Financial Aid for Minorities Guide


You’re ready to pursue your dream of higher education, but college is expensive, and many students find they have to borrow to pay for it. And if you come from a historically disenfranchised background, you might face particular challenges in paying for your college education.

Fortunately, there are many options for financial aid for ethnic minority students, including scholarships for graduate school. This guide outlines several resources for funding your college expenses.

In this guide:

Scholarships for minorities

Scholarships are one of the best sources of free money for college. There are options for everyone.

Scholarships for black women

Some organizations provide scholarships to black women in a variety of fields.

  • Dr. Arnita Young Boswell Scholarship: This $1,000 scholarship is given by the National Hook-Up of Black Women, Inc. You must be a graduating high school senior, have at least a 2.75 GPA, logged 200 community service hours, and submit a 500-word essay.
  • The Jeannette Rankin Scholarship: This $2,000 scholarship is given annually to a woman who is 35 or older, for a vocational or technical education, associate degree program, or first bachelor’s degree. Income guidelines are given on the scholarship page.
  • NBNA Scholarship Program: These National Black Nurses Association, Inc. scholarships, given to prospective nurses, are for anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000. To be awarded one, you must be a member of NBNA and enrolled in a nursing program.
For additional options, check out our page on scholarships for black women.

Scholarships for Latin American and Hispanic students

Struggling to find free money for your education? These minority-focused college scholarships can be a good place to start.

  • Hispanic Scholarship Fund: Awards range from $500 to $5,000. To qualify, you must be of Hispanic heritage and have at least a 3.0 GPA if you’re a high school student, or at least a 2.5 GPA if you’re an undergraduate or graduate student.  
  • The Carlos M. Castaneda Journalism Scholarship: This minority scholarship gives $7,000 to journalism students who speak Spanish. You’ll need at least a 3.0 GPA.
  • The Haz La U Scholarships: This program offers 31 scholarships, ranging from $2,000 to $15,000. To qualify, a student must be of Hispanic heritage and a minimum GPA of 3.0.
  • The Richie Perez Scholarship Award: This $1,000 scholarship is given to a student who is of Puerto Rican descent and shows at least one year of work toward a human rights or social injustice issue. The student also must be age 19 to 25.
For additional options, check out our page on scholarships for hispanics.

Scholarships for Native Americans

Are you a Native American student and looking for financial assistance for college? These scholarship opportunities may help.

  • Empower Scholarship: This $1,500 scholarship is available for minorities, such as Native American students and Pacific Islander students, as well as Latino and African American students. They must live or attend school in Western Wisconsin or Minnesota. They also must have volunteer hours, working toward a career in healthcare, and have at least a 2.0 GPA.
  • Indian Health Service Scholarship: This scholarship is for American Indian and Alaska Native students who are enrolled in certain health professions. The award is $1,500 per month. You must agree to a two-year service commitment in an Indian health program in your field if you accept this scholarship.  
  • American Indian Graduate Center Scholarships: Applicants must provide a tribal eligibility certificate for these scholarships, which vary in amount. They also must be full-time students.
For additional opportunities, check out our page on scholarships for Native Americans.

STEM scholarships for minorities

These scholarships and minority grants for college solely benefit students who are interested in STEM careers.

  • ScholarSHPE: This Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers scholarship is for students who are seeking a degree in STEM. To qualify, you must have a minimum GPA of 2.75 and be an active member of SHPE. The more than 150 scholarships have given out more than $340,000.
  • GMiS STEM Scholarship: These STEM scholarships for minorities are open to those of Hispanic descent who have at least a 3.0 GPA and who are pursuing a STEM degree. The amounts given range from $500 to $10,000.
  • Science Systems and Applications, Inc. Underrepresented Student Scholarship: This $2,000 scholarship is given to college sophomore or junior students who are majoring in physics or a related field. They must be a member of the Society of Physics Students organization and a member of a group who is underrepresented in engineering and science.
For additional opportunities, check out our page on STEM scholarships.

Scholarships for undocumented immigrants

Are you an undocumented immigrant? You may be able to reach your educational goals, even though the odds seem stacked against you. Start your scholarship search here.

  • First in the Family Humanist Scholarship: These $1,000 scholarships are only given to Los Angeles Unified School District seniors if they are the first ones to attend college in their immediate families. Undocumented immigrants are welcome to apply.
  • Anhelo Project scholarships: Undocumented students in Illinois can land this scholarship of varying amounts if they are high school seniors, vocational students, undergraduates, or graduate students.
  • Ascend Educational Fund Scholarships: This scholarship is for $2,500 to $20,000. It can only be granted to a New York City student who was born outside the U.S. or whose parents were both born outside the U.S.

General scholarships for minority students

Looking for a multi-purpose scholarship that members of all minority groups can apply for?

  • Gates Scholarship: This scholarship awards varying amounts to help cover the full cost of attendance. It’s open to minorities who are U.S. citizens with a GPA of at least 3.3.
  • Generation Google Scholarships: These $10,000 scholarships are awarded on the criteria of leadership, academics, and the student’s impact on diversity.
  • The Jackie Robinson Scholarship: This scholarship awards up to $7,000 each year for minority students who have ACT scores of at least 21 or SAT scores of at least 1,000.
For additional opportunities, check out our scholarships guide. More specifically, you can check out our page on scholarships for minorities.

Minority grants for college
Grants are similar to scholarships in that you don’t have to repay them. Grants don’t usually have as many stringent requirements as scholarships do. And scholarships usually focus on academic achievement, while grants tend to focus less on grades and often more on financial need.

  • Federal Pell Grant: This federal government grant, paid by the U.S. Department of Education, is one of the most popular. The most you can get for the 2020-2021 academic year is $6,345. Start the application process by filling out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
  • State: Depending upon which state you live in, you may be eligible for more grants. Check with your state’s board of education to see your options.
  • University: Some universities offer their own grants. It doesn’t hurt to check with the financial aid office of each university you’re considering applying to. 

Student loans for immigrants and international students

When looking for student loans, international students and immigrants may have a hard time. Most student loan lenders require you to be a United States citizen or permanent resident, even for federal student loans. But there are still a couple of loan options for funding when you’re an immigrant.

One option is MPOWER Financing, a Washington, D.C.-based lender dedicated to helping global citizens get loans for college. You can get loans up to $50,000 with fixed interest rates to make your college dreams come true.

Need more resources? Check out LendEDU’s student loans for immigrants.  
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Established in August of 2008 by writerartist Dianne V. Lawrence, The Neighborhood News covers the events, people, history, politics and historic architecture of communities throughout the Mid-City and West Adams area in Los Angeles Council District 10.

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