While most students are aware of the wide variety of scholarships available, they may not realize that some of those scholarships are designed just for them. For instance, there are a number of African-American scholarships intended to help reduce future student loan debt for African-American students and make it easier for them to attend college.
What is an African-American scholarship?
There are many scholarships that only African-American and Black students are eligible to apply for. These scholarships may have additional requirements, such as a financial need component or award funds based on factors such as grades, extracurricular activities, geographic region, or other interests, characteristics or accomplishments.
There are African-American scholarships available which are very inclusive, such as the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) General Scholarship. There are also African-American scholarships for students within a particular niche.
For example, the Blacks at Microsoft Scholarship gives out awards to African-American students who are majoring in engineering, computer science, information systems or business majors like finance or marketing. This scholarship program is run by a group of Black Microsoft employees passionate about promoting diversity in STEM.
There are also general minority scholarships that African-American students, as well as students from other ethnic groups, can apply for. For example, the Jackie Robinson Foundation Scholarship is available to students from any minority group.
You can find African-American scholarships by utilizing Scholarships.com free scholarship search or directly through your chosen school. Many non-profit and professional organizations also offer African-American scholarships.
When applying to college, contact each school’s financial aid department and ask them how to maximize your scholarship opportunities. Many schools require that students complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to qualify for internal awards. The school may also have a separate scholarship application that you must complete.
How to apply for an African-American scholarship
The application process for an African-American scholarship is similar to other types of scholarships. The only real difference is that you must be African-American to qualify.
When looking for scholarships, make sure that you understand the requirements and make note of the deadline. If there is an essay component, be sure to give yourself plenty of time to draft the essay and get another pair of eyes to proof-read it with you. Specifically, try to find someone you regard as an avid reader and good writer.
Many scholarships will ask you to supply recommendation letters, which can come from teachers, coaches or other adults. If you need a letter, give the person at least a few weeks’ notice so they can write something personal and impactful. Waiting until the last minute could have a negative impact on the quality of this critical document.
Like with any other kind of scholarship, try to narrow your search as much as possible to find awards that fit you best. For example, if you’re interested in becoming a lawyer, try to find legal scholarships just for African-American students. If you want a career as a TV writer, look for scholarships for African-American students in the entertainment industry.
Remember, the broader a scholarship is, the more competition there will be. If you can focus on unique awards, you will increase your chances of winning scholarships. However, the broader, more inclusive scholarships do tend to be much larger ones. These are all things to take into consideration when searching and applying.
Frequently asked questions about African-American scholarships
Do I have to have two African-American parents to qualify?
Scholarships that are geared to African-American students generally do not require that you have two African-American parents to qualify. If you are biracial or multiracial, you will still be able to apply for most African-American scholarships as long as at least one parent is African-American.
Do I have to attend an HBCU to qualify for an African-American scholarship?
There is no specific universal requirement that African-American students must attend Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) to qualify for African-American scholarships. However, some scholarships may require that you attend a school in a particular state or region and yes, there will be some that require attendance at an HBCU.
What are the best scholarships available for African-American students?
There are many African-American scholarships that give out huge sums of money, a substantial list of which are provided below. Keep scrolling to find any that may be of interest. One excellent example is the Ron Brown Scholar Program, which awards $10,000 annual scholarships to African-American students who have excelled academically and have demonstrated financial need. These scholarships can be renewed for four years, allowing students to receive $40,000 in total scholarship funding. Between 45 and 50 students are chosen each year.
Another excellent opportunity to explore is the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) General Scholarship.
Are there any scholarships specifically for African-American women?
African-American women have access to a number of scholarships tailored to them. Some will be exclusively for African-American women and others may give additional consideration to female applicants. For example, the YWCA Mamie Earl Sells Scholarship Fund is given to a female African-American student from the Cincinnati area who has helped her community.
African-American women should also look for scholarships for women or scholarships for female minority students. Some scholarships do not directly advertise as minority scholarships but may seek out diverse applicants.
For example, the Lockheed Martin STEM Scholarship is open to all applicants but prioritizes those who have been historically excluded from the STEM industry, including African-American women.