Scholarships for minorities play an important role in the American educational system. The cost of going to school is rising, and many minority students don’t enjoy the same access to funding as more-privileged students have.
As an African American, Hispanic, LGBTQ, or multiracial student, searching for traditional college scholarships and financial aid can make minorities feel excluded. Scholarships for African Americans and other minorities celebrate the cultural differences that make America a melting pot of talent and diversity.
How Does Financial Aid Work?
Most students don’t pay entirely out of pocket for education. Many qualify for some form of financial aid and/or scholarships to help cover the costs. FAFSA is a standard part of the college application process today. Granted based on need, the federal government will offer some percentage of aid based on satisfactory academic performance and the demonstration of financial need. Scholarships, on the other hand, come from a wide variety of organizations.
Nonprofits, scholarship funds, and certain for-profit organizations offer scholarships as a way to give back to the community and help students complete a post-secondary degree. While most scholarships create thresholds for merit-based performance, some also stipulate other requirements. Some programs grant scholarships only to women. Others focus on certain areas of academic study. Still more offer full ride scholarships for African Americans and other minorities.
How to Get Financial Aid and Scholarships
Like the college application process, scholarships for African Americans and other minorities require the submission of a formal application. Organizations may award them in addition to any need-based financial aid a student receives. To qualify, a student must meet all the requirements listed in the application and compete among other eligible students.
For example, some programs only award minority-based scholarships to high school seniors who have at minimum one parent of a specified race and who plan to attend college full time. Other scholarship programs may specify certain applications (a certain degree program or sports program) but open the door to all minorities, LGBTQ, and multicultural students.
How to Apply for Financial Aid and Scholarships
To apply for scholarships and financial aid, students can work with school counselors and conduct scholarship searches online. Most programs offer downloadable applications online and some accept online submissions.
The Blacks at Microsoft Scholarship program, for example, awards two $5,000 scholarships every year. Qualifying students can download the application online and mail it to the Seattle Foundation before the deadline. In addition to basic application information, applying students must compile two recommendation letters, a resume, a picture, two short essays, and an academic transcript. Every scholarship will feature a different set of criteria for applying. Interested students must pay close attention to application instructions to keep an application in the running for a scholarship.
How to Get a Full Ride Scholarship
Many schools offer full ride scholarships to one or two promising students every year. Public and private colleges may award these scholarships based on merit, financial need, and other factors such as community involvement. In addition to merit-based full rides, minority students may find a select few minority-specific full ride scholarships. The Tom Joyner Foundation, for instance, offers a full ride scholarship each year for one exemplary student attending historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs).
Here is a list of the top 10 Best HBCUs according to Bestcolleges.com:
- Howard University
- Spelman College
- Hampton University
- Tuskegee University
- Xavier University of Louisiana
- Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University
- North Carolina A&T State University
- Bowie State University
- Tougaloo College
- Winston-Salem State University
Explore the World of Minority Scholarships and Financial Aid
A single article could never encompass the numerous scholarship available to minorities living in America. To find the right financial aid and scholarship opportunities, we highly suggest working with school counselors, college planning specialists, and local outreach groups. From the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (focused on merit and need-based aid for students attending member schools) to the AlChE Minority Scholarship Awards for College Students (focused on minorities in chemical engineering), several great programs exist to support minorities in college.
To make the most of scholarship opportunities, start searching for programs before your senior year of high school. Many scholarship and financial aid programs are highly competitive and maintain strict deadlines for submission.