Reviewed by Laila Abdalla, Ph.D.


  • Learn about different financial aid opportunities for students of color.
  • Discover some of the best scholarships for students of color.
  • Find out more about grants for students of color and how learners can apply.
  • Check out various organizations and resources supporting learners of color.

College tuition costs have risen steadily across the country over the last few decades, presenting greater challenges for many students. For many students of color, these costs may be exacerbated by above-average poverty rates, which lead to lower enrollment and educational attainment numbers. While financial support programs can help, these students also experience above-average gaps between financial need and aid received.

In an attempt to reverse these trends, schools, government agencies, and other organizations have developed an increasing number of scholarship programs aimed at helping these underserved learners of color. These programs attempt to improve diversity in schools and workplaces by providing funding opportunities for promising students.

Read on for more information about scholarship applications, helpful resources, and a list of the best scholarships for students of color.

Financial Assistance for Students of Color

Loans

As one of the most common types of financial aid for all students — including students of color — student loans can come from a variety of sources, such as government agencies and financial institutions. Prospective students should begin by filling out the FAFSA.

Scholarships

Scholarships for students of color typically reward academic excellence and specialized educational and career pursuits. College scholarships may come from industry organizations, government agencies, or schools.

Grants

Grants usually provide financial support for learners who demonstrate financial need. Grant opportunities may come from schools, organizations, or government programs and typically do not require repayment.

Fellowships

Fellowships generally target students who are enrolled in a graduate program. Students who receive these awards typically complete specialized work or research within an organization in exchange for a stipend.

Work Study

Work-study programs allow learners to take a paid on-campus work assignment. These jobs often accommodate study schedules and may even provide students with relevant experience. Unlike most fellowships, work-study programs accept undergraduate students.

How to Complete the FAFSA

Completing the FAFSA should be the first step in the process when seeking financial aid. This application determines a student's eligibility for government loans and grants, and it also shares information about each student's demonstrated need with many other financial aid programs.

Eligible students may receive funding that does not need to be repaid, so all prospective learners should apply. To complete the application, students need their Social Security number and income and banking information. They also need a list of schools that they are interested in attending.

Scholarships for Students of Color

While many organizations and agencies offer scholarships for students of color, finding relevant programs can prove challenging. To help learners get started in their search, the list below provides details on some of the best scholarship programs available to students of color.

Brown and Caldwell Minority Scholarship

Eligibility: The environmental engineering firm of Brown and Caldwell — with support from organizations like the National Society of Black Engineers and the Society for Hispanic Professional Engineers — created this scholarship expressly for students of color who are either U.S. citizens or permanent residents. Applicants must be full-time juniors or seniors with a declared engineering or environmental sciences major and a minimum 3.0 GPA.

Award Amount: $5,000

Deadline: Varies

View Scholarship
Actuarial Diversity Scholarship

Eligibility: Presented by The Actuarial Foundation, this scholarship is intended to foster greater diversity in the actuarial field. Applicants must be full-time students at an accredited college or university in the United States. They must also have a minimum GPA of 3.0 and be pursuing a degree with an emphasis on math or actuarial courses.

Award Amount: $1,000-$4,000

Deadline: April

View Scholarship
Minority Corporate Counsel Association - LMJ Scholarship

Eligibility: This program is open to law students of color who have been accepted to or are enrolled full time in an American Bar Association-accredited law school. Applicants must have earned a minimum 3.2 GPA as an undergraduate and respond to a two-part essay question.

Award Amount: $10,000

Deadline: June

View Scholarship
Minority Teacher Education Scholarship

Eligibility: Offered by the Florida Fund for Minority Teachers, this scholarship is awarded to junior, senior, or a graduate students who have yet to earn a bachelor's degree in education. Recipients are required to teach for at least one year in a Florida public school after graduation.

Award Amount: $4,000

Deadline: August and November

View Scholarship
American Bar Association Legal Opportunity Scholarship

Eligibility: Eligible applicants must be first-year law students of color. Students should also demonstrate financial need.

Award Amount: $15,000 over three years

Deadline: April

View Scholarship
AFCEA Diversity Scholarships

Eligibility: Requirements vary by award, but applicants must attend school full time and pursue a degree that aligns with AFCEA goals in order to qualify.

Award Amount: $3,000

Deadline: March or April

View Scholarship
American Geosciences Institute Scholarship for Advancing Diversity in the Geoscience Profession

Eligibility: Eligible applicants must be within two semesters of graduating with a bachelor's degree in geoscience.

Award Amount: $5,000

Deadline: February

View Scholarship
American Institute of Chemical Engineers Minority Scholarship Awards

Eligibility: Eligible applicants must be pursuing a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering and have a minimum GPA of 3.0.

Award Amount: $1,000 per year (renewable)

Deadline: July

View Scholarship
American Institute of CPAs Minority Scholarship

Eligibility: Eligible applicants must attend an accounting-related program full time and possess a minimum GPA of 3.0.

Award Amount: Up to $5,000

Deadline: March

View Scholarship
American Marketing Association Diversity Leadership Scholarship

Eligibility: Applicants must be full-time undergraduate students and AMA members. They must also demonstrate leadership qualities and possess a minimum GPA of 3.25.

Award Amount: Varies

Deadline: February

View Scholarship
Avomeen Minorities in STEM Scholarship

Eligibility: Eligible applicants must be pursuing a STEM undergraduate degree and demonstrate involvement in their community.

Award Amount: $2,500

Deadline: April

View Scholarship
Cay Drachnik Minorities Fund Scholarship

Eligibility: Eligible applicants must attend an art therapy program full time, be AATA student members, and demonstrate financial need.

Award Amount: Up to $500

Deadline: May

View Scholarship
Council of the Great City Schools - Bernard Harris Scholarship Program

Eligibility: Eligible applicants must attend a STEM program full time, intend to pursue a STEM career, and possess a minimum GPA of 3.0.

Award Amount: Up to $5,000

Deadline: May

View Scholarship
Diversity Advancement Scholarship

Eligibility: Eligible applicants must attend or intend to transfer into an NAAB-accredited architecture-related program. They also need a minimum GPA of 3.0.

Award Amount: $4,000 per year, up to $20,000 total

Deadline: January

View Scholarship
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration - EPP/MSI Undergraduate Scholarship Program

Eligibility: Eligible applicants must be rising juniors enrolled in an undergraduate STEM program at a minority-serving institution. They also need a minimum GPA of 3.2.

Award Amount: Up to $45,000

Deadline: January

View Scholarship
Entertainment Software Association Foundation Scholarships

Eligibility: Eligible applicants must be full-time undergraduate students, possess a minimum GPA of 2.75, and intend to pursue a career as a video game creator.

Award Amount: Varies

Deadline: Varies

View Scholarship
General Board of Higher Education and Ministry - Racial-Ethnic Scholarships

Eligibility: Specific requirements vary by program, but eligible applicants must meet certain GPA requirements.

Award Amount: Varies

Deadline: Varies

View Scholarship
The LAGRANT Foundation Scholarship Program

Eligibility: Eligible applicants must attend an undergraduate marketing program full time and possess a minimum GPA of 3.2.

Award Amount: $3,750

Deadline: February

View Scholarship
Leonard M. Perryman Communications Scholarship for Racial Ethnic Minorities

Eligibility: Eligible applicants must be undergraduate students with strong grades in pursuit of a career in religion journalism. They also need to be members of the United Methodist Church.

Award Amount: $2,500

Deadline: March

View Scholarship
National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering Scholarships

Eligibility: Program requirements vary, but applicants need a minimum GPA of 2.8-3.0 and be enrolled in an engineering or computer science program.

Award Amount: Varies

Deadline: Varies

View Scholarship
Ofield Dukes Multicultural Student Award

Eligibility: Eligible applicants must be entering their junior year in a journalism-related program, possess a minimum GPA of 3.0, and demonstrate a commitment to social responsibility.

Award Amount: $1,000

Deadline: Varies

View Scholarship
O. Pistilli Undergraduate Scholarship

Eligibility: Eligible applicants must possess a minimum GPA of 3.0 in an engineering or computer science undergraduate program. They must also demonstrate financial need and community involvement.

Award Amount: Up to $4,000 per year for up to five years

Deadline: June

View Scholarship
Public Relations Society of America Foundation - Diversity Multicultural Scholarship

Eligibility: Eligible applicants need a minimum GPA of 3.0 and be enrolled in a full-time undergraduate program in public relations. They also need to hold membership with the Public Relations Student Society of America.

Award Amount: $1,500

Deadline: May

View Scholarship
Zelle Diversity in Law Scholarship

Eligibility: Eligible applicants must be pursuing a law degree and demonstrate a commitment to diversity.

Award Amount: Varies

Deadline: March

View Scholarship

Scholarships By Demographic Groups

Scholarships for African American and Black Students Scholarships for Hispanic and Latino/a Students Scholarships for Asian American and Pacific Islander Students Scholarships for Native American Students

Grants for Students of Color

Much like scholarships, grants for students of color help improve access to education for underrepresented groups. They also attempt to increase diversity in educational settings and the workforce. However, this type of aid differs from scholarships in that grants usually focus more on helping students with financial need.

Additionally, eligible applicants may need to demonstrate community involvement or commitment to education. Grants do not require repayment and may come from independent organizations or a government agency.

Financial Aid Resources for Students of Color

Professional associations can be great places to look for financial aid for students of color. These organizations often offer their own programs, and they may provide additional information on external resources for diverse student groups.

  • American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education: AAHHE aims to improve education opportunities for the rapidly growing Hispanic population in the U.S. by offering members professional development, leadership, and scholarship opportunities.
  • American Indian College Fund: Serving Native American students, this college fund not only provides students with connections to Tribal colleges, but it also offers scholarships, internships, and other resources.
  • APIA Scholars: APIA Scholars works to help Asian and Pacific Islander students access higher education by providing scholarships, mentoring, and leadership training opportunities.
  • Asian Pacific Fund: This nonprofit seeks to uplift Asian and Pacific Islander students in the Bay Area by providing grants, scholarships, and leadership opportunities for AAPI undergraduate and graduate students.
  • First in the Family: Serving first-generation college students, this nonprofit organization offers books, checklists, advice, and other online resources to help students achieve educational success.
  • HBCU Connect: HBCU Connect serves students attending HBCUs across the country, offering them access to career support, school information and resources, and scholarship opportunities.
  • Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities: HACU represents the hundreds of institutions dedicated to Hispanic education. The association advocates for more support and recognition and offers internships and scholarships to promising students.
  • Minorities to Majorities: MTM reviews scholarships for students of color and helps eligible learners access funding more easily. The organization provides information on financial aid programs and application support.
  • National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering: NACME improves diversity within the engineering field by providing scholarships for students of color. The council also offers access to professional development opportunities and resources.
  • National Association for the Advancement of Colored People: The NAACP fights for equal rights by providing information on racial inequalities and injustices and removing barriers that hinder people of color.
  • National Association of Black Accountants, Inc.: NABA aims to increase the number of Black accountants by offering professional support programs, networking opportunities, and access to scholarships.
  • National Black Graduate Student Association: NBGSA addresses the needs of Black graduate students, advocates for more inclusion in the academic community, and encourages Black students to pursue graduate degrees.
  • National Black MBA Association: NBMBAA promotes advanced business education for Black students while fighting to reduce the barriers they face. The association offers access to training programs, events, and scholarships for students of color.
  • National Black Student Alliance: The NBSA works to improve diversity and inclusion on college campuses and provides Black students with a community and network of their own.
  • Native American Rights Fund: NARF promotes human rights for Native Americans and offers financial and professional opportunities to Native American law students, including fellowships, scholarships, and internships.
  • United Negro College Fund: UNCF raises money to fund financial aid for students of color and provide support to various HBCUs. In addition to offering scholarships, the organization fights for the rights of Black students.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is considered a student of color?

A student of color is a degree-seeker who self-identifies as nonwhite, such as Asian American, Native American, Black, Hispanic, or Pacific Islander students. Some programs and organizations may classify these learners as "minority students."

What percentage of college students are students of color?

According to the American Council on Education, approximately 48% of the total undergraduate population in 2015-2016 consisted of students of color. For comparison, in 1995-1996, that number was about 30%.

What kinds of scholarships are available for students of color?

Many organizations offer scholarships for students of color. Programs vary in terms of their size, type, and requirements. Some programs target specific population groups, whereas others are available to all applicants of color.

Where do you find scholarships for students of color?

You can find scholarships for students of color on online databases, government agency pages, school websites, and through organizations and associations. Prospective students may find it helpful to start by looking for local scholarship opportunities at their school and then expand their search.

How do I qualify for scholarships that target students of color?

Requirements for these scholarships vary considerably, but most programs require applicants to possess strong grades — often a minimum 3.0 GPA. Some may require community involvement, whereas others may require membership with an organization and/or specific educational and career pursuits.


Reviewed by:

Laila Abdalla, Ph.D.

Laila Abdalla, Ph.D.


Laila Abdalla obtained her Ph.D. in English from McGill University in Montreal, Canada. For over 21 years at Central Washington University, she taught undergraduate and graduate courses in English and writing. Abdalla has devoted her teaching and leadership to matters of equity, diversity, and inclusion. Committed to her students' experiences, she raises awareness of BIPOC issues in language, community, and culture. Abdalla also leads with equity in management and nonprofit volunteering and continues to develop her own understanding of these complex issues in her lived experiences.