Ultimate Guide to College Grants and Scholarships for Minorities

January 14th, 2014 by Amelia

Scholarships and grants are a valuable tool for students who need funds to pay for college. These programs typically have criteria that consider your background and interests. One major category of gift awards is minority scholarships and grants. Minorities are groups that have historically faced societal disadvantages or challenges due to factors including: ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, and disability. Students whose backgrounds qualify them for these awards can access financial assistance that they don’t need to pay back. Like all scholarships, minority scholarships will usually have additional merit or need based criteria for selection. Minority scholarships are offered by colleges, private organizations and companies, and government agencies.

Hispanic and Latino

There are a large number of college scholarships available for Hispanic students. Many of these awards are aimed at helping provide equal opportunities for higher education as research has shown that financial barriers are the primary reason many Hispanic and Latino students don’t pursue post-secondary education. Scholarships aimed at Hispanic and Latino students typically have additional criteria including academic merit , civic activism and volunteerism , or demonstrating financial need. Some scholarships are only open to immigrant families while others are open to all students of Hispanic and Latino descent. While many programs require that students have U.S. citizenship, there are even scholarships for students regardless of documentation status .

African American

African American students can access a wide range of scholarships aimed at increasing diversity and helping African American students break down barriers in underrepresented fields. Some scholarships for African American students celebrate general academic achievement while others fund further education in STEM fields or other fields where African American students are underrepresented. Many of these programs are run by non-profit organizations committed to African American community development and advocacy. Groups like the UNCF and NAACP have a long history of helping African American students find funding to pursue higher education. There are many other private scholarships and university-funded scholarships available at both the local and national level, so be sure search databases and contact prospective colleges to learn more.

Native American

In addition to private and institutional scholarships, Native American students pursuing post-secondary education will have access to a large range of federal and local government scholarship funds available specifically for Native American students. Students will qualify for scholarships based on their course of study, tribal affiliation , community activism, and more. Native American Tribal Colleges and Universities also offer scholarships for students who choose to attend tribal schools. Native American students should carefully research not only Native American scholarships , but also general minority scholarships for specific fields of study or general academic achievement.

Women

Women are considered a minority group in that there is a gender gap in many fields of work and study. While some scholarships generally serve the advancement of women in higher education, most scholarships for women are geared toward creating advancement opportunities within STEM areas and other professional fields where women are under-represented. Scholarships for women are typically funded through private organizations or universities. Some women’s scholarships are specifically for minority women as these programs recognize the unique educational barriers faced by minority women. There are also scholarships targeting women who many not have had equal educational opportunities in the past, and are pursuing their college education later in life .

Persons with Disabilities

In addition to general minority scholarships, students with disabilities will also qualify for scholarships specifically for disabled students . There are scholarships for students with learning disabilities as well as physical and developmental disabilities. Some scholarships will also apply to students with disabled parents. State and federal government agencies can provide additional information on funding resources and general college assistance. Keep in mind that many schools also offer scholarships and grants for students with disabilities that can help them meet the cost of additional needs such as assistive equipment or aides, so be sure to contact your prospective schools for additional information.

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT)

Many schools and private organizations also recognize the challenges faced by students in the LBGT community. These scholarships serve both LBGT students and children of LGBT parents. Groups like PFLAG offer scholarships to LBGT students and LBGT community allies. These scholarships typically require a demonstration of commitment to service in the LBGT community. Other private foundations offer scholarships aimed at helping promising LBGT students with need-based assistance. Some programs help fill the gaps left by financial aid packages and parental contributions, while others offer merit-based awards. Many LBGT scholarships are offered at a local or regional level by private groups, so carefully research local opportunities. College and university LBGT resource centers can provide you with additional information on general and university-specific LBGT scholarship opportunities.

Carefully assess your background before dismissing the possibility of qualifying for minority scholarships. It can be helpful to discuss possibilities with your parents and college counselor. While some minority groups have well-known scholarship award programs, others may require additional research and outreach. Whether you’re a member of a highly visible minority group or have faced specific and unique challenges, you may qualify for a number of scholarships and grants targeted at underserved or underrepresented communities. There are even scholarships that are open to minority students from any underrepresented group. These scholarships are typically for specific courses of study or based on academic merit . Every scholarship counts so don’t be afraid to ask questions about qualifying for minority scholarships and grants.

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