that this list highlights just a small selection of Black scholarships. Students should always research additional opportunities to identify as many scholarships as possible.

Undergraduate
Scholarship Amount Who Can Apply Deadline

Apple HBCU Scholars Program

$15,000 In partnership with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, Apple offers this scholarship to students attending historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and majoring in fields including computer science, engineering, business/marketing, finance, and supply chain management. Winners receive mentorship from an Apple professional and attend a 12-week summer internship. Varies

BAM Scholarship

$1,000-$20,000 The Blacks at Microsoft Scholarship awards Black high school students who plan to attend a four-year college immediately upon graduation. Applicants must major in engineering, computer science, computer information system, or certain business fields, such as finance or business administration. March 31, 2021

Brown and Caldwell Minority Scholarship Program

$5,000 Engineering consulting firm Brown and Caldwell offers this scholarship to minority students majoring in engineering (civil, chemical, mechanical, electrical, or environment) or environmental sciences (ecology, geology, or hydrology). Applicants need a minimum 3.0 GPA and must submit a personal statement along with two recommendation letters. Varies

KnowBe4 Scholarship for Black Americans in Cybersecurity

$10,000 The Center for Cyber Safety and Education offers this scholarship to Black college students pursuing programs related to cybersecurity. Along with a financial award, winners receive one (ISC)2 certification exam voucher, certain exam training materials, and a direct training seminar. April 19, 2021

NABA National Scholarship Program

$1,500-$3,000 The National Association of Black Accountants awards various scholarships to Black students pursuing accounting programs at the undergraduate or graduate level. Applicants need current NABA membership and a minimum 3.3 GPA. They must also be enrolled full time in an accounting program. Varies
Graduate
Scholarship Amount Who Can Apply Deadline

ACHE Albert W. Dent Graduate Student Scholarship

Up to $40,000 ($10,000 per year for up to four years) The Colorado-based Sachs Foundation offers this scholarship to graduate students who are also former recipients of Sachs undergraduate scholarships. Applicants must submit college transcripts, one recommendation letter, a one-page personal statement, and their student financial aid report. March 15, 2021

AICPA Fellowship for Minority Doctoral Students

$12,000 The American Institute of CPAs provides this scholarship for minority students pursuing doctoral programs in accounting. Applicants must be either licensed CPAs or planning to seek CPA licensure. All candidates must be enrolled full time in a Ph.D. program accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs, or International Accreditation Council for Business Education. Varies

APSA Minority Fellowship Program

$1,000-$5,000 The American Political Science Association serves minority students applying to or in the early stages of political science doctoral programs. Applicants must demonstrate an interest in teaching or research in political science and must submit transcripts, GRE scores, and three recommendation letters. Varies

CBC Spouses Education Scholarship

$10,000 The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation offers this scholarship to Black students enrolled at the bachelor's, master's, or doctoral level. Applicants must attend an institution in a CBC member district. They also need a minimum 2.0 GPA and must demonstrate leadership and community engagement. Applicants must submit two recommendation letters along with a personal statement. April 30, 2021

NLN Foundation for Nursing Education Scholarship Awards

Up to $8,000 The National League for Nursing awards this scholarship to students who have completed at least one year of a graduate nursing program. Applicants must submit a personal statement, two recommendation letters, and a description of their graduate project (such as a dissertation or capstone). May 21, 2021

Financial Resources for Black Students

Along with individual scholarships, Black students can also explore educational and financial resources that support incoming college students. Offering information on financial aid, scholarships, and other services, these organizations can guide learners through the steps necessary to secure funding for higher education.

All students seeking financial aid for college must complete the FAFSA, which determines eligibility for grants, subsidized loans, and other forms of federal financial aid. The FAFSA website helps students understand the various types of aid and enables them to submit their financial information through its online interface. Offering a large network of connections for minority students, MSAN provides helpful guides for every step of the college application and enrollment process. The organization provides many informational resources covering topics such as college selection, applications, financial aid, scholarships, and tax credits. This financial planning site offers a comprehensive guide to financial resources for Black students, focusing primarily on strategies for identifying and applying for scholarships. Along with an extensive list of scholarships for Black students, the site hosts resources for student budgeting and answers to common financial questions.

Expert Advice on Scholarships for Black Students

Kendrick Kenney is an educator with a background in educational media and intercollegiate sports broadcasting. He earned a master's degree in organizational communications at Bowie State University and a bachelor's degree in mass communications from Virginia State University. Kenney works as a full-time communications lecturer at Bowie State University, where he is also a coordinator within the broadcast journalism concentration. Kenney serves as a key component in University Trio and Bridge programs, helping young people transition into college from high school.

Q. When you work with students looking for scholarships, what advice do you give them?

Apply to as many scholarships as possible. So much money and so many resources go untapped. I encourage students to build the scholarship process into their academic curriculum. Applying for scholarships should be like an extra class on their schedule every semester.

I also tell students to strategically look for scholarships that fit their academic profile, whether it is based on where they are from or based on a specific discipline or industry.

Q. When applying for scholarships, what can students do to stand out from other applicants?

Research the scholarship’s background. Know how long it has been offered, who started it, and who received it last. This provides insight into the type of student that normally receives this particular scholarship and gives applicants the information to appeal as a quality candidate.

Make sure you apply to scholarships that fit your student profile like a tailored suit. These techniques will make you competitive.

Q. What are the most important things that students should keep in mind when looking for ways to fund their education?

Be aggressive in applying for scholarships. So many programs and organizations have funds that go untapped. Establish yourself academically and make connections in your major or discipline. Once you research scholarships that fit your student profile, the money will come. Scholarships should be regarded with the same importance as picking a major.

Q. Why are HBCUs a good choice for Black college students? Why would you recommend them?

As an HBCU graduate and now faculty member, I am an advocate of the HBCU experience. There are many benefits to attending an HBCU. HBCUs provide 27% of African American students who graduate college with STEM degrees. This is tremendous because jobs in science, engineering, and computer technology are so pivotal in the world today.

HBCUs are a good choice for Black students because of the quality of faculty and the intimate learning environment that many of these institutions foster.

Q. Are the scholarships offered by HBCUs comparable to those offered by other colleges and universities?

Absolutely! Many HBCUs, especially state-funded institutions, offer a variety of scholarships. Most of the institutions offer academic-based scholarships to all incoming freshmen. Students with a 3.0 or better can receive a $3,000-$10,000 scholarship. With one of the selling points for HBCUs being their affordability, earning a scholarship significantly covers costs and enhances the educational experience.

There are also many academic-based scholarships for returning students. Some are departmental and some are offered by alumni associations. Many HBCUs are affiliated with the Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund, which addresses the financial needs of graduate and undergraduate students.

Overall HBCUs offer a variety of scholarships that help many students not only attend college, but matriculate successfully to a degree.

HBCUs in Communities

HBCUs can be a critical part of the community. HBCUs provide a solid education for students in the community. A 2014 study commissioned by UNCF found that HBCUs have a total economic impact of $14.8 billion. This includes money spent in the community and after graduation. The same study found that over 134,000 jobs were generated by HBCUs and their graduates in local and regional communities. HBCUs are a core part of the community, and they help students succeed after graduation. In 2014 50,037 HBCU graduates were expected to make $130 million over their lifetime, ultimately helping the economy and communities.

HBCU Notable Donations

HBCUDonors
Johnson C. Smith UniversityDavid and Nicole Tepper ($250,000); Bernard Smith ($11,000); Wells Fargo ($1 million)
Morehouse CollegeEstate of Dr. Eugene McGowan, Jr. ($4.6 million); MacKenzie Scott ($20 million); Patty Quillin and Reed Hastings ($40 million)
Spelman CollegeMacKenzie Scott ($20 million); Patty Quillin and Reed Hastings ($40 million); Ronda Stryker and William Johnston ($30 million)
Howard UniversityKarsh Family Foundation ($10 million); Bloomberg Philanthropies ($31.7 million)

Additional Resources

Along with financial and educational resources, many other organizations serve Black students and professionals in various industries. This list highlights several additional resources for Black students, including professional associations, college funds, and student unions. These organizations may offer scholarships, mentorships, networking opportunities, conferences, and job listings.

This organization for African American information technology professionals provides scholarships and job opportunities. This association promotes opportunities and skills for students studying accounting and finance. Student members can apply for scholarships and participate in student-centered events. This association provides scholarships, fellowships, and internships to Black journalism students. This association provides professional services to those who work in law enforcement, the court system, and academia. The group also serves criminal justice students. This association offers services for Black professionals in the corporate sector and Black students working toward a business degree. This organization is dedicated to enhancing the student experience for African Americans. This organization provides scholarships to undergraduate and graduate students at HBCUs. Founded in 1944, UNCF is the nation's largest minority education organization. The group provides college scholarships to over 10,000 students annually.

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AffordableCollegesOnline.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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