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Guide to Scholarships for African-American Students

Grants, Student Loans, & Fellowships

You’ve decided to attend college and keep asking that dreaded question, “how do you pay for college?” There are many financial aid options for African-American students. Aid options include federal work study programs, grants, loans, and scholarships.

Scholarships are gift money that does not have to be repaid. As such, they are a valuable financial aid option. There are many colleges, universities, and organizations that offer African-American scholarships.

Where to Look for African-American Scholarships

Seeking scholarships is a great way to defray some costs accumulated by attending college. But like most college-bound African-American students seeking scholarships, many questions are posed:

  1. Who offers black scholarships?
  2. How do you apply for the scholarships?
  3. Where do you look for non-institutional (e.g., not sponsored by a college) black scholarships?

Many colleges and universities offer African-American scholarships. Scholarships generally fall under financial aid at these institutions. Students can also inquire about black scholarships within the school’s departments of major study. (e.g. School of Nursing; School of Business). Most scholarships offered through colleges and institutions will require students to fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Besides colleges and universities, many organizations offer black scholarships. Groups like the United Negro College Fund and the National Association of Negro Business & Professional Women’s Club, Inc. offer a variety of scholarships for African-American students. Requirements for scholarships sponsored by these organizations typically require filling out an application, and potentially writing any essay about a particular subject.

Websites to Help Your Search for African-American Scholarships

There are several websites that provide listings of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) where scholarships can be found. One such site is the U.S. Department of Education which provides a detailed list of HBCUs by state, and links you to their official school websites. By doing so, students can investigate black scholarship opportunities if they plan to attend that particular institution. For example, Elizabeth City State University (ECSU) in North Carolina offers the African Students Scholarship to incoming freshmen. This scholarship is awarded based on the student’s academic status from high school. This is a foundation scholarship and, once awarded, is a four-year commitment.

Another site worth checking out is The Sallie Mae Fund. This website provides a variety of scholarships offered through the organization and also outside the organization. One scholarship offered by Sallie Mae is the American Dream Scholarship Program. This program is offered in conjunction with the United Negro College Fund. It is awarded to African-American students with a financial need. Scholarships range from $500 to $5,000.

Other African-American Scholarships Available

Some national organizations offer scholarships to African-American students. The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) offers several scholarships geared toward African-American students interested in pursuing a career in journalism. One example of a scholarship offered is the Carole Simpson Scholarship. This scholarship awards $2,500 to a journalism student attending an accredited college or university. To be considered, the student is required to be a member of NABJ.

Chi Eta Phi Sorority is a professional association for student nurses and registered nurses from different cultures and ethnic backgrounds. Chi Eta Phi Sorority offers scholarships for undergraduate African-American students pursuing a career in nursing. Amounts awarded vary based on region and chapter.

Another scholarship option for African-American students is the Herbert Lehman Education Fund. This scholarship fund is administered by the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. Qualifying incoming freshmen are typically awarded scholarships in the amount of $2,000. Students in their first year of college can also apply. This scholarship is renewable and available for up to four consecutive years.

The National Association of Negro Business & Professional Women’s Club, Inc. offers several scholarship programs. The Dorothy G. Allsop Scholarship is one example of a NANBPWC award. This scholarship is geared toward graduating high school students. Applicants are required to fill out an application along with an essay which includes at minimun 250 words.

For additional minority scholarships geared toward African-American students, visit the Guide to Scholarships for Minorities.

Tips for Finding Black Scholarships and Financial Aid for Black Students

  • Talk to school officials. If you are a high school student seeking scholarship information for going to college, speak with your school guidance counselor. Also, contact financial aid officials of the college or university you plan to attend, and inquire about scholarship availability.
  • Research on the web. There are many sites that list black scholarships. Colleges, universities, and a number of organizations offer scholarships for African-American students.
  • Check HBCUs for scholarship options, especially if it is a school you plan to attend.
  • Be sure to look at minority scholarship options. Often times, colleges, universities, and organizations generalize by using the term “minority.” As an African-American, you may qualify for many of these scholarships.
  • Find out if any scholarships require filling out a FAFSA. If so, be prepared. Make sure you gather all pertinent material to complete the form.

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