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20 Top Minority Scholarships


Scholarships can be a significant source of college funding for students of all different backgrounds - if you know where to look, that is. Many top scholarships have eligibility requirements regarding financial need or academic merit, but there are also excellent scholarship programs that are specifically for minority students. Most of these programs were created in order to facilitate access to education for minority students, and many aim to help students pursue careers in which people of certain ethnicities or backgrounds are underrepresented. 

One of the best ways to optimize scholarship funding is to apply to scholarships with more specific eligibility requirements (requirements that you meet, of course). To help you find scholarships like this, I’ve compiled a list of awards meant for students of specific ethnic and racial backgrounds. I started with scholarships meant for students of all minority backgrounds before moving into awards meant for specific minorities. Finally, I’ve ended with some tips and strategies for getting the most scholarship money possible. 

A note before we get started: the terms used to describe minority groups for each scholarship program were taken directly from programs’ eligibility requirements. I understand that not all of these programs may use preferred terms or descriptors, but I wanted to make sure I represented eligibility criteria as accurately as possible. 


General College Scholarships for Minorities

The following scholarships are open to students from many different ethnic minority backgrounds. 


Actuarial Diversity Scholarship Program 

If you're interested in a career as an actuary, this scholarship program is meant for you. The potential award amounts depend on your year in school, but they can range between $1,000 - $4,000

  • This scholarship is open to students with at least one parent of Black/African American, Hispanic, Native North American, or Pacific Islander heritage.
  • The program typically opens in January; the deadline is typically in early May.
  • Get more information on the Actuarial Diversity Scholarship Program.


American Meteorological Society Minority Scholarships

To qualify for this unique scholarship, you must plan on pursuing a career in meteorological or related oceanic or hydrologic sciences. If you do win the award, you'll receive $3,000 a year for two years

  • This scholarship is open to minority students, particularly those of Hispanic, Native American, and Black/African American descent, who are entering their freshman year of college.
  • The submission deadline is typically in February.
  • Read more about the program and check out the application form.


Gates Millennium Scholarship Program 

This very generous (and therefore very competitive) scholarship program covers all unmet financial need and self-help aid; this means that you wouldn't have to take out any loans or worry about finding a student job in order to pay for your education. It's renewable, so you could potentially receive funding through all four years of college. We have a whole post on the Gates Millennium Scholarship Program, which you should definitely check out if you're interested in learning more about this award. 

  • This scholarship is open to African-American, American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian American/Pacific Islander, and Hispanic American students who will be entering their freshman year of college.
  • The submission deadline is typically in January.
  • Read more about how to win the Gates Millennium Scholarship


Jackie Robinson Foundation Scholarship

If you win a Jackie Robinson Foundation Scholarship, you could receive up to $30,000 over four years of college. (That means you could receive up to $7,500 a year.) Keep in mind; however, that you must demonstrate financial need in order to qualify for the award. 


National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering Scholarship 

If you participate in a high school program that focuses primarily on math, science, and engineering, this scholarship program may be a good fit for you. Winners receive an award of $2,500 to put towards their college education. 

  • This scholarship is open to high school seniors who identify as African American, American Indian, or Latino.
  • Read more about the program, and keep an eye on the application. It's typically made available in the Spring. 


African American & Black Student Scholarships 

National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) Scholarships 

The NABJ offers several scholarship options for students who are registered as members. As you may have guessed, these scholarships are meant for students who hope to pursue a career in journalism. The award options all have different eligibility requirements, award amounts, and deadlines, so you may want to spend some time researching the program to see if any of the scholarships are better fits than others. 



The perfect awards for students who want their work on the front page.  


The Ron Brown Scholar Program

This need-based scholarship awards winners up to $40,000 to fund their college educations - they receive $10,000 per year to cover expenses. 

  • The scholarship is open to Black or African American students who demonstrate financial need.
  • There are typically two submission deadlines: one in early November and the final in early January. If you apply by the November deadline, your application will be considered for both the Ron Brown Scholar Program and forwarded to additional scholarship providers for consideration. If you submit after the November deadline, you'll only be considered for the Ron Brown Scholar Program.
  • Read more about the program and submit an application.


Ronald McDonald House Charities African-American Future Achievers Scholarship

What a mouthful! You should know that the availability of Ronald McDonald scholarships depends on your local chapter's participation - for more information on whether you'll have access to this award, read our post on how to win a McDonald's scholarship. The award amounts can also vary based on where you're located, but you should be able to get more information from your local RMHC chapter. 

  • This scholarship is open to students who have at least one parent of African American or Black Caribbean heritage.
  • The submission deadline is typically in January.
  • Get more information on qualifying and applying for a McDonald's scholarship.


The Tom Joyner "Full Ride" Scholarship

 The availability of this scholarship is limited - it's only offered to one student per year - but winners have all their expenses covered if they plan on attending a historically black college or university

  • This award is open to high school seniors who apply to (and eventually choose to attend) a historically black college or university.
  • The application deadline is typically in mid-January.
  • Read more about the scholarship.


Hispanic & Latino Student Scholarships

Hispanic Scholarship Fund Scholarships

By submitting one application through the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, you essentially apply to thousands of potential scholarships - over 5,100 new awards are given out every year. The HSF is an excellent source for scholarship funding; if you're Hispanic/Latino and only have time to submit one application, you should submit this one. While you're at it, read our blog post on how to win one of the HSF awards

  • These scholarships are open to students who are at least 1/4 Hispanic or Latino.
  • The application typically opens in January and closes in March or April.
  • Read more about the HSF scholarships.


League of United Latin American Citizens National Scholarship Fund

Award amounts through this scholarship fund vary from $250 - $2,000. Although these awards may not be huge, they'll definitely add up, especially if you apply to several other scholarship programs. 

  • These scholarships are open to students who identify as Hispanic or Latino.
  • The submission deadline is typically in March.
  • Read more about the scholarship program.


Ronald McDonald HACER 

Like the other Ronald McDonald House Charities scholarships, the availability and amount of this award will depend on your local RMHC chapter. There are also four national awards that come with some big payouts: $100,000 each, to be exact. 

  • The scholarships are open to students who have at least one parent of Hispanic heritage.
  • The application typically opens in October and closes in January.
  • Read more about how to win a HACER scholarship.



Who would have guessed that fast food could be related to an awesome college scholarship? 


Native American and American Indian Student Scholarships 

American Indian College Fund Scholarships

The AICF is similar to the Hispanic Scholarship Fund: it's a scholarship hub or database with one application that will get you considered for many awards. Award amounts and eligibility criteria vary, but you don't have to worry about that too much since you only have to submit one application. In order to be considered eligible for any of these awards, you must be enrolled in a state- or federally-recognized tribe or be able to prove descendency to an enrolled member. 

  • These scholarships are open to American Indian students with connections to an officially recognized tribe.
  • The application is open January 1 - May 31.
  • Read more about the fund and its scholarship application.


Asian American and Pacific Islander Student Scholarships 

Asian and Pacific Islander Scholarship Fund Program

Award amounts through this program range from $1,500 all the way up to $15,000

  • These scholarships are open to students who are Asian/Pacific Islander as defined by the US Census.
  • The application typically opens in September and closes in early January.
  • Get more information on the program


Asian Pacific Fund Scholarships

The Asian Pacific Fund offers 12 different scholarships, all with different eligibility requirements and award amounts. You may want to look through the available scholarships to see if any are good fits for you - most of the awards are for graduating high school seniors. The good news is that if you find more than one scholarship that you're interested in, you're welcome to submit as many scholarship applications as you'd like.  


Asian Women in Business Scholarship Fund 

This $2,500 award is given to female students who demonstrate leadership or an entrepreneurial spirit. 

  • The scholarship is open to women of Asian or Pacific Islander ancestry.
  • The deadline is October 1st, 2016.
  • Get more information about this scholarship program. 


A perfect scholarship program for women who want to enter the business world. 


Korean Ancestry Grant

Award amounts for this scholarship vary but can be as high as $10,000. As you may have guessed, there's a strong preference for applicants of Korean ancestry, but the program will also accept submissions from other students.


Ronald McDonald House Charities ASIA Scholarship

Award amounts and availability will depend on your local Ronald McDonald House Charity chapter, but it isn't too hard to get your hands on that information. For more explicit directions, check out our post on winning a McDonald's scholarship.  

  • These scholarships are open to students with at least one parent of Asian-Pacific heritage.
  • The application typically opens in October and closes in January.
  • Read more about applying for a McDonald's scholarship.


Upakar Indian-American Scholarship Fund

This award provides $8,000 over four years to each scholarship recipient. There are some other benefits to the program in addition to funding - scholarship winners also have access to a mentoring program. 

  • This scholarship is open to students who were born in India, or to students with at least one parent who was born in India.
  • The application deadline is typically in April.
  • Check out the eligibility requirements and application


Vietnamese American Scholarship Foundation

This scholarship foundation offers access to several scholarships with just one application. The scholarships all have different selection criteria and award amounts, and you'll have to submit some supplemental materials based on the awards you want to apply for. The application is pretty streamlined so that you can submit all materials at once. 

  • These scholarships are open to students of Vietnamese descent.
  • The submission deadlines vary by scholarship, but most are due in late May or early June.
  • Get more information on the scholarship options and check out the application.


Tips for Your Own Scholarship Search

Hopefully, you now have a good start when it comes to looking for scholarships for minority students. This list of awards is just the beginning, though - follow these strategies to optimize your chances of winning the most scholarship money possible. 


Do Your Own Research 

The awards listed above are some of the biggest and best-known scholarships for minorities, but that doesn't mean they're the only ones out there. If you do your own research, you'll probably find information on smaller or more targeted scholarships. Why bother going after these awards? The more specific the eligibility requirements (if you meet them), the less competition you'll probably have. The same goes for scholarships with smaller payouts.

Try googling "scholarships in [your local area]" or "scholarships for [your specific ethnicity group]". You might be surprised at what you find! Just one caveat - beware of any scholarship applications that ask you to submit payment information or info that seems irrelevant or too private. They may be scams, so make sure an application is for a legitimate award before you submit. 



A good excuse to spend some quality time at your favorite cafe. 


Apply Broadly

This piece of advice goes hand-in-hand with the last one: the more scholarships you apply to, the better your odds of winning some money. Try to submit as many applications as possible, and make sure to look into non-minority scholarships as well. 

You might start with 2-3 applications to "big" competitive scholarships and 5-7 applications to smaller or more targeted awards. If you can do more than that; however, more power to you! Just don't let it get in the way of your schoolwork or extracurricular activities - those are more important. 


Be Mindful of Deadlines

As you may have noticed by reading the descriptions above, there's no standard scholarship deadline. The earlier you do your scholarship research, the more likely it is that you'll meet the deadlines for all scholarship programs you may be interested in. Try keeping a spreadsheet with all this information so you can submit applications on time. Make sure to cushion your timeline (add an extra 6-8 weeks) if you have to ask for letters of recommendation


What's Next? 

To continue with your scholarship search, you'll want to look for award options other than minority scholarships so that you can apply broadly (like I just mentioned above). You can start with our guides to the top scholarships for high school juniors and high school seniors

If you want more general information on financing your education, check out our guides to what college really costs and how to pay for it


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Francesca Fulciniti
About the Author

Francesca graduated magna cum laude from Harvard and scored in the 99th percentile on the SATs. She's worked with many students on SAT prep and college counseling, and loves helping students capitalize on their strengths.

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