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Published on August 11, 2021

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Unique Challenges | Scholarships for Black College Students | Fellowships and Grants for Black College Students | Other Ways to Save | Scholarships Tips and Trips | Additional Resources | Frequently Asked Questions

Unique Financial Challenges Facing Black Students

Student loan forgiveness policies garnered significant airtime during the run-up to the 2020 presidential election. While most students incur some level of debt during college, the policy debate underscores the challenges for Black college students and graduates who owe an average of $7,400 more than white students.

Scholarships and grants for Black college students can help offset debt and give graduates more financial security. The following guide takes a deep dive into scholarships for Black students. Keep reading to learn more about these valuable financial aid opportunities.


A scholarship is a monetary gift for students to use for funding their postsecondary education. Scholarships do not need to be paid back, making them a desirable alternative to student loans. Students may use scholarships to pay for education-related costs, including tuition, books, and other course materials. Some scholarships may also cover food, room and board, laundry, and day-to-day expenses.

Thousands of different scholarships are available. Merit-based scholarships are typically awarded to students with high GPAs or an extensive record of community service and leadership activities. Other scholarships may be allotted to certain groups of people, including women or students of color. There are also scholarship options for students who demonstrate financial need. Furthermore, nonprofit organizations, employers, and colleges and universities often offer college scholarships for Black students.

To qualify for most scholarships, students must first complete an application. While application requirements vary by award, most include the following general criteria:

Grades and Transcripts

Many scholarships require a minimum GPA for consideration, usually ranging from 2.0-3.0 or higher. Additionally, some scholarships impose minimum scores on the SAT, ACT, or other college admissions tests.

Essays and Personal Statements

Many scholarships require applicants to write an essay explaining why they deserve the award and how it will help them complete college and achieve their academic goals.

Letters of Recommendation

A scholarship application may ask for letters of recommendation from teachers, school counselors, former employers, and/or other people who have interacted with the student in an educational or professional environment. Generally speaking, these letters should not come from friends, relatives, or family acquaintances.

Anticipated College Plans

Most scholarships only award money to applicants who have enrolled or plan to enroll in an accredited postsecondary institution within the following year. Some only provide aid to students who plan to pursue certain fields of study.

Other Financial Aid

For needs-based scholarships, applicants may need to provide information about federal financial aid, additional scholarships, grants, or other forms of monetary support they are receiving to help cover the cost of their education.

Scholarships for Black College Students

American Association of Blacks in Energy Scholarships

Who's Eligible: Graduating high school seniors with a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 who plan on pursuing a degree in a business or STEM field.

Award Amount: $5,000

Deadline: March

American Chemical Society Scholars Program

Who's Eligible: Undergraduate students from underrepresented groups studying in the chemical sciences.

Award Amount: Up to $5,000 per year

Deadline: March

American Meteorological Society Minority Scholarship

Who's Eligible: Entering first-year college students pursuing careers in atmospheric, oceanic, or hydrologic sciences.

Award Amount: $6,000 over the first two years of undergrad

Deadline: February

Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's NREI HBCU Social Justice Scholarship

Who's Eligible: Black college students attending an HBCU who demonstrate a dedication to community service, student activism, or social justice.

Award Amount: $10,000

Deadline: January

Development Fund for Black Students in Science and Technology Scholarship

Who's Eligible: African American undergraduate students majoring in STEM fields at an HBCU or predominantly Black college or university.

Award Amount: Up to $12,000 over four years

Deadline: Varies

Frank M. Snowden Jr. Undergraduate Scholarships

Who's Eligible: Undergraduate classical studies or classical archaeology students interested in pursuing educational opportunities outside the confines of the standard school year. Applicants must show strong academic achievement and financial need.

Award Amount: Up to $4,500

Deadline: December

The Frederick Douglass Bicentennial Scholarship Program

Who's Eligible: Rising seniors at an HBCU with a minimum 3.5 GPA who show financial need, strong leadership skills, and a dedication to community service.

Award Amount: $10,000

Deadline: Varies

The Jackie Robinson Foundation Scholarship Program

Who's Eligible: High-performing high school graduates of color planning to attend an accredited college or university.

Award Amount: $30,000 over four years

Deadline: February

Joshua David Gardner Memorial Scholarship Endowment

Who's Eligible: Candidates must be 17-25 years old and admitted to/enrolled at an accredited HBCU. Applicants should submit an application, a 500-word essay, and three letters of recommendation.

Award Amount: $2,000

Deadline: April

Leon Bradley Scholarship Program

Who's Eligible: Candidates seeking teaching certification in their final year of college can apply. Applicants must submit an academic transcript, letters from their academic dean, and a character reference.

Award Amount: $3,500

Deadline: May

Minorities in Government Finance Scholarship

Who's Eligible: Upper-level undergraduate students or graduate students majoring in areas related to government finance, such as public administration, political science, or business administration.

Award Amount: $10,000

Deadline: Varies

National Association of Black Journalists - Getty Images Scholarship

Who's Eligible: Applicants must attend an accredited institution and have at least one year of school remaining. Interested students must also have active NABJ membership and a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0.

Award Amount: Up to $10,000

Deadline: May

National Black Nurses Association

Who's Eligible: Applicants must maintain NBNA membership and have at least one full school year in a nursing program remaining.

Award Amount: Varies

Deadline: May

Ron Brown Scholars Program

Who's Eligible: Graduating high school seniors who excel academically, demonstrate financial need, and show strong leadership potential.

Award Amount: $40,000 over four years

Deadline: January

United Negro College Fund - Crown Castle Opportunity Scholarship Program

Who's Eligible: Students currently classified as juniors, preferably majoring in STEM or business fields. Applicants must demonstrate unmet financial need by completing the FAFSA.

Award Amount: $10,000 a year for up to two years

Deadline: Varies


The U.S. Department of Education offers discretionary grants, formula grants, and student grants. Like scholarships, these awards do not need to be repaid. Grants are often awarded to support research efforts or help students with demonstrated financial need. State and local governments and private institutions may also award grants.

Federal Pell Grants

Pell Grants are federal need-based grants designed to support low-income students. These grants are awarded by the U.S. Department of Education.

State Government Grants

Individual states may award state grants for local residents. These are typically awarded by institutions such as the state's department of education, the state's division of grants, and nonprofit organizations.

Private Grants

Private foundations, community organizations, and individuals may award grants to support students. These grants may assist students who are pursuing research that would benefit the organization.

Fellowships and Grants for Black College Students

AICPA Fellowship for Minority Doctoral Students

Who's Eligible: Candidates should have a master's degree, three years of professional accounting experience, and be admitted to a full-time Ph.D. program.

Award Amount: $12,000

Deadline: May

APSA Diversity Fellowship Program

Who's Eligible: Undergraduate seniors or graduate students intending to apply to a Ph.D. in political science program. Award candidates must supply three letters of recommendation and unofficial transcripts as part of their application.

Award Amount: $4,000

Deadline: Varies

ASA Minority Fellowship Program

Who's Eligible: Fellowship applicants must have completed one year of a sociology Ph.D. program. ASA considers an applicant's financial need, academic merit, and personal background during the selection process.

Award Amount: $18,000

Deadline: January

Deep Carbon Observatory Diversity Grants

Who's Eligible: Applicants must join the DCO Science Network and complete a proposal outlining how they will use awarded funds.

Award Amount: $5,000

Deadline: Varies

Ford Foundation Fellowship Programs

Who's Eligible: Applicants must hold U.S. citizenship or permanent U.S. residency. The foundation gives special consideration to students from traditionally underserved populations. Students must be pursuing a Ph.D. or Sc.D.

Award Amount: $27,000 over three years

Deadline: Varies

Minority Undergraduate Retention Grant

Who's Eligible: Applicants must hold Wisconsin residency, attend a nonprofit college or university in Wisconsin, and show financial need by filling out the FAFSA. Interested students must prove at least part-time enrollment and have at least one year of college experience.

Award Amount: Up to $2,500 per year

Deadline: Varies

UNCF/Koch Scholars Program

Who's Eligible: Created to support Black college students, this program assists graduating high school seniors and first-year college students who have a cumulative GPA of 2.7 or higher.

Award Amount: Up to $5,000 per year

Deadline: June

Other Ways to Save

Low-income high school students who take the SAT or ACT exam can pursue a fee waiver. Eligibility criteria include enrollment or eligibility to participate in the Federal Free and Reduced Lunch Program and certain income eligibility requirements. Students who already know which school they want to attend can apply early. If accepted, this can increase their chances of receiving financial aid, and also help them save on school application fees. Through an employer tuition reimbursement program, employees of a participating organization may take college courses that are paid for by their employer. Employers may award up to $5,250 in tax-free educational assistance per student per year. Hundreds of colleges and universities allow students tosubmit an application to several colleges at once using a single, centralized application submission platform. Students only need to pay a one-time application fee to use this service, which can save them hundreds of dollars on application fees.

Scholarship Tips and Tricks

Outline Application Priorities: Scholarships have different eligibility criteria and requirements. Some ask for an essay on a particular topic, while others require letters of recommendation. Figure out which applications to prioritize, as well as the requirements for those scholarships. Some applications may require more time, but also have the potential for a bigger payoff. Take a look at ourguide to scholarships and grants for additional information on filling out these applications.

Make a checklist of to-do items for each scholarship, taking note of submission deadlines and specific instructions. Regardless of how many scholarships you are applying for, breaking down the applications into specific tasks can help you keep everything on track. When a scholarship-granting organization asks for an essay, they want applicants to take their time reviewing the question and crafting an answer. It's important that students conduct the necessary research and write, edit, and proofread the essay before submitting it. Applications that do not follow instructions will be discarded. Be sure to provide all of the requested information and materials. Also double-check the eligibility requirements so you don't accidentally waste your time applying for an award you can't receive. Students should make copies of all materials they submit, in the event that the organization loses all or part of their application. Submitting paper-based applications early is advisable, in case your submission is returned or gets lost in the mail.

Additional Resources for Black College Students

The United Negro College Fund provides robust support for Black college students. It also helps cultivate environments that support young students and college grads alike. Providing scholarship opportunities for Black college students, CBCF is a public policy, research, and educational institute. It is dedicated to expanding opportunities for the Black community. This page provides Black college students with a directory of scholarships and financial aid opportunities provided by corporations, foundations, and government agencies. HBCU Network provides a variety of resources for Black college students and graduates. Career postings, news stories, blog articles, and event listings help students of color stay involved. Offering readers pragmatic advice on navigating various parts of the college experience, First in the Family uses personal stories, videos, and planning checklists to assist first-generation college students in their academic journey. This program offers a paid summer internship for underrepresented undergraduate students who are the first in their families to attend college. Applicants should have an interest in a career in social justice. I'm First! is a nonprofit organization designed to help students who are one of the first people in their families to attend college. Services include connecting prospective learners with schools that prioritize first-generation students, providing free mentoring, and sharing encouragement through personal stories from other first-generation students and graduates. Providing an extensive collection of resources for students and families, MSAN challenges the structures and practices that perpetuate racial opportunity and achievement gaps. Its resources page highlights scholarships, financial aid information, and other organizations that assist historically underserved students.

Frequently Asked Questions About Black College Student Scholarships

What information should you never provide when applying for a scholarship?

Legitimate scholarships will never ask for money, credit card information, or personal information like your social security or driver's license number. Any personal financial information should come from FAFSA or IRS data.

Are there college scholarships offered by HBCUs?

Yes. Many HBCUs — including Cheyney University of Pennsylvania,South Carolina State University, andthe University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff — have a strong reputation for providing financial assistance to Black students through scholarships and fellowships.

What are the common requirements after you receive a college scholarship?

Requirements vary between scholarships, but standard expectations include maintaining a minimum GPA, continuing to show financial need, and staying involved in an extracurricular activity or school sport.

Explore our list of scholarships for students of color. Find out who qualifies, how to apply, and where to find additional resources. Learn about the financial challenges of AAPI students and find scholarships for Asian American and Pacific Islander college students. Intended to help students build strong networks, national diversity organizations provide platforms and support for students of all backgrounds. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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