Scholarships and Financial Aid for Minority Students

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Many career paths now require a college degree, but obtaining one costs more than ever. Tuition rates have increased steadily throughout the 21st century, now averaging more than $17,000 annually at public colleges. For students looking to reduce their total tuition expenses, scholarships offer a valuable source of funding. They also provide financial assistance with no repayment required.

Scholarships serve students of all backgrounds, but many organizations specifically offer financial assistance and scholarships for minority students. Our scholarship guide provides information on minority student scholarships, including application strategies and scholarships for specific ethinic groups.

 
 


Scholarships for Minority Students

This list highlights scholarships for minority students arranged into categories for specific ethnic groups. It represents a broad cross section of available minority student scholarships.

  • Arab, Middle Eastern, and North Africa

    Arab American Women’s Business Council Scholarship

    The AAWBC offers this $1,000 scholarship to female Arab Michiganders staying in the state for college. Applications require a letter of intent. Recipients must volunteer for at least six hours of community service each week.

    Dr. Adawia Alousi Scholarship

    This Center for Arab American Philanthropy awards this scholarship to Muslim women in accredited STEM programs. Applicants must demonstrate financial need and a minimum 3.4 GPA. The scholarship awards $2,500-$10,000 to undergraduates and up to $10,000 for graduate students.

  • Black and African American

    National Association of Black Journalists Scholarships

    NABJ offers annual awards to Black students pursuing undergraduate or graduate programs leading to a journalism career. Applicants must hold NABJ membership and a minimum 2.5 GPA. Candidates need a demonstrated interest in newsgathering and reporting. NABJ scholarships award up to $10,000 each.

    Agnes Jones Jackson Scholarship

    This NAACP-sponsored scholarship awards $2,000 to Black undergraduate or graduate students. Current NAACP members under 25 who can demonstrate financial need qualify. The scholarship requires a minimum 2.5 GPA for undergraduates and a minimum 3.0 GPA for graduate students.

    Blacks At Microsoft Scholarships

    Microsoft awards several scholarships to Black high school seniors planning to enter a four-year college or university. Ranging from $1,000-$20,000, these scholarships require applicants to hold a minimum 3.3 GPA. Candidates must plan to pursue a bachelor’s in a computer science, engineering, or business-related field. Applications remain open until March 31, 2021.

  • Native Americans and Alaska Native

    American Indian Undergraduate Scholarship

    The American Indian Education Fund offers several undergraduate scholarships worth up to $2,000 annually. Applicants must provide official documentation of personal or parental tribal enrollment, academic transcripts, and test scores. Recipients must maintain an undergraduate GPA of at least 2.0.

    Daughters of the American Revolution American Indian Scholarship

    DAR offers this $4,000 scholarship to Native American students of all ages, with preference given to undergraduate students. Applicants must provide documentation of tribal enrollment or Native ancestry, demonstrate financial need, and possess a minimum 2.5 GPA.

    Indian Health Service Scholarships

    The IHS provides multiple scholarships for Native American students pursuing education in the health sciences. Applicants must be members or descendents of recognized or terminated tribes who intend to serve Native communities after graduation. These scholarships serve students at both the undergraduate and graduate level.

  • Hispanic and Latino/a

    Alliance/Merck Ciencia Hispanic Scholars Program

    The National Alliance for Hispanic Health partners with the Merck Foundation and the Healthy Americans Foundation to offer these scholarships. They serve Hispanic students enrolling in college programs, particularly in STEM fields. The foundation offers scholarships to Hispanic students at the high school, undergraduate, and graduate level.

    Association of Latino Professionals For America Scholarships

    ALPFA offers various scholarship opportunities to Hisapnic students enrolled in business, finance, accounting, or STEM programs. Applicants must hold a minimum 3.0 GPA and submit a short essay answering the question “Why are you deserving of an ALPFA Scholarship?”

    American Meteorological Society Minority Scholarship

    The AMS provides these scholarships for minority students entering bachelor’s programs in atmospheric, oceanic, or hydrologic sciences. Applicants must hold a minimum 3.0 GPA. The scholarship awards $3,000 each year for the first two years of a bachelor’s program.

  • Asian and Pacific Islander

    CIC/Anna Chennault Scholarship

    The AMS provides these scholarships for minority students entering bachelor’s programs in atmospheric, oceanic, or hydrologic sciences. Applicants must hold a minimum 3.0 GPA. The scholarship awards $3,000 each year for the first two years of a bachelor’s program.

    Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship

    The APIA Scholarships award $2,500-$20,000 to Asian and Pacific Islander students facing underrepresentation on college campuses. The scholarship focuses specifically on first-generation college students, those demonstrating financial need, and those representing geographic and ethnic diversity.

    Asian Pacific Fund Scholarships

    The Asian Pacific Fund administers 10 scholarship programs to incoming or current college students. Scholarships range from $1,000-$20,000 and set their own eligibility criteria. All require a 3.0 GPA and U.S. citizenship unless otherwise noted. Many support Asian and Pacific Islander students specifically.

Steps to Finding and Getting Scholarships and Grants

While scholarships provide a valuable source of funding, the process of securing them can exhaust even the most dedicated students. Applying for scholarships typically comprises a few distinct steps. We outline the major stages below.


  • 1. Get Organized

    Before applying for scholarships, students need to research and identify potential options. Some organizations offer scholarships year-round, but deadlines often occur during the first half of the year. Generally, applicants should start researching up to a year before the semester for which they want scholarship funding.

    With so many scholarships available, keeping track of potential awards can complicate the application process. A scholarship spreadsheet with application deadlines and other details helps students organize and prioritize their applications.


  • 2. Develop a List of Targeted Scholarships

    With hundreds of scholarships for minority students, applicants must inevitably narrow the list of awards they can realistically pursue. Applying for as many awards as possible usually does not make the best strategy. Instead, students should create a targeted list of scholarships catering to their personal background and academic interests.

    Colleges often maintain specialized advising services to assist students in applying for scholarships. Schools may maintain a scholarship database that compiles awards relevant to applicants’ location or field of interest. Students should apply to the scholarships with the earliest deadlines first.


  • 3. Prepare Scholarship Application Packets

    While scholarship application requirements vary widely, many awards maintain similar general requirements. Most scholarships require academic transcripts, which students can request from their current college or high school. Many scholarships call for proof of community engagement, such as volunteer experience. Students should give themselves plenty of time to gather application materials.

    More selective scholarships often need recommendation letters from teachers, supervisors, or other professionals familiar with an applicant’s work. Students should request these months in advance of a scholarship’s deadline to not rush recommendation writers.


  • 4. Submit Your Application

    While submitting applications may seem like a formality, deadlines and varying submission requirements can easily overwhelm students. Applicants should double check a scholarship’s deadlines and requirements to ensure they include everything and submit their application on time. Having another person review essays, personal statements, and other writing requirements can help catch typos and other mistakes.

    Most importantly, students must submit their applications either before or on the day of the scholarship deadline. Many scholarships use online application portals that close automatically after their application deadline passes.


  • 5. What to Do After Receiving a Scholarship

    While students can usually relax after applying to scholarships, recipients should remember that scholarships may require additional obligations. Students may need to officially accept their scholarship by a set deadline in order to claim the funding. Do not forget this important official step.

    Some scholarships require students to fulfill certain requirements to keep their funding, such as maintaining a set GPA or performing regular community service. Students who receive these types of awards should remember recurring scholarship obligations, or run the risk of losing funding.


Financial Aid Resources for Minority Students

Researching, identifying, and applying for scholarships can prove challenging, but many organizations offer assistance for minority students. This list highlights various financial aid resources. Some organizations offer their own scholarships. Others advise students and connect them to various financial aid opportunities.

  • American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education

    AAHHE brings together education, business, and other professionals to improve education for a rapidly increasing Hispanic population. The organization features many member resources, including professional development, fellowships, conferences, and a leadership academy for Hispanic professionals.

    Apply

  • American Indian College Fund

    AAHHE brings together education, business, and other professionals to improve education for a rapidly increasing Hispanic population. The organization features many member resources, including professional development, fellowships, conferences, and a leadership academy for Hispanic professionals.

    Apply

  • American Indian College Fund

    Serving Native American students, The College Fund offers connections to scholarships, tribal colleges, internships, and other resources. Any member or descendent of a federally recognized tribe can benefit from The College Fund’s scholarship resources. These include the Full Circle Scholarship for students seeking technical, undergraduate, or graduate education.

    Apply

  • Hispanic Scholarship Fund

    Empowering Hispanic students through education and access to resources, HSF hosts an extensive scholarship program. The organization offers resources on scholarships, federal financial aid, and the application process. HSF hosts various college preparedness programs and workshops.

    Apply

  • Human Rights Campaign

    Serving LGBTQ+ students, HRC’s scholarship database compiles financial opportunities, including fellowships, grants, and scholarships. This comprehensive database enables students to search by state or browse a national list of undergraduate and graduate LGBTQ+ scholarships.

    Apply

  • Minority Student Achievement Network

    A coalition of high-achieving school districts nationwide, MSAN serves a multiracial student body. The organization offers college financial resources, including scholarships for minority students, financial aid, education, and informational workshops and seminars. MSAN hosts conferences for high school students planning to attend college.

    Apply

  • NAACP

    One of the country’s best known civil rights organizations, the NAACP emphasizes civic engagement and advocacy for Black Americans. The organization offers educational resources for Black students, including college scholarships for both undergraduates and graduates. Most scholarships prioritize current NAACP members.

    Apply

  • The Jackie Robinson Foundation

    Founded in 1973, JRF seeks to advance higher education for minority students through a generous scholarship program. Scholarship winners receive a four-year grant to attend the U.S. undergraduate college of their choice. Winners receive mentorship, academic advising, and support services.

    Apply

  • The Jackie Robinson Foundation

    Founded in 1973, JRF seeks to advance higher education for minority students through a generous scholarship program. Scholarship winners receive a four-year grant to attend the U.S. undergraduate college of their choice. Winners receive mentorship, academic advising, and support services.

    Apply

  • Native American Rights Foundation

    Established in 1970, NARF works to preserve tribal existence and protect natural resources. NARF promotes human rights for Native Americans, develops Native American law, and holds governments accountable to Native Americans. The organization offers financial and professional opportunities to Native American law students, including fellowships, scholarships, clerkships, and internships.

    Apply

  • National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering

    The country’s largest scholarship provider for minority students pursuing engineering programs, NACME seeks to increase diversity in STEM fields. The organization focuses particularly on engineering and computer science. Along with scholarships for minority students, the organization offers career development, trade publications, and an executive speaker series connecting NACME students with engineering professionals.

    Apply

Expert Interview

Advice from a Financial Aid Program Officer

Dr. Nicki Washington

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

The biggest mistake minority students make is not exhausting the financial aid search. Most will perform a basic search during their senior year, without giving it the effort it requires to be successful. Once they arrive at the university, they don’t take advantage of the resources available to current undergraduates that aren’t available to prospective students. This includes department-specific opportunities, which may include working with faculty.


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

Some majors have more funding available because there are less minorities in these areas. These will typically be science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM)-related disciplines. Students should ask department chairs and faculty about opportunities, even as incoming accepted students. There may be book scholarships or other awards available (which is why it’s important to also have a resume prepared).

Students should always look into institutional and departmental scholarships, as these funds often go unused. As an example, I had a research grant to fund five undergraduates for two years (junior and senior years) to conduct research with me. It included a $10K scholarship plus an $8k stipend (paid directly to them). I couldn’t get students to apply to this opportunity. Many students don’t want to take the time to complete the application, which often includes completing a personal statement. This goes for high-school students as well.


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

I strongly urge students to create three generic essays during the college admissions process. These serve as blueprints to edit for any future applications. Because all admissions and scholarship applications have this requirement, it’s good to have three well-written essays (that were edited by English teachers and a few others) to be able to tweak, as appropriate. I note this in my books.

Every state has a higher education web page with resources for college-bound or current students who are residents of the state. This should always be searched. Every sorority/fraternity has scholarship opportunities available as well that do not require a parent to be affiliated with the organization. Check each local chapter’s website. In addition, credit unions and different companies have scholarships related to their discipline.

Tech students can find scholarships from Google, Microsoft, and AnitaB.org, for example. Students interested in law can find scholarship opportunities through the National Bar Association, and the same goes for accounting, journalism, and other majors. Professional societies are great avenues. Lastly, most local alumni chapters provide some scholarships. Check the local chapter in your area to find out this information as well.


Portrait of Reese Lopez

Reese Lopez

Reese Lopez is a freelance writer with over a decade of experience in the education field. After earning his BA in English from Evergreen State College, he worked as an English language instructor and tutor before joining Affordable Colleges Online. Reese lives in Portland, Oregon, where he also writes fiction and performs in the local music scene.

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