Affording higher education is becoming and increasingly necessary experience in today's world, but it is always expensive regardless of one's age and race; as a result of being historically underrepresented, African-American women now have a number of different potential scholarship opportunities.
Choosing a College
When you must choose between colleges, look at the percent of minority students enrolled in each college. Colleges and universities with lower percentages of minority students often open up scholarships geared toward attracting minority students to the school and diversifying the school’s population. All students are judged by the same admissions criteria, but more financial aid opportunities may exist for African-American students, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds.
While open to all races, historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in the United States also offer a wealth of scholarships for African-American women. Some HBCUs, such as Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia are open only to women, increasing the amount of scholarships that African-American women may receive. In addition to historically black college and universities, African-American women may find a wealth of scholarships at all-female colleges such as Smith College, Wellesley College in Massachusetts, or Barnard College in New York.
Women are traditionally underrepresented in scientific and mathematic fields. African-American women with an interest in pursuing a field traditionally dominated by men will find multiple scholarship opportunities. Women should consult the financial aid office at their respective college or university to learn about school-specific scholarship opportunities related to their degree. Another source for scholarships in fields traditionally dominated by males is professional organizations related to that field. For example, the Association for Women in Science (AWIS) offers multiple scholarships for women pursuing scientific degrees.
African-Americans have also historically been underrepresented when it comes to pursuing advanced degrees. Numerous scholarships are available from colleges and universities and professional organizations in nearly every field to help African-American women pursue graduate degrees and conduct research in their field.
Like all students, African-American women should make a list of their interests and abilities and seek out scholarships based on the items on that list. Organizations offer scholarships for athletes, artists, musicians and a variety of other interests and abilities. While many of these scholarships are not specific to race or gender, African-American women still have a strong chance of earning a scholarship through these opportunities.
Two organizations geared towards African-Americans, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the United Negro College Fund (UNCF), offer multiple scholarships for African-American students. UNCF offers a general scholarship application for students currently attending, or planning to attend, a UNCF member college. Through the general scholarship application, students are matched with scholarship opportunities to fit their needs. Additionally, UNCF partners with multiple organizations, including Microsoft and Verizon, to offer scholarships to African-American students no matter what college they decide to attend.
The NAACP works with colleges and universities to sponsor university specific scholarships and help students find scholarships relevant to their abilities and interests. Additionally, the NAACP partners with UNCF to help award many of its scholarships.