Minority students have long been underrepresented at U.S. colleges and universities, but they’re increasingly making their presence felt. The National Center for Education Statistics says that minorities now make up more than 48% of students enrolled in college, which is a much higher number than 30 years ago.
Of the 16.6 million undergraduate students enrolled in fall 2019, the NCES says 3.5 million were Latino, 2.1 million were Black, 1.1 million were Asian, 116,400 were American Indian/Alaska Native, and 45,000 were Pacific Islander.
Many scholarships, grants, and other programs are available to help racial and ethnic minority students pay for a college education. Read on to learn about the challenges facing minorities in higher education and how to find minority scholarships for college students, as well as grants.
Before you get started, you should know the proper way to apply for scholarships and grants. Take a look at our list of 10 tips for applying for scholarships.
10 Tips for Applying for Scholarships
Don’t let the process of applying for scholarships and grants overwhelm you or keep you from proceeding. Here’s a list of things you should know about applying for scholarships, which should make the process easier:
- Make sure you are eligible. Don’t waste your time or the time of the scholarship giver. When you scan scholarships, first make sure you meet the criteria. Focus on appropriate scholarships by their due dates.
- Research past scholarship winners. By looking online at biographies of previous winners, you can better understand the type of person a scholarship committee is looking for.
- Create a scholarship checklist. Keep on task by scheduling submission deadlines, instructions, and things to do for each scholarship you’re interested in—for example, writing essays or getting letters of recommendation.
- Follow instructions carefully. Applications that do not follow instructions to the letter are discarded, so be sure to provide whatever information and materials the scholarship requests.
- Highlight your strengths and weaknesses. Brag about your accomplishments, such as your GPA or volunteer work. Don’t neglect to talk about your weaknesses or gaps on your application, and use this chance to explain yourself. This honesty can work to your benefit.
- Make time for your essay. Thoroughly review the essay question and take your time articulating an answer. Give yourself time to research your answer, and make sure to give your writing the care it deserves.
- Check yourself carefully. Bad grammar, poor punctuation, and an unorganized essay can hurt your chances of receiving an award. Have someone proofread your essays and personal statements before you submit them.
- Secure letters of recommendation. Get letters from people who know you well and can highlight your strengths. Provide them with the scholarship information, and give them plenty of time to compose their letter.
- Be on time. Keep to your schedule so you’re not waiting until the last minute. By submitting scholarships early, you free up your time to apply for more scholarships.
- Make copies of all submissions. Scholarship givers can lose all or part of your application. Your copies can be your backup. By submitting early, you can protect yourself in case your application is returned or gets lost in the mail.
Scholarships and Grants
Dozens of scholarships are available for minorities in many different majors and fields of work. Some are targeted for specific minority groups, and some are available to all minorities. The list below is just a sample of the awards available to students.
Scholarships for All Minority Students
- Actuarial Diversity Scholarship
This scholarship award recognizes and encourages the academic achievements of full-time undergraduate minority students pursuing a degree that may lead to a career in the actuarial profession.
- Albert W. Dent Graduate Student Scholarship
Sponsored by the American College of Healthcare Executives, this scholarship is for minority students in the final year of a full-time health care management graduate program.
- American Bus Association Diversity Award
This scholarship is intended to help encourage more minorities to enter the management and operation ranks of the transportation, travel, and tourism industry.
- American Chemical Society Scholars ProgramRenewable scholarships are available for underrepresented minority students who are majoring in undergraduate chemistry-related disciplines and who intend to pursue careers in chemistry-related fields.
- American Institute of CPAs Scholarship Award for Minority Accounting StudentsThis award is for outstanding minority students to encourage their selection of accounting as a major and a profession.
- Brown and Caldwell Minority Scholarship
This scholarship is for students majoring in civil, chemical, mechanical, electrical, or environmental engineering, or one of the environmental sciences.
- CGCS ‒ Bernard Harris Scholarship Program
This program from the Council of the Great City Schools (CGCS) was established to encourage minority students to pursue college degrees and careers in science, technology, engineering, and math.
- CVS Health Minority Scholarship for Pharmacy Students
This scholarship is for five outstanding, underrepresented minority students who are enrolled in their first year of the professional phase of the Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) program or have been accepted into a PharmD degree program.
- EPP/MSI Undergraduate Scholarship Program
This scholarship provides funds for 2 years of undergraduate study to minority students majoring in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields that directly support the mission of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
- Gates Millennium Scholars Program
This program, funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, offers minority students the opportunity to complete an undergraduate college education in any discipline area of interest.
- Illustrating Awesomeness Scholarship
Next Day Animations sponsors this scholarship opportunity for young minority women or gender non-conforming individuals “who are actively working to change the world.”
- Jackie Robinson Foundation Scholarship Award
This scholarship offers college grants to minority high school students showing leadership potential and demonstrating financial need.
- Leon Bradley Scholarship Program
The American Association of School Personnel Administrators sponsors this scholarship to encourage more minorities to enter teaching and school leadership roles.
- Morgan Stanley Richard B. Fisher Scholarship Program
This program from Morgan Stanley offers minority students a financial scholarship for exceptional academic achievement after acceptance of a summer internship.
- NACME Collegiate Scholarships
These series of scholarships from the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering offer help for engineering and computer students.
- The LAGRANT Foundation Undergraduate Scholarships
This scholarship is for minority students majoring in a field of study that has an emphasis on advertising, marketing, or public relations.
- United Methodist GBHEM Racial-Ethnic Specific Scholarships
These scholarships are offered to minority members of the United Methodist Church.
Scholarships for African Americans
- Blacks at Microsoft ScholarshipThis scholarship is for high school seniors who plan to pursue a bachelor's degree in engineering, computer science, computer information systems, or select business programs such as finance, business administration, or marketing.
- NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.
These scholarships from the NAACP’s Legal Defense and Educational Fund are intended to help students with financial need to stay in school and successfully complete their bachelor’s degree.
- National Black MBA Association Scholarships
Several scholarships are offered by this national association for MBAs.
- Ron Brown Scholar Program
This scholarship program provides academic scholarships, service opportunities, and leadership experiences.
Scholarships for Asian Americans
- APIA Scholars
The Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholars (APIA) program offers awards to Asian Americans who are the first in their families to attend college.
- AANAPISI Scholarship Program
This program works with Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institutions (AANAPISIs) to provide scholarships at partner campuses.
- Asian Pacific Fund
This group offers 10 scholarships to help undergraduate and graduate students achieve their education goals.
- Korean Ancestry Grants
These grants from The Dingwall Foundation are intended for Asian Americans, with a preference for those of Korean ancestry.
- U.S. Pan Asian American Chamber of Commerce Scholarships
These scholarships are offered to high school seniors nationwide for their postsecondary education.
Scholarships for Latino Students
- Café Bustelo El Café Del Futuro Scholarship Essay Contest
This contest is for Latino students in all majors. College students with a passion for community involvement and furthering their education are given priority.
- Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute
This organization offers several fellowships and internships for college students.
- Hispanic Scholarship Consortium Scholarship Program
This program is open to graduating high school seniors as well as undergraduate and graduate students. Several scholarships are available.
- Hispanic Scholarship Fund
This scholarship is available for high school seniors, undergraduate students, community college students transferring to four-year universities, and graduate students.
- McDonald’s HACER National Scholarship Program
This program offers aid to students eligible to attend a 2- or 4-year college or university with a full-time course of study.
Scholarships for Native Americans
- AAIA Scholarships
These scholarships from the Association on American Indian Affairs are available to students enrolled with their respective tribe, whether federally recognized or non-federally recognized.
- AIEF Scholarship Programs
The American Indian Education Fund offers scholarships for graduate and undergraduate American Indians and Alaskan Natives.
- American Indian College Fund Full Circle Scholarship
This organization provides scholarships to American Indian and Alaska Native college students seeking undergraduate and graduate degrees at tribal colleges, nonprofit schools, and accredited schools.
- American Indian Nurse Scholarship Awards
These scholarships are given with the help of the National Society of The Colonial Dames of America. Winners are expected to return to work among their people to help improve health care.
- American Indian Services Program
This program offers scholarships to students who are enrolled members of a federally recognized Native American tribe.
- Catching the Dream Program
This group offers scholarships to Native American students, especially those who intend to return to their communities to help others.
- Cherokee Nation College Resource Scholarships
The Cherokee Nation College Resource Center offers several scholarships to tribal citizens who have permanent residence within the Cherokee Nation or contiguous areas.
- Chickasaw Nation Higher Education Grant
The Chickasaw Nation provides grants and scholarships to Chickasaw citizens and full-time employees.
- Intertribal Timber Council Scholarships
This organization offers several scholarships, with differing requirements for Native American residents.
- Osage Nation Higher Education Scholarship
This award is offered to Osage students entering postsecondary education for an associate’s degree and beyond.
- SAA Native American Scholarship
The Society for American Archaeology scholarships are open to all Native peoples from anywhere in the Americas, including Alaska Natives, Indigenous Pacific Islanders, and Native Hawaiians.
- United South and Eastern Tribes (USET) Scholarships
These scholarships are for USET-area Indian students who are enrolled members of one of the 30 USET Member Tribal Nations.
- Wah-Tiah-Kah Scholarship
This scholarship, administered by the Osage Minerals Council, is intended to provide assistance to eligible Osage applicants in the petroleum-related field of study.
- Zuni Tribal Scholarship
This need-based scholarship is intended for enrolled members of the Zuni Tribe and can be renewed.
Scholarships for Additional Minority Students
- Banatao Family Filipino American Education Fund
This scholarship is for those of at least 50% Filipino heritage pursuing degrees in engineering, mathematics, computer science, environmental science, or physical science.
- SEED Foundation Scholarship
This scholarship is for students of Asian-Indian heritage with at least one parent of Indian ancestry.
Other Financial Aid Resources
Here is a list of other financial aid resources for all students. Find out more about federal grants, college grants, student loans, and more at the following sites.
Federal Pell Grants
Access information about federal grants from the U.S. Department of Education.
Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant
This federal grant is intended for undergraduate students with exceptional financial need.
Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
The FAFSA form is the starting point for applying for financial aid for college or graduate school.
Frequently Asked Questions About Financial Aid
Purdue Global provides responses to frequently asked questions about financial aid and FAFSA.
More Federal Grants
From the U.S. Department of Education, this resource provides information about other grants for students attending college or a career school.
The Sallie Mae site offers information about federal and state grants and loans to help pay for college.
Student Loan Information
This page from Purdue Global offers more information on Federal Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans, Federal Direct PLUS Loans, and Master Promissory Notes.
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