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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Joshua David Gardner Memorial Scholarship
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.
Women Lead Scholarship
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.
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.
Mae & Mary Scholarship Fund
April 30, 2018
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.
Worldstudio AIGA Scholarships
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.
The Hyatt Hotels Fund for Minority Lodging Management Students
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.
Presbyterian Student Opportunity Scholarship
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.
Jesse L. Jackson Sr. Fellows Toyota Scholarship
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.
George Washington Carver Scholarship Fund
May 30, 2018
Students must be demonstrated leaders planning to attend or currently enrolled at a HBCU.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholarship Award
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.
Brag Scholar Award
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.
Freedom from Religion Foundation Catherine Fahringer Memorial Award
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.
Immigration Scholarship Essay Contest
July 1, 2018
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.
Hit the Books Scholarship
August 25, 2018
Students who are between the ages of 18 and 25 enrolled in an accredited university are eligible to apply. Winners will be selected based on a 500-word essay about the importance of education.
Ron Brown Scholars Program
November 1, 2018
African American students in their senior year of high school are eligible for this scholarship program. Students interested in pursuing a degree in education are preferred.
American Society of Safety Engineers Scholarship
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.
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.
Gerber Scholarship in Pediatrics Program
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.