African American Scholarships for College Students

Last updated: April 23, 2019

Opportunities in education have been progressively moving forward since the 1800s, especially regarding people of color. Prior to the establishment of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), African Americans were generally denied admission to traditionally white colleges and universities. Consequently, HBCUs became the sole provider of higher education for African Americans.

Since then, millions of dollars are donated annually to privately funded institutions, scholarships, grants and awards targeted specifically towards students of color, many of which move on to become some of the most important thinkers, creators, innovators, entrepreneurs and scholars of our time. A new report  found that the number of African American female entrepreneurs has grown 322% since 1997, making black females the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs in the U.S.

What does a better future look like to you? With higher education and the support to help get you there, the possibility for you to create the future of your dreams is possible.

Educational Milestones for African Americans

Educational Milestones for African American Students in the U.S.
“Through UNCF alone, more than $100 million in scholarships is awarded annually to students of color. 
UNCF Annual Report

Scholarships cater specifically to underrepresented students in hopes of offering increased opportunities for programs in predominantly white degree programs and institutions, while also increasing diversity on university campuses nationwide. While federal funding is a great way to receive need-based support, private scholarship funds offer a more targeted opportunity to pursue any degree, or career, that will help set students up on the path towards success.

Resources for African American Students

UNCF Sponsorships & Scholarships

The nation’s largest minority education organization provides scholarship opportunities by raising money to support students of color to attend, thrive and graduate from college to become better leaders of their communities.

Historically Black Colleges and Universities

The HBCU Network was established in the 1800s to provide higher education opportunities for underrepresented minorities. The initiative is a professional and social community to network and to offer substantial scholarship opportunities for African-American students in the community.

Grants from the U.S. Government

Apply for need-based national grant opportunities suited for any academic course of study.

Federal Student Aid

The Office of the U.S. Department of Education provide over $120 billion in federal grants, loans and work-study funds each year to sponsor millions of students pursuing their academic dreams.

National Society of Black Engineers

The NSBE provide pre-college, collegiate and technical professional programs, scholarships, internships and support to students of color pursuing careers in the engineering industry.

National Society of Black Journalists

The NSBJ offers specialized scholarships, awards, events, fellowships and internships for African-American students pursuing a career in journalism.

Jackie Robinson Foundation Scholarship

Awards four-year scholarships to students of color demonstrating academic excellence and promise, and financial need.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)

The NAACP is a national education program that works to eliminate education-related disparities in public schools through policy development, guidance, and collaborative networks.


How to Pay for College



There are hundreds of scholarships for African Americans, which are awarded by local organizations, private companies, societies and more.



Grants don’t need to be paid back and are based on your financial circumstances. They are usually funded by the federal government, your state or college.



While scholarships usually fund tuition, fellowships typically cover graduate study, research projects and abroad experiences without needing to be paid back.


Student Loans

You can borrow money from the government or a bank, but it needs to be paid back with interest. The federal government offers many loan options—fill out the free application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to see if you qualify for financial aid. If you need help, use our interactive guide to learn how to answer every question.


Federal Work-Study Program

Provides part-time jobs for undergraduate and graduate students with financial need, allowing them to earn money to pay education expenses.


If you’re just beginning the process of finding suitable scholarships, make sure you’re prepared for the application process by starting a folder with the assets below.

Scholarship Application Preparation

Not all scholarships are based off of your GPA, but most need to verify your high school education to qualify. Try to get certified copies of your transcript early, so you have plenty of time to meet the deadline.
Although there are scholarship opportunities that aren’t merit-based, it’s valuable to take the SAT or ACT standardized tests in case it’s a scholarship qualification.
Your scholarship essay is what will bring attention to your application out of the pool of applicants. That’s why it’s important to craft a stand out piece that attests to your experience, adheres to the scholarship guidelines and most importantly, highlights your true personality.
Letters of recommendation are a true judgement of your character—something that can’t be revealed through your test scores or transcript. Reach out to former teachers, counselors or bosses, so that they can speak to your qualifications. You may also want to provide them with a resume that outlines your achievements and goals as well.

African American Scholarships

Instructions: Click through the dropdowns below to sort by your field of study, award amount and if you qualify for need-based aid. Click the box for a larger view.

Palantir Future Scholarship

Amount: $7,000

Deadline: April 5, 2020

The scholarship celebrates and supports freshmen, sophomore, or junior students from underrepresented racial/ethnic groups majoring in STEM.

EMPOWER Scholarships

Amount: $1,500

Deadline: April 15, 2020

The EMPOWER Scholarship, supports minority students who are pursuing a career in a medical or rehabilitation field.

Joshua David Gardner Memorial Scholarship

Amount: $2,000

Deadline: April 30, 2020

This scholarship was established to provide resources to students attending historically black colleges and universities. Must be pursuing a full time bachelor's degree from an accredited university. Open to U.S. resident students under 25 who maintain a 2.8 GPA.

Women Lead Scholarship

Amount: $3,000

Deadline: April 30, 2020

This award seeks female students with diverse backgrounds of race, ethnicity or faith, with demonstrated leadership and faith-inspired passion. Students must demonstrate financial need and be enrolled in an accredited university for consideration.

Mae & Mary Scholarship Fund

Amount: Varies

Deadline: April 30, 2020

The Mae & Mary Scholarship Fund supports the advancement of African Americans in health care and medical related fields. Eligible students are high school seniors planning to attend a university or technical school.

George Washington Carver Scholarship Fund

Amount: Varies

Deadline: May 30, 2020

Students must be demonstrated leaders planning to attend or currently enrolled at a HBCU.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholarship Award

Amount: Varies

Deadline: June 1, 2020

The Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship is awarded to minority nominees who have demonstrated a desire to continue education in the criminal justice field. An ACA member must recommend nominations to the ACA Committee for consideration. Nominees must be enrolled in a four-year college and demonstrate financial need.

Immigration Scholarship Essay Contest

Amount: $500

Deadline: July 1, 2020

Any U.S. resident that has been accepted to an accredited university can apply. Applicants are asked to answer questions on immigration for a chance to win.

Denny's Hungry for Education Scholarship

Amount: Varies

Deadline: August 18, 2020

All applicants must be enrolled in an accredited educational institution (K-12, high school and college) in the United States or Puerto Rico

Denny's Hungry for Education Scholarship

Amount: Varies

Deadline: August 18, 2020

All applicants must be enrolled in an accredited educational institution (K-12, high school and college) in the United States or Puerto Rico

HBCU Connect Minority Student Scholarship

Amount: $1,000

Deadline: August 31, 2020

This scholarship is open to minority students currently enrolled, or planning to enroll, into any Historically Black College or University within 6 months of the submission deadline. Students must show proof of enrollment. All Graduating High School Seniors or Transfer students, and Current HBCU students must show proof of enrollment.

Coca-Cola Scholars Program Scholarship

Amount: $20,000

Deadline: October 31, 2020

The Coca-Cola Scholars Program is an achievement-based scholarship award to chosen students who demonstrate a capacity to lead and serve, and make an impact on their communities. Must be a current high-school senior in the U.S., but do not have to be a U.S. citizen to apply.

Girls Who Illustrate Awesomeness Scholarship

Amount: $750

Deadline: December 31, 2020

This is a scholarship opportunity for young women of color who wish to make the world a better place. Students must be enrolled in an accredited university and have a 3.0 GPA for consideration. 500-word essays and/or 5 minute video submissions will be selected for this award.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholarship Award

Amount: Varies

Deadline: January 5, 2021

The Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship is awarded to minority nominees and incoming college freshmen who have oustdanding academic records, have overcome economic or educational hardship, and have a serious commitment to addressing issues of social justice as servant leaders or cholars.

Walton-UNCF K-12 Education Fellowship Program

Amount: Varies

Deadline: January 15, 2021

The fellowship Program is a talent development initiative aimed for high-achieving African Americans engaged in education reform in America . Applicant must be an African American who is a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident and enrolled at an HBCU.

AIA/Architects Foundation Diversity Advancement Scholarship

Amount: Varies

Deadline: January 15, 2021

The scholarship aims to support students from a minority race or ethnicity who intend to become architects. US residents who are entering, attending or transferring to a professional program in architecture that is accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB) are eligible to apply for the scholarship.

Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarship Program

Amount: $42,000

Deadline: January 31, 2021

Candidates must be U.S. citizens accepted to or enrolled in an undergraduate program related to NOAA mission-related sciences of oceanography, marine biology and maritime archaeology, including all science, engineering and resource management of ocean and coastal areas.. Women and minority candidates are encouraged to apply.

Ladders of Hope Scholarship Program

Amount: Varies

Deadline: February 15, 2021

The scholarships are awarded to college freshman who are currently enrolled as full-time students at a UNCF member institution and have a GPA of 2.5 or higher.

Hyatt Hotels Fund for Minority Lodging Management Students

Amount: $500 - $7500

Deadline: February 28, 2021

The scholarship is open to minority students who are attending an undergraduate institution in the next academic year. Students must be majoring in hospitality management.

Boule' Foundation Scholarship

Amount: $4,000

Deadline: March 1, 2021

These merit-based scholarships are awarded to entering college freshmen students of African American descent attending four-year, accredited, non-profit degree granting colleges and universities of their choice.

UNCF/Best Buy Scholars Program

Amount: Varies

Deadline: March 31, 2021

High school seniors planning to enroll at an historically black college or uiversity (HBCU) and plan to major in business, information technology, finance, data sciences, communications, or marketing. Preference given to students who are active high school participants in a Best Buy Teen Tech Center.