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College enrollment rates are rising among Hispanic men and women in the United States. Recent data from the Pew Research Center shows that 2.3 million Hispanics between the ages of 18 and 24 were enrolled in a two-year or four-year degree program in 2014; this figure represents a 13% increase since 1993. This rise in postsecondary attendance is largely attributable to the nation’s growing Hispanic population and a sharp decline in their high school dropout rate. According to the National Center of Education Statistics, the percentage of college students who identify as Hispanic rose from 4% to 17% between 1976 and 2014. Hispanic students reached a new milestone in 2012 when, for the first time, Hispanic high school graduates enrolled in college at a higher rate than their Caucasian counterparts. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that nearly one in four college-age adults will identify as Hispanic by 2020.
Minority Student Enrollment 1976-2012
Persistent educational challenges continue to affect the Hispanic community, however. Many college-bound Hispanic men and women come from low-income families, and tuition rates for in-state students at public universities rose 296% between 1995 and 2015. Consequently, many of these students are forced to take on student loans to afford their degree. These loans carry steep monthly minimum payments and interest rates that can affect borrowers for decades.
Tuition Growth at National Universities
Pew Research data shows that 22% of young Hispanic households have outstanding student debt. While this is the lowest rate of debt among student racial groups, it should be noted that nearly half of all Hispanic students complete their education at a two-year community or technical college. These programs tend to be significantly less expensive than four-year programs, but they are also less likely to help students secure meaningful employment after graduation. As of 2014, only 15% of Hispanics aged 25 to 29 held a bachelor’s degree in any subject.
Family obligations present another challenge to Hispanic learners. A 2014 survey by the National Journal found that two-thirds of Hispanic men and women who sought full-time work or joined the military after high school claimed to have done so in order to financially support their loved ones. By comparison, only 39% of white men and women who bypassed college made the same claim.
First-Generation College Students
First-generation Hispanic college students face additional obstacles. According to a report from UCLA, the percentage of first-generation Hispanic students at all U.S. postsecondary four-year institutions fell from 69.6% to just over 38% between 1971 and 2005. Additionally, a study by the National Conference of State Legislatures estimates that up to half of Latino undergraduates’ parents have not received any postsecondary education. Many educational experts agree that parents without a college background are unable to adequately prepare their children for the rigorous academics and the social pressures of institutionalized higher education. “Without family background in the college experience,” the study notes, “these students may find it difficult to fully engage in college life, which can lead them to drop out and not complete a degree.”
English as a Second Language
Language barriers are another factor affecting Hispanics’ postsecondary education rates. Hispanics made up 45% of all U.S. immigrants in 2015, according to data from the Migration Policy Institute, and the National Education Association notes that roughly 80% of the country’s English Language Learners (ELLs) identify as Hispanic. Despite a widespread emphasis on English instruction in U.S. public schools, however, less than one-third of K-12 ELL students earn average or above-average reading comprehension scores. The lack of English speakers in the home is undoubtedly a major influence on this trend.
Children of Migrant workers
Another underrepresented group are the children of Hispanic migrant workers. Each year, the U.S. Department of Education’s Migrant Education Program serves approximately 345,000 students between the ages of three and 21, most of them Latino. The College Assistance Migrant Program offers financial support for college freshmen, along with five-year tuition grants. However, because migrant families are constantly on the move, these students often perform poorly in the classroom. Additionally, their secondary school dropout rates are higher than those for non-migrant students.
Financial Aid for Undocumented Students
Roughly 65,000 undocumented students graduate from U.S. high schools each year. The U.S. Department of Education guarantees public education for undocumented children through grade 12. Additionally, there are no federal or state laws prohibiting undocumented men and women from applying to, enrolling in, and graduating from public or private colleges. A survey by the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) found that 32% of public postsecondary institutions admitted undocumented student applicants.
However, many schools categorize undocumented students as “foreign,” thus making them ineligible for both federal financial aid and in-state reduced tuition rates.
Check out our College Guide for Undocumented Students for more information on the various resources available to help this population obtain postsecondary education.
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals
Students in the U.S. must be classified as permanent residents before they can receive federal financial aid. Most immigrants earn permanent residency by applying for a Green Card, but current laws stipulate that undocumented citizens are unable to take this path; they must instead leave the U.S. and apply for permanent residency from a consulate office in their home country.
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, seeks to ease college admission challenges for undocumented students. Under DACA, undocumented children who enter the U.S. prior to age 16 receive “deferred action status” and are categorized as DACA students. They may also be able to obtain a social security number (SSN). While DACA students are still ineligible for federal financial aid, those with a valid SSN are able to fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and they may receive state- or institution-sponsored funding.
DACA students may also qualify for reduced in-state tuition. Currently, 20 U.S. states offer provisions for undocumented students to receive discounted in-state tuition. These include: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Washington. In contrast, three states have barred reduced in-state tuition for undocumented students: Arizona, Georgia, and Indiana. A third group, Alabama and South Carolina, have gone so far as to prohibit the enrollment of undocumented students at public postsecondary institutions. The remaining states are classified as unstipulated.
Undocumented students should meet with their high school career counselor to discuss financial aid options for college. Most DACA students with a valid SSN are urged to complete a FAFSA in order to learn about state- and institution-based financial aid options. The Department of Education offers the following tips for DACA students who wish to fill out a FAFSA:
The Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSI) program was enacted through Title V of the Higher Education Act of 1965. HSI status is conferred by the Department of Education on not-for-profit postsecondary institutions where at least 25% of full-time students identify as Hispanic. Under Title V, eligible HSIs can receive grants from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Postsecondary Education. These schools use these funds to build on-campus resources and bolster support services for Hispanic students. Today, HSIs are represented by the Hispanic Association of Colleges & Universities (HACU); although HACU members comprise only 10% of U.S. postsecondary institutions, these colleges and universities are home to more than two-thirds of the nation’s Hispanic student population.
The rising number of HSIs in the U.S. directly correlates with the increasing number of Hispanic students enrolling in accredited college programs. There were 245 recognized HSIs in 2005, and as of 2015, there were 472 recognized HSIs that collectively enrolled nearly 2 million students. The states with the most HSIs are California with 159, Texas with 83, Florida with 27, and New Mexico with 23. Additionally, Puerto Rico has 65 recognized HSIs.
General Scholarships for Hispanic Students
- HSF General College Scholarships
Who is eligible: Hispanic students who are enrolled or planning to enroll in a four-year institution the following fall. Outgoing high school seniors must have a 2.5 cumulative GPA or better; undergraduates, graduate students, and community college transfer students must have at least a 3.0 cumulative GPA.
Award amount: This award ranges between $500 to $5,000, depending on the student’s academic merit and level of financial need.
- Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) Foundation Scholarship
Who is eligible? Current college students at all academic levels who are enrolled full-time and pursuing a degree in a science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) field.
Award amount: This annual, non-renewable award ranges from $1,000 to $5,000.
- GN/LNESC Scholarship
Who is eligible? Minority college students in their sophomore year with at least a 3.0 cumulative GPA who are enrolled full-time and pursuing a degree in business or engineering.
Award amount: This $5,000 annual award is renewable for up to three academic years.
- Ronald McDonald House Charities/HACER Scholarship
Who is eligible? High school seniors with at least one Hispanic parent who are eligible to enroll in an accredited undergraduate program the following fall.
Award amount: Amount will vary by recipient based on merit and demonstrated need; an average of $1.8 million is awarded every year to scholarship recipients.
- NBCUniversal/LNESC Scholarship
Who is eligible? Latino undergraduates or high school seniors with at least a 3.0 cumulative GPA. High school candidates must first receive acceptance from an accredited school and earn either at least a 1770 on the SAT or at least a 26 on the ACT.
Award amount: This non-renewable $5,000 award is divided in half, with one lump sum dispersed in the fall and the other in the spring.
- American Bus Association Diversity Award
Who is eligible? Minority students from an underrepresented group who have completed at least one full year of postsecondary coursework with at least a 3.0 cumulative GPA and plan to major in a field related to the travel and tourism industry.
Award amount: $5,000
Deadline: December – April.
- AICPA Scholarship Award for Minority Accounting Students
Who is eligible? Minority college students enrolled full time in an accounting program with at least a 3.0 cumulative GPA.
Award amount: Annual awards vary from $1,000 to $5,000; this scholarship is renewable, but recipients must reapply yearly to receive additional funding.
- La Unidad Latina Foundation
Who is eligible? Latino undergraduate or graduate students currently enrolled in an accredited degree program with at least a 2.8 cumulative GPA.
Award amount: This annual, non-renewable award ranges from $500 to $1,000 per recipient.
- Association of Latino Professionals for America (ALPFA) Scholarship
Who is eligible? Hispanic U.S. citizens currently enrolled at an accredited postsecondary institution with a 3.0 cumulative GPA who are majoring in business.
Award amount: Non-renewable awards vary from $1,500 to $10,000, depending on the recipient’s level of financial need.
- ExxonMobil/LNESC Scholarship
Who is eligible? Hispanic high school seniors with at least a 3.5 cumulative GPA who plan to enroll in an accredited postsecondary institution the following fall and earn a degree in engineering. Applicants must also have earned a score of 1350 or higher on the SAT or a score of 29 or higher on the ACT. Additionally, candidates must live in one of these American cities:
- Colorado Springs, CO
- Pueblo, CO
- Miami, FL
- Kansas City, MO
- Albuquerque NM
- Philadelphia, PA
- Bayamon, PR
- Corpus Christi, TX
- Houston, TX
- Dallas, TX
- El Paso, TX
- San Antonio, TX
Award amount: One national scholarship awards $20,000 over four years; 12 additional awards of $2,000 are presented for students in each of the 12 qualifying communities listed above.
Scholarships for Graduate Students
- HSF's Scholarship Program
Who is eligible? Full-time students at a four-year university or graduate school during the fall season of a scholarship cycle. Students must be of Hispanic heritage, maintain at least 2.5 GPA, and be U.S. citizens.
Award amount: $500 to $5,000
- Diversity Advancement Program Scholarship
Who is eligible? Graduate students at Rutgers University’s Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy. Applicants must be from underrepresented populations.
Award amount: $15,000
- Pedro Zamoro Public Policy Fellowship
Who is eligible? Young professionals, undergraduates, and graduate students (up to year 5) who want to gain experience with HIV-related public policy and government affairs. Minority students and members of the LGBT community are strongly encouraged to apply.
Award amount: Varies
Deadline: Students can apply during the spring, summer, and fall term by October 15, March 15, and July 15, respectively.
- Victor Grifols Roura Scholarship
Who is eligible? Latino medical students in their second or third year of graduate school. Applicants must be enrolled in an accredited medical program in the LA metropolitan area and should have clinical interests in hematology.
Award amount: $7,500
- Association of Cuban Engineers Scholarship Fund
Who is eligible? U.S. citizens or legal residents of Hispanic heritage. Applicants must have completed at least 30 units of coursework towards a bachelor’s degree or higher at an ABET-accredited school in the US or Puerto Rico. Applicants must be full-time students (6 semesters or more for grad students).
Award amount: Varies
Deadline: December 16.
- Brown and Caldwell Minority Scholarship Program
Who is eligible? Full-time students enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate program at an accredited university and pursuing a major in civil, electrical, or environmental engineering. The scholarship is available to minority students (including Hispanic or Latino students). A minimum 3.0 GPA is required.
Award amount: $5,000
- ACHE Albert W. Dent Graduate Student Scholarship
Who is eligible? Minority students (including Latino or Hispanic students) in healthcare management graduate programs. Applicants should be enrolled in their final year of the program and must demonstrate financial need.
Award amount: $5,000
Deadline: March 31.
- AICPA Fellowship for Minority Doctoral Students
Who is eligible? Minority students (including Hispanic or Latino students) who have either been accepted into a doctoral program, have applied to a doctoral program and are awaiting acceptance, or have already matriculated in a doctoral program. They must have earned a master’s degree and have three years of full-time experience in the practice.
Award amount: $12,000
Deadline: March 1.
- American Library Association Spectrum Scholarship
Who is eligible? Applicants must be American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian, Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino, or Native Hawaiian. They must plan on obtaining a graduate degree within the profession of library and information science.
Award amount: $5,000
Deadline: March 1.
- APSA Minority Fellowship Program
Who is eligible? Students from underrepresented backgrounds (including Hispanic or Latino students) applying to doctoral programs in political science.
Award amount: $4,000
Scholarships for Hispanic Women
- Margaret McNamara Memorial Fund
Who is eligible? Women from an eligible developing country (including the Caribbean and most Central and South American nations) who are at least 25 years old, and enrolled in an accredited postsecondary program focused on empowering women and children. Recipients can not be permanent citizens, and must agree to return to their country of origin within two years of completing their degree. There are additional eligibility requirements that vary by country.
Award amount: The amount will vary based on the recipient’s demonstrated financial need.
- Hispanic Association of Women Scholarship
Who is eligible? Women of Hispanic descent who are enrolled at a local college or university within a 60-mile radius of Lubbock, Texas. Applicants must submit an essay, a personal statement, a transcript, and a letter of recommendation.
Award amount: Varies
- The Hispanic Women's Council (HWC) Scholarship Program
Who is eligible? Women who are of Hispanic descent and residents of New Mexico. They must be enrolled or accepted for enrollment at the University of New Mexico or the Central New Mexico Community College part-time or full-time.
Award amount: $500-$2,000
- Chicana/Latina Foundation Scholarship Program
Who is eligible? Women of Chicana/Latina descent who are enrolled at a graduate or undergraduate institution and have lived at least two years in one of the following North California counties:
- Contra Costa
- San Francisco
- San Mateo
- Santa Clara
- Santa Cruz
Scholarship recipients must commit to attending the CLF Leadership Institute for two weekends and to volunteering 10 hours for CLF.
Award amount: $1,500
Scholarships for Undocumented Hispanic Students
- Chicano Organizing & Research in Education (CORE) Que Llueva Cafe Scholarship
Who is eligible? Undocumented Hispanic high school seniors or GED graduates who plan to enroll in an accredited postsecondary institution in the U.S. or Puerto Rico.
Award amount: The final amount varies by each recipient’s academic merit and demonstrated financial need. On average, this scholarship provides more than $12,000 in financial support to students each year.
- Royal Prestige Scholarship
Who is eligible? Hispanic college students currently enrolled with at least a 3.0 GPA or Hispanic high school seniors with at least a 2.5 cumulative GPA who plan to enroll in an accredited postsecondary institution the following fall. DACA Students and eligible non-citizens may apply.
Award amount: This $2,500 award is non-renewable.
- Davis-Putter Scholarship Fund
Who is eligible? Any undergraduate or graduate student with a background in public service who plans to enroll at an accredited postsecondary institution. U.S. citizenship is not required.
Award amount: Grants of up to $10,000 per year are awarded based on the recipient’s financial need.
- Esperanza Educational Fund Scholarship
Who is eligible? High school seniors in Maryland, Virginia, or Washington D.C. with at least a 2.5 cumulative GPA who have enrolled or plans to enroll in an accredited postsecondary college program the following fall. This award is open to any immigrants or children of two immigrants, regardless of citizenship status.
Award amount: This non-renewable award ranges between $5,000 and $20,000 per year, depending on the recipient’s financial need.
Scholarships for First Generation Hispanic Students
- HACU IES Study Abroad Scholarship
Who is eligible? U.S. citizens attending HSIs who demonstrates financial need. Priority will be given to first-generation students.
Award amount: Students receive $5,000 for semester-long study abroad programs and $2,500 for summer-term study abroad programs.
Deadline: Fall deadline is May 1; spring deadline is November 1.
- 'I'm First' Scholarship
Who is eligible? First-generation high school seniors who are planning to enroll in a four-year degree program at a Center for Student Opportunity partner school.
Award amount: $4,000; this renewable award will be dispersed in annual $1,000 increments over four years, provided that the recipient maintains full-time enrollment and passing grades.
- Dorrance Scholarship
Who is eligible? High school seniors from Arizona or Florida who are planning to enroll as first-generation students the following fall at a partner university. These schools include the University of Arizona, Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University, and the University of Hawaii. Applicants must have at least a 3.0 cumulative GPA and demonstrate financial need.
Award amount: This $12,000 annual award is renewable for up to four years of study.
- Buick Achievers Scholarship
Who is eligible? Outgoing high school seniors or current undergraduates planning to earn a degree in engineering, technology design, or another field related to the automotive industry. Special consideration will be given to minorities and first-generation students.
Award amount: The annual $25,000 award is renewable for up to four years.
- First Generation Grant
Who is eligible? First-generation Colorado residents enrolled or planning to enroll at the University of Colorado-Boulder.
Award amount: The award varies between $100 and $1,000 per semester, and is renewable for up to 10 semesters (five years).
Deadline: Fall deadline is January 15; spring deadline is October 1.
Scholarships for migrant workers and their families
- Frank Kazmierczak Memorial Migrant Scholarship
Who is eligible? Migrant workers or children of migrant workers who are currently enrolled in an accredited postsecondary program and plan to earn a teaching degree.
Award amount: This annual $1,000 award is non-renewable.
- Migrant Farmworker Baccalaureate Scholarship
Who is eligible? Students with a background in agriculture migrant work who have completed at least one year of education at an accredited postsecondary program.
Award amount: Recipients get up to $20,000 for assistance with tuition and educational expenses; the final amount depends on the candidate’s financial need.
Deadline: July 1.
- Berrien Fragos Thorn Arts Scholarships for Migrant Farmworkers
Who is eligible? High school students 16 years of age or older with a background in agricultural migrant work and an academic interest in visual, performing, media, or literary arts.
Award amount: $500 awards are available year-round; $2,500 awards are available semi-annually. Both options are non-renewable.
Deadline: Deadlines for $2,500 awards are June 1 and November 1. There is no deadline for $500 awards.
- Gloria Mattera National Migrant Scholarship
Who is eligible? Those with a background in agricultural migrant work who is entering or enrolled in an accredited postsecondary college program.
Award amount: $250 annual awards; non-renewable.
Deadline: April 1.
- Margaret Raley New York State Migrant Student Scholarship
Who is eligible? Any child of a migrant family with a history of movement in New York state who has completed their senior year of high school and plans to enroll at a postsecondary school.
Award amount: An annual award of $500 will be given to one recipient or divided among two recipients.
Deadline: April 1.
Scholarships for ESL/ ELL students
- Emily Griffith Foundation Scholarship
Who is eligible? Students enrolled or planning to enroll in English language courses at Emily Griffith Technical College. Recipients must maintain at least a C-grade average and attend at least 75% of the course.
Award amount: Each scholarship will be used to cover the cost of one ELL course; the amount varies depending on the recipient’s demonstrated need.
Deadline: Applications are available during course registration periods and are available until scholarship winners have been chosen.
- J.C. Casagrande Peace Scholarship
Who is eligible? Foreign-born students who are enrolled at the University of Florida English Language Institute and maintaining a 4.0 cumulative GPA. Preference is given to candidates with a volunteer background.
Award amount: The amount of this award varies based on the recipient’s demonstrated financial need.
- Jane & David Falk ESL Scholarship
Who is eligible? Students who are currently enrolled in at least one ESL course at Westchester Community College Award; applicants must have at least a 2.5 cumulative GPA.
Award amount: The amount varies by student, but recipients are usually awarded $2,000.
- Jewel Keusder ESL Scholarship
Who is eligible? ESL students currently enrolled at California’s Cypress College who have completed at least one on-campus ESL course and plan to transfer to an accredited four-year institution.
Award amount: This annual $1,000 award is non-renewable.
Deadline: Varies; scholarship is awarded during spring semester.
- Kathy Chatterton Memorial Scholarship
Who is eligible? Any student at Los Angeles Community College who has completed at least 12 ESL course credits and plans to transfer to an accredited four-year program.
Award amount: This annual $350 award is non-renewable.
College Resources for Hispanic Students
- Hispanic Scholarship Fund: In addition to the latest information on available scholarships, the HSF website offers an events calendar, an extensive blog, and resources to Hispanic students at all grade levels and their families.
- ‘Colleges with the Most Hispanic Students’: This 2015 article from U.S. News & World Report lists the 10 postsecondary institutions in the country with the highest Hispanic enrollment.
- Latino Ed Beat: This branch of the Education Writers Association profiles notable figures and events affecting Hispanic students of all ages, from preschoolers to adolescents.
- Home Room: The official blog of the U.S. Department of Education regularly covers trends and issues pertaining to Hispanic-American education.
- Hispanic Voices Blog: This family- and student-oriented blog is maintained by the National Research Center on Hispanic Children & Families.
College Resources for Undocumented Students
College Resources for Students from Migrant Families
- Migrant Education: This comprehensive fact sheet from the U.S. Department of Education covers current initiatives focused on migrant education at all grade levels.
- Migrant Students Foundation: This nonprofit organization dedicated to migrant students of all ages features financial aid information, internship opportunities, and a job board for recent high school and college graduates.
- ‘Meeting the Educational Needs of Migrant Students’: This 2013 article from Education World examines unique academic challenges and solutions for migrant students.
College Resources for ESL/ELL Students
College Resources for First Generation Students
- I’m First: This online community dedicated to first-generation college students features a college-finder, an extensive blog, and testimonials from past and current students.
- ‘Prepare for College as a First-Generation Student’: This 2015 article from U.S. News & World Report delves into the unique challenges and experiences faced by students who are the first in their family to attend college.
How to Fill out the FAFSA as an Undocumented Student
- The FAFSA does not require the citizenship status of the applicant’s parents, but does request their SSNs. Applicants must write in “000-00-0000” as the SSN for any parent or legal guardian who is undocumented.
- Applicants will encounter the following question: “Are you a U.S. citizen?” Undocumented students must check the box for “No, I am not a citizen or eligible noncitizen.”
- The form also features questions about the “legal state of residence” for the applicant and their parents. The correct answer will vary, as each U.S. state has different requirements for legal state residency. Applicants should consult their high school career counselor before completing this section.
- The online FAFSA form features an IRS Data Retrieval tool that allows applicants to submit their tax information and that of their their parents. If the applicant or their parents did not file an income tax return during the previous year, then tax information may be entered manually.
A scholarship is a monetary gift that students use to help fund their postsecondary education. Scholarships do not need to be paid back, making them a desirable alternative to student loans. Scholarships may be used to pay for a variety of education-related costs including tuition, books, and other course materials. Some scholarships may also be used to cover food, room and board, laundry, and day-to-day expenses.
Thousands of different scholarships are available. Merit-based scholarships are typically given to students with high GPAs or an extensive record of community service. Other scholarships may be allotted to certain groups of people, like women or minority students. There are also scholarship options for students who demonstrate financial need.
In order to qualify for most scholarships, students must first complete an application. While the nature of these applications will vary by award, most will include the following general criteria:
- Grades/Transcripts: Most scholarships (merit- and non-merit-based) require a minimum GPA for consideration; this minimum is usually 2.5 or higher. Additionally, some require minimum scores on the SAT, ACT, or other college admissions tests.
- Essay: Many scholarships require applicants to complete an original written testimonial explaining why they deserve the award.
- Letters of Recommendation: A scholarship application may ask for letters of recommendation from teachers, school counselors, former employers, and other people who have interacted with the student in an educational or professional environment. These letters should not come from friends, relatives, or family acquaintances.
- College Information: Many scholarships will only award money to applicants who have enrolled or plan to enroll in an accredited postsecondary institution within the following year. Some are only allotted to students who plan to pursue certain fields of study.
- Other Financial Aid: For needs-based scholarships, applicants may need to prove they are not receiving federal financial aid, additional scholarships, grants, or other forms of monetary support.
External Scholarship Resources
Students who are unfamiliar with scholarship applications should seek advice from educational experts. Here are a few online resources for scholarship applicants to peruse:
QuestBridge: This organization provides assistance and support to low-income and underprivileged men and women with college aspirations. QuestBridge’s website features links to more than a dozen scholarship databases.
FastWeb!: This comprehensive financial aid database allows users to customize scholarship criteria in order to generate a list of applicable awards.
ScholarshipAmerica.com: This organization “works to engage private sector support for programs and policies that advance equity in postsecondary education.” Their site links to 15 government-sponsored and private financial aid databases.
CareerOneStop: The scholarship aggregator on this U.S. government-sponsored site lets users customize scholarship options by award type, education level, state of residence, and award sponsor.
BigFuture: CollegeBoard’s customizable scholarship aggregator allows users to browse more than 2,200 scholarships, internships, and other financial aid opportunities.
Some of the most common scholarships include:
Colleges and Universities: Most postsecondary institutions offer scholarships to current and prospective undergraduate and graduate students. Many scholarships are specific to major fields of study or offered exclusively to students in certain gender or minority groups.
Foundations: Students should explore scholarship opportunities through established businesses and professional organizations affiliated with their proposed field of study. Other foundational awards are available through women’s or minority rights advocacy groups.
Local Community Organizations: Scholarships are often offered through community-based groups such as churches, youth centers, rotary clubs, and chambers of commerce. While these awards tend to be smaller in monetary value, they are also typically less competitive than national or statewide scholarships.
Here are a few expert pieces of advice for filling out scholarship forms:
- Begin your scholarship search during your freshman year of high school and compile an organized, comprehensive list of options before your senior year. Earning scholarship funding is essentially a numbers game; the more scholarships you apply to, the more financial support you’re likely to receive.
- Apply to every scholarship award for which you are eligible. Smaller scholarships are generally less competitive, and these awards can increase your overall support.
- Fill out all applications in pencil and be sure to proofread each section for misspelled words, grammatical errors, and awkward phrasing.
- Essays should be personal and heartfelt. Applicants should take this opportunity to demonstrate their writing skills and speak directly to the scholarship committee; be as expressive and direct as possible.
- If an online option is unavailable, submit your application to the scholarship committee by direct mail. In either case, be sure to keep a copy for your records in case the original application is not received.
- Be mindful of deadlines and make sure every application has been finished and submitted before its due date.
Much like scholarships, grants are monetary gifts for students to use for tuition, course fees, and living expenses while enrolled in a college program. Grants are usually need-based, and in some cases the recipient may be required to pay back unused funds upon graduation.
Federal Pell Grants: Federal Pell Grants are provided by the U.S. government and are typically given to undergraduates. Grant monies are either automatically applied to school costs or dispersed directly to recipients. Currently, these grants dispense up to $5,920 per student. However, the final amount will depend on demonstrated need, cost of attendance at the recipient’s school of choice, and enrollment status (full-time or part-time).
Grants from State Governments: Students interested in bypassing the federal option may be able to secure grant funding from their state government’s department of education. These opportunities vary from state to state; NASFAA offers an interactive map for students to explore their options in all U.S. states and territories.
Private Grants: Private grants will vary in terms of criteria, availability, and award amount. Students should complete a FAFSA and meet with a career counselor to learn about suitable private grant opportunities.
Grants for Hispanic Students
- Hispanic Heritage Youth Awards
Who is eligible? High school seniors with at least one Latino parent, a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or above, and plans to enroll in an accredited program the following fall. Applicants must apply for one of 10 regional awards and be willing to travel to one of the following cities:
- Los Angeles
- New York
- Rio Grande Valley
- San Jose
- Washington DC
Award amount: One-time grants range from $1,000 to $3,000; money may be used to fund the recipient’s college education or a community service project.
Deadline: October 2.
- P.D. Soros Fellowship for New Americans
Who is eligible? Children of immigrants who are either a college senior on track to graduate within one year, or a bachelor’s degree-holding college graduate. Only legal U.S. citizens may apply.
Award amount: The award covers 50% of graduate-level tuition and educational expenses up to $20,000 per year, along with an annual stipend of up to $25,000.
Deadline: November 1.
- José Martí Scholarship Challenge Grant Fund
Who is eligible? Hispanic undergraduates or outgoing high school seniors with at least a 3.0 cumulative GPA who are enrolled or plan to enroll in college in Florida.
Award amount: Most awards are $2,000 per recipient for every semester; the grant is automatically renewable and available for up to eight semesters.
Deadline: April 1.
- Texas Educational Opportunity Grant
Who is eligible? Texas residents enrolled full- or part-time at a public community, technical, or state college in Texas.
Award amount: The grant awards $2,832 to $5,486 per year, depending on the institution type and the recipient’s enrollment status. In order to renew their funds, applicants must earn at least a 2.5 cumulative GPA and a 75% passing rate in all courses each year.
Deadline: Applications may be submitted beginning on January 1.
- College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP) Grant
Who is eligible? U.S. citizens with a high school diploma or GED and a migrant employment background who plan to enroll at an accredited four-year postsecondary institution.
Award amount: Annual grants range from $750 to $4,000 and may be renewed until the final year of the recipient’s undergraduate program.
The Negative Population Growth Scholarship Essay Contest is open to high school seniors and college freshmen, sophomores and juniors.
You must submit an essay on the following topic: “Without critical changes, U.S. population is projected to reach 438 million people in less than 40 years. Explain how this projected growth will negatively affect the United States socially, economically and environmentally”.
Submissions must be between 500 and 750 words. You must also be a U.S. citizen to qualify for this award.
Deadline: April 24, 2012
Website: Negative Population Growth Scholarship Contest
Need Money to Pay for College?
Every semester, Fastweb helps thousands of students pay for school by matching them to scholarships, grants, and internships, for which they actually qualify. You'll find high value scholarships like VIP Voice's $5,000 Scholarship, and easy to enter scholarships like Niche $2,000 No Essay Scholarship, and internships with companies like Apple, Google, Dreamworks, and even NASA!
Join today to get matched to scholarships or internships for you!