According to research, the average cost of tuition for an in-state student at a public university in the United States has increased by 296% over the past 20 years. At the same time, wages in the U.S. have barely grown in that same time. College students are graduating with more debt than ever.
Statistics indicate that minority students often graduate with more debt than their peers.
Fortunately, federal grants and scholarships for minorities can significantly lighten the financial load for these students.
The U.S. Department of Education recently invested $96 million in grants to provide additional financial aid specifically for minority students. This grant funding will go directly to colleges and universities to help them provide better financial support to their minority populations.
Minority students who receive federal grants and loans to help finance their college educations often could use some additional funding to help them bridge financial gaps. Scholarships for minorities are of tremendous help to these students, but finding the right scholarships to apply to is not always an easy task. To help you in your search for additional funding, we have compiled a list of some of the top minority scholarships. Read on to find a detailed list of these scholarships, including eligibility requirements, deadlines, and information on how to apply.
Scholarships for African American Students
NBMBAA Scholarship Program Up to $5,000
- Be an active member of the National Black MBA Association
- Attend college full-time as a freshman, sophomore, junior, or senior
- Demonstrate leadership abilities and community involvement
Students in both the U.S. and Canada are encouraged to apply.
Ricoh Scholarship Program Up to $2,500
- Attend school full-time at a historically black college or university
- Be a junior or senior in college the fall following the scholarship application cycle
- Maintain a GPA of 2.5 or higher
Students with demonstrated unmet financial need are given preference.
Thurgood Marshall College Fund Scholarships for African Americans $500-$10,000
- Be enrolled as a full-time college student
- Attend a historically black college or university
- Have at least a 2.5 GPA (or at least a 3.0 GPA for select scholarships)
The fund facilitates four scholarships for undergraduates with slightly different requirements, which are listed on the fund’s website.
Jackie Robinson Foundation Scholarship Program Up to $28,000
Up to $28,000 over four years
February 15, 2017
- Must be a graduating high school senior
- Have plans to attend an accredited college or university
- Have a minimum SAT score of 1,000 combined on the math and verbal sections or a 21 composite ACT score
Scholarship recipients also receive annual trips to the foundation’s “Mentoring and Leadership Conference” in New York City.
The Hubertus W.V. Willems Scholarship for Male Students $3,000
- Be a full-time male college student majoring in chemistry, physics, mathematics, or engineering
- Demonstrate financial need based on federal poverty guidelines
- Be a U.S. citizen
Active NAACP members are encouraged to apply.
Blacks at Microsoft Scholarships $5,000
March 1, 2017
- Must be a high school senior of African descent
- Be accepted to and have plans to attend a four-year college or university
- Plan to major in engineering, computer science, computer information systems, or a business-related field
Recipients of these African American scholarships can renew their awards annually for up to four years.
The Agnes Jones Jackson Scholarship Up to $2,000
- Must be a current NAACP member
- Must be under the age of 25
- Must be enrolled full-time at an accredited college or university
Between 20 and 40 scholarships are awarded each year.
George Washington Carver Scholarship Varies
May 30, 2017
- Attend a historically black college or university
- Have completed at least 40 hours of volunteer service
- Participate in a personal interview with a member of the selection committee
There is a detailed list of eligible majors that apply to this scholarship on the fund’s website.
National Hook-Up of Black Women Scholarships $1,000
April 1, 2017
- Be an African-American student enrolled at an accredited college or university
- Have at least a 2.75 GPA
- Demonstrate community involvement
This organization offers two types of scholarships with slightly different requirements. See website for more details.
Professional Organizations for African American Students
- UNCF: In addition to offering scholarships for African Americans, UNCF provides a number of support programs for African American students to help them apply to college, stay in college, reach their educational goals, and network professionally. UNCF also works with 37 partner colleges to help ensure the retention and success of students.
- NAACP: The NAACP is an advocacy organization that promotes equality and civil rights for African Americans. The NAACP also hosts conventions, award ceremonies, professional networking events, and policy forums for members. Additionally, the association works with the Poise Foundation to provide African American scholarships and other resources for college students.
- NBMBAA: The NBMBAA is one of the country’s largest professional organizations for minorities. It provides internship opportunities, scholarships, and business education resources to college students. Additionally, it offers an annual conference, access to a network of over 9,000 professional members, job coaching, a job search board, GMAT test prep, and more.
- NSBE: The NSBE is an invaluable resource for African American engineering students and professionals. The organization provides internship opportunities for students, job search tools, conferences, camps, conventions, and more. It also provides information about scholarship opportunities for members and helps members connect with corporate partners to learn more about professional opportunities.
Scholarships for Hispanic and Latino Students
HSF Hispanic Scholarships $500-$5,000
March 30, 2017
- Be a graduating high school senior, undergraduate student, or graduate student
- If an undergraduate student, have at least a 3.0 GPA
- Provide proof of U.S. citizenship
Preference is given to STEM majors.
The Gates Millennium Scholars Program Varies
January 13, 2017
- Must be a Hispanic American or other eligible minority student
- Be a high school senior with plans to enroll in an accredited college or university
- Have at least a 3.3 GPA
- Meet the Federal Pell Grant eligibility criteria
The scholarship for the undergraduate award may be renewed annually based on satisfactory progress, full-time enrollment and the timely submission of required documents. Support for graduate degrees for continuing Gates Millennium Scholars may be received for the following fields: computer science, education, engineering, library science, mathematics, public health or science.
Adelante Scholarships for Hispanics $1,000-$3,000
- Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
- Be of Hispanic descent
- Have full-time enrollment status at a college or university
Each of the seven scholarships offered by this foundation has slightly different requirements, as specified on the foundation’s website.
Illinois Legislative Latino Caucus Foundation Scholarships $2,000
- Full-time enrollment as an undergraduate student in Illinois
- Proof of Latino ancestry
- A letter of recommendation
Previous winners of this foundation’s scholarships are not eligible to reapply.
ALPFA Scholarships for Latinos Varies
May 15, 2017
- Documentation of Hispanic heritage
- Association of Latino Professionals for America (ALPFA) membership
- Enrollment as an undergraduate student majoring in a business or computer science-related field
- At least a 3.0 GPA
High school seniors are not eligible for this scholarship.
Professional Organizations for Hispanic Students
- Latino College Dollars: Latino College Dollars is an online search tool for finding Latino scholarships and other college funding opportunities for Latino students. The site is run by the Hispanic Scholarship Fund and provides access to over $2.4 million worth of scholarship possibilities. For students applying to colleges, the site also offers a college search tool.
- NCLR: NCLR is a research, advocacy, and policy organization for Latino Americans. NCLR works with high schools and colleges across the country to help promote equality for Latino students. Additionally, NCLR works with over 300 affiliate organizations to help provide Latino Americans with better access to jobs, education, and more.
- HACU: HACU works with over 470 post-secondary institutions to provide services and resources to Latino college students. The association also offers internships, scholarships, and college retention programs to Latino students around the world. HACU’s job readiness programs help recent college graduates find fulfilling careers and apply what they learned in college to their careers.
- ALPFA: ALPFA is a professional association for Latino Americans that provides them with networking opportunities, career development programs, and career search tools. Over 72,000 professional and student members belong to ALPFA. Its regional student symposiums, which take place around the United States, provide college students with professional workshops and opportunities to network with key business leaders in their areas.
Scholarships for Native American Students
American Indian College Fund Scholarships Varies
May 31, 2017
- Enrollment in an accredited college or university in the U.S.
- Registration as a member of a federal or state recognized tribe or proof of relationship to at least one grandparent or parent who is an enrolled tribal member
- Minimum GPA of 2.0
The fund provides several scholarship opportunities to students who are attending tribal colleges as well as non-tribal colleges.
AIGC Native American Scholarships Varies
- Proof of tribal membership or eligibility
- Full-time enrollment status at a college or university
Requirements of specific awards vary slightly and are outlined on the organization’s website.
American Indian Education Fund Scholarship $2,000
April 4, 2017
- Proof of Native American or Alaska Native descent
- Full-time enrollment at a two-year or four-year college or university
Applicants with GPAs above 2.0 are preferred.
Native American Scholarships Fund Awards Up to $10,000
December 15, 2017
- Must be a full-time undergraduate or graduate student
- Must be of Native American heritage
Preference is given to students studying archaeology.
Cobell Scholarship Varies
June 1, 2017
- Be a full-time, degree-seeking student at an accredited post-secondary institution
- Complete a tribal eligibility form
- Demonstrate financial need
Some applicants are placed on a “waiting list” in case additional funds become available.
Navajo Tribal Utility Authority Scholarship $2,000
April 29, 2017
- College acceptance letter or proof of enrollment in college
- Official Certificate of Indian Blood
- At least a 2.0 GPA if in college
Students interested in working in the utility industry are encouraged to apply.
AISES Scholarships Varies
- Enrollment as a full-time college student majoring in a STEM field
- Official Certificate of Indian Blood or Certificate of Degree of Alaska Native Blood
- Current AISES membership
Specific requirements of individual scholarships vary and are detailed on the organization’s website.
Professional Organizations for Native American Students
- AIBL: AIBL strives to increase representation among Native Americans and Alaska natives in the business world through professional development and leadership education. AIBL specifically works with business students in American colleges to provide them with the resources they need to run businesses and take on business leadership positions when they graduate from college.
- NNABA: NNABA is a professional association for Native American lawyers and law students. The association is also involved in initiatives that seek to advance justice for Native Americans. NNABA provides law students with valuable resources to advance their careers and offers scholarships for Native Americans who are studying law.
- National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development: The National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development is a non-profit organization that provides resources and assistance to tribal businesses and promotes tribal economic development. The organization also offers scholarships to Native Americans who are studying business in college. Additionally, the organization holds conferences and other networking events for those interested in becoming business leaders.
Scholarships for Asian and Pacific Islander Students
Asian Pacific Fund Scholarships $1,000-$20,000
February 19, 2017
- Enrollment as a full-time college student or acceptance to a college or university (if a high school senior)
- Demonstrate financial need
- Proof of academic excellence
Requirements of individual scholarships vary, and many of the scholarships are only open to students at California post-secondary institutions.
KASF Scholarships $500-$5,000
- Must be of Korean heritage
- Must be studying at an accredited post-secondary institution in the U.S.
- Must have a minimum GPA of 3.0
Students who demonstrate financial need and academic excellence are preferred.
APIASF Scholarships for Asians $2,500-$20,000
January 8, 2017
- Asian or Pacific Islander ethnicity (as defined by the U.S. census)
- Full-time college enrollment
- At least a 2.7 GPA
- U.S. Citizenship
Applicants are only required to submit one application to be considered for 15 different awards.
Frances Sonn Nam Memorial Scholarship $4,000
$4,000 per year
January 8, 2017
- Full-time enrollment status as a college junior during the applicable award cycle
- Asian or Pacific Islander ethnicity (as defined by the U.S. census)
- Plans to pursue a post-college career in public service, law, or government affairs
- At least a 3.0 GPA
Recipients receive this award for a total of two years.
NAPABA Law Foundation Asian Scholarships $2,000-$7,500
September 1, 2016
- Must be enrolled in an accredited U.S. law school
- Must be a U.S. citizen
- Must demonstrate interest in serving Asian and Pacific Islander causes
Recipients receive this award for a total of two years.
Asian Women In Business Scholarship Fund $2,500
September 1, 2016
- Full-time enrollment as an undergraduate
- Asian ancestry
- Community leadership or entrepreneurial experience
- At least a 3.0 GPA
Only female students are eligible to apply to this scholarship.
USPAACC Pan Asian American Scholarships $2,500-$5,000
- Be a high school senior planning to attend college
- Submit a high school transcript
- Provide proof of Pan-Asian American heritage
- Provide a letter of recommendation
Award recipients are also invited to attend USPAACC’s CelebrAsian National Conference.
Professional Organizations for Asian and Pacific Islander Students
- NAAAP: NAAAP is a professional association for Asian and Pacific Islander business leaders and business students. The association facilitates professional development workshops, an Asian Pacific Islander scholarship, conferences, community service, and networking events. NAAAP’s career center is a great resource for college students looking for internships and recent college graduates looking to jumpstart their careers.
- Ascend: Ascend is a professional association and network of Pan-Asian business executives and business students. Ascend’s many conventions, networking galas, and professional development workshops provide student members with opportunities to practice their elevator pitches and hone their entrepreneurial skills. Additionally, Ascend’s career center provides students with a number of relevant job and internship listings.
- AABDC: The Asian American Business Development Center (AABDC) facilitates learning programs for Asian and Pacific Islander business executives and students. With a focus on helping members develop global business skills, the organization’s professional development offerings introduce members to international business practices and information about the shifting global market.
Scholarships for Undocumented Students
We The Living Essay Contest $300-$3,000
October 23, 2016
Must be a 10th, 11th, or 12th grade student anywhere in the world
Undocumented students are encouraged to apply.
Golden Door Scholarships for Undocumented Students Varies
- Provide proof of undocumented status with DACA or TPS approval
- Be a high school senior or recent high school graduate
- Demonstrate academic excellence
Applicants planning to attend college in states that charge out-of-state tuition to undocumented students are given preference.
Ascend Educational Fund Scholarship $2,500-$20,000
January 30, 2017
- Must be born outside the U.S. or have two parents born outside the U.S.
- Must be a high school senior in New York City
- Must provide proof of future college enrollment
All immigrants and children of immigrants from NYC public high schools are encouraged to apply.
CORE's Que Llueva Café Scholarship Varies
February 25, 2017
- Be a graduating high school senior
- Be a college-bound, undocumented student
Applicants are selected based on personal stories, extracurricular involvement, and academic promise.
Mexican American Dream Scholarship $500-$1,000
October 19, 2017
- Must be an AB540 or DACA college student
- Must demonstrate financial need
- Must attend school in one of the following California counties: Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, Inland Empire, or Ventura County
Recipients are typically involved in their communities and have work experience.
Professional Organizations for Undocumented Students
- E4FC: E4FC provides legal services, outreach programs, and financial assistance to undocumented college students. E4FC also works with undocumented students pursuing careers in health to provide them with additional training, professional opportunities, and advocacy services. Additionally, E4FC provides mini grants to recent college graduates in the San Francisco area to help them achieve their career goals.
- MALDEF: MALDEF is a Latino civil rights organization with a focus on advocating for undocumented students and professionals in the U.S. MALDEF offers a number of community education programs throughout the country, and professional and legal assistance for undocumented students. MALDEF’s online library of resources contains in-depth information about policies that affect undocumented college students.
- Dream Resource Center: The Dream Resource Center’s mission is to increase access to higher education for every student, including undocumented students. The center provides tips for picking the right college, applying to college, applying to scholarships, and financing educational costs. Additionally, the Dream Resource Center provides information to help students align their college degree plans with their future career goals.
Types of Funding
Federal Student Loans
Filing the FAFSA
Filing a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a critical step for college students who wish to determine whether they are eligible for financial aid in the form of federal grants, federal loans, and work study opportunities. Once a FAFSA is processed, a student’s college or university receives a specific amount of funding to distribute to the student in the form of federal grants or loans. Some scholarship programs also require that students file a FAFSA before applying.
Students complete the FAFSA by filling out a paper copy and sending it to the U.S. Department of Education or by filling out an online FAFSA form. Both paper and online versions of the FAFSA are offered in English and Spanish. A student must have a social security number to file a FAFSA. Undocumented students with DACA approval may be able to obtain a social security number and apply for federal financial aid. The annual deadline to submit a FAFSA is June 30. Financial assistance is often awarded on a first-come-first-serve basis. Students who submit their FAFSAs early may receive more robust funding packages, and students who miss the deadline may be ineligible for financial aid from the federal government.
Scholarship Application Tips
- Make an impression with admissions offices as you apply to colleges. Colleges and universities award a large number of scholarships to their students. Oftentimes, you are automatically considered for these scholarships when you send in your application. Individual institutions also often award scholarships and grants specifically to minority students. Scholarships are not guaranteed with acceptance to a college or university, though. They are often awarded to students who wow admissions committees with impressive applications, stellar essays, and extensive community involvement.
- Estimate how much money you will need in terms of loans and scholarships. If you demonstrate a significant amount of financial need, there is a good chance that you will receive a significant amount of funding from your college and/or the federal government. This may not cover all of your costs, however. Use financial aid calculators to figure out how much money you’ll need from third-party scholarships and loans to cover the rest of your expenses. This will help you figure out which scholarships to apply to and how aggressively you should try to win scholarships.
- Create a spreadsheet of scholarships with deadlines. As you research scholarship opportunities, keep a list of the ones you want to apply to in a spreadsheet. This will help you keep track of deadlines and any other applicable information you will need later when you start applying. Staying organized will help you ensure that you don’t forget to apply to any scholarships or miss any deadlines.
- Ask for letters of recommendation early. The majority of scholarship applications ask for letters of recommendation. When you ask teachers and mentors to write letters of recommendation for your college applications, you may also want to ask if they would feel comfortable giving you copies. You may be able to use these in scholarship applications, which means they won’t have to take the time to upload or send additional letters when you apply.
- Make sure you let your personality shine in scholarship essays. If you’re applying to minority scholarships or any type of scholarships, you want to stand out. Being a good student isn’t always enough to win you a scholarship. Write about any challenges you’ve faced, and write about what it has been like to be a minority student in high school. If you can insert some humor into your essays, go for it. The more memorable and unique your essay, the better.
- Treat applying to scholarships as a numbers game. There will be several other qualified students applying to the scholarships on your radar. Keep this in mind, and try not to take it personally if you don’t get chosen for certain scholarships. Keep applying. The more scholarships you apply to, the more likely you are to be chosen as a recipient.
- Watch out for scams. Unfortunately, some people make up fake scholarships to get personal information from students and exploit them. Make sure you do enough research to guarantee that a scholarship is credible before you apply. Do not give any personal information to a scholarship fund that doesn’t seem legitimate. Additionally, if a scholarship’s website seems as though it hasn’t been updated in a couple of years, you might want to consider passing on it.
- Tailor your application to your audience. Take a good look at each scholarship foundation’s mission and try to envision what type of applicant they are most likely to select. In your application, highlight aspects of your background and experience that you think are aligned with their mission. If they mention that they value community service, for instance, make sure you mention your volunteer work in your application. You should not expect to turn in the same essay to every scholarship foundation. Figure out what each one is looking for specifically.
- Show, don’t tell. You may have heard your English teacher say, “show, don’t tell” regarding good writing. This essentially means that you provide concrete examples instead of making broad statements. You should try your best to do this in your scholarship applications. For instance, rather than writing that you “are a hard worker” in your essays, consider outlining your specific academic achievements, extra-curricular activities, and part-time jobs. This will show that you’re a hard worker.
- Triple-check your applications. Careless mistakes and omissions can sometimes cost you a scholarship when the competition is fierce. Make sure you thoroughly review each application before you submit it to ensure that you aren’t forgetting any important points or neglecting to fill in any mandatory fields. It can also be beneficial to have a friend or family member look over your applications before you submit them. They might notice small errors you missed.
Additional Scholarship Resources
- FAFSA This is the website where students can fill out a FAFSA form to figure out which types of financial aid they can receive. It should be the one of the first resources students use in their quest to finance their college educations. Students should keep in mind that filing a FAFSA requires a social security number and information about their families’ incomes.
- U.S. Department of Education Funding Information This site provides students with additional information about federal loans and grants. It offers resources about loan repayment options, consolidation, and payment plans. It is also a source of helpful links to information about specific lenders students may be borrowing from and how to get in touch with those lenders.
- U.S. News and World Report’s Paying for College This section of the U.S. News and World Report website is full of relevant information about loans, scholarships, budgeting while in college, saving for college expenses, paying for an online education, and more. College students who feel like they should brush up on financial literacy topics will find that this resource brings a lot to the table.
- Fastweb A search tool for scholarship opportunities for college students, Fastweb is a great starting point in a student’s search for financial assistance. Fastweb also provides resources and links to help students figure out how to pay for college. Additionally, the site offers career advice and a college search tool.
- Unigo Unigo is an online database of college, scholarship, internship, and student loan options. It also provides information about possible college majors and career paths for students based on their majors. Unigo has a particularly useful list of scholarships that minority students are eligible to apply for based on factors such as financial need, extracurricular interests, and academic achievement.
- Forbes High Dollar Scholarship List College students and high school seniors who are looking for some of the highest paying scholarships will benefit from perusing this list. These scholarship awards provide students with up to $50,000 in annual funding, which can certainly make a dent in overall college costs. Many of these scholarships are looking for students who demonstrate both financial need and academic accomplishments.
- FinAid Calculators FinAid’s innovative calculators help students figure out how much their post-secondary educations will cost, how much they should try to save for college, and how much they should seek in funding in terms of loans, grants, and scholarships. They also help students calculate things like interest on unsubsidized loans and the amount they will pay for loans post-graduation.