5 Great Scholarships for Minority Students

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One of the best ways to avoid student loan debt is to rack up scholarship winnings. Luckily, there are countless minority scholarships available for students based on your background.

Here are five great minority scholarship opportunities available:

1. The Ron Brown Scholarship
2. David J. Stern Scholarship Program
3. Haz La U Program
4. Out to Innovate Scholarships for LGBTQ Students in STEM
5. Jackie Robinson Foundation Scholarship Award

Plus: What to do if minority scholarships aren’t enough

1. The Ron Brown Scholarship

This minority scholarship was set up in honor of Ronald H. Brown, a black politician who died in a plane crash. It’s meant to help black high school seniors pursue their college dreams. The scholarship awards $10,000 each year for four years.

Recipients can attend an accredited four-year college of their choosing and can major in any academic field. You’ll need to show you’re a believer in the program’s four pillars: public service, community engagement, business entrepreneurship and global citizenship.

Deadline: January

Available to: Black high school seniors who have a strong academic record are eligible. They must also demonstrate a financial need and show leadership in the community (like other volunteering scholarships).

Like applying for college, you’ll be asked to submit your test scores and letters of recommendation to be considered. Two essays are also required, plus financial information on your parents.

Applications are reviewed January through March by the program staff. Semifinalists are announced in mid-February. In March, finalists participate in a weekend selection process in Washington, D.C., with all expenses paid. There, you’ll be interviewed by members of the RBSP National Selection Committee and participate in various activities. Winners are announced on April 1.

2. David J. Stern Scholarship Program

The Thurgood Marshall College Fund has partnered with the NBA to offer the David J. Stern Scholarship Program. Recipients earn $10,000 each year for three years and get the opportunity to intern at the NBA league office.

Deadline: April

Available to: Like with some other scholarships for black students, applicants who are enrolled full-time at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and have a GPA of 3.0 or higher are eligible to apply. You must maintain that GPA to receive the award each year.

The application process requires you to submit a resume showing your community service, employment, and leadership experience. You’ll also write a 500-word essay about the lessons you’ve learned in sports and send in a letter of recommendation with your Student Aid Report, which you receive after filing the FAFSA.

Scholarship finalists must also go through an interview process with Thurgood Marshall College Fund staff.

3. Haz La U Program

The Hispanic Heritage Foundation partnered with Colgate-Palmolive to create this “Make The U” program, where 31 minority scholarships are awarded to Hispanic students. Awards range from $2,000 to $15,000.

Applicants are required to show academic excellence and leadership in the community to be considered.

Deadline: October

Available to: Like with other scholarships for Latino and Hispanic students, you must have Hispanic heritage. You must also plan to be enrolled full-time in a college immediately upon graduation.

To apply, you’ll fill out an online application and provide letters of recommendation, a copy of your transcript and answers to college scholarship essay questions.

If you’re selected, you must attend a regional ceremony at your own expense.

4. Out to Innovate Scholarships for LGBTQ Students in STEM

There are a number of minority scholarships available to the LGBTQ community, but this one is geared toward those specifically enrolled in a STEM field. The scholarship is available to both undergraduate and graduate students.

Students can qualify for a $5,000 award if they’ve met these conditions:

  • Completed two years of college
  • Declared science, technology, engineering or math as their major
  • Are either lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or supportive of the LGBTQ community

The mission of the program is to support and promote a diverse STEM workforce and help students interested in those fields reduce the financial burden of higher education.

Deadline: First Saturday of June

Available to: Students are eligible to apply if they’ve completed a minimum of two years of post-high school education, maintained a GPA of 3.0, declared a STEM major and promoted LGBTQ inclusion and visibility.

To apply, you must fill out an application and include: your academic and community achievements, work experience, extracurricular activities, financial aid profile, references, transcripts, an essay and three letters of reference. Winners are notified in August.

5. Jackie Robinson Foundation Scholarship Award

In honor of the great baseball player Jackie Robinson, the foundation set up in his name offers minority scholarships of up to $30,000 over four years to graduating high school seniors. Applicants must demonstrate a financial need and leadership skills to qualify for the scholarship award.

Deadline: February

Available to: Prospective first-year college students who show leadership potential and community service involvement. Applicants should also have a financial need, plus strong SAT and ACT scores.

To apply, fill out the online application, which includes four essay questions. You’ll also need to supply a letter of recommendation and headshot. In May, semifinalists are required to attend a regional in-person interview. Winners are announced in June.

What to do if minority scholarships aren’t enough

These five minority scholarships are just a few of many available. Take some time to research and see what else is available through your local and national organizations. Even if it’s just a few hundred dollars, an award can amount to significant savings when it comes to paying for college.

Don’t forget about non-minority scholarships too. There are many reasons you could win a scholarship, and your background is just one of them. You might win a state, school or private scholarship based on your financial need, academic or athletic achievement or community service, to name a few examples.

For every dollar you haul in, that’s one less you have to worry about paying back through federal or private student loans.

Before resorting to student debt, however, exhaust all other avenues to financial aid that doesn’t need to be repaid. Scour your state for college grants, look into work-study programs and even re-evaluate your school choice if its cost proves to be too costly.

Andrew Pentis contributed to this report.

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