All About Minority Scholarships

By F. F. John , last updated January 10, 2012
If you are a student of color and on your way to college or to get another degree, you need to learn all about minority scholarships. These opportunities aim to help minorities, who have historically been underrepresented at American college and universities, pay for school. If you qualify and are selected, the money you receive will go a long way in helping you achieve your educational goals and ultimately, your career aspirations.
Who Qualifies for Minority scholarships?
To receive a minority scholarship, you must first belong to an ethnic minority group. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the recognized minority groups are: African Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanic/Latin Americans, Pacific Islanders, Native Hawaiians, Native Alaskans and Native Americans. Some scholarships that target Native Americans require that applicants have proof of their membership in one of the many federally-recognized tribes.
Depending on the source, most minority scholarships are limited to citizens of the United States. However, several opportunities, including federal government programs like the Pell Grant, are available to legal immigrants as well. Minority scholarship programs are also available to foreign students. One such program is the Korean American Scholarship Foundation, which supports selected American citizens and foreign students of Korean heritage who pursue higher learning in the United States. The amount given varies upon need.
Most minority scholarship programs are provided by private groups and organizations. Some, like the Gates Millennium Scholars program, are sponsored via endowment, in this case from Bill and Melinda Gates. The scholarship is automatically renewed each academic year. Others rely on contributions from individuals and corporations, such as the United Negro College Fund. Certain corporations also provide scholarships for minority students. These scholarships are typically administered by a large minority-focused organization such as the Hispanic Scholarship Fund. Additionally, most colleges and universities set money aside for entering and returning minority students in need of financial aid. This is especially the case at historically black colleges and universities. Spelman College, for example, has a Presidential Scholarship program that is awarded to new students with the highest grade point average. Those selected receive full tuition every year until they graduate.
What Can These Scholarships Be Used For?
Several scholarships are not attached to a specific field of study. Instead recipients can use the money to pay for tuition and books regardless of whether they are getting a major in English, or a masters degree in Religion. However, many minority scholarships are field-specific. The National GEM Consortium is one such example and is only available to minorities who study engineering and sciences. It gives anywhere between $10,000 and $14,000 to students at partner-schools, which include Boston University, Howard University, and Yale University.
How To Get A Minority Scholarship
Applying for a minority scholarship is straightforward once you know which ones you wish to be considered for. However, scholarship programs are extremely competitive. Consequently, you must have a high grade point average and be free of disciplinary problems. A long and committed history of community service and dedication to hobbies will also help distinguish you from others who apply for the same minority scholarship. Additionally, consider submitting letters of reference, if the program you apply for will allow it. These steps will help get you closer to achieving the financial aid you need.
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