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College Scholarships for Asian/Pacific Islander Students

Paying for a college degree can be challenging but there are tons of scholarship opportunities available to help students cover the cost. Finding them, however, isn’t always easy, especially if you’re a first generation Asian or Pacific Islander student who isn’t familiar with the financial aid system. This guide features 25 scholarships specifically for API students, and offers tips on how to improve your chances of receiving a grant. Find out if you qualify for any of the awards below or learn what you can do to land other scholarship awards.

Meet the Expert

Elisabeth Saldana

Financial Aid Coordinator for Scholarships and Outreach

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Scholarships for Asian/Pacific Islander Students

Against The Grain Groundbreaker Leadership Scholarship

The Against the Grain Groundbreaker Leadership Scholarship awards Asian/Pacific Islander students who exhibit excellence, leadership and passion in their academics. Applicants are required to submit a video presentation detailing their academic qualifications.

  • Amount: $1,500

  • Deadline: May 7, 2018

Application Requirements:
  • Must be at least 50 percent Asian and/or Pacific Islander

  • Must be a high school senior, a college senior or a graduate student

  • 3.5 GPA or higher

CANFIT Nutrition, Physical Education and Culinary Arts Scholarships

Ethnically diverse students enrolled in a nutrition or physical education-focused program in the state of California may be eligible to earn funding for college tuition and fees with this scholarship sponsored by CANFIT (Communities, Adolescents, Nutrition, Fitness). Applicants are required to provide a financial statement proving their eligibility for the program.

  • Amount: Varies

  • Deadline: Late March, 2018

Undergraduate Application Requirements:
  • Enrolled in an accredited Nutrition or Physical Education program in California

  • 2.5 GPA or higher

  • Earned 50 credits

  • Must be of African-American, American Indian, Alaska Native, Asian-American, Pacific Islander or Latino/Hispanic descent

Graduate Application Requirements:
  • Enrolled in an accredited Nutrition, Public Health or Physical Education program in California

  • Earned 12-15 graduate level credits

  • 3.0 GPA or higher

  • Must be of African-American, American Indian, Alaska Native, Asian-American, Pacific Islander or Latino/Hispanic descent

Frederick and Demi Seguritan Scholarship

This scholarship is funded by benefactors Frederick and Demi Seguritan, and is designed to assist low-income, first generation Asian Americans with their academics. The scholarship search committee is specifically looking for students who exhibit outstanding citizenship and leadership qualities, and who are interested in business-focused fields.

  • Amount: $5,000

  • Deadline: February 24, 2018

Application Requirements:
  • Incoming, full-time freshmen at an accredited 4-year school

  • First generation Asian-American

  • 3.0 GPA or higher

  • Resident of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara or Solano county in California

Freedom From Religion Foundation Catherine Fahringer Memorial Award

High school students who have been accepted into a 2-year or 4-year institution may be eligible to receive funding up to $2,500 dollars with this scholarship. Applicants are expected to identify as Atheist, Agnostic, Humanist or Secular, and the scholarship search committee gives preference to first generation college students.

  • Amount: $2,500

  • Deadline: June 17, 2018

Application Requirements:
  • Submission of two-three paragraph essay on specified topic

  • Preference for students of Black/African American, Latino(a), Asian/Pacific Islander, or Native American descent

Gay Asian Pacific Alliance Foundation Scholarship

Designed to benefit Asian Pacific Islander students who identify as a member of the LGBTQA community, the Gay Asian Pacific Alliance Foundation Scholarship may provide up to $5,000 for eligible applicants. This scholarship is available to high school seniors, students studying at a 2-year or 4-year institution, and students attending a technical or vocational school.

  • Amount: $1,000-$5,000

  • Deadline: Late June, 2018

Application Requirements:
  • Strong background in the API or LGBTQA communities preferred

  • Must be in the process of applying to a postsecondary school or currently enrolled in a postsecondary school

GRCF Miller Johnson West Michigan Diversity Law School Scholarship

Available to students of color pursuing a law degree. Applicants are expected to provide proof of financial need, and must be a resident of the state of Michigan.

  • Amount: $5,000

  • Deadline: Early April, 2018

Application Requirements:
  • Financial need

  • 3.0 GPA or higher

  • Must be a resident of the state of Michigan

  • Must be of African American, Asian, Hispanic, Native American or Pacific Islander descent

GRCF Warner Norcross & Judd Law School Scholarship

This scholarship is open to Michigan-based students of color who are pursuing a degree in law.

  • Amount: $5,000

  • Deadline: Early April, 2018

Application Requirements:
  • Must be pursuing a law degree at an accredited law school in the U.S.

  • Must be a current or former resident of the state of Michigan

  • Must be of African American, Asian, Hispanic, Native American or Pacific Islander descent

Kahdine Ann DaCosta Scholarship for Excellence in Leadership

Established in 2011, the Kahdine Ann DaCosta Scholarship for Excellence in Leadership was designed to support students of color who exhibit drive, leadership and dedication to their community. This scholarship is awarded annually.

  • Amount: $1,000

  • Deadline: Early March, 2018

Application Requirements:
  • Senior in good standing at a high school in the Baltimore Metro area

  • 2.5 GPA or higher

  • Minimum 2 consecutive years of community service/activities

  • Will enroll in a 2-year or 4-year accredited U.S. postsecondary school

  • Must be of Black/African-American, American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian/Pacific Islander or Latino/Hispanic American descent

Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholarship Award

With the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in mind, the search committee for this scholarship is seeking a minority student who exhibits the key qualities of King’s work – compassion, cooperation and a desire for communal betterment. Applicants must write a short essay that discusses how they intend to implement Dr. King’s teachings into their lives.

  • Amount: $1,000

  • Deadline: June 1st, 2018

Application Requirements:
  • Must be a minority nominee

  • Enrolled at a 4-year postsecondary school

  • Proof of financial need

Matt Fong Asian Americans in Public Finance Scholarship

This non-renewable scholarship was established to honor the memory of Matt Fong, former state treasurer of the state of California. Past recipients included students studying in a/an accounting, political science, public policy or business administration related field. Applicants must be attending a college in California.

  • Amount: $2,500

  • Deadline: Early April, 2018

Application Requirements:
  • Must be an incoming sophomore, junior or senior at a 4-year postsecondary school in California

  • At least of 50 percent Asian heritage

  • 3.0 GPA or higher

  • Proof of financial need

Philippine International Aid U.S. Scholarship Fund

This scholarship allows for up to five awards of up to $2,000, and is specifically designed for students of Filipino heritage. Preferred applicants are those who actively participate in the Filipino American community and come from a low-income background.

  • Amount: $500-$2,000

  • Deadline: Late February, 2018

Application Requirements:
  • Must be a full-time student at an accredited 2-year or 4-year year postsecondary California school

  • At least of 25 percent Filipino heritage

  • 2.75 GPA or higher

  • Proof of financial need

Shui Kuen and Allen Chin Scholarship

The Shui Kuen and Allen Chin Scholarship was established to award students interested in community advocacy and social justice for people of diverse backgrounds. This scholarship is specifically for students who are current or former employees at an Asian-owned or Asian cuisine restaurant or the child of such an employee. The scholarship is non-renewable, but past recipients may apply again.

  • Amount: $1,000

  • Deadline: Late February, 2018

Application Requirements:
  • Must be an incoming freshman or current, full-time student at a 4-year school

  • Community service experience

  • 3.0 GPA or higher

  • Proof of financial need

The LAGRANT Foundation (TLF) Graduate Scholarships

This scholarship will be awarded to 40 students of color pursuing their master’s degree. In addition to the cash scholarship amount, awardees will also receive a trip to New York or San Francisco where they will participate in career-building workshops. Applicants must have at least two semesters remaining before they graduate.

  • Amount: $3,250

  • Deadline: February 28, 2018

Application Requirements:
  • Must be of African American/Black, Asian American/Pacific Islander, Hispanic/Latino or Native American/Alaska Native descent

  • Must be a full-time student at an accredited U.S. 4-year postsecondary school

  • 3.2 GPA or higher

  • Pursuing a master’s degree in a field related to advertising, marketing or public relations

The LAGRANT Foundation Undergraduate Scholarships

60 undergraduate students pursuing a degree in a field related to advertising, marketing or public relations will be selected to receive the LAGRANT Foundation Undergraduate Scholarship. This award comes with $2,000 towards tuition and fees, as well as a fully-funded trip to New York or San Francisco, where selected students will attend professional development workshops.

  • Amount: $2,000

  • Deadline: February 28, 2018

Application Requirements:
  • Must be of African American/Black, Asian American/Pacific Islander, Hispanic/Latino or Native American/Alaska Native descent

  • Must be a full-time student at an accredited U.S. 4-year postsecondary school

  • 3.0 GPA or higher

  • Must have at least two semesters remaining in undergraduate degree

The Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship For New Americans

New fellows accepted into the Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans will join a supportive community of immigrants seeking to achieve their goals at an American institution. Funding is meant for New American students pursuing a graduate degree. The fellowship’s search committee will not require applicants to pursue a specific program, but they will select students who exhibit continual accomplishment in their academics.

  • Amount: Up to $25,000 in stipend support, 50 percent of required tuition and fees (up to $20,000 per year)

  • Deadline: Early November, 2018

Application Requirements:
  • Qualify as a new American – an immigrant or child of an immigrant – who is under the age of 30

  • Must be undergraduate seniors or early in graduate-level program

APIASF Scholarship Program

The APIASF Scholarship Program funds low-income, minority students with a variety of financial packages every year. Awardees are most often students that represent the AAPI’s goal for a diverse community, in addition to exhibiting a desire for communal improvement. The AAPI search committee places preference on first generation college students.

  • Amount: Ranging from $2,500 one-year scholarships to $20,000 multi-year scholarships

  • Deadline: January 11, 2018

Application Requirements:
  • Must be of Asian/Pacific Islander descent

  • Must be enrolled as an undergraduate student as an accredited college or university in the U.S.

  • 2.7 GPA or higher

  • Must apply for FAFSA

ASA Minority Fellowship Program

The Minority Fellowship Program (MFP) has spent nearly 50 years supporting students of color interested in pursuing a doctoral program in sociology. The fellowship stipend is awarded annually, and awardees also receive assistance with preparing for a research-focused career in sociology.

  • Amount: $18,000

  • Deadline: January 31, 2018

Application Requirements:
  • Two written essays on specified topics

  • Three letters of recommendation

  • Minority students sufficiently advanced through Ph.D. program

Asian Women In Business Scholarship

With the goal of promoting diversity in the business field, the AWIB program seeks to identify and reward Asian female students who demonstrate excellent leadership qualities. Specifically, the search panel is looking for students who have a history of community service and entrepreneurial accomplishment.

  • Amount: $2,500

  • Deadline: TBA in early 2018

Application Requirements:
  • Enrolled full-time in an accredited 4-year postsecondary school in the U.S.

  • 3.0 GPA or higher

  • One professional recommendation

FTE Fellowships for Latino/a, Asian and First Nations Doctoral Students

Doctoral students of color pursuing a degree in religious, theological or biblical studies may be eligible to receive fellowship funding through the Forum of Theological Exploration (FTE). In addition to upholding their Christian history, the FTE also seeks students interested in facilitating social justice and achieving new levels of communal support.

  • Amount: Varies

  • Deadline: February 1, 2018

Application Requirements:
  • Must be of Latino/a, Asian/Pacific Islander or First Nations descent

  • Must be full-time in a Th.D. or Ph.D. program for religious, theological or biblical studies

  • Must be studying at an accredited institution in the U.S. or Canada

GRCF Arts Council of Greater Grand Rapids Minority Scholarship

With this scholarship program, the Grand Rapids Community Foundation (GRCF) hopes to reward fine arts students of color for their academic excellence. Acceptable majors include all visual and performing arts programs offered at a non-profit public or private postsecondary school.

  • Amount: Varies

  • Deadline: TBA but applications will open early January

Application Requirements:
  • Proof of financial need

  • 2.5 GPA or higher

  • Must be of African American, Asian, Hispanic, Native American or Pacific Islander descent

  • Fine Arts Major

Interpublic Group Scholarship and Internship

The Interpublic Group Scholarship and Internship is one of the numerous awards provided by the New York Women in Communications each year. This program is specifically geared towards students of color currently in their junior year of college, and who also exhibit an interest in pursuing a career in communications.

  • Amount: $5,000

  • Deadline: Late January, 2018

Application Requirements:
  • Student must be of ethnically diverse heritage

  • 3.2 GPA or higher

  • Must be permanent resident of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut or Philadelphia

Leon Bradley Scholarship

Specifically designed to foster a more diversity in academia, the Leon Bradley Scholarship annually awards two minority undergraduate students and two minority graduate students with funding to help cover the costs of student teaching. All awarded funding will be sent directly to the university to guarantee it is spent on specified coursework.

  • Amount: $2,000

  • Deadline: Late May, 2018

Application Requirements:
  • Must reside in, or matriculate into a school located in one of the following states: Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Brunswick, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Pennsylvania, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, D.C., or West Virginia

  • Must be seeking initial teaching certification

  • Must be of ethnically diverse heritage

Leonard M. Perryman Communications Scholarship for Racial Ethnic Minority Students

Each year, one ethnic minority student is selected to receive this $2,500 scholarship. The man for whom the scholarship was named spent 30 years as a journalist for The United Methodist Church, and the funding for this program is specifically designed for students interested in pursuing a career in a similar field.

  • Amount: $2,500

  • Deadline: March 15, 2018

Application Requirements:
  • Must be a United Methodist ethnic minority student

  • Majoring in religion journalism or communications at an accredited college or university in the U.S.

LITA/OCLC Minority Scholarship in Library and Information Technology

Each year, one ethnic minority student is selected to receive this $2,500 scholarship. The man for whom the scholarship was named spent 30 years as a journalist for The United Methodist Church, and the funding for this program is specifically designed for students interested in pursuing a career in a similar field.

  • Amount: $3,000

  • Deadline: March 1, 2018

Application Requirements:
  • Students must be of American Indian, Alaskan native, Asian/Pacific Islander, African-American or Hispanic descent

  • Pursuing an ALA Accredited Master of Library Science (MLS)

  • Students may not apply if they have earned more than 12 credits towards their MLS program

Minorities in Government Finance Scholarship

The Minorities in Government Finance Scholarship has been awarded annually since 1993 to encourage ethnically diverse students to work towards a career in government finance. In addition to all other application documents, students are required to submit a professional letter of recommendation outlining why they should receive the award.

  • Amount: $10,000

  • Deadline: Late February, 2018

Application Requirements:
  • Full-time or part-time enrollment at graduate or upper-undergraduate level

  • Must be pursuing a degree in one of the following: Public administration, (governmental) accounting, finance, political science, economics, or business administration (with specific focus on government or nonprofit management)

Updated on: 12/07/2017

How to Improve Your Chances of Receiving a Scholarship

To receive scholarship funding, the most important thing a student can do is make their application unique. The big question for a lot of students is how to do this. The following tips can help Asian/Pacific Islander students stand out when applying.

Several scholarships require students to provide proof of their ancestry. This may be a simple step for some – students who immigrated to America, for instance – but others may need to do more work. Several online genealogy services, like 23andMe or Ancestry, help to track a person’s heritage, and would be a good place for students to start when pursuing some of these scholarships.

Students who come across as devoted to their interests – even personal interests – are more likely to receive scholarships. Students shouldn’t be afraid to include smaller details about themselves, such as hobbies, life experiences and life goals. “Talk about your interests, future plans and current major, and why you chose that field of study. It gives the donor a feeling that they know the applicant without meeting them,” says financial aid coordinator Elizabeth Saldana.

Some scholarship applications will give students the option to attach documents along with their essays. These areas are a good way for students to get an edge over other applicants that may leave this section empty. Students should consider including a well-crafted resume with an application to further detail their accomplishments.

If the application calls for one or more letters of recommendation, students should think carefully about who they select. It’s usually best that students select a recommender that knows them well and can thoughtfully speak on their academic potential.

This step is particularly important for students who may have less-than-perfect grades on their transcripts. It’s OK to talk about the ups and downs of your academic career but make sure to also explain how that all shaped who you are now. “It’s important that a student writes about their personal experience and hardships because it allows the donor to have insight into the student’s life. There may be someone in the scholarship community that had a similar story to the applicant, which makes them relatable,” says Saldana.

Students are often tempted to use a thesaurus to sound “smarter” but this usually backfires. One of the best tips for all applicants is to use the vocabulary you already have. Using a thesaurus often results in writing that reads awkwardly and uncertain, even though you were probably going for pronounced and academic.

Unfortunately, there are groups that seek to exploit students pursuing financial aid, so it’s important applicants be mindful of scams. Red flags can include requests for personal information such as your social security number or bank accounts. Falling for scams can have consequences ranging from loss of an application fee to identity theft. Saldana says, “Students should never pay for scholarship applications and they should never give out their social security number or other personal information.”

Getting to know the group that is providing the scholarship is a good way to develop some common ground. Again, the more personable you are, the more likely you are to get funded. Demonstrating knowledge for a specific group or organization is a good way to stand out as not only someone that does their research, but also someone who may share common goals with the benefactors.

Filling out scholarship applications can take up a lot of time, especially if students have several options to consider. Students should weigh the overall payoff of a specific scholarship against the effort they put into it. “Look at the amount of the scholarship and the deadline. Students don’t want to work hard for a $500 scholarship when they can be spending their time and resources working for a scholarship with a higher dollar amount,” recommends Saldana.

While it’s important for Asian/Pacific Islander students to be aware of scholarship options appealing directly to their ancestry, they should also consider scholarships that are open to all students. Students should be in touch with their school’s Financial Aid Department to meet with an adviser who can guide them through all available options. “If [students] meet the minimum criteria, then they should apply. Students need to maximize their opportunities to receive as many scholarships as they can to avoid student debt,” says Saldana.

Resources for API Students

  • Asian and Pacific Islander Scholarship Fund (APIASF)

    As the most prominent non-profit API scholarship provider in the United States, the APIASF makes it their goal to address the financial needs Asian/Pacific Islander students. The APIASF has distributed more than $100 million dollars in financial assistance since their establishment in 2003.

  • Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institutions (AANAPISI)

    The AANAPISI program was developed in 2007 as means of assisting academic institutions with providing for their Asian/Pacific Islander students. Schools that meet the necessary requirements may be able to receive grant funding to improve student services, purchase necessary coursework materials or refurbish campus buildings.

  • Asian Pacific Islander American Public Affairs (APAPA)

    With chapters located throughout the United States, the APAPA provides professional development and community service programs to Asian Pacific Islander Students. Participants will join a strong community of learners working to facilitate a more diverse and inclusive country.

  • National Asian/Pacific Islander Council (NAPIC)

    NAPIC is a non-profit group dedicated to giving Asian/Pacific Islander students the opportunity to network with one another to ensure educational inclusiveness. NAPIC also works to coordinate with other API community groups to further professional development for Asian/Pacific Islander students.

  • Asian Pacific Islander Special Interest Group

    The Asian Pacific Islander SIG works to address often unrecognized issues in the API community. As part of the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), this SIG also provides resources for Asian/Pacific Islander professionals working in a college setting.