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Guide to Scholarships for Minorities

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Paying for college is a huge expense. This is why so many students seek financial aid to help defray the cost of their college education. Most colleges and universities offer some financial aid, whether it is state and federal financial aid, academic scholarships, grants, or federal work-study programs. If you are a minority, you may also qualify for minority scholarships.

Minorities are individuals of a specific race or ethnic background. Examples of minority groups include African-American, Asian-American, Hispanic, Native American, Arab-American, and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT). If you fall into any of these minority groups, you have a good chance of receiving a minority scholarship. Scholarships are gift aid that does not have to be repaid.

Minority Scholarship Highlights

Minority students have many scholarship options. To find a minority scholarship that suits your race or ethnic background, talk to the financial aid office staff at the school you are attending or plan to attend. Be sure to take advantage of all scholarships and financial aid opportunities offered by your school. School scholarships usually have fewer applicants, so your chances of receiving a scholarship are better.

There are minority scholarships which apply to any minority group. And, there are scholarships for individual minority groups. Either way, minority scholarships are typically funded by universities and colleges, professional organizations, or corporate sponsors. Most scholarships are merit-based, and/or need-based, while some scholarships may require students to fill out a Free Application for Student Financial Aid (FAFSA) to be considered.

An example of a minority scholarship for any race or ethnic background is The Gates Millennium Scholars program. This scholarship is awarded to a minority student studying math, engineering, science, education, or library science. This is a very competitive scholarship with rigid requirements and deadline.

Each minority scholarship is unique. Some combine scholarship money and an internship, some are specific to an area of study, while others provide tuition waivers. Whatever the scholarships, there are many types for minority students to consider.

Types of Scholarships for Minority Students

The most common types of minority scholarships include: African-American scholarships; Asian-American scholarships; Native American scholarships: Arab American scholarships; Hispanic scholarships; and, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) scholarships.

Some African-American scholarships include:

Ron Brown Scholar Program —this is a renewable scholarship, awarded to African-American high school seniors who plan to attend a four-year Institution.
UNCF General Scholarship—this scholarship awards up to $5,000 to an undergraduate or graduate student attending a UNCF college or university.

Asian-American scholarships include:

Asian-American Journalists Association (AAJA) Scholarship —awards from $1,000-$5,000 to Asian-American students with excellent academic standing.

Asian and Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund (APIASF) —awards up to $5,000 to more than 200 first-year students of Asian descent.

Native American students also have options for scholarships. Most scholarships require students to be at least the standard requirement of ¼ American Indian blood to be considered. There are scholarships awarded to Native American students who are members of a federally recognized tribe, as well as those who are not. Requirements vary by scholarship. In addition, there is state-based aid for geographical areas populated by Native Americans.

Arab-American students can check the list of scholarships awarded at the Arab American Institute website. One scholarships is The Arab Star Scholarships —this scholarship is awarded to two Arab-American high school students who plan to major in journalism. They are each awarded $3,000 per year along with hands-on-training at The Arab Star.

Hispanic scholarships are also available for students of Hispanic/Latino descent. The Hispanic Scholarship Fund has a website that details scholarships available to Hispanic students. Some scholarships are specific to college students, community college transfer students, as well as high school students and graduates.

There are several types of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) scholarships. Students may qualify for regional, national scholarships, or graduate and post-graduate scholarships. Another type of scholarship awards students who have been raised in LGBT households.

An example of a LGBT scholarship is: First Friday Breakfast Club Scholarship —this scholarship awards $2,500 to qualifying Iowa high school students.

Key Points about Minority Scholarships

There are many minority scholarships to explore. To eliminate frustration, keep these key points in mind when inquiring about them:


  • Know what type of minority scholarships for which you are eligible.

  • Check with college officials to note any potential scholarships at your fingertips.

  • Check if FAFSA is required for applying for any scholarships. If so, be prepared and have all pertinent material in front of you when filling out the FAFSA.

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