10 Scholarships For Minorities That Can Help Pay for College – Forbes Advisor

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The percentage of college students who identify as non-white has steadily climbed to 45% of undergraduates, compared to 30% two decades ago. But that does not mean paying for college has gotten any easier.

Minorities are more likely to use student loans to pay for school, and they graduate with higher levels of debt than their white peers, according to a recent report by the American Council on Education.

If you’re a student researching your financial aid options, there are grants and scholarships for minorities available that can reduce the need for student loans, allowing you to earn a degree with less debt.

Top 10 Scholarships for Minority Students

Diversity scholarships can be for specific ethnic or racial groups, or they can be designed to cater to multiple underserved populations. They’re issued by universities, private companies and nonprofit organizations, and there are awards for both undergraduate and graduate students.

1. American Indian College Fund

The American Indian College Fund issues Full Circle and Tribal College scholarships to American Indian and Alaska Native college students pursuing undergraduate and graduate degrees. Students can qualify for the awards if they’re attending a tribal college, nonprofit school or accredited university.

Award amounts vary, but students must be enrolled in school full-time, and be a member or descendent of a state or federally recognized tribe with at least a 2.0 GPA.

2. American Meteorological Society (AMS) Minority Scholarship

Geared towards groups that have been historically underrepresented in the sciences—especially Hispanic, Native American and Black students—the AMS Minority Scholarship awards $6,000 to students entering their first year of college. Awardees receive the funds over the first two years of college.

The application process requires a completed application form, high school transcripts and a letter of recommendation. Applicants must also be interested in a career in atmospheric, oceanic or hydrologic sciences.

3. Asian and Pacific Islander American Scholars (APIA) Scholarship Program

APIA’s scholarships range in value from a one-time $2,500 prize to a $20,000 multi-year award. The scholarships are available to Asian and Pacific Islander students that meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • Live at or near the poverty level
  • Are the first in their families to attend college
  • Have a demonstrated focus on community service and leadership
  • Are US citizens or permanent residents (citizens of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia and the Republic of Palau are also eligible)
  • Students must complete the FAFSA by early April

To apply, you’ll need to submit an application, a short essay and a letter of recommendation. Finalists may be required to submit additional documents.

4. The Unity Latina Foundation

The Unidad Latina Foundation issues scholarships to undergraduate and graduate Latino students. Awards range from $500 to $2,000 to help students complete their education. Students should have strong GPAs, be enrolled in an eligible four-year school, and submit transcripts and letters of recommendation.

5. National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (NACME) Pathway Scholarship

The NACME Pathway Scholarship is for first-year college students majoring in engineering or computer science. The scholarship provides up to $5,000 per student for the first year, and is renewable for at least $2,500 per year until graduation as long as the student meets GPA requirements as a full-time student. Winners are also eligible for potential internships hosted by the sponsoring company.

To qualify for a NACME scholarship, students must be a high school senior applying to an engineering or computer science program at a NACME-partner institution. NACME’s mission is to increase representation of Black, Hispanic and Native American students.

6. National Press Club’s Scholarship for Journalism Diversity

The National Press Club’s Scholarship for Journalism Diversity was created in honor of Julie Schoo, who served as the executive director of the National Press Club for more than 30 years. The scholarship is designed to encourage diversity in journalism, and it gives winning students a $5,000 scholarship. The award is renewable for up to three years.

To qualify, students must be in high school and intend to pursue a career in journalism. Students must submit an essay, writing samples, letters of recommendation and high school transcripts.

7. National Society of High School Scholars (NSHSS) Diversity Scholarship

The NSHSS Diversity Scholarship is for rising sophomores, juniors and seniors in high school. Eligible students can get up to $2,000 to pay for their education. To qualify, students must complete an essay on diversity and inclusion, submit their resume, transcripts, letters of recommendation and photos or videos of their diversity activities in action.

8. The Gates Scholarship

The Gates Scholarship is one of the top scholarships for minorities in STEM—science, engineering, technology and mathematics. It’s a last-dollar financial aid award for minority high school seniors from low-income households. It’s designed to cover the full cost of attendance that isn’t covered by other financial aid, such as Pell Grants and institutional awards.

To qualify, students must be eligible for a federal Pell Grant and identify as Black, American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian and Pacific Islander or Hispanic. The scholarship is awarded to 300 students annually.

9. Visa Black Scholars and Jobs Program

The Visa Black Scholars and Job Program is for Black high school seniors who intend to study business or technology at a four-year college. Offered in partnership with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, scholarship recipients are selected based on financial need. Scholarship recipients will receive up to $20,000 per year, and the award can be renewed for the duration of their college careers.

In addition, the selected students will also get mentorship from Visa employees, professional development training and opportunities to grow their leadership skills. If they meet the program commitments and Visa job requirements, they are guaranteed a full-time job with Visa upon graduating from college.

To apply, students must have a 3.0 GPA or higher, have a demonstrated financial need and participate in all program activities.

10. The Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans

The Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship program is for students who are US immigrants or the children of immigrants. You must be 30 years old or younger and enrolled in graduate school to be eligible. The scholarship is open to all fields of study, and pays up to 50% of tuition and fees, up to a maximum of $10,000 per semester.

How to Search for Scholarships and Grants for Minorities

There are thousands of scholarships for underrepresented students. If you’re looking for scholarships for minorities, follow these steps to maximize your odds of securing financial aid:

  • Submit the FAFSA and CSS Profile: Federal and state governments, universities and private organizations use the information submitted on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and CSS profile to determine your eligibility for grants, scholarships and loans. By filling out the FAFSA, you could qualify for Pell Grants or other aid.
  • Search for opportunities online: To sort through available awards, you can use tools like FastWeb, Scholarships.com and Unigo to find scholarships and grants that match your profile.

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Paying for College

For students who belong to groups that have been historically underrepresented in higher education, scholarships can help college become more attainable. By utilizing scholarships, grants and work-study programs, you can earn a degree while reducing the need for student loans.

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