Last updated: October 13, 2017

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

1

Scholarships

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

 
2

Grants

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.

 
3

Fellowships

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

 
4

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.

 
5

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.

The Goldman Sachs MBA Fellowship

Amount: up to $35,000

Awards Available: Varies

Deadline: Varies

The MBA Fellowship is geared to increase interest in careers in the financial industry among Black, Hispanic and Native American first-year business students. This award recognized outstanding community and leadership achievements.

ABA Diversity Scholarship

Amount: $2,500

Awards Available: 2

Deadline: Varies

Applicants must maintain a 3.0 GPA to be eligible for this scholarship. 500-word essays will be reviewed and two winners will be chosen based on academic achievement, character, leadership, financial need and a commitment to advancing the transportation industry.

ACHE Albert W. Dent Graduate Student Scholarship

Amount: $5,000

Awards Available: 15

Deadline: March 31, 2018

Scholarships will recognize minority students enrolled in their final year of graduate studies. Must be enrolled in an accredited U.S. institution. Financial need will be considered.

American Chemical Society Scholars Program

Amount: $5,000

Awards Available: Varies

Deadline: March 1, 2018

Minority students identifying as Black, Hispanic and American Indian, who are currently enrolled in an accredited university or community college intending to pursue a career in science-based fields will be considered for this needs-based award. Must maintain a 3.0 GPA for consideration.

Actuarial Diversity Scholarship

Amount: $4,000

Awards Available: Varies

Deadline: May 2, 2018

Students must be actively pursuing a career in statistics, insurance or other math-related fields for consideration for this scholarship. Students must also have at least one family member identifying as a minority to be considered. Must maintain a 3.0 GPA.

Jackie Robinson Foundation Scholarship

Amount: up to $28,000

Awards Available: Varies

Deadline: February 1, 2018

This scholarship is aimed at minority high school students who show leadership and community service dedication. Scholars will receive need-based financial aid as well as mentoring and access to internship/job support and assistance.

Brag Scholar Award

Amount: Varies

Awards Available: Varies

Deadline: June 2, 2018

Students pursuing a degree in fashion, retail or related sales are encouraged to apply for this scholarship. Students must also maintain a 3.0 GPA and be a U.S. citizen to apply.

Ron Brown Scholars Program

Amount: $10,000

Awards Available: Varies

Deadline: January 9, 2018

This scholarship will be awarded to talented high school students of color who demonstrate significant financial need. Preference will go to students also interested in public service, community engagement, business entrepreneurship and global citizenship.

Blacks at Microsoft Scholarships

Amount: $5,000

Awards Available: Varies

Deadline: March 1, 2018

For consideration for this scholarship, students must demonstrate an interest in engineering, computer science, finance, business, marketing or other technology-related fields. Must be a graduating high school senior of African descent with a 3.3 GPA demonstrating financial need to be considered.

EGIF Scholarship

Amount: $5,000

Awards Available: 1

Deadline: Varies

Graduating high school males of African American descent are encouraged to apply for this scholarship. Must maintain a 3.0 GPA and participate in extracurriculars for consideration for this award.

Jack and Jill of America Foundation Scholarship

Amount: $2,500

Awards Available: 2

Deadline: October 27, 2017

This scholarship will provide two need-based scholarships to African American students enrolled full time at an accredited university entering their junior or senior year majoring in Communications. Must have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 and evidence of community service for consideration.

AICPA Scholarship for Minority Accounting Students

Amount: $5,000

Awards Available: Varies

Deadline: April 1, 2018

Students will be chosen based on academic achievement, demonstration of leadership and volunteer activity and overall commitment to becoming a licensed CPA professional. Applicants must be a full-time undergraduate or graduate accounting student in an underrepresented minority with a GPA of 3.0 for consideration.

Fontana Transport Inc. Scholarship Program

Amount: $5,000

Awards Available: Varies

Deadline: March 15, 2018

This scholarship is open to underrepresented, low income, and first generation students. Preference will go to students demonstrating leadership and perseverance. Students must also demonstrate a 3.5 GPA for consideration.

Girls Who Illustrate Awesomeness Scholarship

Amount: $750

Awards Available: 2

Deadline: December 1, 2017

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.

Minorities in Government Finance Scholarship

Amount: $8,000

Awards Available: Varies

Deadline: February 19, 2018

The Minorities in Government Finance Scholarship competition is geared towards minority students interested in public services, accounting, finance, political science, economic or business related fields. Must be enrolled full or part time in graduate or upper-level undergraduate for consideration.

The Hyatt Hotels Fund for Minority Lodging Management Students

Amount: $2,000

Awards Available: 20

Deadline: May 1, 2018

Students will be considered for this award based on their commitment to a career in the hospitality industry. Must be a U.S. citizen enrolled as a full-time student to apply.

Microsoft Scholarship Program

Amount: Varies

Awards Available: Varies

Deadline: January 26, 2018

This scholarship acknowledges minority students pursuing careers in STEM industries. Preferred interest will be given to female students, underrepresented students and students with disabilities. Leadership and financial need will be considered. Must maintain a GPA of 3.0.

EMPOWER Scholarships

Amount: $1,500

Awards Available: Varies

Deadline: April 30, 2018

The EMPOWER Scholarship is open to diverse students enrolled in postsecondary schools pursuing careers in healthcare. Volunteer service and financial need will be considered. Must have a minimum 2.0 GPA.

Richard B. Fisher Scholarship

Amount: $15,000

Awards Available: Varies

Deadline: December 6, 2017

This program is an important part of Morgan Stanley's diversity recruiting efforts to offer opportunities to Black, Hispanic, Native American, and LGBT college juniors and sophomores. For consideration, students must also submit a Summer Analyst Program application. If selected as an RBF Scholar, you will receive financial aid following acceptance of a summer internship with Morgan Stanley. Students of all majors are encouraged to apply.

American Society of Safety Engineers Scholarship

Amount: $1,000

Awards Available: Varies

Deadline: December 1, 2018

African American students enrolled full time at an accredited four-year college or university are encouraged to apply for this award. Students must have a 3.0 GPA and have completed 60 undergraduate credit hours before applying for consideration. This award is open to U.S. and international students.

Janet Jackson Rhythm Nation Scholarship

Amount: $5,000

Awards Available: Varies

Deadline: October 31, 2017

This award celebrates African American students students studying photojournalism, photography, journalism, TV/Radio, music or communications. Students must have a 2.5 GPA, a U.S. citizen and enrolled in an accredited university to apply.

Joshua David Gardner Memorial Scholarship

Amount: $2,000

Awards Available: 2

Deadline: April 30, 2018

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.

Mae and Mary Scholarship Fund

Amount: Varies

Awards Available: Varies

Deadline: April 30, 2018

Students pursuing careers in health and medical fields are encouraged to apply for this award. Must be of African American descent and be enrolled full time at an accredited university for consideration.

Coca-Cola Scholars Program Scholarship

Amount: $20,000

Awards Available: 150

Deadline: October 31, 2017

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.

Phyllis G. Meekins Scholarship

Amount: $1,250

Awards Available: 1

Deadline: April 30, 2018

This award will recognize one African American female that's pursuing a full time bachelor's degree and participating in golf at an accredited university. Students must demonstrate academic achievement and community service for consideration

Worldstudio AIGA Scholarships

Amount: $6,000

Awards Available: Varies

Deadline: May 1, 2018

Students must be pursuing an undergraduate degree in fine art, graphic design, illustration, interactive design, or photography. Preference will be given to minority students and students demonstrating financial need. Must maintain a 2.0 GPA for consideration.

Tylenol Future Care Scholarship

Amount: up to $10,000

Awards Available: 170

Deadline: June 30, 2018

The Tylenol Future Care Scholarship program supports students in healthcare-related education. Only open to U.S. residents. Students must complete at least one year of undergraduate study at an accredited two or four-year college to apply. Must also have at least one year remaining for consideration. Preference will be awarded to students seeking a degree to actively treat patients.

Pacific Gas & Electric Company Black ERG Scholarship

Amount: $5,000

Awards Available: 10

Deadline: February 3, 2018

This award supports African American high school seniors pursuing a college degree in STEM, business, environmental or energy related fields. Students must have a 3.0 GPA to apply. Must reside in a PG&E territory for consideration.

Women Lead Scholarship

Amount: $3,000

Awards Available: 2

Deadline: April 30, 2018

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.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholarship Award

Amount: $1,000

Awards Available: Varies

Deadline: June 1, 2018

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.

Express Scripts Scholarship

Amount: $10,000

Awards Available: 4

Deadline: Varies

Students pursuing a double-major in relation to pharmacy are considered for this award. Students must be enrolled in an accredited undergraduate or graduate program and be a citizen of the U.S. for consideration.

Interpublic Group Scholarship and Internship

Amount: $5,000

Awards Available: 5

Deadline: January 27, 2018

The New York Women in Communications Foundation awards this annual scholarship based on academic excellence, and involvement in the field of communications. Ethnically diverse college juniors will be considered for a paid summer internship in addition to the scholarship. Must be a U.S. citizen in NY, NJ, CT, or PA and a GPA of 3.2 or higher to apply.

Jesse L. Jackson Sr. Fellows Toyota Scholarship

Amount: $75,000

Awards Available: 10

Deadline: May 30, 2018

Toyota is offering students the opportunity to work at facilities across America in conjunction with this scholarship. Minority students with a 3.0 GPA, participating in community service, and majoring in STEM or business are encouraged to apply for this renewable scholarship. Financial need will be considered.

Freedom from Religion Foundation Catherine Fahringer Memorial Award

Amount: $2,500

Awards Available: 4

Deadline: June 17, 2018

This award is available to high school students who identify as atheist, agnostic, humanist and/or secular and are the first in their families to attend an accredited two or four-year colleges or university. Preference will be given to students of color, and students who have been in foster care, homeless, undocumented or LGBTQ. Applicants will be chosen based on the strength of their essay.

GE/LNESC Scholarship

Amount: $5,000

Awards Available: Varies

Deadline: Varies

Applicants must be working towards a bachelor's degree in business or engineering as a college sophomore. Must be a full time student with a GPA of 3.0 to be considered. Must be a U.S. citizen to apply.

ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Math and Science Scholarships

Amount: $5,000

Awards Available: 4

Deadline: April 8, 2018

Each year, two African American and two Hispanic students are awarded this scholarship to support math and science graduates especially among underrepresented populations. Students must be enrolled in an accredited university with a GPA of 3.0 to apply. Must be enrolled in a major related to science, technology, engineering or mathematics for consideration for this award.

Frank Kazmierczak Memorial Migrant Scholarship

Amount: $1,000

Awards Available: 1

Deadline: February 1, 2018

One student enrolled in an education program will be awarded this scholarship. Must be a child of a migrant worker to apply for this award. Must demonstrate academic achievement and financial need.

American Sociological Association Minority Fellowship Program

Amount: $18,000

Awards Available: Varies

Deadline: January 31, 2018

This scholarship awards graduate students pursuing a degree in sociology demonstrating strong mental health research and/or interest. Students will be selected based on intent on research and development in mental health, academic achievement and financial need.

Seeds of Fortune Inc. Scholarship

Amount: $500

Awards Available: Varies

Deadline: December 31, 2017

All female NYC high school sophomores or juniors have the opportunity to receive a 6 year high school to college program, and join a network of young women mentors and college coaches. Each participant is awarded a free laptop, tours to colleges and universities, and mentor/coaching opportunities.

AWWA Holly Cornell Scholarship

Amount: $7,500

Awards Available: 1

Deadline: January 10, 2018

Minority and/or female students are encouraged to apply for this scholarship at the undergraduate and graduate level. Must be a U.S. citizen that is accepted into a degree program may apply.

Charles Shelton Veterinary Medicine/Technology Scholarship

Amount: $2,500

Awards Available: 1

Deadline: April15, 2018

African American students are encouraged to apply for this scholarship whether they are a graduating senior, current college student or a returning adult. Must be a legal U.S. resident, with a minimum 3.0 GPA, and proof of enrollment in a college or university to apply.

Presbyterian Student Opportunity Scholarship

Amount: $2,000

Awards Available: 80

Deadline: May 15, 2018

The Presbyterian Church provides this yearly need-based opportunity for sophomores, juniors and seniors who are full time, first degree students attending accredited institutions in the U.S. Preference extends to racial ethnic students. Must be a member of the Presbyterian Church, and have completed their first year of study. Must have a 2.5 GPA or higher, and demonstrate financial need for consideration.

TMCF/AFSCME Union Scholarship

Amount: $6,300

Awards Available: Varies

Deadline: February 28, 2018

The Thurgood Marshall College Fund Scholar is a college student of color, demonstrating interest in working in social and economic justice through the labor union movement. Must have a GPA of 2.5 or higher, and be at least a sophomore during the application process.

UNCF STEM Scholars Program

Amount: $20,000

Awards Available: 100

Deadline: February 23, 2018

This scholarship extends to students interested in pursuing a career in the STEM industry. Students must be African American and a citizen of the U.S. for consideration. Must have a GPA of 3.0 or higher, and demonstrate a high level of academic performance in math and science. Financial need will be considered.

Gerber Scholarship in Pediatrics Program

Amount: $5,000

Awards Available: 2

Deadline: Varies

The Gerber Scholarship in Pediatrics Program awards underrepresented minority students interested in pediatrics and emphasis on nutrition with financial support. Must be a U.S. citizen to apply. Leadership and community service will be considered in application process.

The Dr. Julianna Malveaux Scholarship

Amount: $1,000

Awards Available: 1

Deadline: March 1, 2018

This award is given to college sophomore or junior African American women studying economics, journalism or related fields at an accredited university. Must have a GPA of 3.0 or higher, be a U.S. citizen, and compose an essay to qualify.

The National Scholarship

Amount: Varies

Awards Available: Varies

Deadline: March 1, 2018

This national scholarship awards African American graduating high school seniors with a GPA of 3.0 or higher with this award. Applicants are asked to discuss the contributions their ancestors descent had on the student's life. Must be a U.S. citizen to apply.

Hallie Q. Brown Scholarship

Amount: Varies

Awards Available: Varies

Deadline: March 31, 2018

This scholarship is awarded biannually to students who are an active member of the National Association of Colored Women. Students must be a high school graduate with a C average or above, and in need of financial assistance to apply. Applicant must be enrolled in an accredited institution for consideration. Submissions are available upon recommendation.

Development Fund for Black Students in Science and Technology

Amount: $2,000

Awards Available: Varies

Deadline: June 15, 2018

The Development Fund identifies students at historically black colleges and universities to select undergraduates majoring in engineering, math, science, and related fields, for this award. Applicants are evaluated based on academic achievement, personal essay, and recommendations. Financial need will also be considered.

Society of Women Engineers Brill Family Scholarship

Amount: $1,000

Awards Available: 1

Deadline: Sophomores through Graduates : February 15. Freshmen : May 1

The SWE Scholarship program offers scholarship opportunities for women pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering, and math. Applicants must have a GPA of 3.0 or above to qualify. Only women are eligible for this program, and you must be enrolled full-time.

Jane M. Klausman Women in Business Scholarship

Amount: $1,000-$7,000

Awards Available: Varies

Deadline: Varies

Women of any age pursuing a business degree in an accredited business program who demonstrate outstanding potential in the field are encouraged to apply for this scholarship. Must be entering at least the second year of business program and demonstrate initiative, ambition, and commitment to career in business for consideration.

George Washington Carver Scholarship Fund Inc.

Amount: up to $10,000

Awards Available: Varies

Deadline: May 30, 2018

This scholarship awards grants up to $10,000 to students attending historically black colleges who major in a variety of fields including communication, accounting, computer science, economics, among other select fields. This scholarship prefers to award its grants to students wishing to advance their technical skills to make a better society. Leadership, academic standing and character are considered for this scholarship.

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