Low Income Student Scholarships

Too Poor for College?

Thomas Jefferson wrote 100 years ago, ”..that the children of the poor must be thus educated at common expense.” Today, grants and scholarships open doors for students from low-income families, by providing financial aid for those who need it most.

Academic high-achievers who need money for college enjoy access to a wide variety of merit-based awards that take financial conditions into account.  For good students, economic disadvantages can be overcome with the help of low-income college scholarships.

Scholarships originate from many sources, and each has its own unique eligibility requirements.  Your school’s financial aid office has the most up to date information about current low-income scholarship opportunities.  These examples illustrate the wide scope of entities willing to help you pay for college.

Unmet Need Scholarship Program

As a part of the Sallie Mae Scholarship Fund, the Unmet Need Scholarship Program provides low income families with coveted college cash.  Eligibility is limited to families with a combined annual income of less than $30,000.  Scholarships range from $1,000 to $3,000 each, and are designed as supplemental scholarships that fill ”unmet” financial aid need of $1,000 or more.   U.S. citizens, enrolled full-time as  undergraduates at accredited colleges or universities, and having grade point averages of at least 2.5  (or GED average test scores  between 42 and 52) are invited to apply.

low income scholarships for college

National Medical Fellowships Need Based Scholarship Program

This Need Based Scholarship Program is open to first and second year medical students who demonstrate  significant financial aid needs.   The mission of the program is to increase health care access and awareness among low-income communities, and to increase the role of under-represented minorities in medical fields.  Since 1946, over 30,000 scholarship recipients have benefited to the tune of over $40 million. The scholarships range from $500 to $10,000 each, with priority consideration being given to those applicants exhibiting the greatest levels of financial need.  The organization also administers merit-based scholarships for third and fourth-year minority students who are recognized as scholastic high-achievers.

ABA Legal Opportunity Scholarship Fund

The American Bar Association promotes diversity within the legal profession through its Legal Opportunity Scholarship Fund.  Needy students attending ABA accredited law schools are eligible for scholarships worth $15,000 over the three-year course of law school education. Over 1000 applicants compete for 20 annual awards, which each apply to law school tuition expenses at one of the 50 participating schools.  Since its inception, the fund has assisted over 200 low-income and minority law school students.

Gates Millennium Scholars

Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, Gates Millennium Scholarships reduce financial hardship for low-income minority families preparing to send members to college. African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans/Alaskan Natives, and Asian Pacific Islanders are invited to apply for one of the 1000 annual Millennium Scholarships, each of which provides a full financial ride through graduation.

Candidates must be legal residents of the U.S. with cumulative high-school GPA of at least 3.3.  Additionally, diverse applicants must be entering full-time programs at accredited colleges or universities.  Disadvantaged students must show economic hardship to warrant consideration for the awards, and must also exhibit leadership skills through participation in extracurricular activities. Federal Pell Grant eligibility is also a prerequisite.

Each applicant must be nominated  for a Gates Scholarship, by a teacher or administrator who is familiar with the student’s academic record.  A recommendation which attests to the student’s extracurricular participation and exemplary leadership qualities is also required.

In addition to monetary aid, Gates Scholars are nurtured with academic support during school, as well as access to professional development opportunities through millennium Foundation leadership programs.

Students who complete an undergraduate degree program may request additional scholarship funding for graduate studies in the specific areas of education, engineering, library science, mathematics, public health and computer science.

The Google Scholarship Program

The Google Scholarship Program encompasses a variety of financial aid offerings that further higher education among under-represented groups.  to recruit top talent to business and technology careers, Google steers student aid to low-income students and other minority groups.

Some current Google awards and the groups they serve:

Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship – This focused scholarship targets women pursuing degrees in computer science disciplines.  Applicants from The United States and Canada compete for funds that are awarded based on academic achievement and leadership potential.  Winners are also invited to a retreat at Google, where they engage with their peers in networking environments and participate in career development activities sponsored by the company.

American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) partners with Google to administer a scholarship worth $10, 000 to American Indians aspiring to enter computer related fields.  Applicants must be full-time students pursuing degrees in computer science or computer engineering.  A 3.0 GPA is required, as well as sophomore status.  Candidates are drawn from AISES membership, and must also be members of Indian tribes.

Hispanic Scholarship Fund works with Google and other sponsors, to promote Latino educational causes in the U.S.  Hispanic applicants who are juniors and seniors at accredited universities compete for scholarships worth 10K each, and trips to the Google conference retreat at company headquarters.  Candidates exhibit financial need and good grades, including 3.0 GPA and continued progress toward college degrees.  Low-income winners who are pursuing computer science and computer engineering degrees also receive academic counselling and career development training.

Abercrombie & Fitch Scholarship Program

In conjunction with the United Negro College Fund (UNCF), Abercrombie & Fitch provides a scholarship program for African American students from low income families. The scholarships are valued at $3,000 each, for first year students enrolled at four-year universities.

Diversity scholarships often contain financial eligibility requirements.  If you are a minority student experiencing financial hardship, some scholarships are aimed directly at you.  In addition to the A&F Scholarship, UNCF administers programs sponsored by corporations and private benefactors.  Current offerings include:

  • Anheuser-Busch Legends of the Crown Scholarships
  • Hallmark/UNCF Scholars
  • Detroit Student Aid Scholarship
  • Edna Blum Scholarship
  • Marathon Oil Scholarship
  • Pfizer Scholarship
  • Monsanto Scholarship


Imagine America Foundation sponsors three career-oriented college scholarships:

  • Image America for high school seniors has helped thousands of career college students since its 1998 inception.  Online applicants are each eligible for an award totalling $1000.  The Foundation works with guidance counselors across the country to place money in the hands of students attending any of the 500 participating career schools.
  • Military Award Program (MAP) for military personnel was founded in 2004 to help veterans and military personnel make the transition to civilian life.  Active-duty, retired and reserve personnel are eligible for $1000 awards earmarked for career college education.
  • Adult Skills Education Program (ASEP) supports non-traditional career college students with one-time grants for school.  Each applicant must complete a student assessment to be considered for the award.

Jack Kent Cooke Foundation distributes a series of educational scholarships for secondary school students, undergraduates and graduate students.  The scholarships reward students from low-income families who exhibit hard work and a strong will to succeed.  Financial need is a prerequisite for all of the Foundation’s awards, along with solid academic achievement and extracurricular participation.  JKC scholarships address three distinct groups of students, from middle school through post-graduate studies.

  • Young Scholars Program – Early intervention is the driving force behind these scholarships that nurture high-achievers from an early age, to increase positive outcomes for low-income students.  Candidates apply in 7th grade, and enter the program beginning in 8th grade.  Winners receive custom tailored assistance, which provides support for summer school, distance learning, music, art and other instruction.  Most recipients remain in public schools, but the program also accommodates students who need private school education. Sixty winners are chosen from thousands of applicants each year, most of them drawn from families with annual incomes around $25,000.
  • Undergraduate Transfer Student Scholarships - The generous compensation put forth by this transfer program makes it the country’s largest initiative of its kind.  Community college students receive up to $30,000 each, to be used to ease the financial transition into 4-year bachelor’s degree programs.  Sixty deserving winners enter the program each year, receiving scholarships designed to cover tuition, living expenses, books and other fees.  Each eligible candidate must be recommended by the JKC Faculty Representative from his or her 2-year school.
  • Graduate Scholarships - JKC Graduate Scholarships reflect 3 specific award types.
  1. Graduate Arts Awards are for needy students pursuing post-graduate work in visual arts, performance arts and creative writing.  Winners are eligible for up to $50,000 for each of three years.
  2. Dissertation Fellowships support students who are engaged in graduate-level work that specifically strives to illuminate understanding of the educational paths of low-income high-achievers.  Academic ability and unmet financial need are key requisites for this scholarship.
  3. General Graduate Scholarships are now offered exclusively to past JKC undergraduate scholarship winners.  Due to budget constraints, only JKC scholars are available to receive one-time awards of 50K, to be applied to graduate school tuition and fees.


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