10 Minority Scholarships That Can Help Pay For College – Forbes Advisor
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The percentage of students who identify as non-white has steadily climbed to 45% of undergraduates, from 30% two decades ago. But that doesn’t mean paying for college just got easier.
According to a recent report by the American Council on Education, minorities are more likely to use student loans to pay for their education, and they graduate with higher debt levels than their white peers.
If you are a student researching your financial aid options, there are minority grants and scholarships that can reduce the need for student loans, allowing you to graduate with less debt.
10 Best Scholarships for Minority Students
Diversity scholarships can be targeted at specific ethnic or racial groups, or they can be designed to meet the needs of multiple underserved populations. They are issued by universities, private companies and non-profit organizations, and there are awards for undergraduate and graduate students.
1. American Indian College Fund
The American Indian College Fund provides Full Circle and Tribal College Scholarships to American Indian and Alaska Native students pursuing undergraduate and graduate studies. Students can qualify for the awards if they attend an accredited tribal college, nonprofit school, or university.
Scholarship amounts vary, but students must be enrolled in school full-time and be a member or descendant of a state or federally recognized tribe with at least a 2.0 GPA.
2. American Meteorological Society (AMS) Minority Fellowship
Aimed at groups that have been historically underrepresented in science, particularly Hispanic, Native American, and Black students, the AMS Minority Scholarship awards $6,000 to students entering their freshman year of college. Scholars receive the funds during the first two years of college.
The application process requires a completed application form, high school transcripts, and a letter of recommendation. Candidates should also be interested in a career in atmospheric, oceanic or hydrological sciences.
3. APIA (Asian and Pacific Islander American Scholars) Scholarship Program
APIA scholarships range in value from a one-time award of $2,500 to a multi-year award of $20,000. The scholarships are available for Asian and Pacific Islander students who meet one or more of the following criteria:
- Living at or near the poverty line
- Are the first in their family to attend university
- Have a demonstrated focus on community service and leadership
- Are U.S. citizens or permanent residents (citizens of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, and the Republic of Palau are also eligible)
- Students must complete the FAFSA in early April
To apply, you will need to submit an application, a short essay, and a letter of recommendation. Finalists may be required to submit additional documentation.
4. La Unidad Latina Foundation
The La Unidad Latina Foundation provides scholarships for Latino undergraduate and graduate students. The scholarships range from $500 to $2,000 to help students complete their studies. Students must have strong GPAs, be enrolled in an eligible four-year school, and submit transcripts and letters of recommendation.
5. National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (NACME) Pathway Scholarship
The NACME Pathway Scholarship is for freshmen majoring in engineering or computer science. The scholarship provides up to $5,000 per student for the first year and is renewable for at least $2,500 per year until graduation, provided the student meets the GPA requirements as a full-time student. Winners are also eligible for potential internships hosted by the sponsoring company.
To be eligible for a NACME scholarship, students must be high school seniors applying to an engineering or computer science program at a NACME partner institution. NACME’s mission is to increase representation of Black, Hispanic, and Native American students.
6. National Press Club Journalism Diversity Fellowship
The National Press Club Journalism Diversity Fellowship was established in honor of Julie Schoo, who served as Executive Director of the National Press Club for more than 30 years. The scholarship is designed to encourage diversity in journalism and provides winning students with a $5,000 scholarship. The award is renewable for up to three years.
To be eligible, students must be in high school and intend to pursue a career in journalism. Students must submit an essay, writing samples, letters of recommendation, and high school transcripts.
7. National Society of High School Scholars (NSHSS) Diversity Scholarship
The NSHSS Diversity Scholarship is for high school sophomores, juniors and seniors. Eligible students can get up to $2,000 to pay for their education. To qualify, students must write an essay on diversity and inclusion, submit their resume, transcripts, letters of recommendation, and photos or videos of their diversity activities in action.
8. The Gates Fellowship
The Gates scholarship is one of the best scholarships for minorities in STEM – science, engineering, technology and mathematics. This is last-dollar financial aid for minority high school students from low-income households. It is designed to cover the full cost of participation that is not covered by other financial aid, such as Pell Grants and Institutional Awards.
To be eligible, students must be eligible for a Federal Pell Grant and identify as Black, Native American/Alaskan Native, Asian and Pacific Islander, or Hispanic. The scholarship is awarded to 300 students each year.
9. Visa Black Scholars and Jobs Program
The Visa Black Scholars and Job program is for black high school students who intend to study business or technology at a four-year college. Offered in partnership with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, scholarship recipients are selected based on financial need. Scholars will receive up to $20,000 per year and the award can be renewed for the duration of their academic career.
Additionally, selected students will also benefit from mentorship from Visa employees, professional development training, and opportunities to develop their leadership skills. If they meet the program commitments and Visa employment requirements, they are guaranteed full-time employment with Visa after graduating from university.
To apply, students must have a 3.0 or higher GPA, demonstrate financial need, and participate in all program activities.
10. The Paul & Daisy Soros Scholarships for New Americans
The Paul & Daisy Soros Scholarship Program is for students who are American immigrants or children of immigrants. You must be 30 or younger and enrolled in a graduate school to qualify. The scholarship is open to all fields of study and pays up to 50% of tuition and fees, up to a maximum of $10,000 per semester.
How to Search for Minority Scholarships and Grants
There are thousands of scholarships for underrepresented students. If you are looking for minority scholarships, follow these steps to maximize your chances of getting financial aid:
- Submit the FAFSA and CSS profile: Federal and state governments, universities, and private organizations use information submitted on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and CSS profile to determine your eligibility for grants, scholarships, and loans. By completing the FAFSA, you may qualify for Pell grants or other assistance.
- Look for opportunities online: To sort through available scholarships, you can use tools like FastWeb, Scholarships.com, and Unigo to find scholarships and grants that match your profile.
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For students from groups that have historically been underrepresented in higher education, scholarships can help higher education become more accessible. By using scholarships, grants, and work-study programs, you can earn a degree while reducing the need for student loans.