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The total Hispanic population of the United States now outnumbers that of other minorities, but the percentage of Hispanics that attend college lags behind population numbers.
Colleges and universities are actively promoting diversity through minority recruiting efforts that target Hispanic students. By reaching out to Latinos in high school and even middle school, institutions of higher education - especially bachelor’s and graduate level programs, are seeking to increase access for minority students. Scholarships and grants that specifically fund Hispanic higher education provide a leg up for minorities seeking an education beyond high school.
Historically, the Hispanic population of the United States has been considered undereducated – due to some significant social and economic anomalies that have kept Hispanic Americans from finding their place in the U.S. system of higher education.
The trend is moving in the right direction, with more Hispanics earning college degrees than ever before.
Hispanic Students Overcoming Cultural Educational Challenges
Since the early 1990′s, the percentage of Hispanic students moving directly from high school to college has risen dramatically. In 2010 alone, university enrollment among Hispanics spiked, with a 25% increase over the previous year. During the same period, enrollment percentages among white students actually went down. The increase in Hispanic college students is supported by a parallel trend that has more Hispanics graduating from high school today, than at any time in history.
For the first time, colleges and universities now have greater numbers of Hispanic students enrolling than students of African American descent.
The economy plays a role too, since the modern job pool requires larger numbers of college educated workers to fill vital employment roles. To access well paying jobs, Hispanic students are embracing higher education through outreach programs that target them for college enrollment.
One of the most consistent obstacles for Hispanic students has been a lack of financial resources. Scholarships, grants and other forms of financial aid are essential funding sources for most students. Whether it comes from the general financial aid pool, or from resources that are available only to Hispanic students, aid for college increases access for Latinos.
Economic Challenges – Federal, State and Private Grants
Grants are key components of student financial aid packages, which also include scholarships, loans and work-study roles. Like scholarships, grants involve funds that do not require repayment. Any portion of your college education that can be funded with free money grants goes a long way toward reducing your overall debt load after college.
While scholarships are often tied to meritorious achievement, grant awards are more likely to be dispersed to students with some degree of financial need. Hispanic students seeking financial aid should employ a two headed approach, by targeting general aid and aid that is specifically designed to promote higher education within the Latino community.
Federal Grants for Students
Federal Pell Grants are great starting points for Hispanic students who need money for college. The U. S Government is the most prolific provider of student grants, and Pell Grants represent the deepest pockets for free student aid.
The path to any federal financial aid starts by completing a standard form called the Free Application for Federal Student Aid ( FAFSA). Your FAFSA is used to compile information about you and your family that helps gauge your level of financial need relating to college.
Your personal income, your parents’ income and assets, as well as the size of your family are used to project your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). Your EFC and the estimated cost of your education are used to create your personal Student Aid Report (SAR).
Your SAR is used by colleges of your choice to evaluate your eligibility for grants, loans and other forms of student assistance. Pell Grants are issued to financially disadvantaged students exhibiting a need for tuition assistance. Pell awards are granted based on these four criteria:
- Financial need that goes beyond the scope of your Expected Family Contribution
- Specific cost of attending your college or university
- Enrollment status as a full-time or part-time student
- Yearlong enrollment as a university student
Pell Grant limits change, based on Congressional funding, but student maximums are usually around $5000 per academic year.
Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants (FSEOG) are government grants awarded to students with exceptional financial need during college. If your Expected Family Contribution is zero, you’ll be considered first for FSEOG money. Grants are distributed from the bottom up, until funds are exhausted. If you are a FSEOG candidate, filing your FAFSA on time is essential.
Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) grants are issued to stimulate enrollment and retain competent education professionals. Students pursuing teaching degrees must agree to three requisite conditions to be eligible for $4000 yearly tuition grants. To utilize TEACH grants, recipients must:
- Work as a teacher for at least 4 years following graduation
- Teach in high-need areas
- Teach students who come from low-income families
If these conditions are not met by the degree candidate, the grant reverts to an unsubsidized loan, and the money must be repaid to the Federal Government.
Additional Grants for Hispanic Students
- Hispanic students considering degrees in health care may qualify for grants and scholarships executed by the National Association of Hispanic Nurses, the March of Dimes Nursing Scholarship program, the Scholarship for Disadvantaged Students program, and the Nursing Education Loan Repayment program. Additionally, the Department of Health and Human Services - Bureau of Health Professions, provides financial support to institutions offering high-quality degree programs that target minorities seeking health care careers.
- The Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF) maintains a listing of current grants and scholarships for Latino students here. The list includes corporate scholarships and general HSF funding that increases access for undereducated groups, like Hispanic students returning to college and 2-year degree candidates that plan to continue into 4-year programs.
- New Mexico Hispanic Women’s Council awards several $2000 scholarships yearly to Latinas enrolled full-time at University of New Mexico or Central New Mexico Community College.
- States issue grants to minority students in order to promote educational diversity and stimulate enrollment among specific groups. In Wisconsin, Hispanic students qualify for Wisconsin Minority Undergraduate Retention Grants, which provide tuition assistance for minority students enrolled at least half-time in Wisconsin Technical Colleges. In Texas, Hispanic students who are enrolled in nursing programs benefit from grants designed to support higher education among the state’s significant Latino population.
- The Hispanic College Fund is a D.C. based non-profit dedicated to promoting the next generation of Hispanic professionals. Providing vision and resources, the organization puts forth scholarship and grant opportunities for Hispanic Americans, including a science-oriented grant administered through a partnership with NASA. NASA scholars earn one-time grants worth 10K, and a chance to participate in space program internships.
- Hispanic Heritage Foundation promotes Hispanic leadership through education and workforce development programs. Young Latino leaders receive educational grants as part of the annual HHF Youth Awards. The foundation partners with private industry to offer awards in five areas:
- Community Service – Sponsored by Southwest Airlines
- Education – Sponsored by Target
- Engineering – Sponsored by Exxon Mobil
- Health Care – Sponsored by CVS
- Jose Marti Scholarship Challenge Grant Fund provides tuition assistance for Hispanic students enrolled in Florida institutions of higher learning. Hispanic American high school seniors with cumulative grade point averages of at least 3.0 are invited to apply for this $2000 tuition grant, which can be applied at Florida public universities and participating private colleges.
Corporate Support Benefits Everyone
While many grants are issued by The U.S. Federal Government and by individual state governments, corporations also recognize the importance of supporting advanced education among minority students. Corporate grants are awarded to individuals directly, and to institutions that support Hispanic education.
Xerox issues scholarships directly to Hispanic college students, and also supports higher education for Latinos through the Xerox Foundation’s Hispanic College Liaison Program. The Foundation disperses dozens of institutional grants yearly – to schools like University of Central Florida, California State and the University of Puerto Rico.
The Hispanic Scholarship Fund administers corporate grants from a wide range of participating sponsors, including:
- Goya – Children of Goya employees are eligible for awards up to $5000 yearly.
- Discover – Latinos enrolled full-time in pursuit of business-related degrees must reside in one of nine supported states and maintain GPAs of at least 3.0 to be eligible for these funds.
- Clorox – Over 50K is dispersed annually to deserving Hispanic students.
- Procter and Gamble – Science and technology majors, who are of Spanish cultural descent, are eligible for $2,500 yearly.
Sallie Mae Corporation, in concert with the Hispanic College Fund, administers the “First in My Family” Scholarship Fund. Hispanic students from disadvantaged backgrounds and from families with no history of college education may be eligible to receive these grants.
Hispanic-Serving Colleges and Universities
The Federal Government provides grants for colleges that specifically serve the Hispanic community. Hispanic-serving colleges are defined as those schools, which have student bodies that are comprised of at least one quarter Hispanic Americans. These institutions are concentrated in California, Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, New York and New Jersey.
Hispanic-serving colleges in California:
- California State Polytechnic
- California Sate -Bakersfield, Long Beach, Los Angeles, San Marcos and Stanislaus
- East Los Angeles College
- Fullerton College
- Los Angeles City College
- Napa Valley College
- San Diego State University
Hispanic-serving colleges in Arizona:
- Arizona Western
- Central Arizona College
- University of Arizona South
Hispanic-serving colleges in Colorado:
Hispanic-serving colleges in Florida:
These are only a few of the popular Hispanic-serving schools benefiting from federal grant money. Consult with the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities for a complete listing of schools in your area.
Resources for Hispanic Students
According to the U.S. Department of Education, the more obstacles that an undergraduate student faces, the less likely it becomes that he or she will complete a four-year college degree program. To help ease the financial challenges associated with higher education, Hispanic students are urged to tap every resource available.
General fiancial aid, including Pell Grants and FSEOG funds are available to all needy students, but some additional grant monies are offered exclusively to Hispanic Americans. Requirements for Hispanic-specific grants include Spanish heritage, U.S. citizenship, full-time enrollment and sometimes an above average GPA.
Corporations also grant college aid to undergraduate and graduate-level Latino students. Eligibility requirements vary according to each sponser’s wishes; sometimes calling for very specific applicant characteristics.
Filing your FAFSA is an important first step toward pulling together the financial aid you need for college, but it is up to you to uncover additional funding sources. Use Hispanic community organizations and other groups to stay informed about college grants for Latinos.
These helpful organizations provide valuable resources for Hispanic students seeking grants for college:
- Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute
The mission of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute’s (CHCI) Scholarship Program is to provide critical financial assistance for Hispanic students and to increase college graduation rates among Latinos. The Institute’s programs include internships, fellowships, and scholarship opportunities. Each year, CHCI distributes more than $300,000 to needy Hispanic students – mostly from families that make less than 30K annually. Civic responsibility is emphasized by including an eligibility component that requires candidates to demonstrate a history of active participation in public community service activities. There is no GPA or academic major requirement attached to CHCI grant money, so all students with leadership potential are encouraged to apply. To stay informed about national grant opportunities for Latino students, check out CHCI’s National Directory of Scholarships, Internships, & Fellowships, by visiting www.chci.org/scholarships/.
- Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley (HFSV) furthers Hispanic causes through education and leadership training. Dedicated to Hispanic excellence, the organization strives to improve the quality of life for Hispanics in the Silicon Valley region. One HFSV program, the Silicon Valley Latina Scholarship Fund, awards three scholarships yearly to Latinas pursuing four-year college degrees.
- Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities develops and promotes Hispanic-serving colleges to improve access to higher education for Hispanic American students.
- Hispanic Educational Technology Services is a bilingual initiative serving the ever-increasing educational needs of Hispanic communities. By bringing students and educators together for distance learning opportunities, the consortium uses technology to support Hispanic post-secondary education.
- Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Regional Scholarships can be found alongside national opportunities in the organization’s comprehensive publication: Directory of Scholarships, Internships and Fellowships. Sample listings from previous directories include the following financial aid opportunities for Hispanic students, but some may not be offered this year. For the the most up to date listings, download the current edition of the directory at www.chci.org/scholarships/
- 100 Hispanic Women-Young Latinas Leadership Institute
- Amigos Scholarship Foundation, Inc.
- Bar Association of San Francisco-Bay Area Minority Law Scholarship
- BECA Foundation-Alice Newell Joslyn Medical Fund
- BECA Foundation-Daniel Gutierrez Memorial General Scholarship Fund
- BECA Foundation-General Scholarship Fund
- BECA Foundation-Pepperdine University Scholarships
- California Chicano News Media Association (CCNMA)-Joel Garcia Memorial Scholarship
- Chicana/Latina Foundation Scholarship Fund
- Coalition for Nursing Careers in California
- Cuban American Scholarship Fund
- Golden State Minority Foundation
- Hispanic Education Foundation, Inc.
- Hispanic Public Relations Association (HPRA)-Scholarship Program
- Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF)/California State University, Bakersfield (CSUB)-Hispanic Excellence Scholarship Fund Program
- Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF)/Little Village Chamber of Commerce (LVVC)-Ambassadors Scholarship Program
- Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF)/National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts (NHFA)-Scholarship Program
- Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF)/South Texas-Scholarship Program
- Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF)/Toyota Foundation-Scholarship Program-Puerto Rico
- Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF)/Toyota-Scholarship Program
- Jose Marti Scholarship Challenge Grant Fund
- La Raza Lawyers Scholarship Program
- Latina Leadership Network (LLN)-Scholarship Program
- Latin American Educational Foundation Scholarships
- Latino College Expo, Inc.
- Maxwell House Coffee-Minority Scholarship
- Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF)-Ellen and Federico Jimenez Scholarship
- National Aeronautics Space Administration (NASA)/Society of Mexican American Engineers and Scientists (MAES)-Undergraduate Scholars Program
- New Jersey Mental Health Institute (NJMHI)-Hispanic Higher Education Scholarship Program
- PacifiCare Foundation-Latino Health Scholars Program
- Pacific Gas & Electric Company-Hispanic Employees Association Scholarship Fund
- San Jose GI Forum Scholarship Foundation
- Spanish Speaking Citizens Foundation-Aztec Scholarship
- TELACU Education Foundation-Arts Award
- TELACU Education Foundation-Cesar Chavez Memorial Leadership Award
- TELACU Education Foundation-David C. Lizarraga Fellowships
- TELACU Education Foundation-Edison International Scholarship
- TELACU Education Foundation-Engineering Award
- TELACU Education Foundation-General Scholarship Program
- Texas Association of Chicanos in Higher Education (TACHE)-Graduate Fellowships
- Youth Opportunities Foundation
- Congresswoman Lucile Roybal-Allard (California) Online Scholarship, Internship, and Fellowship Directory focuses on opportunities for Hispanic/Latino Students.
- Hispanic College Fund, Inc., Scholarships