Paying for school can be a challenge for financially stable families, but minority students often find the cost prohibitively expensive, which makes grants an effective resource for minority students. Often faced with greater financial disadvantages and more dysfunctional schools than their white counterparts, minority students sometimes need more financial aid. Grants are a great source of funding for college. As opposed to scholarships, which are usually based on grades and activities, grants are awarded based on financial need, thus making a college education attainable for many who don’t have stellar grades and would otherwise be unable to afford it.
The first step toward receiving financial aid is to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Most federal, state, and private financial aid institutions rely on the FAFSA to decide who qualifies for aid. Missing the deadline could mean that you will not be considered for many scholarships and grants. Though the deadline is June 30, many states have earlier deadlines, so be sure you know when you need to get it in. There is an online version, making completion of your FAFSA simple.
Several weeks after you complete your FAFSA you will receive notification of how much federal aid for which you are eligible. The federal and state governments disburse large amounts of grant money for minority students. Despite not being specifically intended for minorities, the Pell Grant or the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant are only two grants for which minority students will be eligible just by getting the FAFSA in one time. And receiving the Pell Grant automatically qualifies you to be eligible for other grants. These can be substantial amounts, but it usually does not cover the full amount needed for fees and tuition. This is why it is important to do your research early on about private grant opportunities.
The private grant research process should begin early in the year before you go to college, as many deadlines are in the fall. You will want to apply to as many grants as you are eligible for. There are many sources out there, some intended for narrowly specific situations, others are more broadly defined. There are many minority foundations that hand out grants to thousands of minority students every year, like the United Negro College Fund, which disburses hundreds of scholarships and grants to African American students. And there are hundreds more organizations just like it, serving not only other African American students, but also Hispanics, Native Americans, Asian Americans, and other minority groups like the disabled, GLBT, and women.
Aside from minority foundations, corporations are also stepping up and making grant money available. These grants are usually more substantial, but they are also much more competitive. Many offer internship opportunities as well as the money, which can look great on a resume.
The biggest tip for receiving minority grants is to apply to as many money sources as you can. If you are African American, do not limit yourself to only grants that are for African Americans. Find grants for minorities, broadly defined, as well. Also, get your FAFSA in and see what the government will offer you. But most importantly, get out there to find private grants, and apply, apply, apply.