Scholarship Guide for Asian American and Pacific Islander Students

September 17, 2021

Reviewed by Angelique Geehan

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During the 2018-2019 school year, Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) students made up 8% of the student population at public four-year colleges and universities, as well as 6% of the student population at public two-year colleges. These enrollment numbers are in line with overall demographic numbers — in 2018, 6.8% of the total U.S. population identified as Asian American or Pacific Islander.

To encourage AAPI students to pursue higher education, many schools and organizations have set up scholarship and grant programs for AAPI college students. This guide provides a list of AAPI scholarships and grants, along with information about who is eligible to apply, award amounts, and application deadlines.

Financial Challenges for Asian American and Pacific Islander College Students

Based on 2016 numbers, approximately 12% of Asian Americans overall and 19% of Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders lived below the poverty line. Individuals living below the poverty line may find paying for college and earning a degree very difficult. Many students — including AAPI students — may feel pressure to work and help support their families.

Due to several external factors, including a lack of financing, many Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have tried to get a college degree but not finished their program. In some ethnic groups, such as Tongans and Samoans, more than half of the individuals who enrolled in college left before they earned a degree. Securing financial aid can help reduce the chances of dropping out.

In the next section, you'll find several scholarships and grants for AAPI students, as well as resources to help AAPI students navigate the financial aid application process in college.

Scholarships

Gates Millennium Scholars Program

Who Is Eligible?: This program is open to outstanding Asian Pacific Islander American, African American, Hispanic American, and American Indian/Alaska Native students who are pursuing a graduate degree in education, computer science, library science, engineering, public health, mathematics, or science.

Application Deadline: Varies

Scholarship Amount: Varies


Korean American Scholarship Foundation Scholarships

Who Is Eligible?: Korean American students and students from Korea are eligible to apply for this scholarship. Descendants of American veterans who served during the Korean War can also apply.

Application Deadline: Varies

Scholarship Amount: $500-$5,000


Banatao Family Filipino American Education Fund

Who Is Eligible?: This scholarship is open to first-year students enrolling full time in a physical or environmental science, computer science, math, or engineering program at an accredited four-year university or college.

Application Deadline: February

Scholarship Amount: $5,000


National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering - Scholars Program

Who Is Eligible?: The NACME Scholars Program is open to underrepresented minority students majoring in computer science or engineering. Applicants must have a minimum 2.8 GPA.

Application Deadline: Varies

Scholarship Amount: Varies


Asian American Architects/Engineers Association Scholarship

Who Is Eligible?: Applicants must be members of the Asian American Architects/Engineers Association attending school full time in the U.S. and majoring in a field related to architecture or engineering.

Application Deadline: May

Scholarship Amount: $5,000


Hsiao Memorial Social Sciences Scholarship

Who Is Eligible?: Graduate students with a minimum 3.0 GPA are welcome to apply. Preference is given to those with Asian heritage and to students pursuing a degree in economics or social sciences.

Application Deadline: May

Scholarship Amount: $1,000


APIA Scholarship Program

Who Is Eligible?: Asian and Pacific Islander students are eligible to apply. Special consideration is given to those who live at or below the poverty level, are first-generation college students, and demonstrate leadership and engage in community service.

Application Deadline: January

Scholarship Amount: $2,500-$20,000


Chevron Filipino Employee Network Scholarship

Who Is Eligible?: Asian and Pacific Islander students who are enrolled as first-year, full-time students majoring in computer science, engineering, or physical or environmental science are eligible to apply. Applicants must be residents of California, preferably living in the Bay Area, Southern California, or Bakersfield.

Application Deadline: March

Scholarship Amount: $2,000-$3,000


Matt Fong Asian Americans in Public Finance Scholarship

Who Is Eligible?: Incoming sophomores, juniors, and seniors with at least 50% Asian heritage who are enrolled in a California college or university majoring in political science, accounting, business administration, public policy, or a related field are eligible to apply.

Application Deadline: Varies

Scholarship Amount: $5,000

Grants

Korean Ancestry Grant

Who Is Eligible?: Applicants must be of Asian ancestry with at least one Asian grandparent. Preference is given to applicants with Korean ancestry. Candidates must have a minimum GPA of 3.5.

Application Deadline: April

Grant Amount: Up to $10,000


Sam Chu Lin Broadcast News Internship Grant

Who Is Eligible?: Asian American and Pacific Islander student broadcasters working in radio or television may apply for this grant.

Application Deadline: April

Grant Amount: $500


Lloyd Lacuesta Broadcast News Internship Grant

Who Is Eligible?: Aspiring Asian American male television broadcasters may apply for this grant.

Application Deadline: April

Grant Amount: $1,000


Stanford Chen Internship Grant

Who Is Eligible?: Applicants with a summer internship lined up can apply for this grant if they are serious about pursuing journalism as a career. Membership in the Asian American Journalists Association is strongly encouraged.

Application Deadline: April

Grant Amount: $2,000


William Woo Print and Online News Internship Grant

Who Is Eligible?: Applicants must be committed to the Asian American Journalists Association's mission, interested in pursuing a career in journalism either in print or online, and current college students or recent graduates with a summer internship.

Application Deadline: April

Grant Amount: $2,000

Additional Resources

The Asian Pacific Fund runs 10 scholarship programs that help graduate and undergraduate students. Each program's requirements fit with the personal interests or requirements of the donor. The Office of National Fellowships lists over 50 scholarships for minority students with a variety of ethnic backgrounds. The University of Minnesota offers a list of eight scholarships for AAPI students, including the Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institutions Scholarship. APIA Scholars is the largest nonprofit scholarship provider for APIA students. Sign up for an account to apply to APIA Scholars scholarship programs.

Frequently Asked Questions About Asian American and Pacific Islander Scholarships

What does it mean to be Asian American or Pacific Islander?

As defined by the federal government for the census, "Asian American" refers to anyone whose heritage comes from the original people of Southeast Asia, the Far East, or the Indian subcontinent. "Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander" includes people with Native Hawaiian, Guamanian, Samoan, Fijian, Chamorro, Marshallese, and Tongan heritage and encompasses people within the United States jurisdictions of Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia. Specific scholarships and programs may have criteria or definitions that vary from that of the U.S. Census Bureau — if you are unsure of your eligibility, contact a program administrator directly to ask.

What percentage of AAPI individuals have a college degree?

According to 2016 estimates reported by the National Center for Education Statistics, 61% of adults (age 25 and older) in the U.S. who identified as Asian held an associate degree or higher, while 26% of adults who identified as Pacific Islander did so. For reference, 44% of adults who identified as white held a two-year degree or higher in 2016.

What scholarships are available for AAPI students by major?

Many Pacific Islander and Asian American scholarships limit eligibility based on major, including the Gates Millennium Scholars Program, the Banatao Family Filipino American Education Fund, and the NACME Scholars Program. There are scholarships for students in STEM fields, as well as scholarships for students in business, finance, and architecture.

What is the AANAPISI scholarship program?

The Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institution Scholarship program offers $2,500-$3,000 awards to Asian American and Pacific Islander students who deal with poverty, are first-generation college students, or demonstrate leadership and participate in community service. Applicants should also have strong academic records.


Reviewed by:

Angelique Geehan works to support and repair the connections people have with themselves and their families, communities, and cultural practices. A queer, Asian, gender binary-nonconforming parent, Geehan founded Interchange, a consulting group that offers anti-oppression support. She organizes as part of several groups, including the National Perinatal Association's Health Equity Workgroup, the Health and Healing Justice Committee of the National Queer and Trans Asian and Pacific Islander Alliance, QTPOC+ Family Circle, and Batalá Houston.


Angelique Geehan is a paid member of the Red Ventures Education freelance review network.

Rising tuition costs don't have to be a barrier to earning your degree. Click through to read more about the scholarships and grants available to you. Many fail to recognize the diversity of Asian communities, especially on college campuses. We look at some of the challenges faced by Asian American students. Many perceive Asian Americans as an ideal racial minority. In reality, though, this stereotype is not only inaccurate but also extremely harmful.