Access to higher education can be a financial challenge for anyone. Regardless of where you live, colleges are becoming more expensive, forcing prospective students to seek out alternative financing options. A scholarship can help pay for part or all of a student’s tuition.
The United Negro College Fund
Also known as the UNCF, the United Negro College Fund is one of the largest scholarship organisations for minorities in America. The organisation helps over 8,000 students annually graduate from multiple colleges across the country and awards over 10,000 scholarships every year to graduating high school students of African-American descent.
There are two types of scholarships given by UNCF, namely need-based and merit-based awards. A need-based award is given according to a student’s level of financial need, while a merit-based award requires that a student demonstrates specific educational, athletic, or artistic achievement. In most cases, students applying for these types of scholarships will need to first complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Make sure you stay aware of all deadlines for scholarship application so you don’t miss out due to incomplete paperwork.
The Asian and Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund
Commonly known as APIASF, this scholarship foundation’s primary mission is to help students of Asian and Pacific Islander backgrounds obtain a higher education. The organisation maintains a large network of colleges that actively look for minority students and solicit donations from major corporations like Wells Fargo.
Students can apply for a variety of scholarships offered by APIASF, including the Gates Millennium Scholars Program, APIASF General Scholarship and APIASF AANAPISI Scholarship Program. The general scholarship is a need-based award given to underserved students who live at or below the poverty level, are the first of their families to attend college, and have emphasised community service, leadership, and academic achievement.
To apply, students will need to complete the online student application and online letter of recommendation. Applicants must be citizens or national or legal permanent residents of the United States. Scholarships require a minimum GPA of 2.7 or have earned a GED, and they must apply for federal aid through FAFSA.
The Hispanic Scholarship Fund
The Hispanic Scholarship Fund focuses on helping Hispanic students of various nationalities attend college in the United States. The HSF offers Hispanic students a variety of scholarships to choose from, including the Greater Cincinnati HSF Scholarship and the Becas Univision Scholarship Program. Award amounts generally range from $500 to $5,000, depending on the scholarship chosen by the student. Scholarships are also broken up into categories based on current educational status. The HSF offers financial assistance to current high school seniors, undergraduate students and graduate students.
Similar to other scholarships, the HSF allows both students who attend traditional college and online degree programs to apply for aid. Prospective applicants must enrol in college full-time at an accredited, not-for-profit, 4-year university in order to be eligible for the scholarship.
The American Indian College Fund
The American Indian College Fund offers traditional scholarships to students of Native American background. Founded in 1968, the fund provides more than 6,000 different scholarships every year.
The American Indian College Fund sources financial scholarships from a variety of private and corporate donors, including Best Buy, Ford, FedEx, General Mills and more. Students are normally chosen based on educational success and community involvement, and can apply online. With these scholarships, students can enter an online master’s of higher education program or any other type of program they may be interested in.
Tips for landing a scholarship for minorities
Although there is a large selection of scholarships available specifically for minorities, there is also a large number of students competing for those limited awards. Scholarships can be a huge boon for students to help them avoid massive federal student loans. Need-based scholarships do exist, but students should do their best to reach the highest academic successes they can to improve their odds of landing a scholarship.
Take plenty of AP and other advanced courses and keep your grades high
High school students should take plenty of AP and other advanced courses and keep those grades high. Stellar ACT and SAT scores are a great way to increase your chances of standing out from the crowd. Don’t be afraid to get tutoring in your weakest subjects, and consider taking practice tests before you take the real tests. Also, be aware of the content on your social media profiles, as scholarship committees may actually find your accounts and use that information as part of their determination process.
Get letters of recommendation
Letters of recommendation can also play a large role in the application process. Be sure to build strong relationships with those you would like to write you letters of recommendation. The teacher should be intimately familiar with your work and capabilities in order to draft the most specific and flattering letter possible. Also, give these teachers plenty of time to write the letters rather than leave it until the last minute. Usually, these instructors are very busy people.
Join a minority advocacy group
Minorities can improve their chances of landing a minority-specific scholarship by joining minority advocacy groups, such as the African American Planning Commission in New York. Beyond volunteering for one of these advocacy groups, students can also find other types of leadership positions in extra-curricular organisations to boost their case for a scholarship. Remember, competition is tough, so don’t assume that just graduating is going to land you a critical scholarship.
Scholarship application how-to
In your scholarship application, you may want to consider integrating the unique challenges you may face as a member of a minority group. Be sure to include concrete, real-life examples to personalise it. Showing your resilience in the face of difficulty could help bolster your scholarship case, especially if you are applying to one of the minority-specific awards like those listed above.
Choosing a scholarship can be a difficult process. Students should maximise potential by using a scholarship directory and applying to those that fit their educational goals and specific backgrounds, and they should be as prepared as possible, following all application requirements, in order to give themselves the best shot.
Special thanks to Anica Oaks for this well-documented article. Anica is a professional content and copywriter from San Francisco, California. She loves dogs, the ocean, and anything outdoor-related. She was raised in a big family, so she’s used to putting things to a vote. Also, cartwheels are her speciality.