4 Resources to Find Grants and Scholarships for Black Women

 April 1, 2020
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When it comes to education, racial disparity in student loan debt is a serious issue. According to Demos, 12 years after beginning college, Black women owe more than other demographics, with their student loan balances actually growing by 13% on average.

While this institutional inequality needs to be addressed, it’s best for now to look to grants and scholarships in order for Black women to reduce education costs and limit debt. Here’s where to search…

Where to find grants and scholarships for Black women

Scholarships can come from many different organizations, from large nonprofits to private donors. If you’re in need of financial assistance for school, the following sources can be great places to start your search.

1. Your university
2. Civil rights and advocacy organizations
3. Women’s groups
4. Scholarship databases
Plus: Why grants and scholarships are so important

1. Your university

Many universities offer scholarships specifically designed for minorities and women. For example, Ivy-League Brown University offers scholarships just for Black students.

Although your university can be a valuable source of aid, finding and applying to every available scholarship is challenging. Ask your school’s financial aid representative if there’s a specific scholarship department that handles applications and awards.

If your school has a scholarship office, the representative can help identify university-offered options and even direct you to outside scholarship sources.

Even if your university might not fund its own grants or scholarships for Black women, it could partner with an organization that does. The Charlotte W. Newcombe Foundation, for example, works with schools to provide grants for women.

2. Civil rights and advocacy organizations

Civil rights and advocacy groups nationwide aim to help people better their situations through education. To do so, they might offer scholarships to offset your college costs. Here are a few examples:

  • National Association for the Advancement of Colored People: The NAACP partners with the Poise Foundation to offer the Agnes Jones Jackson Scholarship. Valued at up to $2,000, the scholarship is a need-based award for students under the age of 25.
  • United Negro College Fund (UNCF): UNCF offers 200 scholarships valued at up to $5,000 each to high school seniors and college freshmen. To be eligible, students must have at least a 2.7 GPA and be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. Students should also have a passion for entrepreneurship and innovation.
  • Thurgood Marshall College Fund: The Thurgood Marshall College Fund awards nearly 500 scholarships each year to students based on merit and financial need. Scholarships range in value.

3. Women’s groups

Female-specific nonprofit organizations often offer scholarships for women of all races. They range in value, and some are need based while others are awarded on merit. Three women’s rights groups that offer scholarships include:

  • National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women’s Clubs (NANBPWC): NANBPWC offers merit-based scholarships for Black women nationwide.
  • National Foundation for Women Legislators: The NFWL manages the Annual Constitution Essay Scholarship Contest, a $3,000 scholarship awarded to six high school juniors and seniors.
  • Young Women’s Christian Association: The YWCA provides over 20,000 young women with leadership programs and scholarships each year. The organization offers four scholarships in select metro areas to students who stand out as leaders and activists working to end intolerance and discrimination.

4. Scholarship databases

There are hundreds of scholarships for African-American women offered by private companies, individual donors and professional groups. They can range in value from a few hundred to tens of thousands of dollars and can be either need or merit based.

You can find scholarship opportunities on databases such as Fastweb or Scholarships.com. By focusing on awards based on your specific situation, you could increase your likelihood of winning a scholarship.

You’ll have to use different tools to find need-based grants for Black women. The College Grants Database is one worthwhile stop, as it lists a variety of grants for Black women.

Why grants and scholarships are so important

Going to college is more expensive than ever. The cost for a single year at a private college averages a staggering $32,410, according to College Board. If you don’t have that money saved in your bank account, you’ll have to find another way to cover the cost of tuition and room and board.

If you take out student loans, you’ll have to pay them back with interest once you graduate. You could end up paying thousands more than you originally borrowed, making it difficult to get out of debt.

Unlike student loans, in most cases, you don’t have to pay back scholarships. You can combine grants and scholarships to cover your education expenses, reducing how much you have to borrow.

So if you’re planning to attend college, research grants and scholarships for Black women to reduce how much you need to borrow in student loans later. By reaching out to the organizations and groups listed above, you can find and apply for grants and scholarships right away.

For more ways to limit your education costs, search for state-specific grants you can use to pay for school.

Rebecca Safier and Andrew Pentis contributed to this article.

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